“C’mon, Benjy, cut me a slice,” my little brother, Jake, whispered to me as we hid in the bushes and looked down at Mom’s peach pie.
I looked over at my friend Jared who was kneeling next to Jake. His eyes were locked onto the peach pie. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, took out my pocketknife, and pushed the blade into the flaky crust sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Slowly I carved a jagged line across the pie.
“You don’t think we’ll get caught, do you?” Jared whispered as I handed him a piece of pie dripping with yellow peach filling.
I shook my head, not a bit sure; but I didn’t want Jared and Jake to know that. “No,” I rasped. “No one will ever know. Mom made five pies that she asked us to deliver. She probably won’t remember that we were supposed to give a pie to Brother Piper.
In no time at all we were licking the last of the stickiness from our fingers.
“I think my stomach’s going to bust,” Jake moaned. “I’ve never eaten so much pie in my life.”
“I wish we hadn’t eaten it so fast,” Jared complained. “It doesn’t taste as good when you have to eat a huge piece of pie in three bites.”
“Yeah,” Jake moaned again, rubbing his stomach. “I feel kind of sick.”
I nodded, feeling sick, too, but it wasn’t just because we had eaten a whole pie. Deep inside I knew that the main reason that I felt sick was that we had eaten a stolen pie. As I looked at the empty pie pan, I wished that we had taken the pie to Brother Piper.
We all stumbled from the bushes and headed for home, with the pie plate hidden under my shirt.
Mom was in the family room when we slipped into the house and tiptoed to the kitchen. We washed the pan and slipped it into the cupboard. Then we dashed for the door.
“Oh, Benjy,” Mom called out just as we reached the front door, “Did you deliver the pies?”
I gulped and caught my breath. “Everybody was happy to get your pies, Mom.”
“And what did Brother Piper say?” she asked excitedly. “It’s his birthday today. I’ve been promising him a peach pie for weeks. He didn’t think I’d remember.”
“You promised Brother Piper a peach pie?” Jake asked.
Mom nodded and smiled. “I’ll have to call him later this afternoon and wish him a happy birthday.”
“I thought you said she’d never know!” Jake accused me as we tromped down the front steps.
“Yeah,” Jared whined, “we’ll be caught for sure. Now what are we going to do?”
“How was I supposed to know it was Brother Piper’s birthday?” I snapped. “Besides, it was your idea too.”
“We have to get another pie,” Jake said.
“Yeah,” I mumbled, “and before Mom calls Brother Piper.”
“I know!” Jared spoke up. “My mom’s at a Primary meeting. Let’s go to my place and make a pie.”
‘We don’t know anything about making pies,” Jake said.
“Well, we’ll have to learn!” I spouted.
“What do we do first?” Jake asked as we crowded around Jared’s kitchen table.
“I’ve watched Mom a few times. All we have to do is make the crust, fill it full of fruit, and throw it in the oven.”
“But how do we make the crust?” Jake asked.
“Get me a bowl and some flour and shortening,” I growled. “Do I have to do everything? We just mix it up, roll it out, and slap it into a pie pan.”
While Jared poured in the flour and Jake scraped in gobs of shortening, I took a wooden spoon and tried to mix the two ingredients together. It was a lot harder than I had thought.
“It doesn’t mix too well, does it?” Jake commented.
“Maybe it needs some water. Pour in some water,” I ordered.
“It looks better than when we started,” Jared said a few minutes later, “but it still doesn’t look much like piecrust.”
“It’s not piecrust,” I snapped. “Not yet. It’s just dough. Maybe if we roll it out, it’ll look better. It’s when Mom rolls hers out that it really looks like a piecrust.”
The dough kept falling apart and lumping into gobs, but we kept at it, pounding it with our fists, poking it with our spoons, and squeezing it with our fingers. When we finally got it into the pie pan, there were still a few bumpy spots, and the edges were kind of ragged.
“Now what do we do for the insides?” Jake asked.
“Do you have some peaches?”
Jared slapped the flour from his hands and looked in the pantry. He came back with a big can of peach halves. “Will these do?” he asked.
I nodded. “They’ll have to do.”
We spooned the peach halves onto the crust, then drank all the juice. We couldn’t make one big piece of dough for the top crust, so we put on a lot of little pieces and pinched them together.
“It doesn’t look much like one of Mom’s pies,” Jake mumbled.
