The pumpkin patch was closed.
Who the fuck closes a pumpkin patch on October 28?
“Let’s just take them and I’ll leave a note,” I said to Astrid. “We’ll come back later to pay.” I began to examine pumpkins and stuff them into the fair trade basket I bought to look like I was headed to the farmers’ market even though I never go.
“Isn’t that stealing?”
“Nah. It’s more like a rent-to-own situation. Look. I’m writing in my best handwriting and leaving my name and number and how many mini-pumpkins we took.” I scrawled my explanation onto the back of a Dunkin Donuts flyer. “See? I made a little invoice that shows I know how much I owe them.”
Then the clincher: “They won’t mind.”
I’m big on ‘they won’t mind.’ “They won’t mind if we park in this reserved spot for twenty minutes” I might say. “I’ll leave a note.” The leaving of the note is essential for the ‘they won’t mind’ to work. The note cancels out the wrongdoing, making it okay to temporarily break the rules.
I wedged the note inside the screen door and heaved the basket into the car.
Astrid glanced across the parking lot. “Why don’t we just go in that building and ask?”
I followed her gaze. The world beyond the pumpkin patch resolved into focus. She was pointing at a church.
A church. I was quasi-stealing pumpkins from a church.
We crept in the side entrance, my confidence in the whole rent-to-own scheme wavering. To the distant hum of unfamiliar hymns, we tiptoed down the stairs in search of answers to our pumpkin dilemma.
“Mom, what’s that rumbling sound?”
I panicked. “THEY’RE GETTING OUT!” Parishioners, freed from their pews to go in peace to Cracker Barrel, stampeded like herd animals to the exits, ready to lose their church offering envelopes in the nearest collection basket.
We tore up the stairs. “Mom! Why are we running?”
I didn’t know. All I knew is that we were strangers in a strange land and I had a load of hot mini-pumpkins in the passenger seat of my van. I imagined the Town & Country surrounded by pitchfork-wielding churchgoers demanding atonement.
I turned to Astrid. “Act natural.” We folded ourselves into the crowd. I tried to look like my soul had recently been nourished.
We ambled to the car and left with our loot, promises to return flapping in the autumn breeze.
PUMPKIN CRAFT INSTRUCTIONS: PIN THIS!
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