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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cantaloupes and Guns

God he was a fox. Finely feathered hair parted straight down the middle, olive-colored young skin, and quite a show off if I remember correctly. Danny had moved from Maryland out to Idaho to go to school. He was the assistant manager at the M&W Market where yours truly was employed -- my very first job, bagging groceries for $2.90 per hour. A union gig. Danny would show up at work each afternoon straight from what I'm sure had been an industrious day at school. And in the employee break room he would change into his work clothes and apron. He would drop his pants completely to the floor, change shirts, bring it all back up, and top off the whole package with a beautifully colored orange apron complete with name tag and ink stains. Pretty. Man oh man, I'd stare while those pants were down. Well, truth be told, I would not stare. I was only 16. He was far older....say, 20 or so ancient years. Finding every excuse in the book to hang around, I'd stay at least until those pants were down.

Danny drove a Vega. A yellow Vega. We would ride around town occasionally in that thing. Him divulging all sorts of stories about "doing her" in the backseat of his Vega. Oy. I didn't want to hear it then and I don't want to hear it now. But thinking of him doing it did sort of make up for it. He and I worked together on the evening shift. Corner of 28th and State Streets in Boise. Right next to the Taco John's. One night, Danny spotted a dude lifting a cantaloupe from the produce section. A section, may I add, that I took painstaking efforts to make sure looked bright and pretty what with its iceberg lettuce and such. So Danny yells at me, "Get in my car...that guy just stole a cantaloupe." And we were off. He driving, me in the passenger seat. And both of us in our orange aprons. Ages 16 and 20. Driving the back streets of North Boise looking for a dude with a stolen fruit. "There he is!," Danny pointed out to me....up the alleyway. Giant, big tall dude with only a pair of overalls on. Tall, no shirt, bushy beard. "Go get the cantaloupe," Danny tells me....."I'll wait here It'll be okay, I've got a gun." So, 16-year-old wanting to please the object of his affection jumps out of the Vega and heads up the alley toward the guy. The thief tosses the cantaloupe over a tall fence into someone's back yard, places his hands on his hips, and looks at me squarely. No cantaloupe. It's gone. What are you staring at me for? So, while Danny sits in the Vega at the end of the alley with a pistol he had pulled out from underneath the front seat, I fumbled my way through a conversation with a known criminal.

I slunk back to the car and told Danny that the cantaloupe had gone AWOL. The stolen fruit was in hiding. And besides, we needed to get back to the store. There was work to be done.

10 comments:

Cubby said...

I'm trying to think in what way this story is a metaphor for something going on in your life, and I'm coming up with nothing. What brought up the memory?

fkramer1 said...

who knows why some memories stick around, and others fade away? Although, I'd NEVER forget chasing after a melon-stealer in a yellow Vega with my unrequited love/lust object.

Blair said...

What's in the water in Westerlo?

annie said...

may i be the voice of reason here? why the heck did you guys leave the store - in a vehicle - with a gun - to go after some guy who stole a cantaloupe?????

oh yeah this is idaho, circa 1978.

Tony (LT) said...

That was fun. It made my heart race in many ways.

Ur-spo said...

You should find a way to make this into a short story; it is a marvelous tale.

Bridgeout said...

You have a way with spinning a captivating yarn!

Lemuel said...

Darn. I was waiting for the part where Danny shoots the cantaloupe and it smatters all over you. Or else the part where you pee your pants when he tells you to go get the cantaloupe from the imposing dude while he brandishes his gun. You didn't pee you pants? Man, I would have! ;)

CJ/Rick said...

Why couldn't it have been a Camaro?

Gary said...

I think it's a metaphor for the current state of the Portland Police Bureau, except the PPB would have blown the thief away without the symbolic cantaloupe-spattering. And yes, in the movie version it would be a Camaro, but sometimes reality is a Vega.