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It was early Saturday evening, and Curtis was stacking fruit. His name tag said “Curtis”, and below that, “How may I help you?” He wore a red sweater and his hair was slicked with pomade. FoodTown made a point of hiring people like Curtis.

That night Curtis was stacking pears. Ample, curvaceous pears. Stacey walked in. They nodded and smiled at each other. She had long brown hair and Stacey smelled like a bar of soap. She came in for wine coolers, mostly.

Curtis sometimes pictured Stacey without her clothes, running across a field. Naked, her hair in the wind. Her big white pears, bobbling.

Stacey headed to a refrigerated case, past the health and beauty aisle. Past the magazines and pet supplies. She stopped at the case with the wine coolers.

Kevin was there. A can of Foster’s in his hand. Kevin, of all people. He had jet black hair and mischievous blue eyes. She hadn’t seen him in years. In high school, Kevin was on the football team, the girls were all crazy about him.

He looked up.

He blinked.

Hi Kevin, she said.

…Sandy?

Stacey.

Stacey. Right.

Yeah. So Kevin. How’ve you been?

Good. Good. Your uh…your folks still live on…

Barksdale. Yeah. They do. You still drink Foster’s, hunh.

Uh. Yeah, he said. Still?

Yeah. Still. You had a can of Foster’s with you that first night. I remember. Because they’re so big.

He grinned. He whispered.

What are you talking about.

Curtis looked down at the pears. He held them. He felt them. Their warmth, and fullness and Stacey’s hair like a dark fire. Stacey, lifting her soft, white pears and offering them to his lips.

She looked at the floor. Stacey laughed and shook her head.

My parents’ house. On Barksdale. In the middle of the night, you used to come to my window. You tapped and scratched until I opened it. You reeked of beer and we did it until it was almost light and the sun was coming up. Then you left. Through the window. The same way you came in.

He blinked.

He coughed.

Long time ago, he said.

Stacey looked at Kevin’s hands.

Yeah. I guess it was.

The FoodTown store was brightly lit, and Stacey stood at the window. She watched as Kevin got in his car, leaned over and kissed his wife.

Later that night, Curtis went home and opened the drawer where he kept Mr. Snuggles. Mr. Snuggles was a special sock he used when he thought about Stacey.

Kevin and his wife drove back to their zero lot line house. He smacked her hard across the cheek. He hit her again when she asked why.

Curtis turned the covers down. Come Monday, no more pears. Monday was a whole new world where Curtis was stacking bananas, and sometimes when Kevin tapped and scratched, she was awake and Stacey was waiting. Sometimes it was only the wind in the trees, and bananas were nothing like pears.

 

 

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