She was an outcast. A contortionist with a lowercase “c.” “I’m desperate,” she said as she walked into my office on her hands and put her card on my desk with her foot. It looked like she’d worked all the contortionist gigs in the city, and when that hour was up she twisted into my life.
“I want to be a circus fruit detective,” she said. “I saw your ad on craigslist.” I stopped juggling bonzai-sized cactus and looked at her. “I just fired a tightrope walker who could tell the difference between a Pixie Tangerine and a Murcott while riding a tricycle on a quarter-inch rope 40 feet above the ground with a bear balanced on his head. What makes you so special?” I asked. “I can bend myself in the shape of a Pineapple Guava.” I stopped her before she figured out how to make a third frond.
She started bending into the shape of a banana. “Taa-dahh!” she said. “That’s nice, kid—but you’re going to need more than that to make it in this town,” I said. “This time of year is tough on bananas, see. Sometimes when it’s cold they don’t ripen like we need them to. If that ever happens,” I assured her, “we get on the case and replace them no questions asked.” She was a good listener. Maybe too good.
“Have you ever seen this?” I pulled out a Minneola Tangelo. “It’s a Minneola,” I said. She squished herself down into half her size, put on a huge smile and said: “Hola!” “What’s that?” I asked. “You said Mini-Hola,” she said. I blinked. It gave me a headache. “It’s Spanish for ”˜small hello,’” she assured me. I took a breath and tried to explain. “Minneola Tangelos are a cross between a Duncan Grapefruit and a Dancy Tangerine. They are sometimes called Honeybells. They have a nib at the end and are sweet and refreshing. If you ever do that again, I’m bringing back the guy with the bear.”
We made it through the crate. She got tangled up trying to improvise a pear. “It’s alright,” I assured her. “Pears take time. They ripen from the inside.” The phone rang. It was a mime-informant calling with a tip on a hot case. I could hear him struggling to get out of his box. “Let’s go,” I said. I grabbed my unicycle, she rolled into a ball, and we headed downtown.
Enjoy & Be Fruitful!
—Chris Mittelstaedt, email@example.com