By Lexi Anders
“PLEASE, RUSSIAMAY. I AM BEGGING YOU. GET THAT MONSTROSITY OUT OF MY FACE.”
Rosemarie sighed and took a bite of the piece of toast.
“HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO EAT THAT???” Wulf asked horrified. He never yelled, but his voice was permanently raised, as if for some dramatic effect, and now it cracked a little in his panic. Sometimes this was rather comical to Rosemarie, coming from a six foot man who routinely played the villain in films. Currently, it only frustrated her.
“I can eat it pretty easily actually. I didn’t have breakfast this morning, so I can’t even complain, but seriously- actually, no I can complain, all right? You are the reason I didn’t have breakfast in the first place! I got up early just to make you all this toast,” she gestured hysterically at the tables surrounding them “and you won’t even try one piece!”
Then, she burst into tears.
“DO NOT WEEP, ROMEO. THERE, THERE.” Wulf patted her back feeling slightly guilty.
Rosemarie only cried harder. “My name . . . *sniff* . . . is Rosemarie.”
This was no small point on her part, Wulf had consistently and almost intentionally gotten her name incorrect. Perhaps, in the belief that it was amusing or that a display of his stupidity would cheer her up. Iit seemed unlikely that he would make fun of someone for their name, especially considering his most definite personal experience on that front.
Wulf continued standing there like an awkward fool until Rosemarie suddenly got ahold of herself. She spun around frantically and then finally spotted a mug on one of the many tables.
She desperately maneuvered between the tables and grasped the mug as if it were her lifeline, then she inhaled deeply and let her cold fingers wrap the warm ceramic. She quickly gulped down her black coffee and rushed to a pot in the corner of the room, which had just finished producing another hit. After drinking a second cup, which surely scalded her tongue, she set the mug down and spun back to Wulf.
He looked at her concerned, but couldn’t voice his question.
“Yes, that was my fifth cup this morning.” Rosemarie answered, reading the thought from his face. “But, don’t worry,” she said gripping the table behind her for support, “I feel right as rain now. Yes, yes, indeed. I feel great. Fantastic really. Let’s get back to work.” she said enthusiastically pushing off in Wulf’s direction.
“PERHAPS YOU SHOULD TAKE A BREAK.” Wulf suggested anxiously. His eyes inadvertently wandered to a piece of toast on a nearby table and recoiled in disgust.
“No, no, no, nonono, no. No. You can’t g-get offf the hook that easy Ssssherrrlo-ock.” She laughed nervously and grabbed some toast from the nearest table.
Wulf stumbled backwards as she advanced and he accidentally knocked into a table behind him, sending both him and it onto the ground.
She laughed insanely and pounced on him to stuff the toast in his mouth.
His screams echoed out into the hallway.
Herschel shivered and glanced behind the chair he was sitting in. Something had just prickled his senses. Something very ominous. He reached to his right out of habit and found his plate empty.
He picked up the plate and stared at it.
For a moment it seemed almost as if he was broken and didn’t know what to do. Finally, Herschel pulled out his phone and called his provider.
“What???” the voice answered statically. “I’m kinda busy right now.”
“HELP ME-” another muffled voice coughed, and the cough was with such intensity that one might worry it would surely dislodge some vital organ. Herschel had no such worries. His worries were that of toast, and toast alone.“Rosemarie, you just have to help me. I’m in the most terrible distress right now. My day is absolutely ruined-!”
“Let me guess, you need some toast?” Rosemarie interrupted.
“Why how did you know?” Herschel asked amazed, then continuing before she could answer, “It’s just so dreadful. I was sitting here, studiously preparing for my scene when I reached over and found my plate-” he gasped at his own peril, “empty! Now I’m sure if I don’t get another piece of toast soon something horrible will happen and I’m in such a fit-”
“Come to room 2B.” was all Rosemarie said, and she hung up.
“Curious.” Herschel said to himself. Well, Rosemarie knew how important this was, so perhaps she had already done some emergency planning . . . How thoughtful of her, although really, it was her fault in the first place that his original supply had run out. Hadn’t he told her that he needed her on hand for cases such as these?
Herschel arrived at the room labeled 2B and pulled it open to find Rosemarie strangling Wulf on the ground. Wulf could have easily fought her off a while back, but for the sake of her pride acted like she was winning, thus when Herschel arrived he saw his chance of honorable salvation and weakly raised an arm for help.
