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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Pearl: Dish Fairy


Part III of III.  Parts I and II are on the previous days.  Go ahead.  Read them.  We’ll wait.

“What’s going on?”

I look up, and there in the broken kitchen window is Mikey.

Mikey, Ace, Towhead and I had all met some months back in a gasoline-will-take-care-of-those-speed-bumps incident.

Towhead’s head appears alongside Mikey’s.  In contrast to Mikey’s scowling demeanor, Towhead is a meaty blond in constant, happy motion.  He beams down at me.

“Hey!” he says, looking at the cart.  “What are you, the dish fairy?”

“What happened to your plates?”

At this, they both smile.  “Ace!” Mikey bellows.  “Someone here to see you!”

And in a moment, Ace appears at the door.  “Why Miss Pearl!” he exclaims. “You’ve come by to view the damage?”

I look at the broken dishes at my feet.  “What happened here?”

He smiles, shrugs.  “A disagreement."

I smile back, my father’s teachings that a salesman is always pleasant and upbeat.  “That’s a messy disagreement.”

“You didn’t hear anything the other night?”

I shake my head.  “My mom says I sleep like a drunken log.”

Ace nods, rubs the side of his jaw with the back of his hand.  “You got a boyfriend, Pearl?”

I wrinkle my nose.  “Boys are dumb,” I scoff.  And then remembering that this may not be construed as “pleasant”, I smile again.

He laughs.  “So you have a bunch of dishes, I see.  Someone send you here?”

“Nope.  I’m just trying to – “ The words “unload his merchandise” come to my mind, but that doesn’t seem right.  Remembering my father’s advice that adults are always looking for ways of getting children out of the house, I improvise.  “I’m saving to go to camp.”

“Uh-huh,” he says.

“So let me ask you this,” I say, further channeling my father.  “What do I have to do to get you a kitchen full of dishes again?”

Ace erupts into laughter, and I blush furiously.

“How many plates you have left there?”

Ah.  Something I know.  “I’ve got 30 plates, 12 cups and 12 saucers.”

“I tell you what,” he says, “I’ll give you $8 for the whole lot.”

Eight dollars!  I frown, count feverishly on my fingers.  If I sold four plates for a dollar, then 30 of them were worth seven-fifty.  The cups and saucers – well, I didn’t think anyone would really be interested in them.

“Sold,” I say. 

He pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his breast pocket, lights one.  “And,” he says, blowing the smoke toward the sky, “you sweep up this mess and get it into the garbage and I’ll throw in another $2.”

My smile was becoming more genuine by the minute.  “Deal,” I say.

“Towhead!” Ace shouts.  “Bring Pearl here a shovel!”

It was a mess, but it was all on the patio.  I shoveled the broken plates, bowls, glasses, into a large pile.  Towhead met me with another shovel and we dumped it all into a garbage can he pulled from out behind the trailer. 

Ten minutes later, Ace comes out of the house with a ten-dollar bill.  He hands it to me.  “Tell your mom,” he says, “that if she heard the ruckus the other night that I apologize.”

“I’ll do that,” I say. 

I turn to watch Mikey and Towhead take arm loads of crockery into the house.

“Thirty plates is a lot of plates,” I say.

Ace smiles at me.  “Love is funny,” he says.  “Maybe she’ll be back.”

I nod solemnly.  “And if she comes back and makes dinner, she’ll have something to serve it on.”

Ace shakes his head, laughing.  “Yeah,” he says.  “Maybe she’ll make dinner.”

"Or you could give some of them to her."

Ace looks at me strangely.

The cart now empty, I take a step toward him, hold out my hand.  “Thank you, sir,” I say, once again channeling my father.  “It’s been a pleasure doing business with you.”

We shake, and I leave, dragging the cart behind me.

“Pearl!”

I turn.

Ace holds a hand up.  The streetlight has just come on, and he looks like a statue.  “Take your time growing up,” he calls.

I hold my own hand up.  “OK,” I say.

37 comments:

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Is my math off? He said ten dollars for the lot and an extra two if you cleaned up...you got $10.00? Ummm..... Maybe the advice not to grow up was worth two bucks?

esbboston said...

How soon before you started seLLing -wait for it- Amway?

Chantel said...

Loved this. A child's perspective on an adult world is rarely told well. Rock on Pearl.

mary i said...

Love It!! great writing/story telling. Oh yeah where is the extra 2$?

Camille said...

Excellent Pearl. My inner ten year old was scuffling her feet and peeking over your very brave shoulder the whole time. :-)

Gigi said...

I know I'm not a mathematician but I think you got stiffed on the extra $2.

