The case of the missing peach

I first notice the peach on the railing before we leave for the movies. I don’t ask my grandmother about it because she’s not in the room and I think about taking a picture, but even I realize this is only funny to me. Obviously she put it out there to ripen in the sun, even if this still strikes me as funny and a little reckless. Like putting a pie on the sill to cool and leaving for vacation.

The next morning the peach isn’t there but I don’t notice right away. I go outside to drink coffee and soak in the peace and cool of early morning. Right away, I realize it is not quiet and it is hot and I’m not sure where to sit. I remember her mentioning one (or more) chairs being broken and wish I’d asked which one (or ones). None of the chairs look particularly broken. They all have overstuffed and obviously not original cushions and I flashback to the one garage sale we had growing up where my parents sold an easy chair that was missing the elastic straps underneath the cushion. I guess the straps broke at some point and my dad, being relatively handy, cut a square board to fit against the frame, thus supporting the cushion and anyone’s backside who plopped down, devil may care.

Well for reasons not known to me now, though my parents were always thrifty and practical and may have thought up some need for that exact sized square of plywood, they removed the board and hauled the chair out to the yard to sell. Now if you were going to pay $10 (I’m just guessing, I don’t actually remember how much we asked) for a chair, wouldn’t you want to sit on it first? Test it out? Of course you would.

I remember a nice woman came along. I’m picturing her now with dark, possibly permed and close cropped hair and a barrel purse of light tan resting midpoint between her armpit and waist. She eyed up the chair shyly and then backed up carefully like one would into a parking spot but then lowered herself a bit too eagerly, certainly for anyone over 40 pounds onto an unsupported cushion base. The chair cushion swallowed her up and her arms were suddenly waving helplessly like an overturned bug, her legs rendered useless by the unfortunate angle and gravity. The barrel purse only wedged her in tighter. 

I of course ran off to find my brother and tell him the good news but was laughing too hard to explain and lost precious time. By the time we got back, the woman was gone and the chair still there, silently waiting, cushion back in place for the next potential customer.

This morning I pick the chair closest to the door and sit tentatively, gingerly, and I’m sorry to report nothing bad happens. It is not the broken chair. I drink coffee and listen to a family of crows argue and wish I’d brought my journal or something to read, but if I had my eyes might not have fixed on the peach pit sitting on the railing in front of me. Wait, was that where the peach was last night? Wasn’t it down about two feet, to the right? Yes, I’m pretty sure of that because it was centered through the picture window in her kitchen. If I was going to put a peach out to sun ripen, that would be the best spot to keep an eye on it.

Upon closer inspection, there are faint peach slime trails traversing about two feet from the center origination point and the pit itself is picked clean. I like to think I know how to eat stone fruit with little waste – corn on the cob too – but I can tell you I’ve never come anywhere near as clean as this job. Whoever ate this peach had a lot of practice or keen hunger and patience. 

This begged the next question of who ate the peach? My immediate thought is raccoon, but why wouldn’t it take the peach away to its raccoon lair? My second guess is that maybe my grandmother ate the peach, though hastily, and put the pit out to be picked over by birds. I’m embarrassed to write this now, as this makes my grandmother seem a little nutty, perhaps, but it does seem like something she would do. She fills plastic bowls with water for birds. She scatters seeds across the railing in winter. I just thought perhaps she did the same with peach pits not picked perfectly clean.

Later that morning I ask her if she’d left a peach out on the railing.

Oh yes, she says, obviously just remembering. (Would she do the same with pies if she baked?)

Well, I say, it’s not there anymore.

Oh? she says, looking anyway.

Yes, just the pit is left, I say. I try to deliver this news somberly but my tone is more delighted. My grandmother clicks her tongue.

Oh well, she says. I put it out yesterday to get soft. I was going to give it to your girls.

I picture them fighting over a lone peach, lunging at one another, hair and arms flailing. Only one of them likes stone fruit so this would probably never happen.  

What do you think got it? I ask.

A squirrel, she says.