Herschel however, merely stepped over the blockade and raced to the center of the room growing excited. He spun and spun viewing the delectable beauties covering every raised surface.
“This is . . .” he began rapturously.
“MY DEMISE?” Wulf offered.
“The bane of my existence.” Rosemarie growled.
“Toastland!” Herschel cheered. “The only true utopia on earth.”
“THAT IS DEBATABLE.”
“What, you think there’s another one?” Rosemarie asked.
“NO, I JUST MEANT HIS STATEMENT WAS SUBJECTIVE. IT IS ONLY HIS OPINION.” Wulf used his “opportunity” while Rosemarie was distracted to right himself and run down the hallway leaving Rosemarie with Herschel.
Herschel didn’t know where to begin and leaned over to smell the various toasts. Their were all sorts of breads with all sorts of toppings, artfully spread to the edge of each piece.
Then he came to the table that had shamefully been knocked onto the floor. He spent a moment grieving the toast strewn about, before reaching out and eating the fallen pieces.
Rosemarie sat against the wall and watched the pig slowly consume a loaf’s-worth of toast. It was sickening. She liked toast decently, but not that much. And especially considering her recent expenditure with toast, she was beginning to think of it as rather loathable.
“I THINK WE NEED TO STAGE AN INTERVENTION.” Wulf attempted to whisper, having snuck back out of some morbid interest.
“I can stop when I want. I just don’t want to.” Herschel protested and turned back to his “snack”.
“Yes, I very much agree, he needs help.” Rosemarie nodded to Wulf.
Wulf looked at her, with her mug somehow mysteriously conjured to her, and accidentally said, “HYPOCRITE.” outloud. There was no hiding it either. He knew that his voice boomed with every syllable, it wasn’t intentional, but there was no taking it back.
She flew upon him raising the mug threateningly, he backed into the wall and she said, just barely audibly, “I’m going to make you like toast, if it’s the last thing I do.”
Wulf wasn’t normally responsive to threats, he got them all too often, but this one was on the next level. He shuddered.
“Is there a problem here?”
Both of them turned to see the movie director standing in the hallway. He was a short, round man with a bald head, and eyes amplified by the round glasses he wore. He smoothed out his old-fashioned suit and coughed trying to illicit an answer from one of them.
Rosemarie carefully backed away from the director’s star actor and smiled tensely, doing her best to avoid eye-contact.
Herschel peered out and his face lit up. He ran out, grabbing the director’s attention and started to speak, but immediately choked on the mouthful of toast he had yet to swallow. After a minute of coughing while the director laughed, Herschel finally regained his voice.
“Director! I need you to change out parts. I have to be in the toast scene.”
The director sighed and removed his glasses to rub the bridge of his nose.“How did I know it wouldn’t be the end of that debate . . .” he muttered, then returned his glasses and looked at Herschel sternly.
“Herschel, I will only say this once more. No. You are are the hero of my film who has a very bosterious and flamboyant personality, you would never be caught dead eating something like toast.”
Herschel wiped the crumbs off his face guiltily.
“Not to mention the scene isn’t even about toast!! Why do you keep calling it the toast scene?? Toast will be involved for about three seconds!”
“THEN WHY IS IT EVEN NECESSARY??” Wulf protested.
“Because, Wulf,” the director said patiently spelling it out, having explained this several times already, “in this scene your character, the villain of the film, has disguised themself as a normal person and is attempting to blend in with their boring and human tastes. Kapeshe?” Then the director cracked a smile, finding it hard to stay mad at his nephew.
“THEN, WHY DO WE NOT FIND A STUNT-DOUBLE??”
He rubbed Wulf’s head, ignoring his question, and began to continue down the hallway when Herschel stopped him again, desperately saying, “Then, why don’t we just switch roles?? I’ll be the villain.”
The director turned to look at the young man. He surveyed his bright, sporty clothing, his wiry build and earnest expression, and his cute features topped with wavy blond hair.
Then he turned to his nephew, dressed all in black as if he were about to rob someone, hands in his pockets with a slouch that did little to diminish his impressive height, and lastly the brooding scowl that rested on his face, which was half-hidden by the shaggy dark hair that flew as it pleased.
