“Death at a Farmer’s Market” by Adam Rosen
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
Death at a Farmer’s Market
by Adam Rosen
North Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina, USA
“How much is this?” the middle-aged man asked, irritated. He pointed a finger at a bunch of lacinato kale—fresh in, a chalk-marked sign indicated, from a farm outside Hickory. He had been waiting at the stand for five minutes, and was not about to wait a minute longer.
“Four-fifty,” said the man behind the table. He looked too old to still be farming, and he spoke softly. It was hard to hear him over the banjo playing nearby. The upright bass didn’t make it any easier. “That’s fresh in from Hick’ry.”
“That’s what the sign says!” replied the man as he stuffed two bunches into his tote. The WNCW logo covered the canvas bag in big blue letters that nobody could miss. “I usually do rainbow chard, but it’s disgusting this week. It looks like it’s from the SuperSaver.”
“Well, we’re the freshest,” said the farmer, smiling sweetly.
“Wonderful. I’m hosting a supper club tonight, so we’ll find out.”
The farmer smiled again. “That’ll be all?”
The man scanned the rest of the offerings. There were carrots, and onions, and tomatoes . . . all the fixin’s to make a house salad from Wendy’s, he thought. “Yeah.”
He hoisted his bounty high on his shoulder and turned around. He marched forcefully around the bazaar, dodging strollers, rescued pitbulls, dreadlocked women, suspendered men, and drone protestors taking a break. His mission took him from aisle to aisle. As each new stand came into view, he sniffed.
At last, he spotted his target: Orgasmic Organics. The blogs had been raving about their bleached grass. He knew he only had a few weeks before the local restaurants started cooking it for tourists from fucking Atlanta. He homed in on his prize.
Out of nowhere, a laughing, overweight woman backed into him, nearly knocking his glasses out of place. “Jesus Christ!” he muttered under his breath.
The queue at the Orgasmic stand was twice as long as the line for the kale. In this line, though, nobody schmoozed or even talked at all. Everyone stared blankly at their phones, as if narcotized. The banjo picked up speed.
Thirty minutes went by, but the line barely moved. It was getting late, and many of the other vendors were starting to break their stands down. The man grew increasingly agitated. He’d be damned if he’d be the guy with the boring club night. Steve Joseph’s truffle crostinis were still a punch line, and he botched that one three years ago.
Finally, a movement. One of the young Orgasmic workers stood up on a chair and shouted: “Sorry folks, but we are officially OUT of bleached grass.”
The man’s mouth opened, then shut, and he grew hotter with rage. Freaking ‘Orgasmic,’ he thought. Overrated piece of shit. He resolved to tell everyone he knew how much it sucked.
Fine, he thought. I’ll get some more lacinato. He set out toward the stand where he got his kale, but grew increasingly worried that it was gone. Nearly no one was left in the market.
Amazingly, he spotted the farmer. He was just starting to break down his stand, but there were still some veggies on his table.
“Hello there,” the old man said. “How are you doin’ today?”
“Yeah yeah yeah. Do you have any more of that kale?” the man demanded.
The farmer peered around the two tables that were still up, and even ducked down to check underneath them. He shook his head. “There’s nothin’ here, but I’ve got some more in the truck.” He gestured behind him to an unmarked cargo van. It was white and had no windows except for those in the cab.
The two men walked to the back of the truck. As the farmer pulled the door open, the man spotted several crates of beautiful-looking lacinato resting against the separator. For the first time all day, he breathed a small sigh of relief. Fucking finally.
The farmer caught the man’s fleeting smile, and responded in kind. “That’s fresh in,” he declared proudly.
“Yep,” said the man absently, lifting his tote as he climbed into the bed of the truck.
He made his way to the kale. Aha. That’s a good one. Mission accomplished, he turned around to leave.
As he scrambled toward the doors, they both slammed shut. The last thing he heard was the sound of the lock.
ADAM ROSEN is a Brooklyn refugee resettled in Asheville, NC, where he’s an editor at Soomo Publishing, an online academic press. An essay of his on the pulp (and lack thereof) in Pulp Fiction will be published in the upcoming book Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected] Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jun 17, 2013
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