Mr. Déjà vu Upsets the Apple Cart
Malcolm R. Campbell
Copyright (c) 2015
You’re about to read a story by Malcolm R. Campbell called Mr. Déjà vu Upsets the Apple Cart.
When you surfed out to this post, you were struck by the fact it seemed familiar even though you were certain you had never read anything like Mr. Déjà vu Upsets the Apple Cart before. There are so many hyperlinks and annoying popups these days, it’s possible your eye saw the word “apple” or “cart” and you have forgotten it.
The story begins in a tourist town in apple country on a fine November morning when the air is as crisp as a Granny Smith and the windows of the shops reflect back the sunlight with the resolution of a perfect apple.
Tourist towns are much the same. Some cling to the sheer walls of mountains where the scent of fir trees brings memories of Christmas year around while others lie alongside oceans like contented cats within an ever-present aroma of overly ripe fish.
Yet, they’re the same because the souvenirs are made in faraway lands outside the reach of fir trees and fish and there are always overpriced hamburgers for sale in cute shoppes and the eyes of the people are vacant from seeing too many familiar antiques behind the dull windows.
You remember the best apple pie your grandmother ever made, hot and perfect from the oven when you read, “Evelyn with the old fashioned name stood behind her small apple cart watching a tall, oddly familiar man with grey hair approaching on the busy street.”
Evelyn with the old fashioned name stood behind her small apple cart watching a tall, oddly familiar man with grey hair approaching on the busy street. He looked like an apple grower, for his delight in the world around him—the child looking in the bright window of the gift shop and the cat stretching behind the post—told her clearly the world itself was the apple of his eye.
She lived in a world of apples, the wonderful Granny Smiths her father and Uncle Walter grew just up the road that led past the hotel where the grey haired man was talking to Laura Whittle and her visiting Aunt Martha.
When Evelyn met Aunt Martha last week, Laura said, “Here is my young friend Evelyn who grows apples.”
Evelyn stood tall when she was introduced as an apple grower. Truly, she knew apples like family from the first April blooms to the fetching of bees for pollination to tree thinning to make room for light to the crisp fall days of picking the year’s labor of love.
“Pleased to see you again,” said Aunt Martha. “May I call you Eve?”
“I called you ‘Eve’ years ago because ‘Evelyn’ is a mouthful and ‘Eve’ is a perfect name for an apple picker, Aunt Martha said. “You’ll tempt many a young man one day with your sweet apples and sweeter smile.”
“Our apples are more tart than sweet,” said Evelyn, dully, for she did not want to be an evil Eve with apples tempting men.
As you read, you cannot help but think Aunt Martha must be a disagreeable old woman who smells like bad fish and bad apples.
Finally, as the grey haired man stood there appraising an apple with bright eyes that clearly took pleasure in everything magical, Evelyn found herself spoiling the fine morning from the core out to the skin thinking about Aunt Martha calling her “Eve”–again, yes, again, if the old lady spoke the truth about before.
“Will you sell me enough apples for a perfect pie?” the man asked as he held the apple higher into the light.
“Yes,” said Evelyn.
“Young Evelyn, I’m tall and blessed with old eyes,” he said, and Evelyn—who was pleased to be called Evelyn”—was wondering why her first customer of the day would say such a thing. “However, I can still read your name tag well enough to know you are ‘Evelyn’ and not ‘Eve’ as your aunt or some prankster has written there. You’re not Eve, are you?”
“No, of course not,” snapped Evelyn. “Why would you believe such a thing?”
“Aunt Martha—a disagreeable old woman who smells like fish—just told me Eve’s sweet smile will tempt me to eat an apple,” he said, punctuating the nasty information with a loud crunch. “Tart and magical! But how rude of me to read your name tag and not introduce myself. I am Increase Déjà vu.”
“I’m happy to meet you Mr. Déjà vu,” said Evelyn.
“You said that before,” said Mr. Déjà vu.
“Ah, you’ve forgotten, he said. “No matter, I have grown so much older than Christmas, I hardly recognize myself in the mirror.”
Evelyn stared at Mr. Déjà vu as closely as she could without being rude. “I don’t think I can remember,” she said, feeling more than a little discombobulated.
“We met when you were five,” he said. “I was your first customer on your first day as Evelyn the apprentice apple seller. Blind as a bat that day, I was stumbling through town trying to find my glasses when I ran into your apple cart.”
“Tipping it over,” she added. “Yes yes, that was you! You were very nice about it. You bought every bruised apple. Then you told me…”
“Do you remember?”
“I got mad because somebody called me Eve while we were picking up the spilt apples.”
“What did I say?”
“Oh my, I have just now thought of it again. You said that Eve never picked an apple. A grape or a fig, maybe, though nobody could say for sure.”
“It’s still true.”
“I shall not tell that to fishy old ladies.”
“Our secret, then. Now, I am off to make another pie without upsetting your apple cart again or again.”
After tearing off her name tag, Eve stood tall next to her apple cart, watching him walk through the finest November morning she could remember, and you are fairly sure you know the reason why.
Malcolm R. Campbell is also the author of the three-story collection called Emily’s Stories, available in paperback, e-book and audio book.