If appearances weren’t so important in showbiz, there was also the fact that Wulf had previously starred as the villain in several sellout movies, and the director knew he could impressively pull off the part. Meanwhile Herschel had been involved in a spunky teen show where his character was known as a prankster, and was the likable lead of a one-hit-wonder western film.
“Get your head out of the clouds.” was all the director said to him. Herschel didn’t take it to heart and pursed his lips in doubt and then returned to find more toast.
“And you-” the director latched eyes on Rosemarie. “I expect you to have sorted out these little difficulties before we start filming. Okay?”
Rosemarie swallowed. Wulf mimicked her more noisily.
The director gave another understanding look to Wulf, which did not put him to ease, before leaving the stage.
Together they sighed in relief and then locked eyes. Wulf ran back down the hallway.
“I can’t deal with this.” Rosemarie said and consoled herself by dangerously sipping another cup of coffee.
“Herschel . . . what am I going to do?”
“Make more toast?” Herschel continued munching on the toast.
She snatched it from him and he cried out reaching for it pleadingly. She held it just out of his reach.
“Now Herschel, I need you to tell me how to get this problem sorted out, then you can have your treat back, okay?”
He nodded.“So . . . speak.”
“I, uh, I would suggest that you- you,” he drooled a little bit and whipped his mouth embarrassed and then resumed acting more humanlike. “Good grief, didn’t I tell you to stop doing that!”
Herschel and Rosemarie had been “friends” for a long time (Rosemarie didn’t particularly appreciate how he seemed to treat her as a servant, but she knew plenty of ways to get back at him); and at some point Herschel had foolishly volunteered to be hypnotized. Now, upon hearing certain trigger words he couldn’t help reverting to his doggish ways, not that he wasn’t already very similar to a puppy.
“I don’t see how he can be helped though, Wulfichu is just a little crazy. Like how can you not like toast? He’s hopeless.”
In case there was any confusion, his name was not Wulfichu. Yet, Herschel had gotten it into his head that they were close enough that he was permitted to give Wulf a nickname, and couldn’t think of anything shorter so . . .
Rosemarie hadn’t really thought Herschel would be much help, but at this point she was running out of ideas. “Herschel, please, what’s your secret? How can you eat toast all the time?”
“It’s my lifeforce.” Herschel said secretively and then dumbly repeated it again. “It’s my lifeforce.”
Rosemarie rolled her eyes and stalked off to lay a trap for Wulf.
She tracked him down in a lounge room not too far off and carefully set up her plan while being sneaky. But, after some time of waiting she grew impatient and peered into the lounge window again.
Wulf was in the same position as he had been in before, sitting sideways in an armchair facing the wall. It struck her that he must be asleep, so she quietly opened the door.
He made no movement, so she slowly crept closer. She finally, reached close enough that she could see his face and was frightened to see his eyes wide open and unblinking.
Rosemarie screamed and stumbled back.
Wulf jumped up suddenly noticing her.
“WHAT?? WHAT HAPPENED?? ARE YOU OKAY?? NOD IF YOU CAN HEAR ME.” Then, waiting no longer than a second, he pulled out his phone. “DO NOT WORRY, I WILL CALL FOR HELP.”
“Wait, wait!” she yelled grabbing at his phone. “I’m okay, I was just freaked out. I thought you were dead.”
“DEAD? HOW? WHY? IS SOMEONE PLANNING ON KILLING ME? ROSEMARIE, PLEASE, YOU HAVE TO HELP ME! I HAVE NOT EVEN HAD MY LEGS REPLACED! I CAN NOT DIE SO SOON.” he began blubbering.
“What, no!” she tried stopping him, but he continued to blather madly. “NOBODY IS TRYING TO KILL YOU.” she yelled.
“NOBODY? NOBODY?? NOT AGAIN! I THOUGHT I DEALT WITH HIM LAST TIME!”
“What?? Dealt with who??”
“Then why would you say you dealt with someone? Whatever, anyway, you are in no danger, no one is trying to hurt you in any way, it’s only that I didn’t know that you sleep with your eyes open, so I thought you had died.”
“YOU WERE WATCHING ME SLEEP???”
“I wasn’t watching you, I just happened to stumble across you, when you sleep in a public place that will happen.” Rosemarie said defensively.
“WAAAaaaaiIIT, I SEE NOW. YOU THOUGHT THAT I WAS SLEEPING WHILE I WAS STARING AT THIS WALL, RIGHT?”
She agreed hesitantly, a little put off by the strange tone he had.
