The Cupcake Kid by Paul Chiswick
Back of his folks’ shack, the boy hunkers down at the base of the whippy green stalks. A hell-hot wind gusts from the east, shaking the armadillo cobs like rattler’s tails. In his hand he holds an apple cupcake from his ma’s pantry. He sniffs the cinnamon, closes his eyes, opens his mouth wide . . .
‘Charlie Barleycorn, what you doin’ out there?’
His eyelids fly open like they’re on springs.
‘GIT YOUR SKINNY ASS HERE PRONTO!’
A hard lump chokes his throat. He drops the cupcake, scrambles to his feet and tears blindly through the cornfield.
His ma is woodpeckering her foot on the stoop, hands on hips, mouth stretched to a pencil-thin line.
‘Did you take my cake?’
Her finger takes aim, dead centre of his forehead. ‘Last time I’m askin’. Did you take my cake?’
‘No, Ma, I swear.’
‘Then I guess your pa’s sneaked one. That man’s stomach is bigger’n a hog’s.’ Her eyes drill into his. ‘But don’t you ever lie to me, son. You git me?’
‘I git you, Ma.’
‘Good. Now skedaddle.’
His ma’s apple cupcakes, they’re so good they’ve won prizes. Trouble is, she only bakes them every blue moon.
Now where’s that cake?
‘Lookin’ for this?’ His pa pops up like a prairie dog over the stalks, the cupcake in one huge hand.
‘That right? So when your ma asks me if I took this cake, you know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna give her those big eyes and say, “Mary-Lou, I ain’t never lied to you in my life.” She durn well won’t believe me. That’s where you come in.’
‘You, son. Your ma, she can smell that cinnamon a mile away.’ His pa holds out his hand. ‘Now eat.’