“Oh Tata,” Gorana said. “Do we have to go in there? Can’t we just call?”
“Don’t be a silly girl,” he said. “I know these people. We’ll just pop in for a drink and then we can ask Višnja about the cakes.”
“It’s just so full of old men,” she muttered under her breath, but followed her father into the bar.
They sat in a booth and ordered. As Gorana stirred sugar into her coffee, she was horrified to hear a piano accordion behind her.
“Oh, no,” she thought. She turned around and there was Stipe, short, bow-legged, 3/4 of a set of teeth. Gorana remembered her father’s 50th birthday, when Stipe had ‘played his accordion’ against her. Everyone had laughed – tata, mama, cousins, neighbours, everyone. “Sviram za Vas!” he had yelled out. “I’m playing for you!”
Gorana turned back and vigorously stirred her coffee. Her father called Višnja over from the bar and she came and sat next to Gorana in the booth.
“Hello,” Višnja said. “What can I do for you?”
“Gorana is having her 18th birthday next week,” her father said. “We’d like to order some cakes.”
“Of course,” Višnja said, giving Gorana a big smile. “Well, 18! We’ll have to make it something special, hey? I hope you have a very happy birthday.” Višnja opened up her diary and became suddenly the very powerful business woman she was known as around the village. “Now, how many kilos do you want? Mixed variety? And something special for the end – a blackforest torte?”
Gorana watched on as her father and Višnja talked cakes and prices and guest numbers. Her father kept referring to a scrap of paper that her mother had made notes on. Višnja’s smile had disappeared and she was very serious as she jotted down the number of eggs, litres of milk and kilos of flour she would need and negotiated about the time and price.
“She’s so cool,” Gorana thought, understanding only half of what was going on. “She’s so fucking cool.”
“Ah girls!” The piano accordion had stopped and Stipe was standing in front of their booth, his hands on his hips, his accordion dangling loosely from his shoulders, his big stupid half-empty grin taking up most of his face.
“Ah girls!” he said. “Shall I play for you?”
“Stipe!” Višnja beamed up at him. “Hello! Not now, can’t you see we’re doing business?”
“What business?” he said, leaning forward and taking her dark hair up into his hands, collecting it up and over her head and then letting it fall over her shoulders in a black waterfall. “Kolači? Cakes? You think cakes is business?”
“Yes, cakes. Business,” Visnja said, as she gently pushed him away and shook her head slightly so that her hair settled back over her shoulders the way she liked it. She closed her diary and said to Gorana’s father, “They will be ready at midday. You can pick them up between 12 and 1pm.”
Gorana looked at her and thought, she’s so cool. She’s so fucking cool.