UNITED STATES—There’s a chalk circle drawn around personal things. It marks the wellspring of our own fortune, yours and mine. It was brimming full when Sam was peddling lone ripe bananas around the steamy wharves of New Orleans. It seemed like he was just as full then at the beginning as he was now. He was one of the richest persons in America, the Dollar Republic.

The only repose, now, was to send millions and millions outward, to the University. Sam was the king and the winner at monopoly, and big a winner as he was, the rumors that he was the power behind the second largest banana grower on the planet were nonsense. They were Allied’s stiffest competition: it was a duopoly, which was swell. There’s enough for everybody and it’s on the up and up, though you’d waste your breath trying to convince a doubter.

There were lone sleepless hours in the mansion on Audubon St. or in the Ritz Carlton (his base in Boston) when his being was outsourced to humble beings around the globe at the same hour. There would be constipation and clay-like stool and then flashes of remorse for the Parakeets, those workers in the isthmus for whom the epidermis had turned into a multi-blue and green-hued camouflage. Those who lived continued to sell their remorse to Allied Fruit Co.

All the pleasure and fulness was circumscribed in a circle. It was all there would ever be. Sam Delaney with his fine intelligence knew this to be true before he had experienced the fluent river of millions and millions. It did not add one cent your value. The best you could do was pass it on to the university or to the Tropical Disease center, or surprise people in need. That alone could float your boat, and you could certainly hope to help get yourself into the playoffs. He went to Harvard Business. He was the apple of his father’s eye. He got married to a girl from a good New Orleans family. A Goy bride and they had two wonderful children. Sam Delaney III and Rebecca (it is funny how women do not get to be considered Jrs. nor are awarded Roman Numerals).

For his part, Allied Fruit had acres of sugarcane all over the hemisphere. With his keen intelligence and nose for change.  During the war, he lacked the ships to get the bananas to the banana lovers. During the War, sixty-thousand tons of bananas—enough to fill cars of a train seven miles long—rotted in the plantations. Sam had to figure his way around that one. Sam Delaney began seeking other crops to grown on the Caribbean plantations that could be classified as wartime necessities.  A group of men, hand-picked by Delaney, scattered around the globe along strip of sun that girds the equator. In less than the 80 days it took Phineas Fogg to circle the globe, cuttings, seeds and bulbs were brought back.

“What I did during the war stands as the achievement I am most proud of,” Sam crowed to his friends and reporters.

Some plants and trees already grew wild in Bananaland but had never been cultivated. Others Sam introduced were completely new and soon became established as staples. Such as quinine, hemp and palm oil. Quinine was for the antimalarial pills, palm oil for cooking in poor countries and hemp for ropes and useful in lands with rope bridges. Rubber trees were for tank tires and boot soles. Sam went all out in the struggle against Japan and Germany. He reasoned that the U.S. could become more self- sufficient using supplies it had to keep up with military demand.

Indeed, there is a bold circle around personal things that contains our personal portion of satisfaction and riches: it was full now as when Sam was peddling lone ripe bananas around the wharves of New Orleans. It seemed like he was just as full. The only repose was to send the fluent sluice of millions and millions outward to the university, the tropical disease institute.

No matter what you do, how much you flourish, how high you climb, kiddo, it’s still a tearjerker and a heartbreaker in the end.

Clearly the star of his life was Sam, Jr. The degree to which Sam was weaned from his parents (he was adjured from the fair of his parents) and nobody ever told him: but the fact of the matter he was oblivious to going against traditional Jewish values of naming his son after himself and his daughter after Rebecca. G*d doesn’t truck with golems and duplicates.

“It’s a real no-no,” though the Rabbi Weitzman, his friend, but never brought it to Sam’s attention.

“I would have fought if I could at my age,” Sam said. “Hell, I would have enlisted. I would uv gone instead of Junior.”

Sam threw himself into the war effort, body and soul. With his discernment, it did not take him long to realize what represented for the way of the world. The axis had to be routed. Sam sought the best ways to fight, if combat was denied him. On the President’s National War Committee, 30,000 men from Jamaica were brought over by Sam to keep the Midwest factories going, while the able-bodied men had enlisted.

Sam Jr. had already married and had two children, Sam the third and Rebecca (also the third) and thus curried the curse that contravened the orthodox subscription again duplicating names, contrarying the sacred and irrepeatable nature of each human body and soul. There’s no escaping it. Just like Robert F. Miller, who by dint of being middle-named Frederick instead of Adolf escaped the curse of not being a duplicate of his father, enlisted out of heartbreak of being rejected by a girl from a better family and the disappointment of being blackballed by the fraternity, Sam Delaney, Jr. who was free of that sort of baggage and had gone to Harvard Business, enlisted days after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sam Jr. was drawn to aviation. His mother remembered his first toy was a rubbed airplane he took to the porch on top of the Portico and was disappoints when it plummeted like a rock in a pond. His was flying on old World War I planes by his teens and did crop-dusting runs on his dad’s plantation.

“It’s good to have our son do work for the Company. Know it from the bottom up,” said Sam.

His mother, Rebecca, was deathly worried about him. Sam assured her that escaping from the earth made him happy beyond compare. Up in the helium where helium balloons float and the chain of gravity is severe.

To be continued…

Graydon is the Wizard of Fiction.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)