Jared nodded. “It needs something.”
“Cinnamon and sugar!” I proclaimed, grinning. “Mom always puts cinnamon and sugar on top.”
Jake grabbed the sugar, and Jared grabbed the cinnamon, and they both began to sprinkle.
“Is that enough?” Jared asked.
I shook my head. “This pie needs lots of cinnamon and sugar to cover up the bad places.”
It was late in the afternoon when we finally pulled the pie from the oven.
“It doesn’t look exactly like the one Mom made,” Jake said.
“It doesn’t look like anything anyone would want to eat, either,” Jared said.
“Maybe Brother Piper doesn’t know a good pie from a bad one,” Jake said.
“He probably doesn’t,” I commented hopefully. “He likes brussels sprouts. Anybody that can eat brussels sprouts can eat this pie.”
“Maybe we’d better cover it with a napkin,” Jared said. “We can hand it to him and leave before he sees it. He’ll just think that your mom had a bad day. Anybody can make a lousy pie once in a while.”
The pie was still warm when we dragged our feet up Brother Piper’s walk. I swallowed hard as I rang the bell. Jared and Jake crowded behind me.
“Well, hello, boys.”
“We brought you a pie,” I burst out, pushing the pie into his hands. “Mom wanted us to bring you a pie.”
“Well, how nice of her, Benjy. She said that she was going to make me one, but I thought that she’d forget. You don’t know how much I love your mom’s pies.”
We started to go.
“Don’t leave, boys. Come in and have a piece of pie with me.”
“Well, we really”—I was getting a sickening twitch in my stomach—“We … uh … don’t want to eat your pie.”
“Oh, of course you do. Everybody wants some of your mom’s pie.”
Before we knew it, we were sitting at Brother Piper’s table. After he pulled the napkin off the pie, he just stared at it. Then he looked at us and back at the pie.
“Everybody has a bad day,” Jake said. “You can’t make a perfect pie every time. Not even Mom.”
Brother Piper shrugged and took a knife to the pie. The whole top of it crumbled into a hundred pieces as soon as the knife touched it. Brother Piper glanced over at us, but we didn’t look up. We kept staring at the pie. The peaches were all shriveled and brown, and the crust was too doughy in some places and too floury in others.
We all tried to eat some of it, but it was no use. Looking at it was bad enough—eating it was impossible. Even Brother Piper put down his fork and took a big drink of water. “Did your mother really make this pie?” he finally asked, poking at the stuff on his plate.
I knew that I couldn’t lie about it. I didn’t even want to. “Mom made you one, but we ate it. When we found out afterward that it was your birthday and that Mom was going to call you, we made you this one. Are you going to tell her?”
Brother Piper laughed. “You did bring me a pie. Was the first pie pretty good?”
We nodded glumly as I added, “But it was no fun eating a stolen pie. It just made us sick.”
“Well, I’ll just tell your mom that she made a great pie. After all, she did, didn’t she?”
I nodded and looked down. “We’re sorry, Brother Piper. It won’t happen again, honest.” Jared and Jake nodded their heads in agreement.
A few minutes later we shuffled into my kitchen. Mom smiled when we walked in. “I saved you something,” she announced. “You know how you’ve always wanted your very own pie?”
She walked over to the counter and picked up a big, beautiful peach pie. “I made this one just for you,” she said.
I could feel my stomach do flip-flops. The last thing that I wanted was another piece of pie. I looked at Jared and Jake, and they looked back at me. Their faces seemed a little green.
“Mom,” I said, holding my stomach, “I don’t think we’ll eat it, if it’s all right with you. But,” I added quickly, “Brother Piper would love one of your pies.”
“But he’s already had one of my pies. I thought that you liked my pies,” she said, looking a little hurt.
“We do like your pies, Mom. In fact, we ate Brother Piper’s pie.”
“But it didn’t taste very good,” Jake chimed in. “It wasn’t your fault,” he added quickly. “It’s just that stolen pies don’t taste very good.”
“Yeah,” I said, “so we’d better take this one to Brother Piper. The one we made for him was awful.”
“You made Brother Piper a pie?”
Jared shook his head. “I’m not sure you’d call it a pie. It looked more like a bad disease.”
“But we learned a lot,” I spoke up. “From now on, when you ask us to take a pie to someone, you can be sure we’ll do it. And that’s a promise.”