Ballicatter

Politics and Quality

Ripe

by

There was, once, a man made of fruit. He had strings of firm round apples for arms, and columns of plump watermelons for legs.

One day the man was in Miami, where a raging maniac was reported to be on the loose. She wasn't dangerous, according to local officials - but watch out for your fruit!

Experts are advising any beach-goers who encounter the maniac to pitch their bags of kiwis, pomegranates, nectarines, litchi nuts, passion fruit - whatever fruit they have - onto the sand and run for the hotels. She intends no harm; her only desire is to swallow fruit, reportedly whole. Beach-goers are warned not to place themselves between the maniac and a lemonade stand. . .

The man made of fruit was not listening to the radio. He was on a bus. It drove along the coast and he sat by a window. His walkman played: "Love ya, love ya, wanna eatch ya, wanna hold ya," in the pieces of banana peel he had for ears. He tapped along against the seat in front of him with his finger, a curved slice of cantaloupe segmented at three joints by grapes.

The landscape reeled by his window. He wondered, at the thousands of bags that flecked the beach. Without people beside them. Without people even near them, he noticed. In fact the beach was deserted. From his bag he removed a large orange, with all its thick peel, and just nibbled at it, thoughtfully.

Later the bus stopped. The bus driver, who had his radio on beside him, shouted, his voice breaking. "Sands Beach. Now get the hell off!!"

The man looked up. He was alone on the bus. The driver must be talking to him. The man reached under the seat for his bag. Had any fruit rolled out? No. It was all with him.

He passed down the aisle to the front. But he had only one leg outside the bus when the driver squealed away, spinning him onto the boardwalk. He landed, fell, a heap of fruit. Pears were bruised. Grapes squashed. Coconuts trickled milk. Cherries bled. A couple of lemons rolled away unevenly down the boardwalk.

The man lay, dripping. Eventually, he seated himself. "That was quite a fall," he thought.

He looked up. A woman was there, standing over him in a puddle of juice. Their eyes met.

She smiled.

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