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A Meal Deal by Nigel Roth

Haz parked the Chevy in a disabled bay and limped to the feed store, a bucket in one hand and the license in the other, the one with the fingers that got mangled in the combine all those years past.

“It’s a hot one, Chet,” he said, closing the paintless-framed door behind him, and knocking the bell sideways to alert Chet to his presence. “I said it’s a hot one,” Haz called, louder this time.

Chet walked in from the back room where he’d been watching the ballgame, and went straight behind his counter, where he did all his business from, relying on his son, Mar, to do the lifting and moving for his customers.

“It’s hot alright,” Chet said, shuffling papers and pulling his stool closer to the counter at the same time.

“Don’t rightly know when I sweated this much before, maybe ten year ago, maybe more,” said Haz, placing the bucket on the counter to one side, and laying down the license in front of Chet.

“I hear you,” Chet replied, lifting his eyes up so that they peered through the bottom of his varifocals as he read over the paperwork.

“Is it in order, Chet?”

“Looks about right,” Chet said, reading from the top again, just to be sure.

“Sure hope so. Need to buy a generator for the cowhouse ‘fore the winter gets here.”

“I understand,” said Chet, as if considering a loan of some magnitude, “I understand.”

The street was emptying out now. The ever-present tourists had managed their way back to their motels and hotels and swimming pool evenings. Haz’s truck was parked alone, and the sun began to die.

A fly landed on the license, and Chet shook it off.

“Well,” said Haz, “can we deal?”

“Yes,” Chet said, “we can deal. I can get this out to Moss Harper tomorrow for his potato. He’s in need of some fine meal.”

“Good,” said Haz, “that’s good. Good price?”

“Good price,” said Chet, “as long as you can guarantee they won’t find anything of him in the bucket this time.”

“Nothing at all,” said Haz, “all ground up. Guaranteed as you requested. And it was a she.”

The tourists always came this time of year. Came and went.

And went.

photo by Vincenzo Malagoli


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