A fairytale of jelly and betrayal
My name is Henry O. Lundstrom, and I regret to say I’m spending my last moments on earth upside down in a big batch of dough. Baking is my trade, or at least it was until I slipped and plunged headfirst into my brand new mixing machine. I’ll miss my young wife Sigrid and the lutefisk dinners at the Last Chance Lutheran church. Just so you know, lutefisk is salted cod, a nod to the Swedes who populate the valley where I live, or should I say lived. I never actually saw anyone take a bite of lutefisk, but to hear tell, it is quite tasty. During the aforementioned dinners, I frequently hid my portion under a napkin.
Don’t ask how I lost my footing and fell into this vat. Sigrid may have been careless while cleaning, because it’s her job to scrub the floors and leave them spotless. The blobs of sweet raspberry filling I slathered on our much-desired jellyrolls perhaps are more to blame than Sigrid, though I’m not letting her off the hook just yet. Whatever the case, folks come from miles around to buy my donuts, crullers, jellyrolls and “O Boys,” the latter being the specialty of the house. “O” stands for “Ole,” my middle name. Not that it matters much now.
The machine has finally stopped spinning, so at least I’m no longer suffering from vertigo.
I trust my forthcoming obituary won’t unearth the details of my demise, for who really needs to know how it feels to smother in dough, yes, the very same dough I once kneaded lovingly and patted into shape before slipping it into the oven? The smell of those earthly delights drove the populace crazy, but now that I’m immersed in the stuff (feeling it creep into every available orifice), it doesn’t seem nearly as swell as the memory of it as an olfactory experience.
Did I mention Ostervaald (my handsome younger brother and business partner) who was in charge of receipts, and each week divided the profits … half for him, half for me? Sigrid didn’t actually receive a share, but I pride myself on my generosity, so she’s never lacked for cleaning supplies. Buckets and mops don’t come cheap. On slow days, she’d go off with Ostervaald to buy supplies. They were both excellent pickers of wild raspberries, though I often wondered how, experts that they were, they managed to return covered with multiple scratches from the brambly bushes. Mind you, my beloved was not given to nonsense, but she was hard-pressed to explain clearly to me how she ended up with scratches on her back. Ostervaald remained mostly tight-lipped after their picking trips, though he once remarked that Sigrid’s lips were as plump and rosy as the berries in their respective baskets. It’s too late now, I suppose, to wonder how he knew that.
The dough expands as time shrinks inside my machine. In the distance I detect, through my clogged ears, the tolling of the bells topping the Lutheran church. It’s been years (has it?) since I, my young wife and my younger brother came to these shores, bound across the Atlantic on the ill-fated Titanic. We three survived by clinging to each other. Thinking back, I’m not exactly proud that my brother fudged a bit by disguising himself as a woman (he borrowed Sigrid’s hat, coat and glittering earrings) in order to make it onto the one remaining lifeboat. He was certainly an excellent keeper-of-receipts, and all told, a darn fine raspberry picker, but he wasn’t always fair and square. Trust me.
My mouth is tightly closed, but the dough is winning the battle to invade. Don’t worry, I’m not cold, in fact, I’m warm now that I’ve stopped struggling. My final thoughts turn to all those “O Boys” lined up on the counter waiting to be baked. Ostervaald and Sigrid are off on another of their raspberry outings, never mind that it’s winter in these parts. Soon, but not soon enough, they’ll return (covered with scratches per usual), and here I’ll be, upside down, dead as a salted cod, my feet clad in new black boots pointing skyward. If I could see the soles, I’d wager they’re covered with raspberry filling. Who’s to blame? Who can say?
When my wife and brother return, will they be offended by the silly sight of me, mouth wide open…the late great Henry O. Lundstrom, Renowned Baker of O Boys and such?
All in all, Ostervaald, can, if he wishes, carry the O Boy fame forward by using the O in his first name. Should he marry Sigrid, she’ll remain a Lundstrom.
I guess in the end, it all equals out … doesn’t it?