There’s a run on peaches. Soon the shelves in Produce are empty. I go down to the basement to get more. When I step out of the lift into the warehouse, I see my boss.

Disco Dez.

There he is in his bellbottoms, bouncing what looks like a tennis ball on the ground. Except it doesn’t bounce as high as it should. Then I see him put the ball in a tray of peaches. He takes another peach from the tray and tries to bounce it off the concrete back into his hand.

I ask him what he’s doing.

“Wot does it look like ahm doin? Grab some a these peaches and chuck em at the floor,” he says. “If they’re bruised or damaged, we can send em back to the supplier.” He hurls one to the ground. Picks it up. Smashes it down again. Inspects it. Puts it back in the tray. “Damaged goods,” he says, lighting a smoke. He takes out a third peach and dashes it against the concrete. “Come on,” he says. “Grab a few and bash em like this. Otherwise, we’ll ave to take em upstairs and fart around arranging em on the shelves.”

I tell him it’s no problem to take them up to Produce.

He’s back at me right quick.

“Oh, fuck off! Ah can’t be bothered doin that! Ahm knackered! Ah were at Pips Disco last night. Met a real scorcher. Took er ome too. At it all night, we was! Ah dunna feel like faffin around merchandising fruit. Ah just wanna stay down ere wiv me cigs.”

He replaces the third damaged peach and mashes a fourth against the tray’s wooden edge with his right hand while he puffs on his smoke with his left.

“There we go! Bita variety—This one got damaged in transit!” He takes a fifth and hurls it to the floor. “Bruising’s the best, though.”

I just stand there and watch him.

He looks at me.

“Wotz fuckin wrong wiv thee? Bruise some a these bloody peaches, lod! Come on, mon! Is somet up wiv yer earz? Ooze the fuckin boss around ere?”

I tell him I won’t do it.

He takes a deep drag on his smoke and looks at me incredulously.

“Did ah bloody ear you right? Yer not telling me yerd rather shove the fuckin trays onto a dolly, lug em up the soddin lift, and stick em on the bleeding shelves!? Wotz yer fuckin probo?”

I tell him I won’t damage the peaches.

“Right then!” he says.

He grabs a tray of undamaged peaches with both hands and tosses it at me. I catch it and turn towards the lift.

He shouts after me as I walk off.

“Yer ken wotz wrong wiv thee? Know wot yer fuckin probo iz? Yer a fuckin workerolick, mate! Addicted to bloody work—that’s wot you are! Not me!”

He jabs a thumb into his chest.

“Ahv got a bituva fuckin life to live!”


Mark Crimmins grew up in Manchester, England, dropping out of high school to work in the textile industry. He emigrated to the United States as a skilled labourer in 1978. In the States and Canada, he received a literature education, with a BA in 1985, an MA in 1993, and a PhD from the University of Toronto in 1999, specializing in Contemporary American Fiction. His stories have been published in Chicago Quarterly Review, Apalachee Review, Columbia Journal, Tampa Review, Fiction Southeast, Confrontation, Permafrost, Atticus Review, Kyoto Journal, Queen’s Quarterly, and Flash Frontier. One of his flash fictions was nominated for a Pushcart Fiction Prize by Kansas magazine Inscape.


Mark Crimmins

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