Gilberto’s Donuts by Stephen Halpert
Gilberto Santiago was the manager of the shipping department at Atlas Distributors. A handsome, clean shaven man in his thirties with dark hair and a winning smile, he had attracted the attention of many of the women who worked there. Irma, in the records department was one of them. As she walked past him, she smiled.
He smiled back. “Would you like to share some of your cake?” he asked. “I saw you eating your lunch at your desk.”
She looked at him. “Maybe. You hungry?”
“How about I could have more than cake from you.” His low voice was inviting.
Irma blushed. “Not here, not at the office. Found out and we’re fired.”
His eyes widened. “You think I care about that? When I get fired, I collect, and for the full term.”
` “You can do that?”
He made as if to grab her and smooch her lips with his. He laughed. “I come see you tonight. Show you what I got for you.”
She looked startled and he began to think he had been too bold. Yet he had noticed the sly glances she sent his way when she thought he wasn’t looking. His head tilted to one side; he smiled disarmingly. “You like me to come over, yes?”
She gulped, then reluctantly nodded. “Maybe yes,” she said. “But don’t tell anyone.” Then her office phone rang.
“Gotta go.” She turned and fled.
Gilberto sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. He thought about her luscious hips. Good for having babies. Gilberto had been a star soccer player until an injury to his hip sidelined him for good. He wanted so badly to find a woman and have sons so he could field his own soccer team, win a world cup, maybe even.
That night around eight thirty a jubilant Gilberto pressed Irma’s doorbell. She came to the door and frowned. “You came,” she said.
“Of course I come,” he said cheerfully. “Didn’t I say I would?”
“Yes, but you could have changed your mind.” She let him in. He was nicely dressed, not wearing the worn jeans and what was probably an old bowling shirt like he did at work.
He gave her his most toothy smile and waved a large bakery box of donuts. “We eat good now.”
She made a polite face and thanked him. Then she got a plate and set it on the kitchen table.
He placed the donuts on it in a careful circle and stood back smiling. “All my favorite kinds,” he said proudly.
“I’ve never seen donuts this heavy with so much frosting.” She took one.
“Magic donuts,” he grinned. “Magic–make a wish. They come from an old Armenian bakery.”
“What do you mean magic,” she asked? Surprisingly, she finished the one she had started almost immediately. Maybe they were magic.
He waved his hand toward the plate. “Go ahead take another, make a wish. Don’t tell me. Always keep wishes silent in the heart.”
They were hard to resist. She ate more. The second donut had a nutty flavor, like maple walnut soaked in something sweet and alcoholic “Too much sugar,” she said. I’m not used to eating this much sugar.”
“We make a good couple,” he said. She slid away from his reaching hand.
“I hope you don’t think because you brought donuts that I’d be easy.”
“Oh no,” Gilberto said. “Women are too smart for just donuts unless they come with diamonds in them.”
She looked at him quizzically. “What do you mean?”
“If I come back tomorrow and bring a big diamond and propose, you’ll want to marry me.”
“I’ll what?” She looked startled. “I can’t believe you said that!”
Her stomach gurgled loudly. She blushed. “I don’t feel …” she began.
Oblivious, he went on: “Be my wife,” he smiled widely. “Have my children. I want six sons.”
“I don’t want to marry you or anyone else,” her voice reeked of conviction. “Besides I’m nearly forty. That’s too old to have children.”
“Wait till you know me better.” Gilberto smiled and took her hand. “I like you. You have a good face and fine teeth.”
She looked surprised. Maybe no one had ever complimented her teeth before, he thought. She was so pretty, and she’d make a wonderful mother, he was sure of it.
Irma was looking at him, her face a mixture of surprise and embarrassment. She belched loudly, covered her mouth with her hand and smiled as if to cover up her gaffe.
As if compelled, she reached for another donut and stuffed it into her. “So good,” she said as she took a sip of water. “Would you like coffee? Tea? Maybe some water?”
I don’t want to put you to any trouble,” he said with a kind smile. “You are sharing my donuts and I like that already. You’re very nice. Here, have another.” He pushed a thick chocolate fudge donut at her. It had a pronounced scent of rum. He pulled his chair closer and took hold of her arm. She belched loudly again and covered her mouth.
“S-s-sorry,” she mumbled. “I don’t digest sugar well.”
Lost in his dream, Gilberto sighed. “You and me,” he said with a sigh.” We’ll make such beautiful babies together.”
Her face paled and her stomach rumbled again.
Gilberto looked at her with adoring eyes. “I’ll give you a diamond the size of one of these donuts and we’ll get married and right away start having babies.”
“I don’t think so,” she could barely whisper. Her throat dry.all that sugar was taking its toll.
He squeezed her hand, leaned over, and kissed her ever so sweetly. The kiss surprised her. “I rub your back in warm oil and give you more diamonds than you have fingers on both hands. You will love me. You will want me so close to you.”
Her stomach lurched. She whispered. “I don’t want to get married.”
“I know you say that now, but you’ll change your mind.” He scooped her up out of her chair and into his arms. Planting his lips on hers he began to kiss her passionately.
A gigantic belch exploded from her.
He drew back. “You always do that when you eat donuts?”
She nodded. “Yes, I’m a vegetarian and I hardly ever eat any sugar.”
His eyes grew wide. “You no eat red meat?”
Her stomach grumbled noisily. She wrinkled her nose and shook her head. “And if you marry me,” she blurted, “we’ll always go to church and every night before bed we’ll pray to the saints.”
He shook his head and frowned. “You do that?”
“Excuse me.” She pushed out of his grasp, rushed into the bathroom, barely able to close the door as her stomach took revenge.
As he listened to the noises emerging from the bathroom, Gilberto decided to take his leave. He picked up the remaining donuts from the plate and put them in the bakery box. No sense in wasting them he thought. Then he let himself out of her apartment, closing the door gently.
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