Casey Hall is a part time writer and a full time collector of regional Dr. Pepper clones. He will literally pay you $10 for a can of your local version, email him here (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set that shit up.
Every night father returns from the pastry prometheus, a perpetual rain of pastry flakes shaking off his coat, out of his hair, from his shoulders. At the head of the table he slumps like tired dough. When he first started, we would run to greet him, reaching into every pocket up and down his coat searching for dinner.
There were always dozens of them, croissants shaped like donuts, croissants shaped like muffins, cubic croissants, double helixed croissants, croissant nuggets, mobius croissants, croissantzzas, ramenssants, tacroissants, amorphous croissants with a specific weight and shape that instilled in you the distinct yet unknowable feeling of touching a soul.
Months would go by before a croisshape would repeat, and to our still young, still wondrous hearts it felt like father’s pockets would always hold new croisstrapolations.
As the world demanded more and more croissants, father disappeared later and longer into the pastry prometheus. Drones with our father’s musk would appear in his stead, vomiting croissants from its PackNic croissant hatch.
This was our routine for years. First it became difficult to find anything that wasn’t some form of buttery, flaky layers inside a toasty shell. Then it became difficult to stomach a single one.
On my 16th birthday I was sent to work at the prometheus. You could see it from anywhere, but this was the first time I had felt it–a warm, vibrating cylinder that rose above everything and possessed more of the Earth than the oceans ever did. All day long trillions of ropes of lithe, infinitely folded and infinitely buttery dough were worked into new configurations and given names in mangled French.
For 6 hours at a time I would alternate pouring butter and flour down chutes that fed into metalarmed mashers and manglers. It was First Moonlight break when a coworked asked if I wanted to get a croissant wine from the croissant place next door. Sure.
Inside my coworker touched the maitre’d’s shoulders, leaned into him and whispered two quick, small words. He looked at me, wary and welcoming all at once.
We walked behind the pastry case and into a back room, down a set of stairs, through a closet. We sat in a restaurant identical to the one upstairs, and the waiter brought us water. He put something else on the table, something I didn’t recognize—inside a finger bowl, small, oblong things. At first I thought they were some kind of microissants. My co-worker tosses back a handful of them, and says lowly, “peanuts.”
We did not drink croissant wine. We had clear, nectarous brandy made from grapes. We had pretzel rods and cheesey squeeze. We had potato chips, corn doodles, spicy wawas. Then the grand finale, more peanuts enrobed in chocolate with a thin candy shell.
Before we step back into the prometheus my coworker asks me to check his teeth for flecks of chocolate. He’s clean, I say as I flash my teeth at him. He nods at me, and then it’s back to the butter and the flour.
Every day we go to the croissant shop for red rope licorice, party mix, sour apple pucker ups, creme filled tube cakes, popcorn with ten kinds of taste dust. I could never take anything home, I could never speak of the things we snacked on. At home, they poke my flushing cheeks and ask what kind of croissants they’re feeding me at the prometheus, and I swallow the difficult secrets a man must keep from his family.
We have not seen my father or his drone in years. Now I bring home a coat full of croissants folded into delicate origami. Everything smells like the smell of fresh baked, it follows me everywhere, it permeates into my soft tissue. All I have are strange sweet and salty things hidden away in the croissant shop’s basement.
Eventually my coworker is replaced by a steam vent that slowly tills a rudder.
And eventually I go down to the croissant shop alone and I order a round of cheese zips and fruit zesties. And I order another, and another. I should leave, I should see the family. But I load a dozen croissant nesting dolls into a drone and send it home.