);

ZERO PINEAPPLES by Timothy Willis Sanders

Billy asked Chris and Molly what movie they had picked and Chris held up a DVD copy of The Birds.

Billy shot a look at Meg.

“Hitchcock had a really fucked up obsession with Tippi Hedren. I read about it online so I decided to never watch the movie,” said Billy.

“Who’s Tippi Hedren?” said Chris, sliding the DVD into the Playstation.

“Exactly,” said Meg.

“Well, sorry about Tippi, but I have a surprise for you both after the movie,” said Molly.

Billy pictured Molly wheeling out a human-sized box with a large gold ribbon, from which Gene Wilder, dressed as Willy Wonka, flipped out of and tipped his hat.

“It’s pineapple upside-down cake,” Meg whispered to Billy.

“You think so?” said Billy.

“Yeah, I saw it in the kitchen. Don’t eat too much,” said Meg.

2

Billy fell asleep 30 minutes into The Birds. He woke up to Tippi Hedren’s catatonic and bandaged face staring back at him. He announced to the others he still understood what was going on.

“Thanks for the update, babe,” said Meg, patting Billy’s knee.

Billy looked at the birds covering the landscape of Bodega Bay. He said, “Good for these birds, taking back their beachfront property,” and imagined a seagull wearing sunglasses and sipping a margarita.

After the movie, Molly brought out the surprise: a pineapple upside-down cake on a large white plate.

Just before finishing his first slice, Billy decided to ask for a second slice.

“Sorry, but anyone mind if I jump in again?” Billy said, pointing to the cake.

Molly laughed and said, “Wow, Billy,” while pointing to everyone else’s plate, each one occupied with a barely-half-eaten slice of pineapple upside-down cake.

Billy cut a second slice and licked his lips dramatically as he lowered the slice onto his plate.

“Billy’s blood sugar is so high that his blood is sugar,” said Meg.

“He had a physical and the doctor told him he was pre-pre-diabetic,” Meg said to Molly in a low voice.

“It’s literally crack cocaine,” said Billy, crumbs falling out of his mouth, “like you literally cooked rock cocaine into your pineapple-upside down cake. It’s that good.”

“Thanks Billy,” said Molly.

3

Billy contemplated asking for a third slice of pineapple upside-down cake. He looked at the other plates and noticed everyone was still nursing their first slice of pineapple upside down cake. “Even after all this time,” he thought and wondered if he was the only one that actually liked the pineapple-upside down cake.

Billy listened to Chris talk about greed in the banking industry. Meg tried to interject things about the sexism in the tech industry but each time Chris steered the conversation towards greed in the banking industry. Billy checked out of the conversation and tried to think of a company that makes pineapple-upside down cake available in 7/11s around the country.

“This is boring. Let’s talk about something else,” said Meg.

“Sorry, Chris is just ‘incredibly attuned’ to all the ways the banks are fucking you over,” said Molly.

“Uhm, the banks are fucking you over?” said Chris.

“Okay, time to go,” said Meg.

“Yeah, it’s time to go,” said Billy.

Billy put on his coat and just before he left he wondered how rude it would be to ask for a plate of pineapple upside-down cake to-go.

4

Billy flipped his pillow and closed his eyes. He scratched his forehead and felt sweat on his fingertips. He wondered if Alfred Hitchcock gained weight by eating too much pineapple upside down cake. He thought about how common it is for a man to imprison a woman. He imagined Alfred Hitchcock in a recliner, eating pineapple upside down cake from a TV tray and thinking up ways to imprison Tippi Hedren.

Billy wondered if he had the ingredients to make pineapple upside down cake. He tried to take a mental inventory of his baking supplies. “I have zero pineapples,” he thought, sensing his body become restless. He flipped himself over and woke Meg up in the process.

Meg said, “Why are you awake?” but before he could answer she rolled over and fell asleep. Billy thought about how she’d regret falling asleep before hearing his plan to put pineapple upside down cakes in 7/11s around the country.

Read Next: OH, THE MEADOWS by DAVE K

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