The Baker's Ass

7 minutes read

Ever since word filtered in from the countryside, sifting finally into Vienna that the Ottoman horde had swarmed across the Danube in May, the baker only had two dreams.

The first dream involved loads of hairy, Eastern men with their shirts off disregarding his pleas and offers of his wife eyeing him and his cakes. In this dream he was always surrounded by his cakes. Their big, black eyes, dark with lust and greed, urgently shifted first to his wide and flat ass, then to the cakes, then to his ass again, flitting back and forth.

The previous night he had the second dream. In this one, the sun shone on the streets of Vienna reflecting a soft reassuring glow off the worn smooth cobbles in St Stephen’s Square. His wife was not there in this second dream, it was instead quiet. It was silent as if underwater but bathed instead in light. There was no sound, no cannon fire, no nagging, no dogs, and everything smelled of baking. All around him lounged women of very shape, size and colour, all for him laying among piles of macaroons rubbing each other. He was a Sultan of sorts, a Sultan just like the one who was ruining everything, with his hundreds of thousands of soldiers trying take the city, and his ass.

How he was a Sultan and a baker in the dream was an issue that he had quietly been trying to resolve since the dreams started. It made no sense, this he knew. What did it mean he would wonder. He dared not ask anyone, not his fire-eyed wife Gertrude possessed as she scrubbed every surface she could find in their dying homes and certainly not the priest.

The dream was puzzling but nice regardless. Puzzling because he got to fuck all the women he ever wanted not because he was the Sultan, but because of his macaroons: they would create the usual swooning and flushing of breasts and all that, as his macaroons created an insatiable lust for whoever had made them.

This also meant he had to keep the macaroons away from his evil twin brother.

In his waking hours, the baker knew of course that he didn’t have an evil twin brother, much less a regular twin brother. This dream evil twin brother was otherwise not so different from Franz, looking, talking and acting exactly as Franz did. But the evil part was because he wasn’t baptised and was somehow raised by gypsies or something, and tried to steal the macaroons and claim them as his own. This made no sense to him as well.

The evil twin in the dream was probably a Turk, or one of those Janissaries who were stolen as boys from Christian lands and raised as Turks to be sent back to their villages to kill their relatives. The twin, who also mysteriously remained nameless, always stole the macaroons, but due to Franz’s cunning and sex-renewed vigour, he got them back at the last minute by tricking his evil twin with a goose feather and a magical apron blessed by the Virgin Mary. That part made perfect sense to Franz.

Franz was now awake and walking through his Vienna in the soft daylight and he was being neither coddled, nor ogled, nor stolen from, nor raped. He was still in the middle of siege though. He stopped walking for a moment to shift his paunch and crack his neck, distracted by a sound of distant explosions, a cacophony of shouts, musket fire and incessant swearing. He generally found the swearing too much. The entire city shuddered when they fired the big guns – the ones that fired 200-pound cannonballs which would batter what was left of their lives further into to the ground. This he didn’t seem to mind half as much as the swearing. The swearing could be helped he thought, the Turks outside could not.

He thought about the Sultan’s men camped outside his city quite a bit. He wondered what they ate and how they drank their tea. He also thought about the real Sultan who was he imagined fat as hell, much, much fatter than Franz in fact. But it was an okay sort of fat as hell as he would be draped in the finest silks from every corner of the world swimming in waves of purple, white and blue folding over and over his girth plopped down on a divan. The Sultan didn’t have to do a lot, after all – his job was most likely eating almond and pistachio delights of the Orient and having his way with hordes of young slave girls, just like Franz did in his dream. The Sultan also loved pastry; this they had in common. This Sultan, this Mohammed worshipping Turk however was evil though, enveloped to such an extant by a greed for land and power that surely could only come from the Devil.

This was his Vienna though, not the Sultan’s. Franz had conquered Vienna years ago with extremely hard-to-duplicate nut mixtures brought from his native Styria. Many had tried to recreate his nußschnecken, and all had failed.

He walked his neighborhood’s streets, the ones ordinarily warmed and ringed by the sweet smells of Franz Backerei’s livelihood: the nutty, pungently doughy, sugary sweet smells carried on breezes and sunshine, bringing goodwill to all.

But the only smells in the air now are of smoke, rot, piss, shit and fear. He could no longer fight the smells. He had for months tried to fight it, but was almost out of ammunition. Flour, sugar, eggs and butter were always easy to come by ordinarily; the sugar was the good sugar you could only get when you were around the capital of an empire, not the provincial stuff he had learned to work miracles with back in Marburg and Graz. Whether that stuff was made out of sand or chalk he didn’t know, but he had scraped and scrapped with it, beat it three ways to Advent and learned to mould it, love and command it into that which made him who he was today in Vienna.

It was a different story now: the eggs were running out, as was the flour and butter. In Vienna the eggs were usually good – but not as good as he remembered they were back home from those rolling green hills draped in grey mists around Graz … he only remembered it raining there, for some reason. In Vienna, it hadn’t rained for what seemed like an eternity. Everything was bone dry – dust. The streets he walked and the walls of buildings not blown or burned apart flaking and melting off in the sun ready to ignite at the slightest spark. He prayed every day for rain to come when the Türkenglocken rang in the morning, to drench all the never-ending gunpowder the Turks seemed to have and drown them in their trenches like rats.

‘No, not rats,’ he thought to himself. ‘Something else that drowns and you don’t give a shit about. Perhaps donkeys. Or maybe Gertrude.’

But rats were now on the menu in Vienna. He had eaten and cooked rats in all sorts of ways. He would think up rat recipes to challenge his mind and keep his spirits up. Rat soup was easy, anyone could do that, but to make a decent rat pie was difficult. Rat goulash with carrots and turnips was something he enjoyed quite a bit and would probably prepare even if he did have beef. All the cows were now long dead and eaten.

At first, eating rat was obviously something people hadn’t really wanted to do, but three or four months into the siege, meat was scarce and the more rats you ate, the fewer that were alive to carry disease. It was a gruesome logic that most Viennese grudgingly put up with.

Walking along those streets, sections of cobble as wide as two carriages now completely missing, ripped up to prop up another part of the city or blown apart by mortars, saw a dead, rotting black goat, the black fur reminding him of the hairy men in his first dream with the big eyes. He wondered what they would eat. Babies probably.


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