A Good Use for Zucchini

SH-zukes uniteYou can visit Carding any time in my novels, The Road Unsalted, Thieves of Fire, and The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life. The fourth in the series, Lights in Water, Dancing, will be out later this year.

You can subscribe to the Carding Chronicles by clicking the subscribe button on my home page. When you do, my stories will speed from my keyboard to your inbox every Thursday without any further effort on your part.

Please share these with your friends, co-workers, and all the family members you like best. I understand they go great with morning coffee.

In last week’s Carding Chronicle, Wil Bennett and his friends Brian Lambert and Dave Muzzy offered to buy a bushel basket of zucchini from Carding’s favorite farmer, Lee Tennyson.

Not knowing why they wanted them, Lee was reluctant to sell the green squash until Andy Cooper, who owns the town’s general store, offered to pay for it. He had heard rumors about how the members of the Mount Merino Golf Club cheated the young guys who caddied there, and he wanted to see how creatively Wil, Dave, and Brian would use the zukes in protest.

The members of the golf club are not real popular among the locals, you see.

If you want to start at the beginning, here’s a link to part one.

If you’re ready, let’s dive into the second part of our story, shall we?

————————————————————————

“You two may need to put that stuff on but I don’t,” Brian said as he watched Wil and Dave smear black Halloween makeup on their faces. He stretched out his bare arms. “Already painted, see?”

Wil shook his head as he bent forward to look in the side view mirror of Dave’s car. “Okay, okay. We get it. I just hope this stuff comes off after we’re done.”

Dave clicked on a small penlight so he could study his map of the Mount Merino golf course stretched over the hood of his car. “Brian’s right,” he said just as he had a few minutes before. “You can’t see the tee on the second hole from the club but it’s the first thing everyone sees when they come around these trees.”

Brian looked over his shoulder and tapped the map with his finger then turned toward Wil. “Did you find a bag to cover that motion sensor light?”

“Yeah.” Wil raised a heavy canvas bag above his head. “I even put a couple of flashlights in it to make sure no light leaks out. We’re good.”

Dave fumbled as he folded up the map. “I admit I’m nervous…”

“You think?” Wil teased.

“But these people have got me so pissed off, I almost don’t care if I get caught,” Dave finished.

“Yeah, I totally agree. I just hope those sports website people get pictures of what we do before the club ruins it.” Wil hoisted the bag over his shoulder. “Let’s go.”

The previous day, the three friends had taken time to mark a trail through the woods to the backside of the golf course, carefully tying yellow surveyor’s tape around trees as they ferried their zucchini and props to a spot behind the remains of a stone wall.

Once they arrived at their staging area, they soundlessly dropped to their bellies, and crawled toward the ominous motion sensor light. Wil marveled at how hard his heart thumped as they approached it. He was sure that it would suddenly illuminate the entire area to reveal their plan. When they reached the light, they were all relieved to find that it sat higher off the ground than they anticipated. That made it easier to bag.

Brian, on the far right, nodded at Wil who flattened the bag out as much as he could. Using just the tips of his fingers, he inched it slowly to his right and in front of the light, passing it on to Dave who passed it on to Brian. When they were done, they paused to take a couple of deep breaths.

“So far, so good,” Dave whispered as he backed away to grab a drop cloth they’d brought in case their bagging trick didn’t work.

“On three,” Brian said. “One, two, three.”

The two friends slipped the bag over the light, moving so quick that only the merest blink escaped. Then the trio listened for any sound outside the murmur of the early morning breeze through the trees. Had they been caught?

Wil looked at his watch. They had agreed to wait for five minutes to see if anyone raised an alarm just in case they needed to beat a hasty retreat.

It was a very long five minutes.

Finally Wil said: “Okay, now.”

Dave leaped out with a clutch of heavy-duty wooden skewers that he jabbed into the ground in a layout they’d practiced earlier. Wil and Brian followed with the zucchini, jamming a squash onto the point of each skewer.

Then out came their signs. The first one they set up was a paper banner stretched between the two largest zukes proclaiming “Merino Members Cheat Caddies.” Then they set up a squash threesome to hold up a sign saying: “No Pay, No Play in the Pro-Am.” A crowd of smaller squash carried “Caddies On Strike” signs.

As they worked, the three friends became almost giddy with excitement. Finally they came to the final four squash and their last sign.

“We’ve got to take a picture of this one,” Wil said.

They fussed a few moments to get the pose just right, adjusting then re-adjusting the last sign. Finally satisfied, they checked to make sure they’d left nothing behind, shoved everything into the bushel basket that had once held the zucchini then scurried back toward the woods.

But before they left, they turned their cell phones on their final work of zucchini art.

“On three,” Wil said. “One, two, three.”

Their phones flashed then the young men fled down their path, removing the surveyor’s tape as they went.

The center of town was pretty quiet as they drove past the green. Lights were just going on in the Coop to signal that the general store was open for business, and the first souls in search of caffeine trailed into the bakery owned by Wil’s parents.

“How did your pictures come out?” Brian asked as Dave pulled to the curb.

Wil peered at his screen for a moment. “We’re golden,” he said with a smile, thumbing his keyboard. “And I just sent it to Sports World. Let’s hope they get it online before the tournament starts this morning.”

High up on the Mount Merino golf course, Andy Cooper clucked to his dog Sable to let her know he was ready to start ambling again. “I figure the kids are back in town by now,” he said to Lee Tennyson. “Let’s go see what they did.”

The two friends kept close to the wooded edge of the course as they walked. The sun was making short work of the dark, encouraging Lee to tug the visor of his hat down further.

“What are we going to say if someone asks us why we’re here?” he asked.

Andy patted the binoculars dangling from his neck. “No one ever questions the motives of a cantankerous old birdwatcher,” he said.

They stopped abruptly at the edge of the second tee, taking in what the three teens had wrought. Andy started to chuckle as he walked around to admire their work. Then he stopped in front of the final four squash.

“Zukes of the world—Unite,” he read. “I like this one the best. If you’ll take a picture of it, I’ll put it up on the front door of the store.”

Lee squatted down so he could see the squash panorama straight on then focused his camera. “One would think you’re not a fan of the Mount Merino folks, Andy.”

His friend snorted. “They hire these young people, work them hard, and then expect to pay them 1950s wages in a 21st-century world. They get no sympathy from me. I figure I’m just doing my part to keep a little justice in the world.” Andy looked over his shoulder in the direction of the golf club. “Besides, I figure those kids will need a little moral support to contend with that lot, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I do actually. Glad I could help.”

Andy smiled and started walking again, squinting into the rising sun. “Besides, it’s a good use for zucchini, don’t you think?”

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