Written By John C. Zell


  As usual, I had arrived right on time. Six fifty-nine. Not a minute before and not a minute behind. Only two others were there before I. Mrs. Ives was always pacing about, as if she were chasing her reflection in the large plate of glass. She really just liked to haggle the store manager, pointing at her watch every second or two. Then, of course, there was Mr.Beaken, a slender, good-looking fellow who always stuck close to the welcoming mat. He clenched on to his grand-daughters hand as the manager arrived at the door rustling with a large bundle of keys. Mrs. Ives quickly ran over pushing her way to the front of the line,and as the door jolted open they all made a dash for aisle number nine. I knew exactly where they were racing, right to the day-old bread rack at the rear of the store. I didn't particularly care for day-old bread. The last time I purchased a loaf, it became moldy within a day.

  As I placed my foot firmly on the fungus infested mat, the doors jerked open from side to side. A lime-scented, floor polish flustered within my nostrils replacing the damp, morning air. I took a couple more steps, raised my head back, and then shut my eyes. The cool phosphors from the florescent lights above, seeped through my eyelids, as if someone had placed a crisp leaf of lettuce across my face. My frail hands grasped the handle of a beat-up shopping cart and I wobbled it down the aisle through a sea of colorful boxes. The mixed slogans I endured were staler than the minty piece of rubber tiring my dentures. All those flashy packages made me a little hungrier to spend lots of cash. However, I was sort of tight on funds this week, and could only afford those generic brands.

  Making my way over to the Produce Department, I took notice of Mr. Beaken shuffling through a stack of avocados. His grand-daughter was now quietly perched in the front seat of his cart. She is always such a wonderfully behaved child, sitting there so patiently, humming an old lullaby and twisting the curls of her chlorine damaged hair. I always loved to visit the Produce Department. It made me feel young again. Fresh, like a small seedling waiting to sprout from beneath the earth. I could stay there for hours, taking in the aroma of ripening fruits and vegetables.

  As Mr. Beaken firmly squeezed and shook each avocado, I strolled over to greet him.

  "How are you on this glorious morning, Mr. Beaken?" I had asked.

  "Why I'm just fine, and you?" he replied. My blushing smile seemed to have trigger the misters which began trickling down on my once olive toned skin. His grand-daughter who seemed to be more amused by this event, than my presence, broke out in a cheerful tiny laugh. I felt both flustered and embarrassed, while gazing in to his eyes passed the bridge of my foggy spectacles.

  "Were you able to beat Mrs. Ives to the day-old bread today?" I inquired.

  "No, I'm afraid Mrs. Ives is a little to swift for me these days." He painfully responded.

  "There's always tomorrow," I said.

  Suddenly, Mrs. Ives zipped passed us, on over to the spinach section. She'd reminded me of one of those Martians you see, now days, at the picture show. Perhaps it's that croaking sound she makes that annoys me so.

  "Seedless grapes are on sale today!," I shouted intentionally to get Mrs. Ives attention. Just as expected, the little Martian came snooping her way over.

  I must have followed Mr. Beaken for a good five minutes before realizing I was acting like a young, school girl. We'd already discussed most all of the bargains throughout the produce department. As he headed towards the ice box, I retrieved my wool sweater from the pocket-book, and began to embrace it about my shoulders. His grand-daughter's teeth still clattered to that same old lullaby. It was always so chilly in this section of the market. By this time, I must have had goose-bumps on top of goose-bumps. But, I didn't mind as long as I was this close to Mr. Beaken, anything seemed possible.

"Green" Copyright 2006, John C. Zell



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