She clutched her ears, his laugh was even more forceful than his coughing.
“I WAS NOT SLEEEEPING.” he wiped his eyes and continued chuckling as though it was obvious, “I WAS JUST REVIEWING MY LINES.”
“Reviewing your lines? While you sleep?”
“NO, I WAS JUST READING THEM IN MY HEAD.” he said, as though this were the most natural and obvious thing in the world.
“What are you a cyborg-? And you said you were going to get your legs replaced . . . ??”
“CYBORG? LEGS REPLACED?? WHERE DO YOU GET THESE THINGS?” he laughed harshly again.
“You literally said-”
“OH, OOOOHHH, MY BAD. I FORGOT, YEAH THAT IS A BAD HABIT OF MINE. I AM NOT A CYBORG DO NOT WORRY. I JUST REMEMBER STUFF. LIKE HOW WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED WORKING HERE YOU GAVE EVERYONE EXCEPT FOR HERSCHEL CHOCOLATE AND YOU EXPLAINED THAT HERSCHEL THINKS IT IS CANNABILISM TO EAT ANYTHING SIMILAR TO HIS NAME, LIKE HERSHEY’S, HEURSES, OR SHELLS.”
At this revelation her first thoughts were of course to think back on her own woes. “So, all this time, you’ve always purposely forgotten my name?” she accused.
“CORRECTION: I NEVER FOGOT, I JUST SAID THE WRONG NAME. BUT, I MEAN EVEN IF I DID NOT HAVE GREAT MEMORY WHO COULD FORGET YOU?”She wasn’t sure whether this question was an implied compliment or insult and wasn’t sure she would accept either from him, so she decided to ignore it.
“Nevermind, nevermind. I don’t care if your legs are robotic or not-” he input that they weren’t, “but I have a job to do, so eat this.”
Having sensed her businesslike change in manner, he ducked as she thrust a piece of toast at him and ran out the door- just as she had predicted. His sudden departure activated her cannon and he had only a moment to pause in fear before he was subsequently drowned in slices of toast.
“Listen here, you,” she stalked towards the mound of toast imperiously, “you don’t have to love toast, you don’t even have to like it- preferably you should be able to tolerate it so that your face reveals no trace of emotion- but you must, absolutely must not: recoil violently, gag visibly, or fall on the ground writhing in pain. Got it?”
He crawled from the mass panting heavily. “I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY WITH YOURSELF. I JUST SAW A LIGHT.”
“Ugh, eat it.” she kicked some toast at him. He winced as though burned and rolled onto his feet to escape further attacks.“WHY DO YOU NOT PICK ON SOMEONE YOUR OWN SIZE??”
“Because I need the challenge.” she growled and chased after him.
Herschel, like a vulture sensing an opportunity, swooped from some unknown crevice and began devouring the unsuspecting toast. He laughed maniacally as he flung the toast into the air in bliss.
The director was about to turn down this hallway, saw a short piece of this disturbing scene and hurried on.
Rosemarie might have chased him around for another hour, but Herschel suddenly called her requesting more toast. That man had the metabolism of a hummingbird. And given his position, she couldn’t easily just tell him no.
“Herschel, for the last time, this whole cabinet is filled with bread, if you need more toast just put it in this toaster here. It can make a whole loaf at a time, okay?”
“But . . . I don’t know how to work a toaster.”
“You don’t know how to work a toaster????” she asked incredulously.
“No, obviously not, I have servants to do that kind of manual labor.”
“It’s hardly manual labor,” she scoffed, “you take the bread, put it in, and when it’s done it pops out, vois-là! There you go, piece of cake.”
“Wait, wait, wait! Walk me through that step-by-step a little bit slower. It turns into cake?”
“Look at me.”
He nodded and obeyed, paying close attention.
“I am your personal toasting trainer right now. I need you” she said with emphasis, “to follow these steps: take your bread-”
“Where do you get the bread?” he interrupted.
“From this cabinet!!” she ripped it open.
“Okay, wait a moment. Let me write that down.” Then he, no joke, got out a some paper and wrote down some sort of note, then looked back at her for the next step.
“So you take this bread,” she pulled it out to demonstrate, “any one of these loafs, you open it up, just like so.” She took off the plastic wrap.
She had to wait a minute for Herschel to write this down, and then she continued this horrifying process of walking through each step until she had, in fact, gone ahead and made him a loaf of toast.
