Bob is one of these miserable souls in need of a fix. His relationship with his wife has deteriorated to the breaking point. He ponders whether divorce isn’t an option until he stumbles on a certain sweet shop. There he finds a chocolaty fix to his problem.
Nobody would have ever expected such a shop lay among those large, national-brand bakeries. It was a small unassuming place with small unassuming windows that looked out on the busy street. Small pictures were stenciled onto the glass showing some of their tasty treats. Everything from cupcakes to scones was advertised, along with the name of the shop, Mr. Eres' Sensual Sweets.
There was an awning over the front that stuck out to kindly protect those who passed by from drizzly rain and harsh sun. It also invited them inside where many a diet was ruined. All one need do is walk those steps to the glory of those pastries and desserts, which all deemed heavenly and some whispered witchcraft. The witchcraft rumors were from the lack of any dissatisfied customers. No one had ever brought a complaint to neighbor, friend, or relative about the delicious sweets, even though they bemoaned the fate of their waistlines. No one could find fault with Mr.
Eres' cakes, breads, or sweets; they were all so magically perfect.
Another funny thing was how so many people ended up at the little sweet shop in the first place. None of them ever intended to be there, much less purchase one of those mouth-watering foods, but there a person would be minding their own business and suddenly stop on the sidewalk in front of the shop. Those workers in the buildings across the way swore those people were mesmerized and forced inside the place. Some even took the walk themselves, but no one could ever repeat the trick.
Others were bolder and, when the outside perusal failed to satisfy their curiosity, they'd go inside the shop. The place was a treasure-trove of delicious delights. The walls were covered with tubs of hard and soft candies of all kinds, from jawbreakers and lollipops to old-fashioned, caramel and rock candy. At the front counter that ran along most of one wall were cases of baked goods dripping with frosting. Donuts, cakes, cookies and every enjoyable and fattening thing sat beneath the glass waiting for a hungry buyer. Behind the counter lay the fresh bread, each type tucked away in their own little cubby holes.
What amazed everyone who came inside was that all that sweets were made right in that small shop. No one could fathom how big the back cooking area had to be to produce such a large quantity and variety, and no one was allowed back there. A sign hung on the door that led to the back which read Employees Only. The funny part was that Mr. Eres was the only employee, or at least the only one anyone ever saw. Nobody ever saw him leave, either, but deliveries were made to the shop for the ingredients to all those delicious treats. Everyone assumed maybe he lived in the upper story, though nobody ever walked in front of those windows with the white lace curtains.
Those bold workers who dared to go into the lion's den never got the last laugh on their more cautious coworkers. There was never any jeering about superstitious people and their rumors, because every single person who went into that shop came out with something. Even if it was just a donut or a cookie, once inside they felt an irresistible urge to buy something from those well-stocked shelves. They couldn't explain it to themselves, and those who felt it couldn't even explain it to each other. It was a silent command to buy and eat a food that would make you smile, and it did.
Those were the oddities of the store wedged between the chain-store bakeries. Small and unassuming, but it was steeped in wonderful mysteries. What a lot of people didn't know, however, was that beneath those strange happenings were even stranger stories filled with romance and righteous revenge. This is one of those stories.
Bob rarely went to that part of town, mostly because he couldn't afford to eat out at the fancy eateries along those high-priced blocks. Sometimes he'd overhear his friends and coworkers praise a little sweet shop wedged between those fancy bakeries, but he didn't have much of a sweet tooth. His wife did, but right then he wasn't in the mood to give her a gift of chocolate.
Actually, he was more in the mood to give her a gift of divorce.
It wasn't that he'd stopped loving her, not entirely, but the spark had gone out of their lives. Those first frisky years of honeymoon love were gone, passed by several more years of not-so-blissful toleration. Now they were just roommates, two people who cohabitated for financial convenience. There wasn't even any make-up sex after their fights, just brooding and oppressive silence.
But that wasn't what he was doing right then. Right then he was walking down the street searching out a friend who'd invited him to one of those posh places on that posh block of eateries. He saw two familiar bakery chains side-by-side along the block-but wait. There was an awning between the two buildings, which themselves didn't have any cover for their customers. He stepped up beneath the shaded cover and glanced up that short flight of stairs to the door. It was painted a light, inviting pink and a small doorstop in the shape of a loaf of bread propped it open.
Bob was curious about this strange pink door that stood between the rest of the gray and brown city. He stepped up to one of the windows and peeked inside. His eyes barely looked over the tall sills, but he could still see the wonderful shelves filled with their goodies. It appeared no one was inside, and he wondered if he could manage a quick look around before any of the employees spotted him and bothered him with their over-helpfulness.
That's when a heavy hand fell on his shoulder, and Bob jumped a foot in the air. He turned mid-flight and came face-to-face with his friend, Ryan Dotson, a man nearly twice his age at fifty-five. Bob clutched at his chest and scowled at his companion.
"Did you really have to do that?"
"You looked so distracted that I couldn't help myself," Ryan replied. There was a wide grin plastered across his face. "Besides, I wanted to stop you before you went in there."
"Why, what's wrong with the place?" Bob asked him. He glanced back at the window and the top of the shelves. There hadn't been anything foreboding about the shop. On the contrary, the wide front windows allowed a lot of natural light to flow into the building.
"Well, if you went in there then you'd have to buy something, and I know you don't have much of a sweet tooth," Ryan pointed out. Bob furrowed his brow.
"Why would I want to buy something?" Ryan shrugged and nodded for them to head down the street. If they didn't get to the restaurant they'd overrun on their lunches.
"It's just something that happens in there. You go in there with no intention of buying anything and come out with at least one of their city-famous bagels."
"City-famous? How come I haven't heard of the place? What was it again, Mr. Arrow's Place?"
"Mr. Eres' Sensual Sweets," Ryan corrected him. He tilted his head toward Bob and gave him a firm, confident look. "And believe me, you'd come out of there with something in your hands."
"What if I didn't have any money on me?" Bob teased.
"With everyone carrying around plastic, I don't see that happening," his friend replied. Then he rubbed his hands together. "Now let's get us some fancy grub."
"Your treat, right?"
"Yep, my treat. Just don't go expecting me to do this every day; it can get pretty expensive for me, too," Ryan scolded.