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no answer (the melon seller)


A shiny black van pulls up, wheels skidding on gravel. Five, maybe six men step out all at once. They wear black t-shirts and army fatigues. Their heads are shaved, slick with sweat in the afternoon sun. Their arms are huge, squeezed into those shirts a few sizes too small. All at once they circle a fruit stand by the road. It is made of plywood, held together with a few screws. One good sneeze could level it. Rows of torpedo shaped melons sit on bulging shelves, below them a cage full of watermelons. The men yank smartphones from their pockets, taking pictures, making calls. I assume they are some covert team that extorts vendors, either sending them home and destroying the fruit or worse. I somehow expect the man does not have a permit and the right papers to sell anything. In Russia, you need permission to do just about anything. There are no five year olds with lemonade stands here. 

I cross the street, distancing myself as I glimpse the men between the cars and trolley buses that pass between us. One of the men is holding up a giant watermelon, knocking his knuckles on it. I think he is about to throw it to the ground, or break it in half across his knee. I think the seller is deciding where to run, understanding there is nowhere he can go. Maybe just walk away, and pretend he was never there, just keep going until he gets to the river, jump in, swim across, pull himself to the next road and just keep going. 





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