I don’t know what came over me. Maybe I had been reminiscing too much about the old days, but suddenly I found myself pulling in beside the fruit stand.
As I got out of my truck, a young girl with bright red hair and a sprinkling of cute freckles approached.
“Can I help you, sir?”
I didn’t really know what to say or really why I stopped.
“I just wanted to look at what you got and stretch my legs if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind. I work here with my PaPa and he’s old too and has to stretch his legs sometimes.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at her answer as I followed her to the fruit stand.
Underneath the shade of a tin roof, I saw an older man wearing cut-off jeans and a T-shirt. His skin was dark tan, wrinkled and appeared leather-tough.
“Come on in, young man, and sit a spell,” he said.
A moment ago, I was an old man. Now I’m a young man. I guess it’s a matter of who you are talking to, I thought, as I settled into a lawn chair beside him.
“Young lady, what’s your name?” I asked.
“My name is Scarlett, on account of my red hair, they say,” she said. “I’m 11 now, but next month I will be 12.”
As a car pulled up to the stand, I watched Scarlett handle them like a pro.
When a man and his wife got out of the car, Scarlett greeted them and announced soundly that she had the best oranges in the whole world. The man and the woman looked at each other with a grin.
“Well, I guess we had better have some of those ‘best in the world’ oranges,” the man said.
When Scarlettt had set a basket of oranges in their car, she steered the two over to some grapefruit.
“I suppose that your grapefruit are the best in the world, too.” The man smiled.
“Yes sir, they are,” replied Scarlett.
The man shook his head with a grin. “I’ll take them too, but I think after this, I will have all the ‘best in the world’ grapefruit and oranges I can handle for now.”
“She is a real salesperson,” I said, turning to the old man.
I could see him beaming with pride as he watched her move about the fruit stand, filling up the baskets.
“Gonna need some more grapefruit, PaPa.”
“I will get some from the truck,” the old man said.
“I’ll go get it for you, PaPa.”
“No, you have done your part. I got to do mine.”
I watched as the old man reached for a walking cane. His arms trembled for a moment as he pulled himself up. Then I saw the reason for his pain. The calf of his right leg was partially missing, and there was a long scar that ran from his knee to his ankle.
As I stood up to help, I felt a tug at my shirt. When I looked around, it was Scarlett, signaling me not to help the old man.
As I sat back down, she began explaining why she had stopped me.
“PaPa got hurt in the war back before I was born. Mama says that I’m supposed to help him, but when he says he wants to do something to let him do it. Mama says it’s something about his pride.