The plum in Paulyís kitchen


It was the last plum in the box, a purple orb trapped in a rectangular cardboard prison in the old manís shop on Passaic Street.

Pauly and I stared at it then at each other, each of us knowing exactly what would happen next.

But Pauly was quicker and grabbed up the plump prisoner before I could reach it.

I watched the beads of clear liquid roll from its smooth surface onto Paulyís hand like sweat.

I wanted that plum and told Pauly as much, but he only laughed and told me just how sweet the last one had been when the box was still full, and how much sweeter he expected this one to be because it was the last.

I tried to imagine the box full again but could not.

All I saw was the empty box and its rippled bottom hinting of other round purple bodies which had lain there leaving their impressions.

Pauly handed the old man a quarter and walked out, muttering something about saving the fruit until later.

I shouted after him that I would eat it now, but heard only his evil laugh as he made his way back to his apartment.

Later as I lay in bed with a book of poems, I ran across one by William Carlos Williams, and understood his theft completely as I pondered the possibility of my sneaking into Paulyís kitchen to procure that plum, but knowing the whole time Pauly had lied to me and had already eaten it.


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