The bakery wasn’t all that far away, just all the way down the hill and only a quarter of the way through town. I was quite mature now, (almost 6) so I was sent to fetch our loaf of bread. With this loaf, my mother made my father’s daily work sandwiches, and when it got stale, our breakfasts and sometimes dinner.
Walking uphill is worse than down, carrying a big package makes it much, much worse, leaning forward to move up the steep incline, was just too much. The fresh bread smell was intoxicating. The warm slightly sweet yeasty smell. The rich smell of the beautifully browned crust. Irresistible. So I picked a teeny, tiny barely perceptible crunchy bit from the very corner of the loaf. It was one of those normal squarish sandwich white loaves, that slipped perfectly into a brown paper bag, with just the hind end in view. It was becoming a long hard climb, and I was getting hungrier, and that little bit didn’t help much, so I tore off a little more, trying to keep the hole small. When my little hand had pinched the first soft, pillowy bit, that tore more than necessary from inside of the loaf, it was over, I was done for. I could not stop. I kept pulling out little soft moist pillowy handfuls until I reached home.
Climbing up the stairs, I assessed the damage, and it was serious, and all I could think about was how I was possibly going to avoid serious trouble, and there would be major trouble! That loaf was to feed us for the better part of the week. My brilliant solution was to pull the loaf out of the bag and invert it. It worked! My mother left it in the bag in front of the bread box.
That evening, my mother prepared to make my father a sandwich. Usually kolbasz and butter, maybe a feher paprika sliced into it.
Then I heard this scream: “Laci! Gyere ide, egy patkány megette a kenyeret!” (Laci, come here! A rat has eaten our bread!) The blame hadn’t fixed itself upon me so I was relieved. I thought to myself “I am safe!” Then the unmentionable, horrifying, stomach flipping, sickening thing happened the very next day. . I heard her on the phone accusing the baker of being rat-infested and selling us rat chewed-up bread. I wanted to crawl in a hole. I was shaking, So I broke down I told her I was the rat.
Anyway, I don’t remember much after that, I don’t remember if I got a spanking, or bread for the week miraculously appeared. But, what I do remember is that from then on, I carried two loaves of bread home. I could never be sure if my parents paid for it, or if the baker took pity on me. I’ll never know. It’ll remain a mystery forever.