The Cart with the decapitated wedding cake squeaked not quite in time with the click of her heels. She strode with irritation and defiance, she was used to having her way, and indignant at the interruption. Strike had pulled her from the reception, and directed her to lead the way to the loading dock.
She shoved the door open, turned around, putting her hands on her hips she glared at him. The light was fading behind her, a sodium security light recolored everything, the cement slab dock, her skin, the white frosting of the cake with a sickly orange tint.
"To the left," Strike barked, shoving the cart over the transom.
She crossed the slab to the far railing. Glancing over she noted the 30-odd foot drop to a road below. Strike, followed, the cart in tow.
"You own a debt, collection time," He hoisted the top cake tier. It had started with five tiers, pure white frosting, fancy decorations. Like lace. The wet dream of wedding cakes. The top two tiers had been too high; Strike abandoned them in the kitchen.
"What is this about?" She eye fucked him good.
She had confirmed: her name, Michelle Marie Barker. Attendances at Dark Lake University at the time in question.
Saying nothing Strike reached into the cake, pulling out a handful.
He flung the handful of cake into her cleavage, reached behind her head twisted the graying hair at the nape and slowly pushed the remainder of the tier into her face. He twisted it, clockwise, counter-clockwise. Letting go, he spun her around and smeared the remains of the tier down the open back of her dress before smashing the rest into her back side.
She gave a gasp, and started to sob. Her hands came up and wiped the cake from her eyes. Strike reached out pulling them away.
"No crying," He ordered
she took a moment to compose herself. She shot him a pleading look; he didn't care-- she owed.
"Toss the rest of this over." he pointed to the remaining tiers.
"Pick it up -- throw it over the side," She stood numbly.
"Now!" menace in his eyes
she picked up the first tier and held it.
"Over the side." He glared,
"what debt?" He held up a hand.
She knew what that meant; the tier sailed over the rail. Neither looked, they heard the spat of impact.
"The rest of it,” Strike looked to the last and largest tier.
"Too big I can't lift it," She protested
"Why..." She started
"The cake goes over, then you can go back and play nicey-nice with the family."
"What debt?" the shock wearing off.
Strike slapped her quickly across the tip of her chin. An attention getting slap not a hurtful slap. She did not move. Strike grabbed her pulled her right arm behind her back and pushed her into the last tier, after a moment he let go.
She started to tremble; forcing her hands under the cardboard base of the tier she slid it over the edge. This time she watched as it tumbled into the roadway, joining the rest of the cake. A smear of cake and frosting littering the asphalt.
On the now empty cart Strike set down a photograph. It showed a man in his 40s, healthy looking, the light of life in his eyes. He wasn't smiling. Something in those eyes she recognized.
"$700.00," Strike stated, looking for a hint of recognition from her. "Don’t know him?"
She looked blankly.
"I don't know this guy; don't know anything about a debt-- you come here to a family event, and humiliate ..." She'd remembered who she was; people didn't treat her this way.
Strike put down the next photo,
She was in this one, the non-smiling 22 year-old, skinny and fair skinned her. Black hair, dark eyes, long gone Skinny Puppy tee-shirt, olive drab shorts. She almost remembered the girl; angry, lost and full of fire. She almost recalled the boy in the photo, hulking, tender eyes, the embarrassed smile, completely devoid of confidence. He was looking at the camera; she descended a long forgotten porch behind him. He had thought he was in love with her, she had used him.
"Oh, fuck, it's..."
"You don't get to say his name; know what this is about now?"
"Yes, did he send you?"
"No -- he just mentioned you and the mark you left on him, a scar on his heart, one that never healed. You were the first, but not the last, still you were the only one that conned him. He said you were the best $700 he spent in college, learned more from that than any class. He wouldn't want me here, you can think of me as Mr. Karma."
"God that was... the money..."it was all coming back to her.
"Money, he doesn't need, not anymore." Strike laid down the last photo, from two years back, the man, wasting away. Cancer had pulled him apart and he faded into the void. She didn't need any more words. The photo said it all.
Strike reached out and tilted up her chin,
"look at me," he hissed "I get it," she gave a nod and Strike released her.
"Hope your kids never feel the betrayal and pain you left in him" Strike gave her a shove and watched as she slipped away, and then descended the loading dock stairs into the darkness.
921 Words 4 June 2009 Copyright Eric Peterson