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Page 40

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A SORT OF RIPENING

Myrtle's in the fruit section sorting through melons, cantaloupes mostly, mid-February when she feels a warm one with a power cord attached to where its stem used to be but nowhere on the cord's a switch, just a plug on the end for the receptacle and now she thumps the cantaloupe, sounds right, sniffs it, smells ripe and so she tosses it in her cart and I can tell by the twitch in her shoulder, you see I'm right behind her, fingering grapes, she can't wait to get this baby home and plug it in and I cannot wait either so we're now in her kitchen where she plugs it in: nothing, not a thing, no lighting up, no ballooning up, no hum, no crackle of seeds inside, for one moment back in the store she thought to herself it might be a novelty radio like her lobster telephone and elephant fridge but no, so she gets out a knife to cut it up and after each stroke, the knife blade gets sharper, a sharpness you can see with your naked eye and when the knife begins cutting all by itself, she yanks out the plug and sticks the knife back in the knife drawer and goes off cantaloupes at least until they're in season.

  Charles Springer__


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FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH

After drinking from a garden hose the first time when he was a teenager mowing lawns for gas money, Derrick would drink from nothing else, never a cup or glass, not a can, not even a bottle although he did gulp some bong water once and as you'd imagine, this hose thing became his trademark and a problem that his teachers called a challenge because I guess challenge sounded more professional or tackle-able but for Derrick the hose deal was no big whoop, he simply wore a couple feet of it around his neck like a collar, no, it wasn't a necklace, and if some smartass got lippy, Derrick pretended to have had a tracheotomy and scared him off, then went about his business siphoning gasoline, you see he no longer mowed and he came to love this piece of hose the same way one took pride in an inner tube or section of saxophone and even slept with it, showered with it, on occasion put a funnel that he wore on his head under his ball cap in an end of it and drank rain water like it was going out of style and he was the chosen one to bring it back.

  Charles Springer__


SCALP TREATMENT

When Chuck was just a little tyke he noticed his pappy's chickens could fly only short distances and not all that high. He never saw a flock aiming for a cloud or gliding across the face of the moon so he set out to change all that because he was always one to see potential everywhere in everything so he caught a chicken and tossed it like a medicine ball into the upwind and oh, it took off alright but only long enough to land on the roof of the outhouse next to the coop and then land on his head where it left an egg in one of those gorgeous waves he'd become known for, but this flight pattern remained a puzzle until one night all hell broke loose with a fox and a weasel and this rabid raccoon in the chicken yard and it was like O'Hare out there, chickens lifting off right and left, going in every direction mind you, flapping away, flying if you could call it that, higher and higher over housetops, radio towers, even the giant spruce out on Highway 81 folks drove hundreds of miles to park under and look up through, now to see eggs, eggs descending like blitz bombs over anyone just out for a stroll, what was to become among them the most luxurious heads of hair ever seen on a throng and it wasn't even the weekend.

  Charles Springer__


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AT THE LAST MINUTE

When I was this kid in grade school I asked Junie who sat cattycorner to me where she got the purple fruit I saw in her lunch pail and she said it came with the lunch pail and that she was going to keep it until her mother returned the lunch pail because of the purple fruit that came in it and when I suggested we just go ahead and eat the purple fruit, she suggested I ask my own mother to buy me a lunch pail with a purple fruit in it and I told her I have no mother or even a mother-in-law and Junie said I could have hers if that was okay and I said I'd have to ask my dad as I did have a dad, then Junie said she wasn't sure what a dad was because apparently she didn't have one of those so we decided at the last minute to eat the purple fruit after all and I split it nicely down the middle with my pocket knife and her lunch pail, well, of course we had to flatten it now the purple fruit was gone and so we did, taking turns with the little sledge hammer she carried in her book bag.

  Charles Springer__