When Derek showed up, he was yellow-colored.
Ignorant lads as we were, none of us realized that yellow eyes and yellowish skin meant hepatitus, and he really shouldn’t have been working. As it was, complaining of fatigue, he carried boxes of books down the stairs and loaded them into the borrowed van.
Richard and I sympathized by mocking him as much as possible.
But it became clear that he wasn’t doing so well. He started stumbling around a bit, but gamely continued. We were nearing the end of the job.
I had a nice ficus tree. Aside from it’s bad habit of dropping some leaves if moved, it was a happy little tree, and it was going to live in a new home. It grew in an elaborate chinese pot, very heavy.
In most any chinese grocery store in Chinatown or on Clement street, you will find “hundred-year-old” eggs for sale. They aren’t really a hundred years old, but they’re pretty old. They are black in color. I don’t know how they taste because I see no point in eating an egg known to be really, really old. But the point is that they are shipped from China in huge ceramic bowls. I’d bought this one for $5 from a grocer on Clement Street.
Derek grabbed the heavy pot of the ficus tree, and hefted it. He was doing pretty good till he tried to round the corner at the end of the hall, so as to get out my apartment door. But the tree had grown. It wouldn’t really go around the corner. Derek backed up, tried again, and was again balked.
He tried it several times, sweating heavily, using colorful language and expressions. Behind him, Richard and I, holding boxes, encouraged him to get a move on.
Derek stopped, thought, backed up, set the tree down, and turned to me.
“It’s your tree,” he said. “You break it.”