What do you do when you’re suffering from a bit of writer’s block? Well, my friend and assistant decided to start a silly short story that we could write together, trading off after every paragraph. No editing allowed.
This is our unedited masterwork called: The Adventures of Apricot…And Mr. Orange (And also Josh, Cheryl, Old Lady, and mushy grape)
…and then the little apricot rolled off of the stack of little apricots and landed on the grocery store floor next to a semi-squashed orange. Once a neighbor above ground, they were now sticky companions literally thrust together by fate when a distracted, overweight, female shopper thoughtlessly knocked the little apricot from it’s arbitrary position of ‘king of the hill’…of apricots.
The orange, slightly mangled and clearly having given up hope of being saved lay silent and dejected on the cold linoleum. The apricot twisted and turned to swing his little face around to the orange and said, “Mr. Orange, how long have you been down here?” The orange replied, “Too long. I know it’s the end for me. The black sweeper is coming for sure.” Alarmed, the little apricot asked, “The black sweeper? What is that?” The orange grumbled back with a citrusy tear escaping his tiny pores, “The grocery store owners clean up crew. Once the black sweeper comes for you, it’s all over.” This account greatly troubled the little apricot and made him anxious to find a way off the floor.
as cart after cart clanked by the apricot watched closely. there were a few lame beasts in the herd. a wobbly wheel or a broken lower rack. the slowest though, by far, were the ones attached to pairs of over-padded, squat, orthopedic shoes. those! he thought, those are my best chance for escape! the orange took note of the apricots vigilance but did nothing to crush his hopes. for he too had once dreamed of being rescued. imagined himself being picked up by a slightly frazzled but pleasant faced shopper. ‘oh dear, i must have dropped one of my oranges!’ they would exclaim, not realizing that their bag already contained an even and exact count of six oranges. yes, lucky number seven! that’s what he’d be! …lucky, lucky number seven. but that was tuesday. and today was, most definitely, wednesday.
Suddenly, the orange was broken out of his sad remembrance of the time passed, by the little apricot’s tiny voice asking if he felt well enough to attempt an escape. They’d wait for a slower patron with spongy orthotic shoes to get just close enough that they could conceivably roll themselves onto the bottom rack. The orange, slightly invigorated by the apricot’s willingness to try, agreed to give it at least one shot. Hours went by as they waited for another gummy shoed patron. Soon a rush of customers came swarming through. The little apricot, fearful and trembling from the force of the stampede, tried his best to stay near the orange when out of nowhere an errant shoe nipped the poor little fruit sending him flying to the other side of the aisle.
the perfectly round apricot spun at a dizzying speed! once he reached his final destination he took a moment to collect himself (he had lost a bit of skin but found when he rolled back over it the skin stuck to him quite nicely!). he paused. high from the sugar rush the bruising of his flesh had caused he was determined not to let this minor hiccup deter him! after all, this was no longer just about himself, he had the orange to think of now! as he swelled with pride over his newfound sense of responsibility (and minor bruising) he heard a faint ‘excuse me’. he had been so preoccupied with his previous situation that he had failed to notice his PRESENT situation. apricot had landed in, what appeared to be, a small puddle of goo. upon further inspection, and stronger protests from the goo, he realized he was actually perched on a mostly squished green seedless grape! first the orange, now the grape! indeed! how many souls were lost down here?!!
Quickly the apricot rolled off this gooey grape friend and asked, “Did I hurt you?”
“Oh, no,” said the grape, “I found myself under a pair of nice shiny dress shoes nearly two days ago. Been waiting for the black sweeper ever since.”
The apricot, felt tears welling up in his eyes as he tried to convince the grape to join them. The grape simply shook his head and through soft wheezing breaths explained, “I don’t fear the black sweeper. It comes for all who find themselves at their lowest. But even as we are taken from what we’ve always known into the greater unknown, we are first lifted high in the sky. I am content to wait for that beautiful moment, however fleeting it may be.”
