Short Story: The Pumpkin Cabal?

Source. Pexels. Jenny Uhling, Photographer

by LJ Frank


It was a cobbled stone month. Uneven and nostalgic. One had to be careful where one walked.

Gourmet stirrings within initially led me to a place known as The Organic Market. There was an abundant variety for my adventurous taste and appetite. But self-fulfillment, and awareness comes with a price.

As I approached The Organic Market an intriguing parchment like sign was nailed on the wood panel next to the metal door. The authoritative looking document read – You will find within the ingredients for a Healthy, Enlightened Life. Explore the Road Not Taken.

 As a spirited connoisseur with a nom de plume of Philosophical Libertine I have imbibed and tasted life from angles that others might consider a bit extreme. So be it.

A few weeks later, on a chilly, clear day in Autumn, while driving down a country dirt backroad I spied a small orange gourd all alone in the middle of what I supposed was a farmer’s field. Although, there was no farmhouse or barn in sight, nor was there a fence surrounding the field. It was open space.

I parked my car to the side of the road. I grabbed my ink pen and small pad of paper. One never knows when one must write down one’s thoughts. I stepped out of my car and surveyed the landscape. No one in sight. I crossed the field until I reached the vegetable.

“Good morning!”

A sense of guilt seeped into my blood for this small, lonely pumpkin. I opened my pad of paper and started writing. And then leaving some coins on top of the thank you note I just penned and placed on the ground, I retrieved the pumpkin from its solitary existence. Cradled in my arms I took it home. That very night I made a meal from my find by candle and showers of moonlight light. And amid it all I realized how different tasting it was than the labelled ingredient of “pumpkin” on the can of pie filling at The Organic Market.

From an abundance of prudence, I researched my worn Gastronomique Bible – The Unabridged Cookbook of Democracy’s Recipes and taking a step further the next day I called a knowledgeable friend that worked at a renowned pumpkin pie-filling factory. And for the sake of discretion, we agreed to meet in confidence at a distant neighborhood bar known for its intimate, dim lighted setting.

Sitting at a booth in a corner of a room and occasionally looking over our shoulders at the people moderately milling about, and between small gulps of dark ale, my friend slowly leaned across the table and with some apprehension whispered four words that I will always remember – Butternut and Dickinson squash.  

 My eyelids flashed opened, “Oh Jesus! But the label on the can…” I voiced.

“Not so loud!” She interrupted. “The word pumpkin has no scientific or botanical meaning.”

We then noticed the people in the bar were looking over at us with an air of suspicion.

I cleared my throat and then looked at her. “So, content depends on context?”

“Perhaps, we need to go for a walk and talk under a tree,” she suggested as a man was watching us from across the room with his mobile phone in hand.

“Why under a tree?” I asked

“Just in case there are any overhead company drones, or their satellite is viewing and listening to our conversation. Trees scramble voices, especially with leaves still intact. My company has two drones to watch over employees plus access to a satellite.”

“You jest.” I laughed.

“This is no laughing matter. I’ve come down with a slight case of  paranoia.” She stated.

“About squash?”

“Today it’s squash, what about tomorrow?” She asked. “How much do we really know about the stuff we ingest and imbibe defined as wholesome to our mind and body. The words organic and real are all a matter of propaganda…and the comfort dish we find is no longer comforting.”

“True. Not to be satirical but could the same be said of representative democracy? Are we but Pawns, organic or not?”

“I just don’t know any more…” She then started to say, “doesn’t it all begin with” …when a drone flew just over our heads.

The drone was close enough to reveal what looked like a smiling pumpkin wearing aviator sunglasses painted on its body.  

“Were you followed?” I asked.

“I don’t think so.”

“Perhaps I shouldn’t have penned that note.”

“Where was that field you found the pumpkin?” My friend asked.


“Very. Perhaps…”


“It’s something else altogether.”