NT Franklin writes after his real job hoping one day to have it be his real job. He writes cozy mystery short stories, nostalgia short stories, and Flash Fiction. He has been published in Page & Spine, Scarlet Leaf Review, Fiction on the Web, Madswirl, Postcard Shorts, 404 Words, 101 Words, Freedom Fiction, Burrst, Entropy, Alsina Publishing, Fifty-word stories, among others. When not reading or writing short stories, you might find him fishing or solving crossword puzzles.
ME AND BART PICK RASPBERRIES
It was the end of July and the days were hot. Riding bikes uphill was sweaty, but we cooled off coasting downhill. Me and Bart didn’t have a baseball game until the next day, so we were out riding bikes. We went swimming in the morning, so we were up for something new in the afternoon.
“Let’s take a different route,” Bart said.
“Gee, I kinda like the route we always take,” I replied.
Bart pedaled faster and said, “Come on, follow me, it’ll be fun.”
I didn’t have any choice but to follow him. On a new road.
“We’ll go north on Elm and then west on Cedar.”
I was never quite sure which way was north and which way was west, but I knew where Elm Street is. “I heard there are some creepy houses on Elm Street,” I said.
Bart didn’t answer, he just pedaled faster.
I put on a burst of speed and caught up with him so we turned down Elm Street at the same time. Some of the biggest houses in town are on Elm Street so we slowed down to look at them and their big porches.
“Look, there’s an alley, let’s go down it,” Bart said.
I didn’t think it was a good idea, but I couldn’t let Bart go down the alley alone. He might need me. “What do you think this alley is for?” I asked. “Does it dead end up ahead?”
“Yup. Dead end. A road to nowhere,” Bart said with a chuckle.
Bart stopped, straddled his bike, and said, “Would you look at that. Raspberries. Millions of them. Ripe and red. Rows and rows of raspberries, right on the edge of the road and a little into someone’s lawn.”
“Wow,” I said. “Tons of them.”
“I bet they taste good, too,” Bart said.
Before I could say, “No, they belong to someone,” Bart hopped off his bike and was shoving handfuls of ripe raspberries into his mouth.
I hopped off my bike and joined him. “Boy, they’re good.”
“We should bring baskets and come back here,” Bart said.
A tall man with a gray beard appeared out of nowhere and startled me. “These aren’t your raspberries. Do you know how I know these aren’t your raspberries?” he asked.
“Uhh… I stammered.”
Because they’re mine,” he said.
“Uhh… I stammered again.”
“We didn’t know they were yours,” Bart said. “They’re really good. They’re the best raspberries I ever tasted.”
“They are good, aren’t they?” the man replied. He was smiling by now.
“Yes,” I chimed in. I thought I better say something.
“I have a grandson named Ben about your age, but he lives a long way away,” he said. “What are you boys, about fourteen years old?”
“Not until next year,” Bart replied.
“You know, I have more raspberries than I need and they all ripen at the same time.”
“Be terrible to let them go to waste,” Bart said. “Maybe we could pick some. Maybe we could pick a lot and sell them.”
The man rubbed his chin, then said, “What do you say, you can pick every day, but you check at the house to see if I want any? Can you boys live with that?”
“Sure can,” Bart answered.
“By the way, I’m Mr. Jamison,” the man said.
I just nodded.
We came back with all the kitchen bowls we could carry in our bike baskets and picked tons of raspberries.
Mr. Jamison watched from his bay window and smiled a lot.
“Bart, how are we going to get the bowls back home?”
Mr. Jamison came out with a roll of aluminum foil and said, “This might help.”
“Sure will,” said Bart. “Thanks.”
We managed to get all the raspberries home, some a little more squished than others. By a trip or two, we figured out how many bowls we could carry per trip and what size container didn’t squish the raspberries on the bottom. I did most of the picking while Bart talked to Mr. Jamison. I was okay with that because Bart did most of the selling at our stand.
Raspberry sales had been brisk at our stand and we were clearing money hand over fist. We put our home-made wooden stand at the end of my driveway, blocking it because my mom worked all day and didn’t need to use it.
But after a few weeks, the sales started to slow, as did the raspberry supply. Besides, me and Bart had been selling raspberries for quite a while, and it was time to do other stuff. Summer only lasts so long. The last day of the stand we ate as many raspberries as we sold. We spent that evening looking at the Montgomery Ward Catalog and each picked out a new baseball mitt. Having money was a good thing. It was a good day and who knows, there is always tomorrow.