We grew up in a neighborhood surrounded by orchards, mostly apricot and cherry trees. Come
July, what the hell do you think a bunch of bored ten year olds would be tempted to do, what
with the trees full of fruit and the long days of summer weighing heavy?
A six foot wooden fence separated our homes from a mother lode of cherries on the other side.
We easily hoisted ourselves over, and spread out to select the best looking trees. The picking
that day was unbelievable, the fruit ripe and ready. And so was Orlando, the farmer who waited
until we were well up into the trees before he came running after us, his .22 rifle loaded with
pellets of rock salt. We heard the shots first, then the sound of the pellets ripping through the
leaves. All of us jumped into the loosely ploughed dirt between the trees, running like hell for
I remember just getting my leg over the top when I felt the first impact of the rock salt hitting
me in the ass. Yelps from several of my friends as they dropped their bags of stolen cherries in
our mad scramble to get away told me they got nailed too. We heard the cursings in Spanish
from the pissed-off farmer as we got over and ran up the street towards our houses, howling
from the sting of the salt pellets. When we got to Tommy’s house, we went in the garage and
dropped our pants, inspecting each other’s welts.
Assessing that nothing looked too serious, although our butts were red and stinging, we began
to plot our next foray into an adjacent orchard. This time we’d be going after the apricots.
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Still residing in Northern California, Matt Hill is a sculptor and poet working within the process known as Disjunctive Synthesis. A new poetry ebook, Amalgamated Fragments, was published by Differentia Press, December, 2013.