| The fruit stand’s wares turned the young corporal’s stomach. The bananas were overripe and the apples were soft and covered in brown spots. The constant hawking of the vendor to passing pedestrians threatened to drive the young soldier to violence. The stand occupied the corner of Green Avenue and Covenant Street, and Corporal Wallace wanted nothing more than to burn it to the ground with its owner strapped to a pallet of the near rotten fruits. He glared at fruit salesman but quickly looked at his Oxford shoes when the vendor turned his way.
His mother was late. She was always late. He hated her for it. His wristwatch told him that she should have been there fifteen minutes ago. She doesn’t care about me, Wallace thought. She doesn’t give one damn that I have to stand here on this miserable street corner smelling rotting produce and knowing that we have someplace important to be.
Wallace spit in disgust into the street, earning the glare of well dressed business man inspecting the fruits. Wallace turned away quickly to avoid eye contact and feigned looking for his mother down Green Avenue. He took a few steps away from the corner fruit stand hoping the man would return his attention to the strawberries and oranges. Wallace didn’t want to have to pretend stroll too far from the corner. If mother arrived and he was not in sight, she would probably just leave him.
He spied on the businessman from behind a lamppost and returned to the corner when the nasty man had left with his purchases. She was now twenty minutes late. The sun was beginning to set.
It was one of those spectacular sunsets. From the corner where Wallace stood it appeared that the sun was touching the end of Covenant Street. It was a big and brilliant sunset, but oddly, not blindingly so. The sun descended onto the end of the street, as though the street was hugging the sun and slowly, little by little, absorbing it. It reminded Wallace of a warm, gentle, and slow embrace of two lovers.
The last woman Wallace embraced was his mother’s hairdresser, Leela. It had been a Friday evening and Wallace had scheduled dinner with mother. When mother had arrived, late as usual, she had apologized she had forgotten a beauty appointment that evening and asked Wallace if they could stop before dinner then eat afterward. Wallace stared at the ball of fire descending and remembered the rage he had had at his mother’s inconsiderate regard for him.
He followed mother to the beauty shop and when they entered, there was Leela. She wore a tight yellow tee shirt and pink jeans with a red apron over the whole outfit. Leela beamed at mother and ran over to give her hug. Mother and Leela embraced then mother introduced Wallace to the beautician. Wallace smiled awkwardly and stared at the floor. He was glancing back up when Leela appeared inches from his face with arms wide open. The next moment Leela had embraced Wallace across his shoulders saying what a pleasure it was to meet Mrs. Dora’s brave son.
Wallace’s arms shot out as though they gained life independent of his brain. He hugged Leela tightly and pulled her to him. He remembered smelling flowery perfume and grape scented hairspray. He felt her breasts pressed against his chest and her thigh against his crotch. He seemed to remember his mother gasping or saying something on the order of Oh my. Leela drew her hands between herself and Wallace and pushed away quickly.
Wallace didn’t quite understand the startled look on Leela’s face but he remembered how beautiful and soft and stimulating she had looked. He spent the remainder of the time watching her cut and style mother’s hair. He was impressed at how deftly and quickly she handled the scissors and the sheared off hair. Afterward mother even commented on how that was the quickest Leela had ever done her hair.
The street had almost absorbed most of the sun by the time his mother had arrived. The top part of the gorgeous yellow orb was pushing itself into the end of the road. Mrs. Dora had to touch Wallace’s shoulder to divert his attention from the end of Covenant Street. Wallace twitched at her touch and remembered his anger about her lateness. His mother apologized, explaining how Leela had called her at the last minute to cancel tonight’s appointment. Wallace became enraged, saying through clenched teeth he had been waiting twenty plus minutes so he could take her to the beauty parlor and dinner afterward.
Wallace’s mother laughed and lightly tapped her son’s shoulder. She said she would go to the parlor next week without him and they could now go directly to the restaurant and enjoy their meal together. Wallace watched the back of his mother’s head walk up Covenant Street. The sun had disappeared leaving only a dark, ugly horizon. Mother called out to him and waved him forward. Wallace spit into the street and slowly followed after her.
© Copyright 2012 Mitchopolis (UN: mitchopolis at Writing.Com).
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