Measured in Success and Profit

January 25, 2009
Seven tiny flames quaver like the hypnotizing waltz of feral-eyed gypsies. Seven waxy candles drip hot tears down their thin bodies as their heads cradle the flickering dancers. I watch as a hot bead of wax tumbles down a red candle pooling like a fresh wound on the sweet buttercream icing.

I look around myself and see faces, so, so many faces, illuminated by the seven gypsies on fire, as they twist and turn on top of their melting pillars. So, so many faces singing. Singing in unison. Singing to me.

“Happy Birthday to you…”

I survey the sea of faces. Where is he?

“Happy Birthday to you…”

He said he’d come! The faces become a blur as the room starts to spin.

“Happy Birthday, Dear Anthony!”

The gypsies dance faster and faster.

“Happy Birthday to you!”

I close my eyes and make a wish. My heart pounds violently against my ribs. Loudly, so loudly. I scream my wish inside of my head. Wishing that he were the only face that was singing to me, on this day, in celebratory ecstasy. Then the gypsies fall, and their smoky souls, along with my wish, spiral slowly upward from the candles.

The party has ended and I sit alone at the table in the dark, quiet, linoleum kitchen. Waiting. Waiting. There is a plate in front of me. On its alabaster face is a wedge of vanilla cake with sweet buttercream icing that I managed to salvage. A single candle burns on top of it. I watch the little hand of the clock painstakingly change from twelve to one. Slowly. Slowly. Finally I hear the click of the door unlocking and the metallic jingle of car keys. Fatigued footsteps echo across the dreary kitchen. A silhouette appears in the threshold of the kitchen. He proceeds toward me and chuckles softly.

“Did you blow out all the candles and make a good wish, Champ?” He inquires superficially.

I want to smile and tell him what I wished for, what his son wished for, but as he stands at my shoulder adorned in his priceless professional attire, I notice for the first time the noose that he wears around his successful, businessman neck.





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