Gingerbread House

Kevin, proud and confident, offered the Tarot Reader a large, heavily decorated cookie – a gingerbread man. “Yes, this is a sample of the baked goods we’re preparing for the Executive Christmas Brunch,” he said with flair, emphasizing the word ‘executive’ in order to impress.

The Reader accepted the cookie, took a bite, and savored the spicy-sweet flavors and texture. She took another bite and followed it with a sip of coffee. “It’s really good,” she said. “Reminds me of the holidays when I was just a little kid. So, what brings you here?”

“I’ve been hired by a caterer to bake cookies and dessert pastries,” responded Kevin. “Apparently, the CEO of the company is hosting a holiday luncheon for their senior management team, and the caterer needs me for the baked goods. This cookie is a just a small sample of what I’ll be providing. Delicious, right? I guess the caterer knows that my bakes are the best.”

“I’m here, though, because of my staff,” he continued. “They bake well enough, but I have to keep on top of everyone, every step. If I don’t, they’ll run my bakery to the ground and hurt my business. It’s worrying me, especially with this upcoming brunch.”

“I see,” said the Reader while inwardly assessing the man. “What is your question for the Tarot?”

Kevin asked plainly, “What can I do to make sure my staff doesn’t screw things up for this brunch?”

The Reader spread the cards and asked Kevin to choose one. Kevin drew a card, but didn’t turn it over. He returned the card to the deck, simultaneously bit the ‘head’ off his gingerbread man, and quickly picked a different card. It was The Hierophant.

After being handed the card, the Reader said, “The Hierophant represents a change, likely in relationships. Structure needs to be followed. It must be satisfied. People need the right leadership in order to respect command.”

“On the card is an image of a man in papal robes, mitre, keys and staff, representing structure and tradition. Behind are a monk and priest – both following, admiring, subservient.”

“I get it,” interrupted Kevin. “I’m the pope and I need to lay down the law. That’s what I’ve been thinking all along. I’m gonna go the the shop tomorrow and tell off those yahoo’s that work for me.”

The Reader said, “That’s a bit simplistic. It also says…”

Kevin abruptly talked over the Reader, “Maybe, maybe. But I think I’ve got what I needed.”

He excused himself and said goodbye. As Kevin was nearly out the door, the Reader yelled, “It also says that people need the right leadership.”

Kevin unlocked the doors of his bakery and walked in. The staff, looking unenthusiastic, followed. Each headed for their stations. They were prepping for tomorrow morning, when the caterer would pick up their order.

Paul, the assistant pastry chef supervising the crew for his boss, Kevin, went to the display counter to inspect the gingerbread men and houses baked the day before.

The gingerbread houses were assembled with primary decorations in place. But they still needed the candy roofs, and delicate sweets and sugars to be attached to the structure and landscape. He instructed a few of the staff to focus on that job.

The gingerbread men, on the other hand, were already decorated and finished. They were arranged in several rows, all facing in toward the bakery, as if an audience was watching and examining today’s activity.

Paul, satisfied the crew had their assignments, got started on the pastry dough – a lamination of flour and butter. When baked it would transform into a flaky, layered buttery pastry.

Kevin came in from the office and looked at his crew. He said, “Okay you screwups. The caterer will be here at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow to pick up the gingerbread and pastry orders. You all need to have everything ready or my head’s on the line. Understand? Now get to work.”

He went over to Paul to inspect the pastry dough prep. Paul had finished the initial combination of flour and butter, readying the dough for its multiple laminations. To Kevin, the dough looked fine. Yet he pushed Paul aside, grabbed the dough and said loudly, “What the heck, Paul? Are you trying to ruin my business?”

Kevin poked at the dough, and threw it into the trash. The entire crew saw this and shook their heads. Kevin continued, “Start over and do it right this time.” He turned directly to Paul so only he would see Kevin’s wink. “That should get them focused on their job,” Kevin whispered to Paul.

During break, Paul’s coworkers asked how he could possibly stand Kevin and his insults. Paul told the crew to focus on their work and do their best. To himself he thought: “I can’t leave these guys right now. We’ve got to get the orders finished as promised.”

By early evening, Paul and the crew finally finished their work. All the pastries were baked, and all the gingerbread cookies were ready. They packed all of the pastries and gingerbread onto their travel racks, and left for home after a long, exhausting day.

Kevin, patting himself on the back for the completed task, was alone at the shop and enjoying a gingerbread man, a pastry, and a drink. He bit into Paul’s pastry and decided it was really good. But he also thought that he could have made it better.

Starting to feel the whiskey, he prepared to leave. He threw the uneaten gingerbread man at the other cookies arranged in rows, toppling them over. He finished his drink and, exasperated, went to the toppled gingerbread men to put them back in place. But over half we’re missing.

“Those asses,” he said out loud. “They’re gonna ruin my business.” He got his coat and headed for the front door. Before reaching for the locks, he heard scratches and patter from behind. Kevin turned around to see a small army of gingerbread men carrying knives, forks and other sharp kitchen utensils , all headed his way.

The next morning, Paul and the caterer arrived at the shop around 6:45 a.m. It was still closed, and the crew were all out front waiting. “Where’s Kevin?” asked Paul. “He’s usually here before everyone else.”

No one seemed to know, so Paul unlocked the door and let everyone in. The caterer immediately stopped and said: “Wow, it smells great in here! Are those my pastries?” she exclaimed, pointing to the pastry rack on wheels. She walked over and inspected the lot. Then she took one, had a bite, and said, “This is so good. Fantastic! And they look beautiful. Now let’s check out the gingerbread.“

At the rack of gingerbread men, she approved of the taste, and commented on the uniformity of decoration: “They look perfect. Just like a small army.”

They all laughed and walked to the last rack holding the gingerbread houses.

“Oh how cute,” said the caterer. “A tiny winter wonderland. But what’s this here?” She pointed to a small grave and headstone made of marshmallows near the peppermint door.

“I’m not sure,” said Paul. They saw that every gingerbread house had the gravestone. “Kevin must have put it there.”


This is Dante P Ramon, your host and author of The Dark Reading, scary stories inspired by Tarot cards. I invite you to listen to our podcast regularly, and visit us on the web at And please feel free to share The Dark Reading with your friends.

I just picked the Death card, so good night for now.


Season 1 Episode 10.

©2020 The Dark Reading. All Rights Reserved.

All third party marks are the property of their respective owners. Image credit: Golden Tarot, Kat Black.


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