One day a talented young doctor opened up a practice on the main street of a small seaside town after escaping the big city. The residents were excited to have a well renowned doctor within their midst as they previously had to travel far from their little slice of heaven to seek medical treatment. However, a confectioner operated in the building next door.
The operations of the confectioner resonated loudly within the waiting room and the lines that formed outside often annoyed the patients of the doctor as they sought to enter his office. The noise of the machinery also bothered patients during their examinations. The doctor had to repeat himself often while the equipment was running. However, the confectioner was beloved by the community and had also developed a reputation as a master of his craft, attracting waves of tourists to the town. The doctor, in turn, found him endearing and respected him immensely, despite his own personal distaste for candies. As such, the doctor created a backdoor entry for those who prefered to avoid the lines of the confectioner and he paid to insulate the walls in order to provide a more calm and serene experience for the patients in the lobby and west wing of his practice.
As time passed, he and the confectioner become increasingly friendly, often meeting for drinks after work. Despite their different professions, the humble confectioner became a mentor in the ways of life. The doctor was impressed by the tales of resilience, youthful exuberance, and wisdom that the confectioner shared with him. The doctor and his bride even opted to have candies at their wedding instead of cake.
Then one day the two shared a chuckle as foul winds arrived from the east, briefly overpowering the gentle scent of the nearby ocean. The doctor noted that the confectioner was elderly and that his knowledge and skills were extremely valued by the community as well as those who traveled to visit the town. He encouraged him to seek an apprentice to preserve his wisdom and expertise. The confectioner smiled then, thanked the doctor, and began training two apprentices. One to continue his shop in the town and another to spread the learnings of his life to a distant city.
A young doctor moved to the big city. He had been working at a hospital in the countryside before deciding to open up his own solo practice in the city of his dreams. Real estate was difficult to come by in this new city, but he found the perfect location in the midtown area where many of his prospective clients lived. The real estate agent, however, conveniently neglected to mention the young confectioner that was leasing the unit next door.
Once the lease was signed, the renovations were complete, and the doctor moved to the city to begin his practice, he discovered that a confectioner had also recently begun his operations in the adjacent unit. The confectioner’s equipment made rattling noises, annoying music traveled from his side of the wall, and, worst of all, the shop produced a sticky sweet smell that often made the doctor nauseous. As such, this doctor went straight to the city council, hired a lawyer, and sent angry letters to the confectioner without so much as introducing himself. However, the city council denied his request for an injunction and he lost his case in court. As a last resort, he sent a kinder letter. He offered to pay for the confectioner to move to another location. Surely his generous offer would resolve their differences, he thought to himself.
The confectioner stood outside his office the next day, just as he knew the doctor would be leaving his office at dusk. There was a wad of letters in his hand—the offer as well as each and every vitriolic one the doctor had sent during his fits of rage. It was in that moment that the confectioner snaped a lighter and set them ablaze, staring the doctor in the eye without blinking as they fall to the ground in flames. The flaming letters began to blow in the wind, encircling the legs of the confectioner in an omnious whirling funnel. As the ashes settled, the confectioner turned around, walked down the dimly lit street and disappeared around the corner.
The doctor immediately and anxiously retreated into his office. At first, he was livid. His offer was generous, too generous. Any intelligent person should have taken his money and run. Surely the man was an absolute fool. Any sensible person, any right-minded councilperson or judge ought to have supported his position and recognized his claim. Surely the world was against him. He had been abandoned and the people, the city, and nature itself had chosen candy, the sickly candies of a dimwit. Thus, in the midst of his pathetic despair, the doctor hatched a new plan. He closed his office temporarily and traveled far and wide learning the secrets of the confectioners. He studied their masters. He learned their methods. He quickly became a talented confectioner himself.
Then, upon his return to the city of his dreams, he rented the nearest retail space on the block, two doors down from his practice, and within sight of the enemy. He hired a charming actor to run the shop and execute his commands. Additionally, upon his return to medical practice, he sent an apology letter to the confectioner. One day, the confectioner even came to the doctor’s office to accept his apology, though he maintained a distaste for the doctor. As the confectioner returned to his shop, he looked back for a moment, nodded, and then continued his return, smiling gaily, happy to have achieved a sustainable and favorable stalemate in their childish game. Yet, so too, the doctor snuck back into his office with a perverse smile of his own. The confectioner left unaware of the plan that has been cooked up to topple him.
