Dinner was over, the plates were collected, and the waiter asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu. I couldn’t manage another bite, but Gus Gringrott smiled and said, “Bring it over, my good man. I’m a slave to my sweet tooth!”
Gus Gringrott had been like that ever since I met him a few years previous. Chocolate brownies, salted caramel ice cream, fudge cake, apple crumble…You name it. If it was covered in sugar and filled with calories, he’d eat it. Gus could go toe to toe with a truffle, he would make short work of a shortcake, pulverise a pile of pancakes, knock out a knickerbocker glory.
And afterwards, he would always grin and wink, “Got to keep the sweet tooth happy!”
After dessert had been devoured and the bill paid, we left the restaurant and stepped into the brisk evening night. The wind slapped my face and a chill danced over my skin. I asked Gus if he wanted to join me for a stiff drink somewhere warm, but he declined and told me he was still peckish, desiring instead to wander off in search for a snack.
“But, you just had dinner and dessert?” I asked, exasperated. “You can’t still be hungry?”
“I might not be, but he is,” Gus replied, his smile fading.
He opened his mouth wide, and one of his canines– discoloured and mean looking– sneered at me. In a voice that sounded like rusty nails and cigarette smoke, it ordered, “Go find us an ice-cream van, or doughnut stand, you big slob!”
Gus tried to reply, his jaw still wide open and his face a painting of pain and embarrassment, but all he could manage was a garbled cry of denial.
The tooth, half rotted away and full of disdain, yanked at Gus’s own lip with a threat full of malice.
“Don’t you forget who’s the boss around here! Now go!”
Gus Gringrott closed his mouth and rubbed the tender area. “Sorry about that,” he said to me. “I’ve told you before; I’m a slave to my sweet tooth.”