Vicky is providing transportation for a few women selling vegetables at a farmer’s market. What could possibly go wrong?
Vicky had not worried about how the wives could present their products, especially. She figured they could sell off the lowered tailgate of the truck if nothing else. It wasn’t worth bringing up with the three wives. They had no experience with such things, anyhow. She did notice her seat mate was quiet driving into Holdrege and assumed the three women were communicating with Paul Fortek or with whatever passed for creatures where they called home.
When they got to the site, a man came up right away and pointed out where they should set up. She backed up to the curb. Getting out, her three companions and cargo all became visible to everybody nearby. The three went to work, producing tables, banners, bags, and a cash box from nowhere.
Vicky already did her part for the cause by getting the three and their products here in the first place. That was when she remembered to give Blondie the envelope with their money from last week. After that, she opened her envelope and saw it contained forty dollars. That added to the money in her wallet. She wasn’t even concerned about anything in the file folder.
Next to the truck was a line of people who wanted amaranth. There was no way to imagine why that many people would need a supply of something they had never needed before and had probably never even heard of before. It was incredible.
At the same time, the other vendors had no lack of customers. The man she had taken the amaranth to had his place four vendors down the line. Vicky wandered down to his stand and looked at the variety of things on hand. After a bit, she decided what to buy.
The man remembered her, which struck Vicky as strange since he’d had his back to her nearly the entire time she was there. Not only that, he added several extra things in the bag.
After a tour of the vendors, she got a little peanut brittle and took everything back to the truck. Just in the time she was gone, the truck had become half-empty. The whole thing was astonishing. Was it possible this fast-growing amaranth was a drug? That would certainly explain part of the Federal interest in the situation.
It also made her decide not to get any of it. As she thought about it a bit more, there were already amaranth leaves at home. It was what the monster roll of currency used as a nest. She had not thrown the stuff in the trash. It was food, after all.
As Vicky continued considering the subject, she realized there was no way all those people could have become habituated in such a short period. As a matter of fact, there was no way that many people could have even tried it.
Vicky sighed and leaned against the truck box. The three wives were all busy taking care of customers. There were two lines, each tended by one woman with the third busy keeping the other two supplied. There seemed no way to make any sense of the amaranth’s popularity.
A Holdrege police car cruised slowly past, the two men in the car carefully checking everything. Vicky wondered if they heard there was a riot at the farmers’ market. Not long after that, it came back. This time it stopped in front of her truck, as though blocking it from leaving. That was okay, Vicky thought. The three wives still had products to sell and no lack of people wanting to buy it. One of the cops got out and came up to Vicky.
The thing was, every step he took, the man became increasingly irritated. By the time he got within a couple of feet from her, his face was red, and crimson splotches appeared on his neck.
“Who gave you permission to be here?” he demanded.
“The man running the farmers’ market told us to be here. He’s standing right over there,” Vicky said, pointing.
“Do not make any sudden movements.” The cop was now almost foaming at the mouth. He drew his pistol and pointed it at her.
Vicky whispered over her shoulder toward Blondie, who was currently pushing product toward the tailgate. “We have a problem.”
Blondie glanced up and then brought her entire focus on the situation. Vicky took a chance and glanced toward the other two. They had both turned around and were gazing intently at the area around the police officer. She wasn’t certain, but a faint aura seemed to appear around the cop. A moment later, the feeling of hate and tension abruptly dissipated. He looked down at the gun in his hand, a bewildered look on his face. The cop then slowly holstered his weapon and licked his lips. He stared at the ground for a bit and mumbled something under his breath. Finally, he sucked air through his teeth and looked up.
“My wife would like a pound bag of the salad leaves and two pounds of the mature leaves. Do you have that much left?”
Raven smiled smoothly and professionally. “We sure do. If you would care to step around to the side here, we’ll take care of you.”
She then turned to the people in her line. “Do you mind if this nice policeman cuts in front? I believe he’s on duty, and we certainly wouldn’t want to keep him from protecting us.”
There were nods of assent all around, and Vicky wondered, ‘What the hell was that?’
The response came inaudibly and immediately from Blondie. ‘We didn’t want to deal with this. Not for a while, we hoped. Thanks a lot for playing it as you did. Other than the cop himself, we are the only ones who know what just happened. His partner doesn’t know, and the policeman is currently telling himself that what he experienced couldn’t have happened. The lack of any reaction other than from you will make it easier for him to rationalize it away.’
‘Rationalizing away reality is tough.’
‘It isn’t that hard. People do it all the time. There is a great deal that doesn’t correspond with their reality. It is too much effort continually modifying personal theories about how the universe operates.’
‘Humans are not logical. Yeah, we always knew that. It’s still strange how the man went batshit like that.’
‘He had help. That had the dark ones’ fingerprints all over it.’
Vicky shook her head. ‘Is there anything else I need to know this afternoon?’
‘You need to know that your doubts about our being able to sell all the product we brought are laid to rest. I just put the last packages on the tailgate. We will have to turn a few people away. Would you like to go home early?’
‘That would suit me well enough. I already got a few things from other vendors.’
‘Do you want some amaranth? We can save a package for you.’
‘No thanks. I’m going to wait and see what this does to everybody around here before I get too enthused. For all I know, they might grow a third eye or tentacles or something.’