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Fiction

In the hushed hours between night and day, I leave without disturbing my peacefully sleeping family. Years ago there was a funny Dunkin Donut commercial in which the baker passes himself as he is coming and going. He mutters to himself. “It’s time to make the donuts.” There are times I have felt like that baker. Aware that local bar patrons may also be on the roads during these early hours, I stay keenly alert during my drive to the bakery especially approaching intersections.

    The Mrs. Shaw’s Bakery loading dock area is a hive of activity despite the early hour. In the background there is lively music playing and there are shouts of hello’s and goodbyes as some employees begin and others end their day. It doesn’t take long for the fleet of eighteen trucks to be loaded with pies, pastries and donuts. The variety of pies changes like the seasons. In the summer there are juicy fruit pies such as apple, blueberry, and peach. Cherry pies are sold in February to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. In the fall the pie most desired is pumpkin. The days before Thanksgiving bring increased sales and deliveries. Any pieman worth his weight in sugar carries a pie knife for cutting and doling out tasty samples. French apple pie is a favorite of mine. 

     Cutting through the thick darkness the high beams of my delivery truck spotlight a well feed-rat in the narrow back alley. The rodent pauses briefly before scurrying along on its quest for a scrounger’s breakfast. The sight of the huge hairy rat causes my body to shudder. That’s the thing about this city. They say the rats can become the size of house cats by feasting on the abundance of trash scattered on the ground. The city government’s rapid spending of tax dollars to provide all residents with lidded trash cans doesn’t seem to have made much difference.

    The streets of the city are empty and quiet except for the occasional clunk of another delivery truck’s large tires dipping into one of the city’s many pot holes. That’s the thing about this city. There are probably as many rats as there are potholes to avoid. Hit a pothole the wrong way and major damage can be done to the underside of an unsuspecting car or truck. The city graciously offers reimbursement to a driver for pothole vehicle damages. That is if you don’t mind taking a day off to file the paperwork, you enjoy standing in a long line and you don’t need the money in a hurry. The Mayor’s recent fifty day pothole challenge proved fifty days wasn’t l long enough to tackle the endless issue of aging city streets. Since I drive the same route everyday, I have become quite familiar with the location of every pothole to avoid.

    This predawn time of day belongs to us. The hundreds of delivery men and women who ensure everyday foods and goods are available when stores, shops, cafes and restaurants open for business. We are the behind the curtains stage crew that sets the props for the daily scenes of life in the city to play out. Without us the stage would remain empty.

    The faint smell of fish tickles my nostrils as I cross the promenade armed with trays of assorted freshly baked pies. The sun begins to wake and stretch. The first light touches the tips of the tall sky scrapers that surround me. My footsteps echo inside the silent lobby of the massive building. The uniformed night watchman nods his approval as I approach. The ornate elevator takes me to the 27th floor. Stepping out of the elevator the view of the morning sky welcomes me with a painter’s canvas dabbed with streaks of red and orange. Glimmers of light playfully dance on the bay waters below. It is a breathtaking sight. One I never tire of seeing. That’s the thing about this city. Beauty can suddenly rise out from the darkness.

Inside the restaurant Dave, the manager is waiting for me to take deliver of the pies. Tables are carefully being set for the arrival of the breakfast crowd. The aroma of coffee brewing and bacon frying cause my stomach to rumble; reminding me I have yet to eat breakfast. Following the delivery, I return to the street.

    During my time inside the Alexander Brown and Sons building the city has begun its everyday transformation. A couple of eager seagulls are squawking and squabbling over a few fallen crumbs. A fishermen’s boat motor sputters and spits before turning over and starting. There is the rumble of a heavy construction truck as it passes and the piecing sound of a police siren a few blocks over. A jogger’s quick sprints create a rhythmic k'duh, k'duh, k’duh on the wooden pier behind me. There is the sudden whoosh of a transit bus doors opening to allow commuter entrance. That’s the thing about this city it can wake as quickly as it drifts off to sleep.

   Back at my truck there are no more rat sightings as rats are nocturnal creatures. They will be resting in preparation for another night of scrounging. The next stop takes me only a few blocks to the dock where a large Coast Guard ship is moored. Loaded with a boxes of donuts I head up the plank in order to gain permission from the night guard to come aboard. Once aboard, the cook is summoned to receive delivery of the donuts. The Coast Guard ship has a standing order for donuts each week. One morning upon my arrival the vessel wasn’t there. I was instructed to leave the boxes of donuts on the pier. I often wonder who what eventually found and ate those dozens of donuts.

     The small nearby diner is popular breakfast spot for construction workers and locals who are always greeted with a friendly smile. After delivering their pastries and pies, I play a couple of rounds of Pac Man while waiting for my ham and egg sandwich to be prepared. Around the corner, I deliver pies and donuts to a ma and pa grocery that has been in the neighborhood for generations.

      As I head out of the city; the traffic has risen around me like the sun that now is above the horizon. I catch a glimpse of the city in my rearview mirror-the city with its many problems, its diversity of people and its beautiful sunrises. That’s the thing about this city is that although it isn’t perfect. It’s mine.

March 17, 2021 11:15

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10 comments

12:56 Mar 25, 2021

I WASN'T AWARE OF REEDSY HAVING APPROVED YOUR BLOG. I APOLOGIZE FOR MY REMARKS. MY VALUES FOR APPROVAL HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT. SORRY! REGARDS.

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05:02 Mar 25, 2021

The condition of the city roads and the routine of a pieman have been written about. Something about what happens like when pies are stolen or are eaten by rats is not made out. Some event needs to be written about to make blog interesting.The start has NOT been followed. More rigourous revision is needed:'well feed rat' 'wasn't I long' 'who what'. Blogger must write a credible story at start to make blog interesting. CRITIQUE CIRCLE

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D. Owen
10:04 Mar 25, 2021

I appreciate your read but do not understand your comments.

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D. Owen
10:08 Mar 25, 2021

The rats never ate the pies in my story nor were the pies ever stolen. The story was approved so I couldn't correct typos.

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D. Owen
10:04 Mar 25, 2021

I appreciate your read but do not understand your comments.

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D. Owen
10:04 Mar 25, 2021

I appreciate your read but do not understand your comments.

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11:41 Mar 25, 2021

Thanks. Regards.

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Cathryn V
17:14 Mar 24, 2021

Ooooh, such a ride you’ve taken me on and I loved every bit of it. Your descriptions are so good. I like the rats as antagonists and how the delivery guy accepts them. Really beautiful story. Thanks for writing!

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D. Owen
19:12 Mar 24, 2021

Thank you for reading Cathryn and taking the ride with my pieman. I appreciate your kind comments.

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Cathryn V
19:55 Mar 24, 2021

Ah, pieman! That’s what it’s called. All I could think of was delivery man🤪. Have a good day

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