The sun beat down on Boothville as I strutted across the cobbles of a back street in town. People scurried about, some nodding and smiling as I passed, others too busy with their own business to notice me. Looking up, I saw a camera watching the street. For some reason, it didnt make me feel concerned. It made me feel safe, protected, watched by a friend. I resisted the urge to blow it a kiss.
I stopped outside a bakery Coops Cakes written in curly green lettering on the shop front and pressed my nose against the window. There were rows upon rows of cakes, biscuits and other treats. Little gingerbread men all rested in a row like a police line-up. Little cakes with icing swirls of pink, yellow, red, orange, blue, white and any other colour you could think of were displayed in curious little patterns.
Behind the counter, a girl with thick brown hair collected under a tall white hat put the finishing touches to a six-tier wedding cake, dabbing little white roses all around the edge. At one of the two tables inside sat a couple staring into one anothers eyes, holding hands and ignoring the cakes before them.
As I walked past the door, the smell hit me. Freshly baked cakes
I suddenly felt myself salivating and pushed open the door, which caused a little bell to ring. The couple at the table didnt look up, but the girl behind the counter smiled widely at me.
Hello, she beamed. Never seen you before, you must be new. Im Heather, or Coop, as some prefer to call me. What can I get you? I looked at the rows of buns and cakes. Behind Coop were racks of freshly baked bread and rolls.
Anything, I said. Get me anything at all. Coop smiled, picked up a little box and selected four of the most heavily iced cakes from the counter pink, yellow, blue and white. She wrapped up the little box in ribbon and I handed over my money.
Dont be a stranger, Coop gave me a wink and then looked over at the couple at the table. Ferry, can I get you guys anything else? The girl waved her hand absent-mindedly in Coops direction and then returned it to the guys grip.
Back outside, I noticed some noise from next door. Two teenage boys burst out of the bookshop, waving black books back in the door.
Get it out of my shop, NOW! yelled a voice from inside. The voices owner appeared at the door, a young man with a floppy fringe under a mortarboard and anger in his eyes. The Mr Grumpy on his t-shirt seemed most fitting.
Time to sparkle! laughed one of the boys and the bookseller threw his hat at them and yelled again, Get out! Clear off!
Dan Brown should win the Nobel Prize for Literature! shouted the other boy. This seemed to be the final straw for the bookseller, who lunged at the boys, both of whom were too quick for him and ran off chuckling.
Having trouble? I asked, my eyes sliding from his face to a poster in the window displaying a vampire with a big red cross through it.
Nothing Ive not handled before, he said, his face softening up rather. He delved into the pocket of his jeans and pulled out a slightly crumpled flyer. Book club tomorrow evening here in the shop. Come along, were doing Looking For Alaska. He smiled and walked back into the shop. Verity, get a fire going, love. Use those copies of Breaking Dawn, they go up a treat.
I walked on, finding this town just a little more bizarre than I first thought it was.