For several weeks now, Louise Milsap has been painting pictures of watermelons. The first one she tried looked like a dark-green basketball floating on an algae-covered pond. Too much green, she realized. She began varying the backgrounds, and sometimes now she throws in unusual decorative objects – a few candles, a soap dish, a pair of wire pliers. She tried including other fruits, but the size of the melons among apples and grapes made them appear odd and unnatural. When she saw a photograph of a cornucopia in a magazine, she imagined a huge watermelon stuck in its mouth.

Louise’s housemate, Peggy Wilson, insists that a rich collector from Paducah named Herman Priddle will buy the pictures. Peggy and her husband, Jerry, had rented an apartment from him, but Jerry ran away with Priddle’s mistress and now Peggy lives with Louise. Peggy told her, ‘That man’s whole house is full of them stupid watermelons.’ When Peggy said he would pay a fortune for anything with a watermelon in it, Louise bought a set of paints.

Peggy said, ‘He’s got this one cute picture of these two little coloured twins eating a slice of watermelon. One at each end, like bookends. I bet he paid at least thirty dollars for it.’

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