PICKED UP THE RECEIVER on the fourth ring. I waited until the fourth ring not to sound desperate or alone. The caller might think I’d just stepped away from a gathering of friends.
“I just bought a jar of your pickles and they’re bad.”
I picked up the receiver on the fourth ring. I waited until the fourth ring not to sound desperate or alone. The caller might think I’d just stepped away from a gathering of friends.
“I’m sorry, you have the wrong number. I don’t sell pickles.”
I wished I’d sold this woman her pickles for her voice was so crisp, not judgmental, just disappointed. Like me.
There was a long pause as she digested my answer while I sketched crude angles of various pickles on my desktop calendar. There was a lot of space to cover and neither of us spoke until -
“You don’t sell pickles?”
“No, but I wish I did. It’s not right, you know. You get home, you open a chilled jar of koshers…I’m not being too forward, I hope, but I assume they’re koshers. They wouldn’t be sweet gherkins.”
“I thought so. Well…I understand your disappointment. God knows, I’ve had my share.”
“This isn’t Leroy’s Delicatessen?”
“No, but aren’t you interested in how I knew they were koshers?”
“What about my voice?”
“It’s salty, like koshers.”
“Is this Leroy?… my voice is salty?”
“Absolutely. I can tell you’re not the kind of woman who would waste her time on sugary cukes. I bet you even opened the jar by yourself. You didn’t ask your husband for help, did you?”
“You have needs. That’s something he couldn’t understand. He wanted you to eat gherkins and you needed koshers.”
“He left me…last year.”
“I’m sorry but it was his loss. He must have been a fool.”
“I didn’t think so at first but, you’re right, he was a fool.”
“Well…he’s out of the picture now. You were too good for him, too strong. He couldn’t handle a woman like you.”
“What do you mean?”
“You have needs. That’s something he couldn’t understand. He wanted you to eat gherkins and you needed koshers. You’re not the type of woman to daintily pick out a sweet pickle and nibble. You grab the largest kosher from the jar and practically swallow whole…am I not right?
“Yes…you’re right…God damn it! I take what I need. Oh God, I take what I need!
“I thought so…you still there? Hello.”
“What are you wearing?”