Billy stared at his very own Golden Brown Baguette in disbelief. He was going on the Bakery tour. With his Grandpa Sam. And with those three pesky kids, too. But most importantly, he was going to learn the secrets behind his ante meridiem provisions.
When Billy’s disbelief faded and turned into pure, unadulterated excitement, time finally unfroze, allowing Billy to sprint back into his meager abode.
“Grandpa Sam! Grandpa Sam!”
“Quiet down, Billy, you’ll wake me up.”
“Oh stop your complaining, you’re already awake.”
“Well what’s all the commotion about? Did you find out who got the last Baguette?”
Billy nodded and a smile spread across his face.
“You got the last Baguette? Yippee!”
Grandpa Sam leapt up faster than he had in forty years, grabbed Billy’s hands, and spun him around in a circle. Just when Billy thought they were done spinning, Grandpa Sam began the next turn. The room began to split into two, three, four—
“OK, Grandpa. Thanks for your enthusiasm, but it’s time to stop making me nauseous.”
“I’m nauseous too. Nauseous from excitement! I don’t think I’ve been so excited since the Great Excitement of 1948. Those surely were the good old days.”
“What happened then?”
Grandpa Sam did not answer; he just stared off wistfully with a slight grin.
The multiple kitchens had finally rejoined into one, so Billy was able to walk across the room to pick up the phone. It was an older phone, one with the curly cord that distracts you when you should be focusing on the conversation you’re having.
“Who are you calling?”
“Mom and Dad. They should hear the great news.”
“Make it quick. The reporter from The Wheatville Wire should be here soon.”
Billy dialed his parents’ cell phone. He didn’t know which country they were in, but he hoped they were having better luck selling their art. The call went to their voice mail:
“You’ve reached the voice mail of the Crumpettes. We can’t come to the phone right now, or we don’t want to talk to you. Ever. It’s a 50-50 toss up. So figure out which one it is for you, and decide if you should or shouldn’t be leaving a message. And if you’re an official from Wheatville who wants to convince us that our time would be better spent painting various breads instead of more interesting subjects, go stick your hand in a toaster. Thank you and have a nice day.”
(The message’s penultimate sentence is a very abrasive curse in Wheatville. People reserve it for their true enemies. No playing around with this phrase.)
Billy thought long and hard about whether his parents couldn’t answer the phone because they were in the middle of an important sale that would bring their family into a better economic situation, or if his mom and dad just didn’t feel like talking to their only son. By the time Billy decided it wouldn’t hurt to take a chance and leave a message, the voice mail shut off. He carefully put the phone on the hook, not forgetting to twirl the cord once or twice, and walked back to Grandpa Sam, who was now talking to Jim Jameson, the reporter from the newspaper:
“…and that’s how I saved our country from invasion. The first time. Now the second time I protected our fair nation was when—”
“Sir, I hate to interrupt, but how does this relate to your thoughts on winning a spot on the exclusive Bakery tour?”
“How can you possibly expect to understand my thoughts if you don’t know anything about me? Now you’ve made me lose my spot in my story. I guess I have to start from the beginning.” He flashed the reporter a mischievous smirk.
“Mr. Crumpette, is this your grandson?”
Grandpa Sam realized his world saving stories would have to wait for a different time. “Yes, this is Billy. The fifth Golden Brown Baguette winner.”
“This will make a fabulous story. I can’t wait to write a creative headline for it.”
Before Jim Jameson could start listing off his ideas, there was a loud thud on the door. Billy ran over and opened it, but no one was there. He looked down at the doormat, much as he had done earlier that morning when he received the fresh bread, and saw two things: a letter addressed to Samuel and William Crumpette and a white feather. Billy picked up the letter, gave the feather a curious look, and came back inside, where he found Grandpa Sam going at it again:
“…and that’s how I asked Susie Ann to the ninth grade homecoming dance. Those surely were the good old days. But that’s nothing compared to—”
“Billy! Who was a the front door?” How Jim Jameson managed to interrupt Grandpa Sam a second time is anyone’s guess.
“No one. But I found this letter. It looks like it’s from the Bakery.”
Billy opened the envelope—it was rather plain for containing such an important letter—and pulled out the note inside. It was written in a rather plain scrawl on rather plain paper. But the information in the letter was far from rather plain:
I hope this letter finds you well. I would imagine it would, since you are coming to the Bakery tomorrow for your special tour. And that is why I have written this note to you and the other three winners. The tour will begin promptly at nine o’clock ante meridiem at the front gates of the Bakery. Please wear comfortable shoes since you will be on your feet the whole day. Also, I would advise that you administer sunscreen before coming. Although the Bakery is all enclosed, the ovens we will look at are so strong they emit UV rays of both the A and B variety. I would hate to get a lawsuit in twenty years from now claiming that I caused you to contract skin cancer. But I digress. I look forward to meeting you and sharing my lifelong pleasure with you tomorrow.
“I guess it’s official. We’re going to the Bakery!” Grandpa Sam hugged Billy, as the reporter wildly snapped photos.
The next morning, Billy and Grandpa Sam awoke from restless nights—it’s always difficult to sleep when you have something as exciting as a tour of the Bakery the next day—ready to begin their tour. They left the house with a skip in each of their steps, but not before picking up their fresh bread, just the regular kind this time, and The Wheatville Wire. The newspaper had the headline that Jim Jameson had promised, over a photo of Billy and his grandpa hugging:
Grandson joins grandfather in grand tour