P lum M an
Milford, Pennsylvania went back a couple of a hundred years, to the years when John Biddis laid the first cornerstone of his town. The spontaneous fellow, on an impulse, named the streets after his plentiful children and the lanes and avenues after his favorite fruit. When his skin began to turn white and chalky, John decided to spend his earnings on a grand white house on a hill just outside of the town at the end of Plum Lane, plums being his favorite fruit. The old man’s nowhazy eyes and body were buried on Phoebe Street, named after his favorite granddaughter. Marian Biddis, John’s wife, in a burst of tears and scotch, spent all of the family money and her descendents were forced to find jobs from workers in Milford that they themselves had employed. Through much difficulty, the Biddis maintained their house.
It was one of those last days of winter, when the white snow on the dead blades of grass was clinging tightly for survival. Leaves were shrugging out of the petrified buds. Defiant bugs began to dot the air. Scarlet tanagers zipped across the sky, leaving dizzy blurs of red behind. It was then in a large white house at Milford, Pennsylvania, at the end of Plum Lane, that a knock was heard at the door. A young boy was sitting on the couch with his head tilted back. He rubbed his stomach. In truth, the boy had nothing else to do for that evening. In a typical Monday morning, the boy would wake up and go to the Meign Street to shine boots for pennies. “Mom, get the door!” But the boy had forgotten that his mother had gone to path holes in clothes at a humble tailor shop. The door knocked again, this time with more firmness to it. With a deep sign, the boy walked to the front and opened the door. He tried to slam the door shut, but a gloved hand grasped the door corner and flung it open. “Good evening, Tim Biddis, sir yes, how do you do? They call me the Plum Man, the Purple Man, the Fruit Man, and other too vile to name!” The man waltzed in, dressed in a neat purple tuxedo. He wore white gloves, one which grasped at a cherrybrown cane. A violet chapeau was settled on his head, making him look great a many inches taller. “Mom’s not home,” the boy said bluntly. “Exactly why I’m here! Who needs parents? They’re no fun! Never mind about them —do you need some entertainment? Someone to play ball with? Oh! Or the bicycle? Or…” he motioned his face closer to the startled boy. “Are you hungry?” “No, I am not, please leave—“ The sound of an animal groaning made the boy jump. Then he realized what it was and blushed.”
The two gentlemen had walked to a deserted plain across town. The flat land extended for miles until the ground rose to a hill tall enough to be called a small mountain. At the summit it cupped the sun, creating an orange vision over the horizon and then sank into a long valley. The young boy finally reached the top of the summit, and dropped the bucket to the ground, his mouth wide. Trees decorated with purple plums were planted so far across the valley that they looked like a collage of purple, green, and brown. The boy heard a sucking sound and turned to see the man eating the fruit. “Here,” the man said between chews and threw a plum at the child, the mouth watering child.
Slurp, swoosh, gnash, tear, gulp, slurp, swoosh, gnash, tear, gulp. That would probably be the only thing you heard at the plum valley. Pit after pit, they fell defeated to the ground. The boy finally fell to the bare tree and rubbed his enormous stomach. The man was swatting at the branches with his cane, precipitating round purple fruit into his bucket. “I have more treats for you!” The boy lethargically glanced at the man who was beginning to walk toward the direction of his house. “Wait…” The boy pushed back against the bark of the tree and stomped after him.
Plum pie, plum sorbet, chocolate covered plums, plumenade, plum cake, plum ipops, steak marinated in plum sauce, plum tea, plum’ed caramel, spaghetti and plum balls, plum wraps, pizza with plum sausages, plum shake, plum gum, ovenroasted plums, plum on the cob, plum tofu, plum dumplings, plum noodles, pickled plums, chicken plumiaki, plum bagels, plum pot pie, plum chowder, plum stew, plum cones, dried plums, plum wine, frosted plums, plum flavored energy drinks, plumfried rice, plum beer, plum chop suey, plum gummies, plum whipped cream, plum rolls, plum toffee, plum creamfilled twinkies, plum waffles, plum icecream, plum juice, plum smoothie, fried plums, baked plums, tater plums, plum licorice, plum cheese, plum cereal, plum pastrami, turkey with plum stuffing, plum chili, plum chips, plum toast, plum dogs, plum loaf, plum balls, plum donuts, plum pancakes, plum taffy, plumkabob, plum burger, mac and plums, mashed plums, plum jerky, sundae with a plum on top. It was ironic how the little boy found himself back on that small family couch again, but the difference was that the floor was piled with so many steaming, crying, and swelling plates that the floor was nowhere to be seen. The boy rolled his eyes in nausea. The Plum Man’s head was nearly touching the ceiling, his feet attached to stilts. He had a plum muffin in his hand.
“Isn’t it so great? The plums that is, you never ever get sick of it! Eat a plum when there’s a fire, eat one when your mother is a liar! Eat, eat, and eat!” Everything went black.
It was at a church south of a tailor shop, and people were beginning to congregate. The cliché music of an organ rang throughout the building. At the far end of the chapel room, where was a rectangular table. White lilies sat there. A box accompanied them, and a box we sadly know all too much of. The young boy laid there, his eyes closed. Smudges of plum juice remained on the corner of his mouth. His stomach was big, but a strangely large stomach wasn’t compared to death. I mean, who would eat to death? A man with a violet hat that made him look a few inches taller walked down a street, the sound of church bells still ringing behind him. He entered a food market and looked at the delicious plums on display. Then he noticed an orange stand, and its oranges. He picked one up, and wondered at its beautiful porous skin, its brilliantly round shape, ad its vibrant orange color. The man froze.
And then he smiled.