Of Death and the Vegetable King: Another Perspective

He awoke at 5:00 that morning, as usual.  He prepared a small breakfast of eggs and toast, making sure to feed his cat before he ate.  A small transistor radio kept him company; it was permanently fixed on the CBC.  There was all of this commotion about protests in Copenhagen.  He noticed that his right arm was sore, he rubbed it with his left as he walked down to the shop.

It is a lot of work, setting things up in the morning.  When he started the shop, all those years ago, it only took minutes.  He was strong then.  Now, he had to get there well over an hour before opening, but he didn’t mind.  It was difficult for him to put the red and white hat on top of his head:  His right arm, by now, was limp.  It felt like he had slept on it the previous night, though he hadn’t.

Eventually, everything was ready to open the gates.  He was meticulous, checking every vegetable and piece of fruit for signs of spoilage.  He gave those ones away for free, or ate them if he was hungry, but he rarely was.  Today would be a relatively easy one, he had received most of his orders the previous day.  Only eggs, this morning.

At noon, one of his favorite customers paid him a visit.  She was beautiful: dark brown hair to match her chestnut eyes.  He remembered seeing her at his shop long ago.  She was a child then, but it was obvious she would grow to be strikingly gorgeous.  Her mother bought her an apple.  She was very polite, even then.  She is now too, always sure to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.  He loved her smile.

He was tired that day, even more so than usual.  He spent most of the time in his office, only rising from his seat if a customer came to the till.  His daughter phoned to check up on him, and they had arranged for her to come down at 6:00 to help him take everything down for the evening.  She helped him out quite a bit over the past few months.  She is a good girl.

After lunch, he felt much better.  His bologna sandwich seemed to give him a second wind.  He was able to tidy up his displays and chat with the customers, some of whom called him ‘dad’.  The pain in his arm was still there, but he was getting used to it.

Over the years, he developed what he called, ‘the sales song’.  It was a stream of consciousness, improvisational number.  Plainspoken, like those early Bob Dylan dreams.  By now, he was almost unconscious of the fact that he was doing it.  Sometimes, instead of exchanging formalities with the customers, he just continued on: “Eggs, fresh from the chicken’s snatch… taste good with asparagus, don’t wanna smell yer pee after that… roses for your garden, many different colours…”

He went out onto the sidewalk to inspect the roses when the lightning hit his brain.  He tried to fall gracefully, but couldn’t summon the strength to do so.  He looked up at the sky and everything went dark.

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