My old Labrador, Scout loves to get drunk. When our plum tree drops fruit, he lets it ferment before eating them for a buzz, or more accurately to get inebriated. This year I curtailed his habit by telling the boys to pick and sell plums to anyone willing to drop 25 cents for a bag full.“
Dad we made 30 bucks!” Gabriel my oldest, reports coming inside to pee. “That’s great!” I say. The day before, I discovered my youngest, Oliver, dangerously clinging to the ladder as his older brothers climbed around harvesting with buckets. The dog was already passed out under the tree from eating the rotted ones on the ground. This will work great, I thought, it gives the boys an opportunity to manage money and keeps the dog sober.
A neighbor kid comes in to pee as a time-out is called and I do some quick math. Thirty dollars? That’s 120 snack bags sold at 25 cents each. That’s a lot of plums. I sit for another moment and realize it’s impossible.
I run outside to a little blue table on the driveway with a “SALE” sign taped to it. There are a couple of stools; a box filled with quarters, and dollar bills blowing away. The neighbor kids have come over to “help” and hold cardboard signs in the middle of the street. The sign may say “Sale” but might as well be “Stop” because they’re like a check station at the border, halting all the passing cars.
I slip into the garage to avoid aggravated neighbors and notice the door to the mini-fridge is ajar. I walk over to close it. My soda, juice spritzers, and beer have been replaced with a snack bag of plums. I look out to the street, the kids are caffeinated up on Starbucks Refreshers, pointing, yelling, and giving out deals, “You buy three, we’ll give you a THIRD for free!”
Business is brisk and I feel like a restaurant owner who borrowed money from the mob. The only wares left on the table are the plums, neatly displayed in rows with the only customer for those being the dog, who gets them free from the little neighbor girl, Hazel.
“Sam!” I wave my middle child over. He is 7. “Yeah?” he says annoyed by the interruption.“Where are the drinks from the fridge?” I look down the block and see a pack of skaters on the corner; some are doing tricks in the street but most sit drinking. They see me talking to Sam, get on their boards and ride off. There went my beer.“Oh, Oliver got those out…” He’s blaming the three-year-old.
I’m trying to keep my cool and not make a scene because my neighbors are literally parked in the middle of the street. Scout burps and rolls on his back. Hazel puts a plum near his mouth and says, “Sit!” He just wags his tail. “Good Dog,” she says and feeds it to him anyway.
Oliver goes by dragging my fishing poles, he’s yelling for someone to help him. A kid finishes peeing in the bushes and comes to give him a hand. Gabriel has remnants of whatever was in the garage fridge. He is selling it like a cigarette girl walking between the blocked cars.“Cold Drinks! 25 Cents!” One of the neighbor kids has two fingers in the air, apparently with an order for the Chevy around the corner.
“Dad?” yells Gabriel, “You have change for a twenty?” I stare at my tool bench, where’s my drill?
I gather the boys, “That’s it guys, sales over.”
The boys moan, Scout farts and heads across the street to another fruit tree. I tell the boys to grab the snack bags and give them away to the neighbors. They put their signs down and begin going door to door as the traffic jam dissipates. When they are almost out of sight, Gabriel yells for the dog. Scout grabs one more fermented fruit and slowly saunters to catch up a zig-zag in his step.