“Well, I really appreciate your training in this matter, Rosy, but- I’ll do my best to remember it- but is it really worth it? I mean, did you see how fast you went through those steps? You’re the real pro here, by the time I make one toast, you’ll have made a hundred. So really, I think our current system is much more efficient with you being the one to do that sort of work. Perhaps in the case of an emergency, I could try my hand at it, but for now, I think it will be best for us to keep our current arrangements. I know it’s a lot of prestige for someone like yourself, but I think you’re up to the task. You have faithfully done your part for so long now, that I have full confidence-”
Who knows what else he might have continued to drawl on about, but Rosemarie shoved some toast in his face, distracting him and then slunk out.
Rosemarie furiously texted Wulf.
‘Wulf, you have signed a contract to do this film, if you don’t want to be sued for failure to fulfill your obligations, then you must learn to withstand toast. I’m doing this for your own good. Meet me in the same room as before. Or else.’
‘sorry rosemarie this numver is currenlty inoperable due to its ownr being died’
This message was typical of him. He had poor grammar, punctuation and many mispellings. Not to mention the content was unbelievable. Rosemarie was not fooled.
She called him and received this strange reply,
“HELLO-OO, DIS DE WIFE OF WULFICHU, MA PRECIOUS VITTLE VULF ÉTAIT MORT- I MEAN DAT, HE HAS NO MORE DA LIFE IN HIS DERE BONES. YE KNOW? SO PLEASE-! LEAVE A POOOR VIDOW IN PEACE AND NO CONTACT DIS NUMBER AGAIN!”
It was a wonder to her that this man was an actor for a living. Unless, that is, he was purposefully being terrible in the name of humor, unfortunately he was always rather deadpan, so it was hard to say whether that was the case or not.
“Wulf, first off, that was terrible acting. Secondly, I know you’re not married or dead. Thirdly, get over here now!!!”
Whether she had so charmingly convinced him, or he had come to his senses, he consented and put on a very low voice for contrast, “(OH HONEY!) SORRY, ABOUT MY WIFE SHE IS JEALOUS OF HOW MUCH TIME WE HAVE BEEN SPENDING TOGETHER, SO SHE MADE UP SOME SILLY STORY. (YES, I LOVE YOU DEAR, DO NOT WORRY THIS IS ONLY FOR WORK.) TRUST ME A LITTLE, I WILL MEET YOU THERE SOON.”
Wulf was the first to give his input when he arrived. “NOW LISTEN, I KNOW I AM A HANDSOME MAN, BUT YOU HAVE TO STOP CHASING ME AROUND. IT WILL GIVE PEOPLE THE WRONG IDEA, YOU KNOW I AM A MARRIED MAN, RIGHT?”
“Hardy, har, har. You are a real hoot. Now sit down and be miserable while I drown my sorrows in a well deserved cup of coffee.”
“MMMM, YOU SHOULD QUIT WHILE YOU ARE YOUNG SWEETIE. IT GETS HARDER AS YOU AGE.” he said, sadly reaching for a detestable piece of toast.
“Do you even drink coffee?”
“I WILL HAVE YOU KNOW-! NO. I DRINK TEA. COFFEE GOES WELL WITH THOSE HEARTLESS TOAST EATERS- UGH, BLEGH, AHCK, YECH!!!!”
Wulf began coughing from the abhorrent toast.
“Are you choking?” Rosemarie asked, as is the custom before you deliver the hiemlich.
“NO, I AM DYING.”
“Here wash it down with some coffee.” Rosemarie offered smirking. He grimaced, but took it.
“EWW, WHY DO YOU DRINK IT BLACK???”
“It wouldn’t be as effective if I watered it down with sugar and milk. You must be a sweet-tooth if you can’t handle it.”
“LET’S MAKE A DEAL. IF I CAN FINISH THIS PIECE OF TOAST WITHOUT ANY MORE OUTBURSTS I CAN WALK FREE.”
“Fine, let’s see it.”
He put on his best mask and then ate the toast in quiet torture, his facial expression slowly growing more and more grieved. As he took his last bite, tears began to drip down his face and Rosemarie almost felt bad for him.
“I’m sorry, Wulf. You didn’t yell, but that’s still not going to cut it.”
He was already jumping up though.
“AU REVOIR, MON AMIE.” he bowed genteely and then darted away whilst wiping the tears from his cheeks.
