The Chocolate Cake

Posted on 29/08/2012


Red red wine

Red red wine (Photo credit: Blue Square Thing)

“It may not have been as simple as you just described it, Maggie.” Pablo stared at Maggie while she kept banging the wine glass leg with her coffee spoon as a sort of nervous reaction to the pressure she felt. “Well,” she answered, “I need to give it an explanation, don’t I? The ayi said…” “Forget whatever the ayi said!” Interrupted Pablo, and added in a hurried whisper, “she might be in on it!”. As his voice volume went down I leaned to my right, holding my head with a nonchalant move and  placing my ear discretely to an strategic position. Maggie kept hitting the wine glass leg with her spoon and gazed deeply into the red of the Chilean Shiraz, as if there was some answer to be found in the thick colour of its full body. The waitress approached the table. Neither of them noticed until her voice rang like a bell: “may I clear you plate, madam?”. Maggie sat back to let the waitress reach her plate and she awkwardly let the spoon rest on the tomato stained table cloth. “I trust the ayi”, she finally said. “Honestly, Pablo. I think you are paranoid.” She let it go like that, plain and loud, without warning. They heard it in all the tables nearby. To Pablo that felt like a slap on the face. His countenance stiffened and he stabbed his fork into the roast chicken. Then he looked up to her curly head, gathering his self-control, “I don’t think it’s normal, Maggie. It’s just not normal. The telephone rings every time I step into the shower.” Pablo repeated the key words again, spacing them to make sure they were understood: “ Every, single, time.”  He tried not to shout, but anybody would have noticed the stress his pronunciation carried. “Look, Pablo, forget about it. Who cares? Who cares about you having a shower? I’ve seen your naked ass enough times to be certain there’s nothing exceptional about it!”. At that moment the whole restaurant had the privilege to learn Pablo’s buttocks were not exceptional. Some heads turned around, some eyes turned down to get a partial view of Pablo’s rear. Pablo grabbed his glass. Several people gasped, including myself, expecting he would empty it on her face. To our disappointment, he gave himself a big swig of that Chilean wine. He downed it in the Chinese fashion, and he missed the subtle oak and ripe cherry notes. When he detached the glass from his face, he saw Maggie in front of him, still laughing about her own joke. “Oh, yes! It’s so funny!”, was his reply. He looked down to the chicken. His fork was still standing on the meat. He released it and resumed his meal. He munched on several pieces of chicken, previously slid upon the rosemary sauce on the side of the plate avoiding to look at his dinner companion. He was obviously feeling offended, and everybody in the restaurant sympathised with him. He finally talked – with some chicken meat and some potato inside his mouth – while staring at his plate. “You don’t understand, Maggie.” He paused. He munched. “I am not worried about having a pervert obsessed with me. You know I might even like it.” He moved his gaze from the rosemary sauce to Maggie’s eyes. “I am worried about…, you know, serious stuff.” He refilled Maggie’s glass and his own, and then he drank. The wine tannins sat on his lower lip. He licked it. Maggie had already asked for the dessert menu, and was reading it with much interest. She had been listening, though. “Serious stuff, eh? What kind of serious stuff? As serious as double chocolate frenzy cake topped with creamy butter sauce and soaked in sugar rum? That is quite serious, man”. Pablo didn’t seem too impressed by the recipe, he answered slowly, improvising his clever analogy as he went along: “No.I’m thinking of something more like double TV blackouts on CNN and BBC, topped with email correspondence surveillance, soaked in tapped telephone calls, all swimming in a pool of  neighbourhood vigilance sauce…” Maggie gave him a look of concern, she rose her hand to draw the waitress’ attention and then she addressed him: “You’re not  a criminal Pablo. There’s no need for you to worry about these things. Do you want to share the chocolate cake with me?” “I have no choice”, he replied, “I’ll have to eat it if you put it in front of me”. Pablo was giving signs of surrender, I expected he was going to burst into a confession at any moment, so I turned on the recorder on my iPhone. The confession came as soon as the chocolate cake landed on the table. “I love chocolate”, he said, “I would have gone mad by now without it. And It’s such a luxury in Shanghai… I mean the good dark imported one… But still worth every yuan!” They both picked up their small forks and started slicing off the corners of the cake. They did it with delicate moves yet with merciless determination. Then I realised I had been stalking the wrong man.