17. A Plum
© Bruce Goodman 27 October 2013

He was only fifteen, and a little unsure of himself. His father had found him a holiday job working with a road making gang. The other workers were a lot older than he was.

He was most uncomfortable. His voice wasn’t that long broken, and he was still conscious of its sound. The other men at lunch time talked of sex and things and he wasn’t that sure how he was meant to react.

There was a plum tree next to where they parked their truck. It was laden with fruit and, although it grew on someones property, it was part of the lunch time entertainment to pinch a few plums each from the tree.

All in all, it was a pretty lonely sort of company for the young fellow to be in. His name was Tom.

A little further along the road however was another work gang, and they had a young fellow working for them too. Tom thought that this other young fellow was a lot more confident than he was because he worked with his shirt off. These two younger ones had never spoken to each other except once when a type of worm that no one had seen before was discovered by Tom in a culvert. It was a Gordian Worm, and all the workmen crowded around to see this long fibrous thing wriggling in a knot. The neighbouring young fellow had said to Tom, “What is it?” and Tom answered “I don’t know”, and wished he could’ve said something more sensible.

Then the summer ended, and so did the holiday job. Tom was about to get in the truck for the last time when the other young fellow turned up to pinch a few plums.

Tom was standing next to the door of the truck. The other young fellow called out to him, “Do you want a plum?” Tom said “Yes”, and the other young fellow tossed a plum towards him. Tom missed catching it, and the plum splattered on the wheel of the truck.

They drove off.

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