Pound Cake

“A pound of pound cake, one pound!” the barker called from his little street stall.

“How much for two pounds of pound cake?” Louise asked.

“Two pounds? Who would want two pounds?” the barker demanded. “I sell only single pounds.”

Louise shrugged and walked away, seeking a more amenable seller. The barker continued barking, and it took some time before his voice was lost in the din of the marketplace, but she was glad when it was; nothing grated on her more than the nasally twang of recalcitrant vendors.

She passed the various stalls announcing the latest trend of “organically harvested”, whatever that meant, as well as the inflated prices of “organically grown”, “gluten free” and “gluten eased”. Everywhere were people who looked to be posing as farmers, their clothes a bit too nice, their manner a bit too slick. She suspected the market was full of fakes, but couldn’t prove it.

Louise prepared to leave for the grocery store when she saw it. The one small stall, loaded with vegetables, a friendly, self-effacing family in average clothing. The parents had the work-worn faces of farmers, with tans and worries etched between their easy smiles. The children were young but industrious, doing homework between stacking vegetables.

She approached the table, smiled, and lifted a bunch of carrots, four beets, and eight onions. She set these down at the cash and grabbed a box of raspberries, and an apple for the way home.

“Five pounds, please,” the mother said to Louise.

“Perfect,” Louise said. “Do you have any pound cake?”

The mother was surprised, used to only selling vegetables. “We have a little in the truck, I believe, but I don’t know if it will be any good.”

“Can I buy two pounds of it?”

“I don’t know…”

“I’d just like some homey food to gorge myself on tonight. Another evening between me and the television, you know? Just some cake to relax with?”

“All right, but I can’t charge for it. I don’t think it would be up to health standards, just made in our kitchen.

“That’s fine. Here’s a tip for your help.” Louise handed the woman a ten-pound note and stuffed everything into a bag. She smiled as she left, ready for a night of gluttony.