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Issue 10 - A Journal of Letters and Life
The Bread Man
by Sabina C. Becker
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A man is arrested in a bakery for fondling the bread. If a woman hadn't screamed upon catching him in the act of masturbating a baguette, he might have gotten away with it.
     ("He had it right up against his crotch," the woman tells the officer who takes her statement. "At first I thought it was his...you know...his...thing." The officer nods; it's an easy mistake to make, particularly when one is in shock. Baguettes are a bit long, granted, but they're about the right circumference.)
     During police questioning, he admits he has long had a fetish for baked goods. He protests that he is not a pervert.
     (The officer only nods noncommittally. His face looks rather like a round Calabrese loaf, greigey-white and flour-dusted, and is just about as impassive.)
     But under further questioning, he confesses that he loves pure, puffy white bread. Fresh-baked, of course, as fresh as he can get it. He loves the sound it makes when he squeezes the still warm, yeasty smelling air out of it. He loves the way it squirts out in curls between his damp fingers when he squishes it. He finds brown bread too wholesome, pumpernickel too exotic, and he thinks raisin bread is only for homosexuals.
     ("Doesn't fruit gravitate to fruit?" he asks the other officer, who also only nods noncommittally. This one is more like a German rye Klosterbrot, but no more apt to crumble than his Calabrese counterpart.)
     During their search of his apartment, police find closets full of the moldy remains of white bread, some of it hollowed out and smelling like unwashed underpants. A psychiatric evaluation is ordered.
     ("But I can't be crazy," the Bread Man, as the cops have dubbed him, protests. "I don't eat banana nut bread." The police merely bundle him out to Bellevue, telling him that's for the shrink to decide.)
     The man tells the psychiatrist that he once had a wife. He adored her for her doughy white skin and her fresh-baked smell, her fluffy good looks and her complete, mindless trust. He called her Wonder Bread, and she smiled and dimpled and took it as a compliment. When they made love, he kneaded her buttocks and breasts a lot, commanding her to rise, rise!--and she did.
But one day she caught him wearing one of her brassieres and stuffing it with kaiser rolls. Eventually she realized what his true relation to their daily bread was, and she became so distraught that she stuck her head in the oven.
     ("I blame myself, really," the Bread Man says, bitterly. "I should have seen it coming. She just so loved to bake banana nut bread. She was always trying to get me to take a slice. 'Just a little sliver,' she would say. And of course I never did." Pause. "I guess I disappointed her.")
     The man goes on to say that he sought solace in church, but when it came time to come up and receive the Host, he finally snapped.
     ("It was that 'give us this day our daily bread' that did it," the Bread Man confesses. "When I looked at those brittle little wafers, I kept seeing my poor wife's face.")
     The psychiatrist nods noncommittally, ruffling through the sheaf of papers to the statement from the priest.
     ("He snatched the ciborium right out of my hands and crushed all the wafers on the floor," the priest told the police. "I tried to stop him, but he kept stamping and stamping, saying, 'This is not real bread.' Then he was gone before anyone could lay a hand on him.")
     Then, the man says, he saw the bakery.
("I knew it was my real church," he explains. "I knew I'd find just what I wanted there." "And that was--?" "God. Communion with God." Nod, nod, noncommittal nod.)
     Surrounded by the smells of fresh white bread, the man just couldn't help himself.
     ("I wanted to please God," the Bread Man says. "I did it the only way I knew how.")
     The psychiatrist only nods and signs the commitment papers.

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