“And he has all this money he won in the lottery,” Lila said. She sat on a bench with Zeke near the farmer’s market watching the springtime shoppers with their bags of asparagus and rhubarb. Lila and Zeke were on a lunch date. Zeke called it a “midday stroll” in his ironic way. When Lila had asked if their “midday stroll” was really a date, Zeke said, “Too much pressure if we call it a date. Besides, aren’t we above all that?” Zeke’s real name was William.
Zeke asked, “Doesn’t it say in the Bible that money is the root of all evil?”
“It says a lot of things in the Bible. Let’s not talk about the Bible.” Lila watched a furtive little woman snatch some dried fruit from a box when the purveyor’s back was turned. The woman was chewing as she moved on behind the stalls.
“Let’s just say that money can alter your perspective. For the negative.”
“But he seems to be getting more positive,” Lila said. “He bought this farm and he’s brought in these foresters from the college to help restore it to native forest.”
“Why are we even talking about this guy, what’s his name.”
“His name’s JJ and I’m sorry. Let’s walk.”
They walked together from the farmer’s market and sat outside for coffee. People walked by in work outfits and second-hand hipster duds. There was a group of college kids in flip flops and shorts, laughing and window shopping. Spring was finally here. And then down the sidewalk came JJ carrying a shovel over his shoulder like a musket, the spade end up in the air. It gleamed in the sun and Lila saw it was brand new.
“That’s the guy,” Lila said. “That’s JJ. With the shovel.”
JJ walked right up to their table. “Can you believe, all that shit in the barn and there wasn’t a single shovel?”
“This is Zeke,” Lila said. “Be polite now and acknowledge everyone.”
JJ seemed to notice Zeke for the first time. “Well, hello William,” JJ said.
Lila asked, “Do you guys know each other?”
“Lila was telling me you’ve become a farmer,” Zeke said.
“Well, you can see I carry my own shovel.”
Lila said, “How do you two know each other?”
“Oh, we go way back,” Zeke said. Then to JJ, “Well you know what they say. ‘No Farms, No Food’. That’s a lot of responsibility.”
“I like to say, ‘No Farms, No Farmer’s Daughters’.”
“Funny.” But Zeke was not smiling. “Always so funny.”
“I know,” JJ said. “Lila, you be nice to William now. He’s very sensitive.”
When JJ walked away, Lila said, “What was that all about?”
Zeke paused, staring after JJ. “We both dated this girl once, her dad was a farmer. Back when I was known as William.” They watched the shovel move away, bobbing and weaving above the other walkers, marking JJ’s progress up the crowded sidewalk. “It didn’t end well.”