A squirrel? Do you think one could eat a whole peach? What about a raccoon?

No, no raccoon. It was a squirrel, she says.

I realize now a two-foot peach slime trail better fits the profile of a smaller animal unable to carry or even necessarily drag a sizeable piece of fruit to its lair. Squirrels  are also known to (over)stuff things into their cheeks. My grandmother is probably right. She should also probably get that broken chair (or chairs) fixed or maybe not.

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22 thoughts on “The case of the missing peach

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  1. I like the idea of going micro like that on a small scene, and building a story and setting around it. Bravo! My favorite image, that woman like a bug getting swallowed in the chair, and your sense of humor and frivolity around it. Also made me think of that story about Duane Allman: did he really die on his motorcycle reaching out to pluck a peach at high speeds, is that why they called the album “Eat a Peach?” I’d like to think that’s true.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I never heard that story but I sure hope it’s true. Today at lunch I read some of heartbreaking work of staggering genius (recommended by you and another in recent comments) and got to the part about him and his lady friend getting jumped by Mexicans on the beach. The frivolity set the tone for the peach story. Bravo for the recommendation!

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      1. So cool! Once I got beyond his use of caps I was all good. The scene of him and his kid brother singing Journey in the car, along highway 1, that hooked me and never let go.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, I bet a squirrel did eat that peach. I think your gram was right. I absolutely love the image of the woman sitting in the chair and being swallowed up by it. And you running and laughing! That is something I would have done with my sisters when I was just a kid.
    I channel you sometimes when I write. I love your style. Keep up the good work. xoxo

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  3. I didn’t know squerrilels eat peaches. I think something like a raccoon is more likely. If a little squirrel ate the hole thing it would bulge in his belly and you’d likely see him crawling across the grass in agony not far from where you put that peach in the first place. I love reading your writing.

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      1. They munch on my tomatoes and our raspberries and of course our brick patio sinks a little more each year. Eventually we’ll crash through into their living room while they’re watching Zootopia! Little buggers.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Chipmunks, raccoons…I’m in wonder at your wildlife. If your grandmother was over here in England, I’d suggest a fox maybe – but then, do foxes eat peaches? I don’t know if they do. Probably. Your story’s filling my already over-stuffed brain with more questions – doh! Great to read you this morning. x

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    1. So the reason I ask is … there is an actual group called “Peach Stealing Monkeys”

      And they’re not bad either!

      And there is even a martial arts move called “Monkey Steals the Peach.”

      I’m not sure a monkey would leave a peach slime trail though, but if it was a smart monkey it might, to divert blame to those blasted squirrels.

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      1. There’s a bird, and I’m not sure which one, that makes a sound like a monkey whoop, and I used to tell our oldest daughter it was a monkey. She, being 3 or 4 at the time, accepted this, nonplussed, and it made me very sad because I knew it wasn’t true. (See: Karma) I wish it was a monkey that stole that peach. Wait, are you telling me monkeys really do live in the trees? Sweet.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Not sure if that link will work or not, but that was the soundtrack playing in my head as I read this thrilling piece of pure entertainment. I can see that woman stuck in the chair (though she is a cartoon character in my head). And I am more in awe of your grandmother than ever before… she didn’t even have to think before cracking the Case of the Missing Peach!

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  6. I made my hubs think of all the animals that would eat a peach that hadn’t been mentioned.
    He said, a horse!
    I said, well it would have to be a neat horse!
    The squirrels by my house in Minnesota, take the walnuts up to our deck, eat them, and leave the shells on the deck.
    Or maybe it was your grandma who wanted to fool you!
    xo
    Wendy

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  7. Back in Los Angeles, I barely ever spotted a squirrel, let alone chipmunks… Although now maybe I should try leaving a peach out in my porch. Maybe I’ll spot a chipmunk or a whole scurry stuffing their faces as you mentioned. Oh! They’d look so adorable! Thank your grandma on my behalf, won’t you? She is a genius!

    Love your writing. Glad I discovered your blog. 🙂

    Aishwarya

    Liked by 1 person

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