The Fruit Market

by Wayne F. Burke


I got sent to work
at the Fruit Market
on the Chelsea-Everett line
where I sat in a shack
and checked-in trucks
entering and leaving.

I wore a sky blue cop uniform.

One day before work
I stopped in the hotel-bar
across the street from the market
for a quick one
and realized,
after I entered
that everyone in the joint had suddenly
become quiet
and I drank my beer quickly
and left.

During the shift a truck driver
and his wife
came up to the shack window
and he told me they were from
Nebraska
and that they had gone into the hotel-bar
across the street
looking for a room to rent.

An old guy wearing a soiled fedora
and a self-effacing woman
cut from out a Grant Wood picture.

“I didn’t think they let things like that
go on in Boston,” he said.

“Things like what?”

He nodded to the hotel-bar.
“That place is a whorehouse!”

I lost that job soon
afterward
because
while putting up the American flag
on the pole behind the shack

I unthinkingly let the flag touch the ground
and the boss man—
a red faced prick who looked like he had not
shit in a month
fired me.

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