The Hopeful Wanderer – Accepting Assistance

The hollow, wet thump of fruit smacking concrete still echoed around the fruit stall. Oranges, mangoes, lemons, kiwis all scattered. Rolling underneath the stand upon which stood more neat mounds of fruit. Most still neat, anyway. The rest of the pretty piles lay in ruins.

I peered over the short wall separating the beleaguered fruit stall and the one where I stood haggling for jerky. A woman sat on the floor, legs folded beneath her in an air of collapse.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

The woman stared down the corridor between myriad other stalls. Pointing a shaking hand, she whispered, “He took an entire crate…”

I glanced in the direction of her pointed finger. So did the woman trying to charge me too much for jerky. In the distance, a scruffy man barreled away, gait awkward beneath the weight of a wooden crate of pineapples.

The fruit seller balled her fists up. “I needed to sell that for medicine, you… you-!”

“Hey, listen,” said the jerky seller, peering over the wall at my side. “Why don’t I buy one and a half crates of fruit and you just give me one? I’ll throw in a box of jerky for the other half.”

The fruit seller blinked up at us. “But that’s way more than what your jerky’s worth. You’ll lose out.”

I slit my eyes in the direction of the jerky seller. “I knew you were overcharging me.”

She flapped a hand at me. “Don’t worry about it. Think of it as repayment for watching my kid when I had to bring him to work that one week.”

“I don’t know…”

“You should take the offer,” I said. “Then I’ll buy the jerky from you at a reasonable price.”

Grinning, I ducked a swipe from the jerky seller.

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