NEW YORK  —  October 4, 2015

The stormy spring morning on the sidewalks of Little Italy takes a peek at a drenched Lucifero setting up his ragtag vegetable stand like always. For the last week or two he’s been expanding his inventory to include summer fruits arriving by the truckload from New Jersey. As the warm sun burns the clouds away he looks to the heavens and registers his sour mood with the cynical snap common to a wet Sicilian.

“Idiots. They are all idiots, running to their own funerals. None of them ever ask the right questions. They don’t even know where they came from, and have certainly never faced the prospects of where they are going,” he chanted. The most unoriginal sinners in the world live in New York.

“I’ve sold to new potatoes to Nebuchadnezzar II, corn to Cleopatra, snow peas to Pontius Pilot, gourds to Genghis Khan, string beans to King Henry whatsisname, and honeydew melon to Napolean, not to mention one bright shiny, red apple to a woman named Eve,” he smiled. “And here it is 1939 and I’m stuck negotiating the price of Brussels sprouts with these peasants.”

Just then, a large, slightly overweight fellow with a snow white beard, wearing a faded red plaid hunting jacket came humming around Lucifero’s leafy corner. As he passed the stand he waved good day an grabbed an apple.

Before Lucifero could say“Old Scratch” the man had disappeared.Garden of Eden

“Damn, he did it again,” spat Lucifero. “I might make a living it it weren’t for thieves, taxes and fruit flies.”

“Hold the moralizing, Lucifero,” rasped a white-bearded whisper from a nearby doorway. “I pay my fruit and vegetable tab at the end of every week, now don’t say I don’t.”

A stooped Lucifero swung around to a contorted response, lowering his head, watching the apple snatcher chewing away contentedly.

“And hold your head up, boy. How do expect to project the proper image with that posture! Good apple, though, Lucifero,” he chomped. “No worms for a change.”

“Or snakes,” said Lucifero, tempting divine providence on that charming spring day. “I do my own work best, without any input from your pack of thugs,” he slurred. “Is that your car?

“Yeah, it’s a Cadillac. Gabriel bought it for me last month. He says I need to drive something befitting my station in life. I think he’s social climbing in his own angelic way.”

“That can get you into trouble, heh?” answers Lucifero. “But some of us did survive, and then there are the human extensions. Look at my boy Adolf. He’s kicking some butt in Europe. Did you see the way he seduced the Austrians and marched into Czechoslovakia?”

“We’ll see how you do after Winston and Franklin get their ducks in a row. One thing’s for sure, you could be striking it rich like the other angles if you’d have just been patient. They went corporate, sure, they showed up for work every day. They bought the eternal plan. But look at Michael, he’s semi-retired to the celestial suburbs, has a summer home in the Hamptons, and buys a new set of wings every year. Thugs like him are sipping the nectar of the gods, while you’re own here sorting cauliflower, arranging sweet potatoes and bitching about your lot.”

“Who’s bitching? I’m just telling it like it is. I tried working for you. There were those philosophical differences. You try working this stand all day and see if you still love all these people so damn much. I’d like to see you in this apron with all your all-knowing, all-forgiving omni-presentness and all that,” said Lucifero, noticing a frown forming on the man’s forested face. Thinking better of incurring his wrath he changes his approach.

“Here, have a pear. They’re very nice today…”

“…But I’ve just had an apple,” said the white beard. “A pear would be a sin, and don’t be so defensive.”

“Just pay up, then” says a rearmed Lucifero holding out his hand. “Put your money where your mouth was.”

Just then a couple waltzes down the street, their ballet explainable only in one silly word: Love.

Although they appeared to be adrift, they dropped their amorous anchor right in front of Lucifero’s vegetable stand.

“Good morning,” offered Lucifero. “Nice morning. Are you looking for something special?”

“Not really, sir,” said the young man. “Beautiful pears, though.”

“Yes. Beautiful pears,” said Lucifero thinking back to a moment ago. “Do you live around here? I have not seen you before.”

“We live in the Garden District,” answered the young woman. “I’m Eve and this is Adam.”

This time Lucifero’s gaze in the direction of the bearded man was met with one of equal surprise. Ancient eyebrows were in full tilt. Both hurled themselves back into the conversation.

“Is that a fact,” quipped Lucifero. Well, welcome to the neighborhood. I am Lucifero, and this is my friend Mr…Mr. Smith. Yes. Mr. Smith.”

Adam shook hands, Eve nodded cordially.

“What do you do, Mr. Smith,” she asks politely.

“Oh a little of this, and a little of that…”

“He’s too modest,” shot Lucifero. Mr. Smith is a renown creator of some regard. He has accomplished much in the field of human resources in what has been very little time.”

“Now, Lucifero, let’s not bore these kids with my history…”

“What would you like, then?” asks Lucifero, changing the conversation back to the business of produce.

“Those tomatoes look good. Where do they come from?” asked the young man.

“Upstate,” said Lucifero.

“We’ll take a dozen, and six ears of corn and…what about some apples, honey?” asks Adam. “You’ve been staring at them since we got here.”

“Yes, Eve, how about some nice apples?” smiles Lucifero holding out one of his best.

“You want to be careful of apples this time of the year, dear,” starts the bearded man. “You can’t tell it but most have worms and the fruit’s still mushy.”

“You just ate one,” said Lucifero. “Did you encounter the little serpents?”

“No, but maybe I was just lucky.”

“How much are the apples?” asks Eve, now entranced by the red treasure.

“Maybe a bit more than you’ll want to pay,” cracked the creator.

“Let the lady decide,” schmoozed Lucifero handing her the apple.

Eve looks at the apple, looks at Adam and glances in the direction of the bearded man who is shaking his head from side to side.

“I’ll take it,” says Eve biting down hard on the fruit.

Lucifero completes the transaction, delighted with his sale. The Adam and Eve skip off with their treasures.

“Curses!” says the creator. “I give them a free will but they stumble every time!”

“Now, there’s no need for profanity, sir, “smiles Lucifero. “Here, I have a present for you. It’s a very interesting piece by a fellow named Darwin. Maybe it will shed some light on the behavior of these humans.”

“Darwin, huh?” he answers. “I heard something about him the last time I was in Tennesse.”

Filed Under: Fractured Opinion


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