Short Stories

Published in FATHERS & DAUGHTERS, edited by Jill Morgan; ISBN 0-451-19695-3.

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Picking cherries on the Pacific Coast fruit run in the Sixties, Dacey Ann Adams crosses paths with a man she hoped to never see again: her jailbird father. Along the way, she uncovers a secret that begins the long road to healing the wound that drove them apart.

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She saw the lights coming from off the main road. "That’s Turner already." He was fifteen minutes early.

Dacey Ann had hardly got there, 4:20 by her watch. Certain people would say she was birddogging, trying to get the best spot first. Turner, though, was an honest man. He’d give her nothing ahead of the others.

The door of her add-on camper shut solid, then the key went into her shorts’ pocket next to her knife and last two dollars. In her other pocket was a roll of adhesive tape for her fingers she’d need if she was going to pick fast and make up for the bad luck on the northern run.

Turner stepped out of his truck looking her way. His hair wasn’t any whiter but he seemed to treat one leg more tender.

"What you got there, Turner? Another wino crew?"

She eyed the two men in the truck bed and could tell they didn’t know a word of English. Nationals. He must be expecting a lean crop. Otherwise, he’d be paying an American wage. It wasn’t she begrudged a man a dollar, but she’d just come from a state where Indians underbid and all the Orientals had their dozen little kids in the rows by age five, and how the heck could you compete with that going on?

"Well, shoot a bug, if it ain’t Dacey Ann Adams," Turner said. "In the flesh and a little less of it than when I seen you last." He came close and shook her hand, still could have broke it, she was aware.

"I shed about a hundred-ninety-five," she said, "and twenty of it was mine."

Her soft voice sounded like wind down a draw even to herself.

"You and Paul?" Turner said. "Now that’s a damn shame. Paul’s a nice guy." Turner studied the ground, could have been sorting out just who Paul was, for all that. Dacey Ann used to get around a bit, no absence of beaus. Each season saw a new one there for a while, or so it seemed, and if anyone thought she was embarrassed by it, they thought wrong.

"Paul’s all right in a pinch," Dacey said, "but you have to pinch him a lot to make him see reality from a dream." Which wasn’t exactly what she meant, but she said it and that was that.

"Well, now, we all got to have some vices or life ain’t worth livin’, now is it?" Turner said. He drew his notepad with the columns on it for accounting off the windshield where he’d set it when he got out of the truck. "So. You’re lookin’ for a ladder."

"That I am," Dacey said. "Been rainin’ all season up in the Yakima. Rain, then sun. Fruit’s all busted. Down to Kennewick, too. They was flying ’copters over to dry off the trees, but it don’t do no good. I don’t know why Paul had this idea to head north first, bassackwards, but that’s Paul."