Recently while visiting Florida, I saw the following news snippet from the St. Petersburg Times:



 Being on vacation (and unemployed), I thought I’d give it a try. I did some research and scrawled some notes… 

I know, I know, kinda sloppy and muddled. So, many many edits later, this is what I came up with:

Shorty and the Citrus Squeeze

“Here to see Mr. McMillian,” I says.

“And you are?” says the freckled secretary, crackin’ her Juicy Fruit, which I didn’t even think was possible.

“Shorty…” I started – “Sewell Ford.”  Been goin’ into character a lot these days. Comes of bein’ 70, Lillian tells me. Thirty-some years ago I celebrated Mr. Twain’s birthday with him, and he was sharp as ever. Now I’m wanderin’ off track; must also come of bein’ 70.

Another gumshot. Crack! “Go on in, Mr. Ford,” says Freckles.  

McMillian had hisself a tiny potted orange tree right smack in the middle of his mahogany desk. One leaf’s got a conspicuous white spot, facing my chair. Now I’m spectin’ I’m gonna hear a dissertation ‘bout blight, cottony cushion scale, scurvy, or the like.

Five and twenty minutes later, ridin’ in our Plymouth Roadking, I’m tellin’ Lillian how wrong I was ‘bout that.

Old bloated McMillian had had quite the sales pitch for me.   

I got the winders down and radio on.  “If practice makes perfect, let’s have that kiss again,” croons that siren Billie.

“Ain’t gonna do it,” says I. “I ain’t no journalist no more, and besides, what the old shyster wants ain’t even journalism. Turn up the road here.”

The orange trees are blossomin’.  I’m reminded of Mother’s sweet-smellin’ Sunday mornin’ perfume. There are orange groves far as the eye can see; out my narrow winder’ is a peripheral white garden. McMillian would rather see subdivisions here; wants shoppes, and a six-lane highway. Six lanes!

Past Lillian I see the crowd takin’ pitchers of the majestic Kapok tree. McMillian gonna chop that down too? Emergent buildings over emergent trees, eh? The toad. Spectin’ me to sell his cockamamie ideal to the Clearwater folks.  “Write it, Sewell, sell em’ the dream,” says he. Naw, I’m gonna keep my dream.

McMillian didn’t even want his tree. “My gift to you,” he’d blustered. It’s in my lap. I flick the white scale off the leaf and out the open winder. “Enjoy yer new home,” I says. “It’s here to stay.”  


350 words go quick, don’t they? At any rate, I got back word from Mr. Grinnell regarding the contest results… Drum roll, please….

THIRD PLACE! HOORAY! Hope you enjoyed!

G. Applegary

P.S. To learn more about Max Grinnell and the writing contest, please follow this link:

POSTED ON March 31, 2011 BY Gary Applegary


  1. sandy pfahlert on March 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    WOW!! I’m impressed Garr—I did teach yu English, right??? HA! Good job. Keep it up!!

  2. Gary Applegary on March 31, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Thank you for the support and the inspiration to keep writing!

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