Two dead. Three alive. No, this is not some macabre mystery novel, this is just part of the Bakery tour. Mickey Peeta died first from carelessness, and Natasha Pumpanik died afterwards, from self-importance. Heat and storks also played into their deaths, but to a lesser extent. Now, Billy Crumpette, his Grandpa Sam, and Carla Rhy, the girl who had not tasted bread until that morning, were following Danny Dootley, baker extraordinaire, to the Room of Rising.
“I just want to thank you again, Mr. Dootley, for giving us this opportunity to see the secrets of your wonderful Bakery,” said Grandpa Sam.
“Of course, Mr. Crumpette. I’m glad you’re still alive. Really, it’s a shame about the other two,” replied Danny Dootley.
“Do you mean that?” asked Billy.
“Yes, I am sincerely glad your grandfather is still with us.”
“No, do you believe it’s a shame that Mickey and Natasha are dead?”
“Carla, how are you enjoying your first day with bread in your digestive tract?” No one had ever changed a subject faster than Danny Dootley just did. He is still the world record holder today, and experts in the field of subjects say that his feat will be nearly impossible to beat.
“Yes, Mr. Dootley, it’s wonderful!” answered Carla. “I wish I could go back to my younger self and tell her what she’s missing.”
“Your younger self! Harumph,” said Grandpa Sam. He wasn’t rude, unusual for him, by saying this; he was just significantly older than the rest of them.
“Well, I hope all three of you will be able to stay with us for the rest of this exclusive tour. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, after all,” said Danny Dootley.
Billy didn’t know what to make of the Baker. He was knowledgeable of bread products, yes, but relating to humans it seemed was not his strong suit. Who hires storks as workers over fellow people? And why does he seem so nonchalant, even though two kids died while on his Bakery tour? Yet at the same time, Billy truly wanted to like this man. Bakers in general are likeable people, so why should Mr. Dootley be any different?
But different he was. His mind didn’t work like other persons’. Creativity threatened to burst through the seams of his brain every day, and the only way to channel that was through baking. Creating new bread products and intricate mechanisms for baking the victuals was his entire existence. Without them, he’d be nothing. Or crazy. Well, crazier.
“Mr. Dootley, what’s in that room?” asked Carla.
“The sign says, ‘No Chametz Allowed,’ but other than that, the door’s blank,” added Billy.
“You can’t go in there,” said Danny Dootley. “Not that you would want to. There’s only matzah. Kind of a failed experiment, I would say.”
“I’ve never had any matzah before,” said Carla.
“You hadn’t had any type of bread before today,” Grandpa Sam muttered.
“It would make me so happy if I could just try a little bite,” Carla pleaded.
“Alright. But after we visit the Room of Rising,” conceded Danny Dootley.
Compromise. One of the best assets humans have. And one that is not used enough.
The remainder of the tour group followed the Baker past the Matzah Chamber and into the Room of Rising.
“Remember, please do not remove anything from these rooms. The whole Bakery is in precise balance, and even slightly altering quantities can crash the entire system,” cautioned Danny Dootley.
He opened the door and let Billy, Grandpa Sam, and Carla shuffle in. A large tube full of bubbles occupied the majority of this room. Surrounding it were several stainless steel tables with small bits of bread in Petri dishes on them.
“What happens in here, Mr. Dootley?” asked Billy.
“Well, little boy, two things are accomplished in the Room of Rising. First, I hold all the yeast for my bread in that central canister. That’s what is creating all those bubbles. That’s carbon dioxide, my friends. The tables house different experiments. More yeast here, a new strand there. I’m constantly trying to make my perfect bread even better.”
“If you swallowed the yeast in the tube, would you float up into the air?” asked Carla.
“Hm. I never thought about that before. Leave it to kids to have wild imaginations! Yes, I suppose you would. Though who knows how you would come back down, so don’t get any ideas, little girl.”
She did get ideas. But not about floating in the air.
“There’s not much else to see in this room. It’s interesting, but only for three minutes and twenty-four seconds. Then the boredom rushes in. Ready to head back to the Matzah Chamber before we end our tour?” said Danny Dootley.
“The tour is ending already?” asked Billy. “It feels like we just began!”
“Do you think we can see one more room? And then we’ll be out of your life forever,” said Grandpa Sam.
“We will see,” Danny Dootley replied with a slight grin. “But first, let’s make sure Carla gets her taste of matzah.”
He went out the door, followed by Billy and his grandpa. Carla followed behind them, but only after snagging a ball of test bread from a table. She stuffed it into her pocket. She only wanted a souvenir. She would get much more than that.
The line snaked back through the hallway and into the Matzah Chamber. As each person entered the room, they gazed at the towering stacks of matzah. Each piece as flat as a steamrolled cartoon character. However, when Carla Rhy walked in, she had no time to take in the sights because a loud buzzer went off. She looked around bewildered. Danny Dootley glared at her.
“What have you done, Carla? Do you have any idea what’s about to ha—”
“Freeze! Kosher Police!” Two burly men descended from the low, still intact ceiling with parachutes (who knows how many rules of physics they broke to accomplish that), pulled out guns, and trained them on Carla. “You have broken Kosher Code 46, ‘Matzah must remain unleavened’ and Code 73, ‘Matzah must not touch chametz.’”
“What did I do?” asked Carla frantically. She honestly did not know what she had done.
“Did you bring in any bread from the Room of Rising?” demanded Danny Dootley. Billy and Grandpa Sam looked on, paralyzed with bewilderment.
“I only took a small sample of your test bread,” whispered Carla. She took it out from her pocket.
“That lump of bread contains yeast. It has contaminated the entire store of matzah,” said the first Kosher Policeman.
“All the matzah inventory must be destroyed,” added the second.
“And you, Carla Rhy, are sentenced to forty days and forty nights wandering around the desert with nothing to eat but manna,” concluded the first.
“Oh no,” said Danny Dootley. “Not manna. That’s the worst type of bread-wannabe that exists. It’s just empty carbs…Poor girl.”
“But what did I do?” asked Carla innocently.
“You broke the Kosher law. We just enforce it,” asserted the second Kosher Policeman.
Without further discussion, each policeman took one of Carla’s arms, pressed a button on their vests that ignited their jetpacks, and shot straight through the ceiling. This time they left some damage.
“Poor girl,” said Grandpa Sam. “She never even got to try matzah.”
“Will she die?” asked Billy.
“Painlessly,” replied Danny Dootley. “Looks like it’s just you two and me. Do you know what that means?”
“No,” the grandfather and grandson said in unison.
Danny Dootley looked disappointed that they could not read his mind and know what was in store for them. “Come with me.”
The only three humans left in the Bakery exited the destroyed Matzah Chamber and de-Koshered matzah and walked down the hall, this time turning down a new path. This is meant both literally and figuratively. Billy and Grandpa Sam didn’t know it yet, but their lives were about to change.