‘Listen to it,’ I watch Paul, ‘I never had anything like this as a kid.’ He is talking about the music, the music beside our present. The little robot, a doll built in blocks with a crank in the back, sits beside the cake bowl. Pink drops of egg and sugar kiss the counter as Paul spins the mixing spoon. In the other hand, he holds a little white towel he throws in the air, every now and then, to the music.
Bump bump, dump dump, crack crack, yap yap yap. A little safari discotheque drums into the walls. Head up, down, back back back. Paul smiles. Pinkies up, up up up, swish. Swish. ‘Tuck, tuck tuck like a duck,’ Paul flips a lash, hair breaking to the beat, ‘a chicken cluck.’ I see Paul streaking like a powder rainbow. The robot bobbles, arms jiggle, in unison with Paul to the music to the architecture of the cake.
‘Peter is going to love this,’ Paul says between licks of the spoon. We thought we’d make a cake for Peter’s birthday. And as a surprise we were going put in a surprise. We are putting in our little robot. The robot, we thought, would fit nicely inside a strawberry cake. ‘This is going to change the world,’ Paul looks back at me, ‘imagine what Peter will be capable of.’ I watch Paul drop his head and concentrate. I watch the drips of sweat mix with the dough, a little more love than love. Paul squints more than he ever has when writing.
More than he has ever put pressed grapes to parchment.
There is something to life in this cake, this cake is something of life. Dancing batter, dancing couleur. His fingers drooping, dripping body. With a little heat it will rise, golden, and split a little.
‘I want to put this like this,’ Paul places the robot in the dish, ‘I want Peter to see the belly first.’ Paul bent the robots legs, tucked them behind the head, like a wrapped donut. He then twisted the arms, wrapping them like little bows around the legs. ‘He’ll see the box first,’ Paul smiles.
The box, that is slang for heart, to Paul. ‘Just when he goes to cut this, slice it,’ Paul throws back his head, ‘to share with James, he will strike the tin.’ The box is made of a little shiny, almost aluminum, piece we found walking the road to Damascus. Paul likes to think it was a little piece of the lightning that bounced off him into the ground. As a result, it slid like a sheet into the earth, like a piece of amber stuck in tree sap. I remember when we found it, he hasn’t missed a day to tell me the story.
‘It’s ready,’ Paul takes the pan then slides it into the microwave. He presses the preset- Potato. ‘shake shake, whatever,’ Paul sings, ‘dddaaance dance.’ His little bootie shakes, his toes tap. I can’t help but laugh, he notices, I watch him dance like a geek. Toe tap. He does this little thing, where he puts one foot on the other, then wiggles his toes. ‘O just let it out, put the wings on.’ He clicks as his teeth tap. Tap to the music. ‘Put on the sandals of Hermes.’
‘The world will change tomorrow.’