And of course Herschel took this opportunity to make another appearance.
“Was that Wulfichu I saw crying?”
“No, that was a dead man walking.” She downed another cup of coffee, shoved some toast into Herchel’s arms and raced after him.
Rosemarie now had to come up with a new plan. The staff was invited to have dinner together, and they were all ordered a great amount of fancy sandwiches, which Wulf wasn’t opposed to. While he disliked toast to an absurd degree, he had no qualms against good old-fashioned bread.
Accidentally meeting Rosemarie in the hallway he held up his hands submissively and declared that they should at least observe a truce during this time, little did he know that she had already been given permission to make some harmless alterations to his food.
Upon biting into his sandwich his face screwed up in confusion. He sniffed the sandwich and took another bite. He washed it down with some water and set it back on his plate concerned.
“SORRY, MAY I HAVE ANOTHER SANDWICH? I BELIEVE THIS ONE IS STALE- OR INCREDIBLY DISGUSTING.”
“No, sir, that cannot be the case, this sandwich was made specially for you not long ago.”
“BY WHOM . . . ????” Wulf grew pale.
“Why, that young lady over there.” the waiter pointed Rosemarie out. She waved innocently and then returned to delicately sipping what must have been her tenth cup of coffee.
Wulf blanched and inspected his sandwich carefully, then peeled the harmless looking bread off and flipped it over. Only one side had been toasted.
Wulf stomped over and towered over her, then thrust the mutilated bread in her face.
“WHAT IS THIS???”
“Whatever do you mean?” she blinked ignorantly.
“THIS-THIS!! CAN YOU NOT SEE? THIS IS CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT. CAN A MAN NOT ENJOY HIS FOOD IN PIECE? WHY DO YOU INSIST ON THIS HORRENDOUS MALICE???”
“Wulf,” she said gently, “perhaps we should take this outside.”
He automatically held up his fists as if to fight her.“Don’t be silly,” she laughed in a tinkling, light-hearted way, “you know that’s not what I mean. Let’s just discuss this privately. I know this is a sensitive topic for you.”
People were glancing at them curiously and he suddenly grew flushed. Another thing you don’t expect to see actors do: lose their composure.
He took her hand and brought her outside.
“YOU ENJOY EMBARRASSING ME.” He stated it as a fact.
“You’ve caught me.” She shrugged. “But also, you’re supposed to do this scene soon and if you can’t, then I lose.”
“I LOST THE GAME.” he muttered as well as he could mutter.
“NOTHING. BUT, ANYWAY, I PROMISE I HAVE BEEN TRYING. BUT, I SIMPLY CAN NOT LIKE IT. IF IT WAS BURNT IT WOULD BETTER! BUT I KNOW THAT WILL NOT PAN OUT . . .”
“Why do you have this aversion to toast though! It doesn’t even change the flavor much! It’s just a slight texture difference, which surely doesn’t deserve the ridiculous reaction you give it!”
“SO YOU WANT TO KNOW, HUH?” he “whispered”. “MY DARK PAST WITH TOAST?”
“Do you have one?”
“WHO DOES NOT?? BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT I AM ALLERGIC TO TOAST . . .”
“Ha-ha, nice try. Cooking something a little more doesn’t make it something different. Not to mention, you ate it earlier and you’re fine.”
“I BEG TO DIFFER. COOKING SOMETHING CHANGES EVERYTHING. WOOD BECOMES CHARCOAL, NOT THE SAME THING.”
“Okay, but cooking it doesn’t add any extra ingredients that weren’t already there. Besides, you probably wouldn’t taste an allergy, you would just have an allergic reaction.”
“WHAT IF MY ALERGIC REACTION IS GAGGING BECAUSE OF THE TASTE? BUT, IN ALL SERIOUSNESS, AN ALLERGY IS BASICALLY POISON TO A SPECIFIC PERSON. AND THERE ARE PLENTY OF THINGS WE CAN TASTE ARE POISONOUS. FOR EXAMPLE, OLEANDER, BRUSSEL SPROUTS, AND YOUR ATTITUDE.”
“Brat.” She smacked him. “So is there no real reason? I don’t get it. The texture difference from toast to bread isn’t that bad. And it really doesn’t taste different-”
“THAT IS WHERE YOU ARE WRONG. PERHAPS YOUR PALLET, ROSSMIE, CAN NOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE, BUT IT IS INFINITELY NOTICEABLE TO ME AND IT IS DISGUSTING.”
