Monday, February 4, 2008
The one that got away
Azer’s arm ached from steadying the crate on the roof of the car through the open window. He wished he were anywhere but driving down the streets of the city on a hot Sunday afternoon delivering tomatoes with his father. He let go of the steering wheel and reached over to turn down the Mughum music that was blaring from the radio. It was loud and embarrassingly old-fashioned.
Without saying a word, Azer’s father snaked out a gnarled hand and turned the music back to ear-splitting decibels. Azer closed his eyes and prayed for strength. He wished he had not agreed to do this favor for his father.
As the car crawled up the steep street past the Symphony Hall and the Museum, Azer noticed a blonde woman strolling down the sidewalk toward them. She had on blue-tinted sunglasses that flashed in the sun and wore loose white trousers and a pale blue tunic that fell to her knees. On her feet were brown open-toed sandals.
The car veered toward her as Azer stared. His father’s shout startled him and he spun the wheel hard to the left. Azer let go of the crate and grabbed the steering wheel with both hands to regain control. Looking into the side mirror past the old man’s arm; he was mortified to see the woman waving her hands.
He slammed on the brakes. He looked in the side mirror again to see the crates that had been tied to the roof scattered on the pavement and tomatoes rolling down the street. He leaned his forehead against the steering wheel and groaned.
His father flung open the door with a curse, surveyed the damage and started to scream about money lost. Oblivious to his father’s snarls, Azer bent over and started to retrieve the tomatoes.
Some of them were smashed but many of them were only bruised. He scuttled down the hill picking up the fallen fruit. As he approached the last few stray pieces, a pair of brown leather sandals with painted red toes came toward him. Above the sandals white trousers billowed in the hot breeze from the Caspian Sea.
“You missed one.”
A hand held a beautiful red ripe tomato, unblemished during the accident. Too embarrassed to even look up, he took it.
“Tesekkür ederim,” he mumbled.
“You’re welcome,” she said.
The feet turned and walked away.
Azer finally looked up as the blonde woman turned the corner and slipped into the cool shade of the park. He stumbled back to the car with his arms full. He kept glancing back at the park as he helped his father refill the crates and tie the load again. Finally with the crates secure, he got behind the wheel.
Azer looked in the mirror as they drove away hoping for another glimpse. As they rounded the corner, there it was: just a flash of blue, white and blonde.