The shop window was rather plain. Signage read “Uncle Ben’s Bakery” in pale blue across the window and there’s a shelf inside showing off the freshly baked goods. It belied the wonderful, sweet goodies readily available for sale. Gooey doughnuts, creamy cupcakes and crunchy, sugary biscuits. It always smelled so welcoming in the shop that Molly loved going there. If she had only known what horrors it would hold for her – she would never have put foot in the place!
The weekly jaunt with her mom for Friday treats became the highlight of Molly’s week. It was a sad day when Uncle Ben died and his brother, Hanni took over. He could bake food as tasty as Uncle Ben but became fat and always looked like he needed a bath. His lanky hair hung over his eyes, so you couldn’t see his expressions. He’s sarcastic and rude to men but agreeable and helpful to the ladies. Molly still went with her mom but stopped going in and waited outside. She dreaded the day her mother made her go alone to buy what she needed.
Hanni brought out a range of pies to compliment the sweets in his shop. Steak and kidney. Beef and onion. As well as more unusual ones like carrot and chicken. Radish and blood pudding. Pork and potato. They were delicious, and mother loved them. The family regularly indulged, and Molly’s 2 brothers couldn’t get enough of them.
“Molly – please go and get pies for supper” the day had arrived. She often fetched stuff for the family alone and enjoyed it, but her stomach dropped at the prospect of going to Hanni’s place.
“Mother please come with…”
“Nonsense I’m busy with the baby. Go quickly”. It’s the answer she wasn’t surprised to get.
Dragging her feet Molly took the dreaded journey while trying to talk herself into it. “He doesn’t eat little girls” she grouched to herself. “Besides – we want pies! We are the customers”. Her brave talk helped, and she marched into the shop.
Waiting behind an old man in a tatty, black overcoat – her bravado slowly faded. Hanni finished with the customer, leaned over the counter and stared into her face. She could smell his fusty breath. “2…2 er… 2 pork and potato pies and…” Molly trailed off completely forgetting what mother wanted in her fear.
“Yeees” he leaned further forward making her take a step back. She inadvertently stepped onto the toe of the poor customer behind her who yelped sharply and stepped back too. “S…sorry” she whispered, extremely grateful that there was someone else in the shop. Taking a deep breath, Molly ordered 2 pork and potato and 2 steak and kidney pies with a lot more authority than she felt. Her little heart beat in her chest and the pink flush on her cheeks belied her boldness. She got the order, paid cringing at the touch of Hanni’s hand and almost ran out the door. Laughter followed her, and her cheeks burned more. She kept walking.
On her way home, she realised she was sniffing the air. There was a delicious smell blowing her way from the bakery. “No wonder mother loves their food”. She wished that someone else would serve the customers and that Hanni would cook.
That night the table’s full of chatter and eager munching on the tasty food. Molly felt proud of herself and she felt all grown up. “From now on, I am not afraid of Hanni or anyone else” she thought confidently. With full tummies and feeling happy the family retired for the night. Little did they know that within a few days – things would be very, very different.
“Molly?” mom called.
“Yes mom – pies?” she asked? It was Friday – pie day!
Molly set off swinging her little basket, convincing herself she was brave enough to do this. She faltered a little when she discovered she was alone in the shop. The shelves were rather empty, and Molly prayed that he has some pies in the oven. The family wouldn’t want to miss out on pie day!
“Hello? Anyone here? S… service please” she stammered.
“In here” it’s Hanni’s voice and Molly’s fear returned like a gust of wind. Shivering a little, she pulled herself up to her full height. “S…sorry”?
Hanni stuck his head around the door “In here please” he commanded. She dares not disobey. Molly’s a good girl who always did what she was told, even though she was now getting scared. “Hello?” tentative. “I just need some pies”, Molly stuck her head around the corner. Her heart was hammering through her chest wall – it felt like. She stepped into the bakery area just as Hanni stepped out of the freezer – “Come and see this” he said, and she could not think of anything she would rather not do more.
Cautiously she went in. He was standing with his back to the door. Slowly Molly went around him, he was cutting meat. It was very bloody, and Molly didn’t like to watch, it made her feel sick. “Fresh meat is so hard to come by” he said looking at her face. “Did you hear the story about the little boy that went missing?” Hanni asked. Molly shook her head, her adorable ringlets bouncing on her shoulders. Somewhere in the back of her mind an alarm was going off. “He must have been in your school. Tommy?”. Hanni looked at her again. She was staring at the meat.
“This is him.” Hanni said turning to her with the meat cleaver in his hand. Molly was frozen on the spot. Icy fear poured through her veins, she couldn’t move. He stepped towards her. “I am sorry Molly, but this is all I have and I have many people coming today for pies, especially pork pies. I need more meat.” What he was saying – slowly penetrated the fog that was her terror and she lifted her eyes from the table with great effort.
He was smiling gently. “What?” she whispered, convinced she had made this all up in her heard. “Sorry Molly” he said again. “I need to make more pies. I promise you won’t feel a thing”. Stepping towards her – he made a quick cut into her brain and she died instantly. Pity that this lovely little angel’s last memory was one of utter terror and Hanni’s face.
Whistling, Hanni put the little girl on the table, undressed her and proceeded to carve her up. Pork and potato pies for supper tonight. And with the right spices she could also be chicken and carrot pies. His deft hands made light work of her. He washed off the surfaces and put the rest he couldn’t use into a bag which also contained the rest of Tommy. He would bury it later.
Her family never found out what happened to their delightful daughter. They searched for weeks but there was no sign of anything. Of course, Hanni helped search, putting on his forlorn face. It was a horrible time for the family.
The next week Friday the family sat down to eat their pork and potato pies. Hanni has sent them to the family free of charge. After all – they had provided the filling.
They were delicious.