Our little apricot nodded at this lovely thought and tearfully bid the grape farewell. He could see Mr. Orange across the aisle, and hear him faintly calling for him. With one final glance over his shoulder, the apricot began his terrifying journey across the mammoth aisle back to his citrusy companion.
he didn’t get very far though for an object at rest tends to stay at rest and apricot was, most decidedly, an object at rest. weighing his options like a produce scale he heard a strange double squeak…then a thump…then a swish. far off in the distance but advancing…slowly. squeak, squeak, thump, swish…squeak, squeak, thump, swish…he was afraid to look. afraid to see what he already knew to be true. Their time was fleeting, their window closing. the black sweeper…approaching. luckily, but unbeknownst to our fruity friends, the black sweeper was manned by a pimply faced, underachieving, teen named Josh who liked to multitask. Josh found that you could, in fact, read an entire comic book in a single shift if you paced yourself and kept a keen eye out for the manager. Or even more menacing the ASSISTANT manager Cheryl! A power hungry, bean pole, 19 year old, fink who he was pretty sure had graduated from some kind of ninja academy! The fruit, however, possessing none of these facts shot each other a quick glance across the floor. neither was sure how but both knew they must act fast. the squeak, squeak, thump, swish their call to arms!
As the comic-book engrossed clerk crept ever closer, the apricot suddenly heard the squealing of a bedraggled wheel attached to a rather slow moving cart. Far off in the distance they could make out the white, squishy cloud-like outline of a shoe. The apricot giggled with joy at the sight and turned to the orange to share his delight, but when he did his eyes grew wide with surprise as the orange had disappeared! Had the black sweeper gotten his friend? Was he next? The apricot squirmed with all his might to look about, when above his head he heard the shrill voice of the assistant manager and resident ninja, Cheryl. “Josh! How many times have I told you it is totally unprofessional to be reading these children’s books while you work! I mean, look! You’re missing opportunities to make Carlo’s Grocery and Pharmacy the greatest, cleanest, bestest it can be!” With that she thrusted the piece of fruit she had been holding in her hand into Josh’s chest and walked off. Josh raised a very dismayed sigh as he rolled his comic book up with his right hand and placed it in his black apron pocket. The apricot watched intently, nervously as Josh pulled the piece of fruit from his chest and examined it. It was none other than Mr. Orange! The frustrated teen quickly glanced over the bedraggled fruit and in an act of protest placed it on the very top of the orange pile, scuffs, slits, oozes and all. “Now who’s the bestest, Cheryl?” The apricot, swelled with utter joy as he watched his friend be lifted back to his former glory and away from what was sure to be the end of him. Oh, how the tables had turned!
Then the teen, turning back around in a huff, clumsily knocked into the squeaky-wheeled cart of the older patron stopping her just inches before she would run over our little apricot friend.
The old lady lost her grip on the cart and it careened toward the display (carefully built to resemble a stack of old wooden crates) under which the apricot sat. it shifted slightly before catching in the goo that once was green grape. apricot though he heard a whispered ‘thy will be done’ before the leg of the display lost it’s secure grip on the floor and gave apricot a good hard bump. apricot once again found himself spinning helplessly out of control! and then, as abruptly as it had started, apricot’s wild ride came to an end. he had come to a soft landing against something bright, and white, and leathery. the fear that he might finally have come to meet his maker, that great white peach in the sky, flashed through his mind but was quickly replaced by a new sensation. that of five pudgy sausages wrapping themselves around him in a warm embrace! ‘honey, i think you forgot to grab this one here!’ the old lady exclaimed triumphantly lifting apricot to the sky. ‘no ma’am, you already have an even six here in your cart’ explained an exasperated cheryl. if she had known that being named assistant manager meant (literally) cleaning up other people’s messes she never would have taken the job! (even if it DID come with a sweet dollar an hour pay bump and free unlabeled dented cans on thursdays!)
‘then this one makes lucky number seven’ said the old lady matter of factly. ‘but i expect a discount! this one’s awfully beat up!!’ ‘yes ma’am’ sighed Cheryl, knowing the price of that seventh apricot would now come out of her pay. with all items now restored to old lady’s cart Cheryl walked her to the checkout, careful to avoid any more mishaps. Josh, now safe for a few minutes, returned to his comic book. and orange relished his moment of absolute perfection born of chaos.