Days later, the food critic of the city paper attended the soft opening of the new confectioner and was blown away. The review was stunning and the doctor strutted around with his healthy food only eating grin all day long. The critic wrote that what he tasted was world class, as if it was of the old world. The exact words were, I believe, “Sweet Justice is a welcomed addition to a city sorely in need of high quality and imaginative culinary creations.” The doctor knew that these words would sting in the heart of the confectioner next door and his heart felt all the lighter knowing the weight that his enemy must increasingly feel upon his shoulders. Not even the smell of fresh saltwater taffy wafting in from next door could interrupt his moment of bliss. His plan had been set in motion and was going splendidly.
The community increasingly began to frequent Sweet Justice and the doctor enjoyed watching as the confectioner next door paced back and forth, his customers having switched to the new better-quality confections just down the street. The doctor enjoyed watching as the confectioner cried one day as he left for the evening, having realized that he had to close his shop. The doctor kept a bottle of champagne in the office. He opened it while rejoicing alone as the black and white out of business sign replaced the joyful rainbow of colors that had welcomed passersby to the store next door.
The doctor decided to share his victory, albeit a secret one. He planed an event at his own confection shop, a victory celebration disguised as a community festival and circus. The whole community attended. Children, parents, foodies, local hipsters, everyone from throughout the city came to try his delights, to witness his spectacle. The confectioner himself came to have a taste and was puzzled to see the doctor in attendance. Why would the man who had written extensively of his distaste for those of his profession and their creations attend a celebration of candy?
The doctor saw him and smiled creepily, sending shudders down the spine of the confectioner. Overcome by a moment of emotion, the confectioner approached the doctor, “you are a very coarse man you know. You must not like candy because all that you know, all that is inside of you is coarse and putrid.” Before the doctor has time to reply, the confectioner stormed off, retreating to his apartment where he decided to leave the city. He felt a tinge of regret about not even having a moment to try the delights of the master confectioner behind Sweet Justice. Yet, he came to see the bright side of having an opportunity to open a new shop elsewhere far away from the strange doctor. Thus, he boarded a bus to travel west where he studied with masters of his craft along the way to his new home, a small seaside town without a confectioner.
A week later, the doctor in the big city closed his own confection operation, the front through which he successfully orchestrated his offensive strategy. He was glad to have the charade over and ecstatic to have won the war. Yet, the people of the city were confused, befallen by a perceived injustice and lack of sweets. No one knew who ran the brilliant new shop, the other confectioner was nowhere to be found, and no one in the city knew how to make candy quite like the two men that had suddenly disappeared. The children cried during their appointments with the doctor as the tiny, sugar free suckers he offered in return were no replacement for the brilliant candies of the shop that had opened and closed as if it were a firework. Not even the humble shop next door remained to create cavities in their teeth. It seemed that, even in defeat, the confectioner had a way of torturing the doctor. The memory of candy lingered with the children and their memory of magnificent candies haunted the doctor.
Murmurs in the lobby also spoke of a longing. A memory of sweet delights existed within the adult patients as well. Murmurs in the lobby also spoke of rumors. A tale of a dastardly doctor and his sickening ploy began to spread throughout the neighborhood, the city, and westward. The tale was carried through whispers until it reaches a small town on the edge of the sea, the home of a rebirthed master. Thus, the rotten scent of the rumors overpowered the sea breeze as it infiltrated the sweetly scented shop floor of a humble confectioner.
As the sour winds slowly make their way westward, the big city of the doctor became a dull city, a city without a confectioner of considerable merit. Some amateurs seized the vacuum, but the people were left with subpar sweets, a distant memory, and a longing for a taste of something that they once knew. The longing persisted even as they began to forget the events that created the void within their sweet, youthful hearts. A scent of sewage, trash, and burning rubber replaced the sticky sweet smell of confections and the odors permeate throughout all but the pristine plazas scattered throughout the city. The doctor loved these spaces of natural beauty most of all as he continued to live out his dream to retirement.
However, years later, a young confectioner’s apprentice moved in and set up shop in the recently vacant retail space next door to the apartment of a retired doctor. The sweet smells of his masterful concoctions wafted upwards into the windows overlooking the nearby plaza, much to the delight of all residents, all but one. The residents of the city spoke of a keenly felt, but mysterious longing having been fulfilled. The food critic from the local paper wrote, and I quote, “Gustabus de Galba is a welcomed addition to a city sorely in need of high quality and extraordinarily imaginative culinary creations.” Within weeks, the launch of the shop sparked a sudden and sweet revolution throughout the city; a franchise opened within each and every neighborhood, saturating the air with a beautiful fragrance that elicited memories of youth. Thus, each and every bucolic plaza of the city became host to a branch of Gustabus de Galba and the confectioner finally had the last sweet laugh and a taste of bittersweet justice.