THE ORANGE VENDOR
Close Encounter with Crack
The sun was already up in the blue skies blanketed with patches of white clouds. Everyone went about their business in a peaceful manner. The streets in the borough were humming with activities – vehicles, pedestrians, shoppers, children and jaywalkers. There was a constant flow of people in and out of the gates leading to the main market one bright Saturday morning in May.
Inside the market permanent stalls were neatly arranged in rows. It was dark and gloomy. There were voices everywhere. The vendors were busily arranging their stuff in front of them on the top of the stalls made of concrete. Vegetables, provisions, fruits and other stuff for sale were displayed on the stalls with the excess placed somewhere below the stalls. A few of the vendors had hand written price cards for certain items.
Paul, a stall owner walked in with a box on his head and stopped in front his stall. He put down the box and uncovered his stall. Paul’s neighbour, Tony, who was there early and having a good sale of his items, enquired from Paul, “You are late today, Paul. It seems that you went out last night.”
“No. I woke up late looking at a movie.” replied Paul as he took out some oranges from the box and arranged them in small heaps in front of him.
“Tell me about it,” asked the neighbour attending to a customer.
At that very moment a group of carefree customers passed by glancing on both sides to view what each vendor was selling.
“Come and get your juicy oranges.” shouted Paul. “Taste first and then buy.” he continued.
Tony enquired, “Paul, what happens if people taste and do not buy?”
“They cannot resist the fresh juicy oranges. They will buy!” replied Paul with much assurance.
Tony then said, “If you say so, is so!”
At that point in time a crude looking old man with bulging pockets and a bag approached Paul and asked, “How are your oranges going?”
Paul replied looking at the old man, “Fast.”
The inquisitive old man then asked, “How fast?”
“As fast as the customers come.” Paul told the old man.
“Kill that talk and let me sample an orange.” demanded the old man.
Paul then skilfully peeled an orange with a small gadget and enquired from the old man, “What do you have in that bag?”
“Crown corks!” boasted the old man.
Paul then offered the orange to the old and asked him, “What are you doing with the crown corks?”
“When I cannot get anything to eat, I take a few full.” the old man mumbled.
“Your teeth must be very strong.” Paul remarked. “What do you have in your shirt pocket?” he continued to enquire.
The old man then opened his pocket and displayed the contents. “Only crack. You like some?” He asked Paul. “When you take crack, you can also take some crown corks.” he assured Paul.
Paul then shouted at the old man “You are really crack!!”
Tony, who overheard the conversation between Paul and the old man, remarked, “It seems that both of you are crack. Don’t you see, he is offering you a crown cork of crack?”
The old man then told Paul “Thanks for your orange.” and calmly walked away without buying.
Copyright © Frank Ramtahal 2011