Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Smut Peddler

Nazareth Nicholby wheeled his heavy cart along the bumpy sidewalk. Passerbys turned to look at the racket he made as he thunk-thunked over the broken pavement. Carefully, he set the old wooden cart down and plunked a shoddy milk crate next to it. He climbed on top of the crate and cleared his throat. He had a good set of lungs for a man in his eighties. He bellowed for all he was worth; “Smut for sale! Best smut this side of the Mississippi river. Don’t be shy folks! Come buy a magazine for your viewing pleasure.”

Good old Nazareth could be found most Tuesdays on the corner of Lohman and Sangria Street selling his filthy wares. A spectator might be surprised to see his loyal clientele step right up for one of his dirty rags. Didn’t Sister Edith buy one last week? The townsfolk whispered behind simple shell fans, the heat blistered here in the South, but not nearly as harshly as the fires of hell poor Sister Edith was likely to endure. Twas a right pity, too, considering she was the organist at the First Baptist Church on Murrieta Ave.

All day long Mr. Nicholby would stand on his milk crate and holler at the downtown crowd. “Come on y’all! Come see the sweetest fruit you’ve ever seen. Nectar so delectable it’ll tickle your tongue and make you beg for more! I’ve got smut here, folks, best smut of the South!” Every so often he’d single out a pedestrian, “Hey you there! You wanna buy some smut, don’tcha? Come on now and help an ol feller out.” The townsfolk would blush and scurry off, trying valiantly to disassociate themselves from the smut peddler.

You could hear the desperation building in his voice as the sun wore high in the sky and his money box ran low. He’d pick up the old tin box and shake it. Nope. Nothing in there save a few rolling coins. Nazareth heightened his appeal; he implored the public square, “Please ladies and gents! Buy a bit of smut! Show some Southern pride and behold some of the finest Georgia peaches you’ve ever seen!”

But no one was buying. Few outside of his regular customers ever did. And then he saw something. Some college kids came waltzing down the sidewalk. Old Nazareth’s cloudy blue eyes perked up and he straightened his back. Surely they’d buy a bit of smut! “Howdy boys! You look like some healthy young men. Buy a bit of smut today?” The short one stopped and looked at the old man skeptically. “You selling dirty magazines in the middle of the square old man?”

Mr. Nicholby chuckled, “You betcha! Dirtiest rag in the South. I’ve got soft fuzzy peaches and ripe melons too pretty to be believed! And for you young man, only $5—a bargain!” The young man grinned and stepped foreword to hand Nazareth his money. “Sure, I’ll take one,” he looked at his friends and snickered. The old man put the money in his beat-up tin and handed the boy a magazine. The boys walked off laughing, but they didn’t get far.

The boy stomped back to Nazareth. “You ripped me off, old man! I want my money back.” Nazareth tapped his finger to an old hand printed sign on the side of his cart. “All sales are final. NO REFUNDS!!!” The young man huffed and threw the magazine on the ground. “I paid you for smut and THAT is not smut.”

Nazareth Nicholby laughed and slapped his knee. “Sure it is! Southern Monthly Utopian Topiaries. SMUT. It’s the best potted gardening magazine this side of the Mississippi. We specialize in topiary gardens, but there’s in an entire section in this issue on potted miniature fruit trees that I find particularly exciting.” With that he packed up his cart and grinned at the stunned young man. He turned his cart around and thunked it all the way home, the setting sun warm on his shoulders.

11 comments:

  1. Fabulous build up. Kept me going all the way to the end...peaches and melons - cracked me up when I read the last paragraph!!

    Will be sure to go back and read some more of your work!

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  2. Hahaha. Laugh out loud funny ending.

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  3. The language is almost Biblical which builds up to the payoff of the Jacob gets the wrong wife beneath the veil kind of thing.

    Excellently handled.

    marc nash

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  4. Yeah, great build up. In just a few words, that first paragraph paints the perfect small town picture, and all the things we would normally associate with it. And just like the boys, I was expecting smut too. Great play on words the whole way through, topped off with a clever and witty ending

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  5. Crybbe666-- Thanks! Most of what I write is rather x-rated, lol. But folks seemed to like my holiday stories best, "Elf Madness" and "Ringing In The New Year." Fair warning. Hehehe.

    Thank you Mr. Gully. Always a pleasure. ;D

    Marc and Jim-- so glad you all picked up on that. Spent too much time in TN. It's like religion and the south blend together and become characters of their own. I like playing with that. Glad you both enjoyed it!

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  6. Oh, the peaches were excellent!
    Much fun here :-)
    I love the character's name too.

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  7. interesting piece , and it reminds me of southern Gothic

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  8. A smut peddler named Nazareth - good one! A heart-warming tale for young and old alike.

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  9. I loved the language in this - and the cadence throughout. You had fun putting this together, it shows. And I had fun reading it.

    Nicely done.

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