“Stop being a picky baby.” she snapped.
“Don’t scold Wulfichu,” a voice moaned. They turned to see Herschel sitting in a trashcan nearby.
“Herschel, what happened??” Rosemarie ran over and tried to help him out.
“Stop, I can’t move. I think . . . I ate too much toast.”
There was a ripple of shock through them. Was that possible?? Well, Wulf would have thought a single piece was too much, but for Herschel . . .
“So you’re feeling sick? But how did you end up in the trashcan??” Rosemarie asked.
“I said I was going to throw up and they told me to run to a trash can,” he said and then made a lovely sick motion.
“So you got inside?? Again? You’re going to be filthy.”
“I did what I had to. To protect them.” He held up a hand weakly, like a valiant hero and then sat back down into the can.
“WHAT SHOULD WE DO?” Wulf asked.
“It’s okay, this isn’t his first time in a trashcan.” Rosemarie said. “More importantly, I need you to overcome this aversion of yours. And since attacking you hasn’t been working, I need you to really explain this problem so we can get to the root of it. Think of me as your psychologist.”
“I DO NOT HAVE A PSYCHOLOGIST.”
“Yeah, it sure seems like it- uh, I mean- that’s okay. Tell me anything you want, don’t be afraid.”
“OKAY- WELL . . . THE TRUTH IS THAT- I USED TO LOVE TOAST.”
Rosemarie was about to interject, but he hurried on seriously.
“WHEN I WAS IN FIFTH GRADE, MY PARENTS USED TO MAKE ME TOAST EVERY MORNING, AND WHEN WE RAN OUT OF BREAD I WOULD THROW FITS. I WAS TEN TIMES WORSE THAN HERSCHEL, IF YOU CAN BELIEVE THAT. IT WAS AN OBSESSION REALLY, TO EVERYONE WHO KNEW ME I WAS ‘TOAST GUY’.” He laughed bitterly. “I CAME UP WITH MY OWN STORY ABOUT A MAN WHO GOT HIS LEGS REPLACED WITH TOASTERS.”
Understanding dawned on her.
“YES, THAT WAS WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT EARLIER. BUT, I WOULD NEVER DO THAT NOW. BECAUSE I HATE TOAST NOW. I HATE IT,” he said darkly. “ONE DAY, I CAME FOR BREAKFAST AND FOUND . . . NO TOAST. NONE AT ALL.”
Herschel blew his nose really loudly. “Oh, sorry, go on. I was just trying to get the crumbs out.” Rosemarie flinched.
“AS I WAS SAYING . . . WHEN I SAW WE HAD NO TOAST, I GOT REALLY UPSET. AND I INSISTED THAT THEY GO TO THE STORE AND BUY MORE BREAD- AS A SIDE NOTE, WHY DOES THE STORE ONLY SELL BREAD AND NOT TOAST??”
“Right? I’ve wondered that every day!” Herschel agreed.
“AND THEY DID IT, THEY LEFT TO GO GET SOME BREAD WHILE I POUTED IN MY ROOM. AS IT GOT LATER I GREW MORE AND MORE FRUSTRATED. AND THEN I FOUND OUT . . . THAT THEY HAD BEEN IN A CAR CRASH BECAUSE THEY TRIED TO MAKE THE TOAST WHILE THEY DROVE! BUT ALL THAT BREAD WAS RUINED . . . OH, AND THEY WERE HOSPITALIZED. SO I PROMISED TO STAY AWAY FROM TOAST FROM THEN ON.”
“Oh Wulf . . . I’m so sorry. That must have been so hard. Now I understand-”
“BUT THAT WAS NOT ALL. WHEN I STARTED HIGH SCHOOL, MY BEST FRIEND WAS HAVING A PARTY AND EVERYONE WAS HAVING TOAST. I DID NOT WANT TO BE LEFT OUT, SO I BROKE MY VOW AND HAD SOME AGAIN. ALMOST AS SOON AS I DID IT, MY BEST FRIEND STARTED CHOKING. NONE OF US KNEW HOW TO HELP AND HE WENT UNCONSCIOUS BEFORE SOMEONE WHO KNEW THE HEIMLICH ARRIVED.”
“Wow . . . that is just . . . awful. But it’s not your fault. Why didn’t you say anything before??”
