Dear former neighbor,
Although this occurred many years ago, I doubt you’ve forgotten the reason why I write you today. I use this medium to explain the events that transpired on a forgotten spring day before I could reach the top cupboard. I want to help you come to terms with the vilest side of human nature.
I want to solve the mystery of the man who stole your pineapple.
I watched you over those many months through a bay window, juice box in hand. You tilled the land in your suburban parcel afforded by your office job.
Every evening you trudged in your front door wearing a dress shirt, tie, trousers and frown. You would emerge from the back door in basketball shorts, t-shirt with trowel in hand.
You planted strawberries, purple kale, lavender, Italian oregano and roquette. What you lacked the ability to do in your office job you made up for in farming.
Your desire to kill every living thing you could touch kicked in.
Over the summer, when the black top grew sticky and air-conditioner wall units melted into window sills, you worked. While others fanned themselves, you stuck it out with a hoe and a shovel, digging graves among the skeletal remains of blueberry bushes you executed.
Nothing you ever grew lived.
Your backyard became a grotesque graveyard. Until, one day, out of the nowhere, your sweat sprouted life into the green beginnings of a potted pineapple. Over the next year, you stood out in lawn chair and stared at it, beer and book in hand.
You had the look of a would-be teenage father, eyes wide, brows forming strange angles and hands like bowling balls holding a baby boy.
You didn’t know what to do. Over the next year, the pineapple matured into a golden glister among a field of calcified branches.
By the tail end of next winter, you were ready for its harvest. Your pace to the front door became confident, more excited every day.
I knew it was time for harvest when you removed the Christmas decorations from the leaves the day before Christmas. Before going to bed that night, you put your hands on your hips and grinned. The first thing you had ever grown sat brimming with juice. You and that pineapple had grown together as friends, compadres, brothers.
Your first mistake was not harvesting it that night.
I could barely believe my eyes, I tell you. How someone could come up and swipe your pineapple under the cover of darkness.
And how that someone was me vaulting your fence, skulking through your yard and stealing your pineapple – it was the strangest thing.
The next morning’s morning nipped at your toes hovering under your robe. I was eating a criminally fresh fruit salad. Your pot sat empty. You stood still for a moment, as if a truck had just hit the person whose hand you were holding. Your coffee mug fell to the floor but your hand remained stapled close to your ribcage.
You removed your glasses and knelt down to retrieve your mug. The back door closed behind you without a sound.
I’m writing this open letter as an apology to you, considering the written word is so often used as a confessional.
I can only imagine this incident changed your view of humans, and quite possibly brought into question the existence of a God so cruel as to create dirty pineapple thieves such as me.
Although I’ve since moved away from Mandarin, where you undoubtedly still live, I want you to know I’m still checking milk cartons for the image of your missing pineapple.
I would have slipped this letter under the door, but strawberry season is quickly approaching and, as I’m sure you know, old habits die hard.
Jesse, the Grinch who stole your pineapple.