AuthorView – The Peach

Author View By Ken White

“The Peach” Dedicated to my pal Si.

Kevin and his friend, Phil, both ten years old, walked along Old Oakdale Road. Back then, this part of Modesto was mostly peach orchards, grape vineyards, and flat, open fields. The side of the two-lane blacktop was dusty and debris-strewn. The two boys kicked up plumes of dust as they trailed Phil’s grandmother and grandfather. Babushka and Dedushka, as he called them, which was Russian for grandmother and grandfather, looked as if they’d just gotten off the boat from Kiev. Swaddled in dark, heavy, woolen clothes and thick shoes, she wearing a kerchief and he a peaked cap, they waddled along, heads down so as not to attract attention, which could be lethal for Jews in the shtetl. Every so often, as they moved alongside the peach orchard, Dedushka would stop, stoop down, pick up a ripe peach, and tuck it into the voluminous pocket of his overcoat. He did this several times before they reached Scenic Drive, which was their route back into town and home. “Why does he do that?” Kevin asked. “That’s kind of icky.” “The peaches are good,” Phil replied. “Is he hungry?” “Not now.” “So, what’s the deal?” “It’s an old habit. And hard to break. In the old country, he never knew where his next meal was comin’ from. There was no food just lyin’ around on the ground. ‘Specially somethin’ as strange as a peach. For him, America really is the land of milk and honey. You and me, we take things for granted. Not him.” Kevin ran into the orchard, picked a particularly luscious peach, yanked it off the branch, caught up with Dedushka, and presented him with the golden fruit. The old man looked up and his eyes crinkled in a smile. He took the peach, wrapped it in his clean, white handkerchief, and tucked it carefully in the inside pocket of his coat.

Excerpted from “The Flatland Chronicles,” a forthcoming fictional memoir in the style of the “Spoon River Anthology” by Edgar Lee Masters. However, instead of poems, this collection features short, short stories about life in the Central Valley.

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