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Every Friday by John Longhurst

EVERY FRIDAY He is old, fat and weather beaten. His knees are strapped and he cannot bend. His clothing is tattered, nondescript and likely rejected from the local Saint Vincent de Paul shop. Every Friday he is there. On the corner. In this quaint town where almost everyone else is travelling through to the coast or to the capital city. His age bridges the millennium but most of it was lived last century. He sits amongst his produce, on that same corner every Friday, as reliable as the chill wind turns up collars. Buckets of rocket peppery on the tongue, bunched red radishes like baubles for a bush Christmas tree, cauliflowers fat and white sit brain like on the table and spinach promising boring goodness and health fill dirty white buckets. All the produce is marked with earth as testimony to the morning harvest in a manner that would take an organic Sydney grocer hours to apply with a brush. His health and decline over the years is in marked contrast to the produce he sells bursting with vitality. Every Friday I have the same thought. Will I end up looking like this bloke if I keep buying his fruit and veg? Every Friday I have to bend to get the rocket from the bucket as his knees are crook. And then every Friday I wait. And wait. He finishes the conversation with the old woman in front of me a number of times. They say goodbye a number of times and then they say ‘hang on ‘ a number of times and only then, like a very slow barn dance, he turns for my patronage. I wait. Thankfully, we don’t know each other well enough to chat yet, so the transaction is conducted on a reduced dose of Mogadon. But still he fumbles around in his pocket for his mobile phone for the eftpos app. He adjusts his glasses. He gets out a pen and paper to add up the bill which is pointless anyway because he always says ‘What do you reckon?...... ahhhh.... just make it ten dollars.’ I give him my card. He turns it around whilst simultaneously trying to punch the amount into the mobile phone. He usually drops either the card or the mobile phone and we start again. Every Friday. ‘Bloody good these things eh?’ and we both look at his phone. ‘Makes things quick eh?’ Every bloody Friday.