Noville, California is a town you won't find on any map. It has a Shell gas station, a Denny's and a McDonalds. You can see the signs from the freeway as you whisk by on your way to S.F. or L.A.
There's also a guy named Dave who operates a fruit stand near the southbound entrance. During July he sells fireworks. So basically he'll sell you your choice of cherries or cherry bombs.
"Would you like some peaches to go with your Roman candles, Ms. Magillicutty?" I said.
Yeah, that's right, I work for Dave. It's not like I have a lot of choices. It's either work for Dave, Denny's, McDonalds, Shell--or leave town. So why didn't I leave town? Well, to do that I need a car or bus fare and those cost money. To get money I need a job and Dave was the only business in town that was hiring, so here I am.
"Yes, that would be lovely, dear. Roman candles and peaches make Fourth of July worthwhile," said Ms. Magillicutty. "How much do I owe you?"
Her liver-spotted hand reached in a purse covered with pink wombats and pulled out a fifty-dollar bill. "Keep the change, Sonny."
"Gee thanks," I said, but Dave immediately grabbed the bill from me and stuffed it in his Levi overalls complete with suspenders and covered with patches.
"You done good, boy," he said with a toothless grin. "I reckon I have enough to buy me a bottle of Jack, so I'm closin' the stand. You take the rest of the day off." He handed me a sparkler. "You take this and enjoy yourself, ya hear?"
What could I say? "Gee, thanks, Dave."
I'm sure a sparkler doesn't seem like much to most big-city folks, but around here, it's a big deal. So I lit the sparkler, ran down the street and hollered, "Happy Fourth of July!" I threw the sparkler in the air...it turned over and over as it sizzled and sputtered...it landed on Dave's stand...and set off all the fireworks.
I collected unemployment the rest of the summer.
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