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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 9: August 2021
Micro-Fiction: 204 words
By Charles D. Tarlton

Harvest Time


He went out into the hot fields where Mexicans were harvesting artichokes and lettuce in the fiery sun to the rhythm of machines.

A conveyor belt was turning in its own contraption as it traveled down the row; a dozen hooded workers were tossing, tearing, chopping, packing, and he asked them about it all later, in letters, where he put a dollar in each for an answer.

What do you think about out there in the sun all day?

He imagined they would conjure thoughts of love or home or simply resting at the end.

We are lucky to find work and our hearts are full.

He made an outline in his head where he sketched predicted answers. The migratory worker’s just like you or me, he thought. The labors of the day give way to nighttime’s normal joys of family and a well-cooked meal.

And then he waited for their answers:

Murder, the first response was scrawled in the middle of the page in excrement.
God has forsaken us, another sent, along with a torn-edged holy card of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as a blond.
Thanks for the buck, the third one said. I bought a little wine.

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