Next day, we were out at the water cooler, early. We were in the country, that is. Kids from camp, Sally, Winston, Kretia, Brubaker, and Doolittle were with us. I had a drink in-hand as James started.
“Fair play, Golpher. We’re here at Auntie, Wheelee Crooks big back yard to learn lesson one.”
The yard was filled with apple trees. “Yes, sir.” We’d had a sloppy tomato and mayo sandwich for breakfast and I was pleased with my big, cold, orange drink (loaded with ice in a 32 ounce, Mississippi tumbler).
“What’s fair is fair,” James rubbery lips spat. In blue shorts, wearing old loafers, no socks, his worn, brown belt was seldom seen for his blue denim, short-sleeve shirt was far from tucked in. “I want you youngin’s to peel yer eyes to this here big yard. We’ve work to do. But, it’s fun work. This great country was built on earnest work. A man had backbone, years ago. He was paid for a good day’s work. Like picking up balls on the range, we’ll shag these apples to a wheelbarrow. Auntie Wheelee, cans. But, she says those’un’s on the ground are ours. Too, she’ll pay us to pick up.”
“Okay. Nice,” said Doolittle.
Sally’s lips slid as eyes opened wider. She pointed. “Use a rake? You mean one of those?”
“That’s the idea little lady. Apples go to market. We’ll eat, rake, and work together. We’ll drink as our belly will say, fine. Then we’ll sell and get paid.”
“Paid twice. Maybe like a double eagle,” Winston drew a breath. “Cool.”
Kretia’s brown eyes dropped. Red apples littered grass strewn beneath eye-popping loaded limbs. Kretia stooped. One hand lifted an apple. “But we can’t eat these. They’ve worms. Look Mr. Funnyman.” She spun. “You, too, Golpher. See?”
“Ah.” All gasped.
“Nothing to it,” said James.
“A hole-in-one, here,” Sally went on as she hoisted another.
“It’s a natural thing.” James grinned and blinked. “I didn’t say we had a Mercedes, here. Yet, we do. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Worms have, to live. They have, to die, too. They need a home. It’s only fair. Let’s start.”
So, following James lead, lesson one and putting country back in the club, we got to work.
(Image of James Gregory, Golpher, kids in a big yard with apples on ground, apple trees)