Every town needs its bakery. Wheatville is no different. In fact, bakeries are so important in this town that it was named after the bakers’ main ingredient. There was one thing different in Wheatville concerning its bakeries: there was only one. One massive bread bakery that the citizens (colloquially called Wheaties) could see from any spot in the town. Usually people are proud of the major economic institutions in their place of habitation, especially when they are the only reason their town is on the map, but this was not so in Wheatville. No one knew what happened in the Bakery. No one even worked in the Bakery. It perpetually loomed in the skyline, but no one had been inside. It continuously delivered fresh, hot bread every morning to people around the globe, but no one knew how this baked goodness was created. The Bakery was a mystery.
Every town needs its innocent, well-meaning boy who has financial troubles but strong family ties. Wheatville is no different. Billy Crumpette is the name of the boy. He and his family, including his father, mother, and elderly Grandpa Sam, lived in the outskirts of Wheatville. There once were vast wheat fields here, but now all the wheat gets produced inside of the Bakery. Or so people thought.
Billy’s father and mother were painters who made modern art. This was very controversial in Wheatville, where it was tradition to include some form of bread in every painting. Billy’s parents abhorred this rule (and for a good reason), but as a result they had to find buyers elsewhere. They traveled around the world to sell their art, but they only had limited success so far. Billy learned a lot from them about hard work, the world’s cultures, and positive values. However, most of the time he had to spend his days with Grandpa Sam, who was cranky whenever the sun rose, which coincidentally or not, was every day. Some common early morning greetings from Grandpa Sam to Billy include:
“Brush your teeth. Though it will never cover up that smelly breath of yours.”
“Eat slower. You’ll choke and—never mind, eat at whatever speed you’d like.”
“Go to school. Someone needs to force some knowledge into that skull of yours.”
Surprisingly, Billy found his grandpa’s attitude endearing. Billy knew he had nice breath, ate at the perfect speed, and was the top of his class at school, so he found his grandpa’s ridiculous statements humorous and a great way to start the day. That was why Billy was confused and worried when Grandpa Sam said something out of the ordinary on an otherwise ordinary morning:
“Billy, my wonderful grandson, there’s something in the paper I want to show you. I think it could make you very happy.”
Billy, with intense curiosity, came over to the kitchen table (the only table in their meager house) and peered at the front page of The Wheatville Wire.
Bakery to let in five during special tour
Billy’s mouth dropped. He had had an obsession with the Bakery ever since he was told as a child that storks did not actually deliver the bread every morning. His parents did not know exactly how the bread was distributed—they had never seen anyone do it, part of the mystery surrounding the Bakery—but they were positive storks did not do the job. Some things are just preposterous. Billy had spent many restless nights pondering about the production of his daybreak victuals. And now they were actually letting in people—children the article said—to get a behind-the-scenes look into the Bakery. How could the owner of the Bakery decide whom to show the secrets of his bread? Billy read further. Five Golden Brown Baguettes would be delivered randomly to five different children in Wheatville. One per day starting Monday. That’s tomorrow!
“Well?” asked Grandpa Sam with a crooked smile on his face. “What do you think of that, Billy?”
“I…wow…I don’t know…what if…I just really want to go! But it’s random. There’s no way of knowing if I’ll be able to go to the Bakery.”
“Have faith in the laws of probability. And have faith in the power of narrative storytelling.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Uh, er…Comb that straggly hair of yours! Do it quickly, before a family of wasps decides to call it their home.”
Back to good old Grandpa Sam. But this would be the last bit of normalcy in Billy’s life for quite some time.