Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Happy (07/12/07)
TITLE: A Happy Man
By Gabrielle Morgan
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The Food Market opened. Vince Endopoli was already on the job, checking the fruit and vegetables and putting the 59 cents a kilo marker on a bin full of large oranges, the special of the day. Nowhere could you buy oranges that cheap. Vince had done a deal with the growers who couldn’t get rid of their load because too many were being imported into the country.
“Hard to see the sense importing oranges when we grow better one’s here,” thought Vince. “It doesn’t take a College Degree to figure that out.”
Vince had a good head when it came to figures. He didn’t have much education but he knew how to work hard and manage money. He bought his first butcher’s shop when he was twenty five. The customers returned because he gave them good meat and he always had a cheerful word to say. Now he owned his own market employing fifty staff.
For a man approaching sixty, he was well pleased with himself. It showed in his demeanour. He was jovial, always had a smile, and strode about his Market with a sense of purpose. He never missed an opportunity to cajole an unsuspecting customer by pointing them in the direction of the produce he wanted to sell that day. His manner was beguiling as he explained the benefit of an over ripe banana or a tomato which had reached perfection in flavour. He spoke with such conviction and concern that few ever left without loaded shopping bags or without gaining elevation to their spirit.
Vince noticed a woman studying the legs of lamb in the meat section.
She looked up and smiled at him.
“Can’t decide?” he questioned.
“Well, no. Lamb is so expensive, I was thinking perhaps I should buy pork, but I really love lamb.”
“What about this piece here, it’s not quite as big. Spring lamb you know, it would be a shame to miss out on it. It’s expensive now because there’s been no rain. You really would be supporting the farmers to buy it. They’re doing it tough.”
He shook his head to emphasize the point. The woman still considered.
Vince went on, “I remember one drought on our farm. The ground was dust, not a blade of grass anywhere. We had to sell the sheep, or what was left of them; dropped like flies they did. No rain. The creeks and dams dried up. We had to leave the farm in the end. It broke my dad’s heart.”
“Oh dear, how awful,” said the woman.
“Yes, they say, rain is a gift from God. Well, I guess there are a lot of people praying out there now. Some of the farms here in Australia have been in the hands of the same families for generations, and now because of no rain for so long the farmers are forced to look for work in the cities. It’s hard on the older ones, they don’t know anything else but farming; it’s in their blood. Can’t even sell their properties; who’d want to buy them?” said Vince.
“You’re right,” the woman said. “I saw a family on the television. It was so sad, the banks were taking over their property. They were devastated. Their resources had dried up and they were facing the hard reality of starting a new life after years of struggle to earn what they were losing.”
“It certainly makes you appreciate the rain,” said Vince. “We depend on it for survival without even realising it.”
“I think I’ll take the lamb,” the woman suddenly said. “not only will I enjoy it, but I will be helping someone.”
That you will, and don’t forget to pray for rain.”
“I won’t,” she called making for the checkout.
An almost beatific smile appeared on Vince Endopoli’s face.
He carried on with his work, while his thoughts transported him back to the small village in Italy he had left as a child. He could see the dazzling blue coastline, the steep road leading to the white church on the hill, and the small stone house where he had been born. He imagined the new growth on the olive trees and remembered how the rain drops had shone on their leaves. He was no longer in a market, but trespassing in his past, a past that had forged his future; a past where his dreams rested, a place where God had left an imprint on his soul.
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