What a great story!

savannah said...

great story, sugar! especially his last words to you, take your time growing up. xoxoxoxo

vanilla said...

Beautiful. Both the story, and the telling of it.

TexWisGirl said...

i have loved this series. :)

Joanne said...

This is so last generation. And told beautifully, as always. Rational philosophy from a person who could be irrational at times. Babies and kids exempt.

ellen abbott said...

great story. almost makes me wish I grew up in a trailer park.

Pearl said...

Delores, no, that's what happens when I write every night and don't proof-read properly.
Dammit.

esb, ahhh. The power of positivity. :-) I never sold Amway, but I was once a Mary Kay rep!

Chantel, thank you!

mary i, the $2 is me writing late at night and not paying full attention. :-) Almost hard to believe, isn't it?!

Camille, thank you. :-) There aren't too many people I'm afraid of, really, although there are plenty I choose not to interact with...

Gigi, dagnabit. :-) I've fixed the story and hope the $2 error wasn't too distracting!

savannah, some things you remember clearly. Having a biker give you advice is memorable...

vanilla, thank you, my friend!

TexWisGirl, I'm glad. :-)

Pearl said...

Joanne, absolutely. :-) Outside of Mikey, who was actually a bit of a loose cannon, the One Percent were decent people and always reasonable with us kids.

Ms Sparrow said...

What a charming story! You were a savvy kid and budding business woman.

Shelly said...

What a wonderfully satisfying story.

Now this: "Mikey, Ace, Towhead and I had all met some months back in a gasoline-will-take-care-of-those-speed-bumps incident..." is one story I'd like to hear, too.

Pearl said...

Ms. Sparrow, if only it had played out correctly. :-) Such a bright future!

Shelly, careful what you ask for, honey. :-) Yeah. I may have to write that one...

Pat Tillett said...

Pearl, that was a fantastic story! Written beautifully and very touching. One of your best, me thinks...

The Elephant's Child said...

Just lovely. Thank you.

CarrieBoo said...

Yep, you were always a smartie. Truly wonderful tale (p.s. I have your book... yay! Thank you!)

Eva Gallant said...

What a great story! I bet your dad was proud!

River said...

How could the other commenters "lose" $2? I read this as Ace offering $8 for the lot, plus $2 if you cleaned up the broken dishes. Total $10. Nothing wrong with your math Pearl.

Such a sweet story too, I loved "take your time growing up".

River said...

Okay, things are clear now. Somehow I'd missed the comment where you wrote that you'd gone back and fixed the story....

JeannetteLS said...

Consolidate the three parts, give people another week here to read it, then get it published somewhere. Maybe you can make another FIFTEEN on it.

I could not stop reading and I REALLY have to pee...

Buttons said...

You are a natural Pearl. Loved this. B

Jo-Anne's Rambling said...

Now I have to go and read parts 1 and 11............lol

What a great story love name dish fairy......

Anna Lefler said...

Oh, this is lovely. Your stuff is always great, Pearl.

You were missed at Erma!!

XOXO

A.

Juli said...

“Take your time growing up,”

Love, love, LOVE it.

Well done you. Well done.

SherilinR said...

nice selling, miss lady ma'am! i liked this story.

jenny_o said...

So sweet a story, Pearl. One of my favourites, I think.

the walking man said...

So Pearl...i bought my house for 28K 25 years ago and here in MoTown the land of the $1 house...think you could sell mine for the 50K it's worth? I'd pay you more than $8 bucks and there is nothing left to clean either.

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

Kids selling stuff is one of the quintessential wonders of life. This is hilarious, Pearl! Beautifully done, your dialogue is wonderful.

Dawn @Lighten Up! said...

Ace? He's a bit of alright.
I adore people like that, who seem like one thing but are another. If that makes sense.
Love your childhood stories, Pearl, you inspire me. :)

Indigo Roth said...

Damn, I enjoyed this three-parter =) More episodic tales please, Pearl!

Diane said...

I, when I was ten, officially want to be you when you were ten. All I did was get into trouble. And that didn't take courage. Just . . . stupidity. Sigh. Great, great story!!!

NellieVaughn said...

You made more money than you thought you would. I would love to hear how you spent your small fortune. I am just sorry the story is over. I hope it isn't.

Susan in the Boonies said...

Today, this girl, who was never afraid of a little hard work, continues to clean up her neighborhood, one alley, one park at a time.

By the time I get up your way to meet you, I expect your town to have undergone a complete grassroots urban renewal.

And I hope they make you the mayor.

Because you clean up real nice, Pearl.

Janice said...

I can relate, I sold potholders. Love the story.