“AND THEN-! MY WIFE HAD BUTTERED A PIECE OF TOAST. I GOT UPSET THAT SHE MADE IT AND SHE ACCIDENTALLY DROPPED IT, STUMBBLED BACK AND SLIPPED ON IT, HITTING HER LEFT FUNNY BONE SO HARD THAT SHE COULD NOT STOP LAUGHING FOR THREE DAYS-!” he cried.
“Now wait a moment . . .”
“SO,” he wiped his tears, “I VOWED THAT I WOULD MAKE THIS WORLD A BETTER PLACE, IN MEMORY OF THEM ALL, ALTHOUGH NONE OF THEM DIED. AND THAT I WOULD NEVER FALL INTO TEMPTATION AND EAT TOAST AGAIN. AND I WOULD ALWAYS OPPOSE TOAST-EATERS LIKE HIM.” He pointed at Herschel. “AND I WOULD RISE ABOVE MY PAST MISTAKES AND HELP OTHERS REALIZE THE FOLLY OF THEIR WAYS. I VOWED THAT I WOULD AMEND MY WAYS, AND I WOULD BECOME THE HERO I ALWAYS DREMPT OF: TOAST GUY. THE MAN, WHOSE LEGS WERE NOT MADE OF TOASTERS, BUT WERE, IN FACT, MADE OF DE-TOASTERS!!”
Herschel clapped half-heartedly and his face was blank, as if he may not have heard anything.
“You’re kidding right?” Rosemarie asked.
“YEAH, RASMAR, I AM.” Wulf blinked lazily.
They heard the door creak open.
“Wulf.” the director said.
“That was beautiful Wulf. We all heard it. I didn’t know you had that kind of talent in you, that- that enthusiasm, that vitality! How would you like to be recasted as the hero of this film?”
“But what about me?” Herschel asked flatly, his face a harsh grimace from his pain.
“I think there’s a fair chance that you might do well for the villain’s part after all . . .” he laughed nervously, remembering the horrific scene from earlier. “If you’re willing to do the toast scene.” The director thought this would be a selling point, but Herschel scowled deeper.
“I don’t think I could eat another piece of toast again. Why don’t we do something else- oh, how about oatmeal, that’s a pretty typical boring food right?”
“Why, you’re right. I suppose that will work just fine,” he said agreeably and quickly walked away to hide his uneasiness.
“B-b-but-!” Rosemarie protested. Why had he always turned her down before? Was he just waiting for a proper suggestion? How had she not thought of it? Had she really gone through this whole situation for nothing?
“THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP, IEREMESOR. THAT- THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE YOUR NAME BACKWARDS . . . ANYHOW, I KNOW YOU DID A LOT TRYING TO HELP ME, SO LET ME MAKE IT UP TO YOU. HOW ABOUT WE GO SEE A MOVIE IN THEATERS, ON ME?”
Rosemarie sighed, she could use some time to destress . . . “Fine, but only if it’s good.”
The two of them met and saw a film that Wulf incidentally starred in. There was probably no accident on his part in choosing it.
She wasn’t super invested in the story because she was so tired, but suddenly a scene caught her attention. In the picture, Wulf was hunched over some evil plan of his and without any hint of hesitation reached over and took a bite of- a piece of toast!!
She rounded on him.
“Why-?!” she hissed.
“UMM, YOU SEE,” he said defensively leaning away from her, “I JUST WANTED TO PLAY THE HERO FOR ONCE . . . SORRY.”
“It’s okay,” Herschel said, popping up behind them. “I was in on it, so don’t be angry.”
“HEY, AT LEAST YOU GET PAID FOR YOUR TIME . . .”
“Except for all the extra stuff, like waking up at 2am to make toast . . .” she reached for her coffee as she remembered the horror.
“I REALLY AM SORRY ABOUT THAT.” And for once he did look rather contrite. “OKAY, LOOK: I WILL PAY FOR YOU TO GO TO MOVIES UNTIL YOU FORGIVE ME. AND, OF COURSE, WE WILL ALL GO TO SEE THE NEW FILM ONCE IT COMES OUT, RIGHT?”
She thought for a moment in silence and then smiled to herself. “I wouldn’t miss it for the world, I’ve been waiting to see the toast scene for so long!”
“Don’t forget-! It’s the oatmeal scene now!”