Every March the residents of Bantamville enjoy the fun and frivolity of the Spring Carnival, and every year the affair kicks off with The Great Apple Pie Bake Off.
“Honey, what are you doing?” Bill strolled into the kitchen, morning coffee in hand.
“I-bakid a pie to edter id-da bake off.”
“You sound terrible … You look terrible.”
“It by tupid addergies,” Steph examined her reflection in the stainless steel mixing bowl. Besides the watering eyes and bright red nose, I look just fine. “I lub you too, dear.”
Jeremy pulled a slice of pizza from the refrigerator. “Mom, where’s my hot chili?” he pillaged the spice rack. “Got it,” he began shaking the powder across his snack, and the counter top.
“Hey! Get away frub by pie fixids.”
“Ooohh! Mom’s apple pie,” her son grabbed a piece of fruit as he set his seasoning on the shelf.
“Cad you go to towd ad get by addergy pidds? I took da dast wud.”
Bill recognized the ‘please leave me alone’ look on his wife’s face, “Let’s go, kiddo. We can hit the arcade.”
With the kitchen to herself, Stephanie went to work, Marie Wiggins, you can’t possibly enter a pie to beat me again this year.
Steph had a feud brewing with Marie. Every year both ladies entered their wares in the contest. Every year Stephanie took home the blue ribbon, until last year.
For the first time in its history the contest ended in a tie, and the mayor cast the tie-breaking vote. That, of course, would be Mayor Roy Wiggins, Marie’s husband.
The dough’s finished. And, she paused to collect her thoughts. Boy, the medicine’s really hitting me. I better get cooking …Ha ha, I crack myself up.
Bleary eyed, she fumbled and cut until all the apples were sliced into wedges. A huge yawn interrupted her train of thought, Let’s add the spices. She grabbed the containers from the preparation area and measured the ingredients.
The sun bathed the festivities with a warm glow. Steph’s eyes grew wide with anticipation.
The judges sampled the pastries, smiling and nodding amongst themselves. Several anxious minutes passed, finally the ballots were passed to the podium.
“Well folks, it’s the moment we’ve waited for,” Mayor Wiggins gave his best political smile as he addressed the crowd. “Actually the moment I’m waiting for is when I get to taste the pies,” the crowd laughed. “We have a unanimous decision. The winner is Stephanie …”
“Stephanie … Steph, wake up!” Bill hovered over his wife. “Don’t you have to get to the contest?”
“Wha? … Oh, do!” she sprang from her recliner.
“At least you’re sounding better, dear.”
She glared at him with her ‘just shut up’ look.
The audience was already gathering in the park by the time Stephanie and her family arrived in contestants’ row.
Steph fidgeted as she looked back through her medication-induced fog, I know the crust is good. She began her annual mental checklist that was both tedious and self-tormenting, The filling … What about that? Vague memories of preparing her entry marched through her consciousness. Did I do something different?
The judges took their places, small number plates with pieces of the precious desserts awaiting them.
Mayor Wiggins stepped to the microphone, “Well folks, let’s get the festivities underway.” He paused for the obligatory applause, “Due to last years finish, I will also be taking part in the tasting and scoring. However, my vote will only be counted if we again end in a tie.”
After every sample, the panel would smile and jot notes on the scorecard, occasionally the open microphone would pick up a muffled comment.
The group tested the next morsel. They mumbled to each other, their faces furrowed with confusion. Another taste, the first judge lunged for his glass of water spilling it across the table. Beads of perspiration formed on the mayor’s brow.
“Oh my!” another judge exclaimed, her face turning red. “This one's different,” she grabbed the pitcher and refilled her glass.
The third judge began panting like a dog, tears streaming from her eyes. “A bit on the hot side!” she gasped.
Mayor Wiggins grabbed the decanter from the second judge, splashing water on himself and the others. The third judge then tried to wrestle it away from him. The crowd gasped in disbelief as a wave of water, judges and pies spilled from the stage onto the grass below.
Stephanie hid her face in embarrassment as she realized what went wrong.
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