As Colonel Zand turned his red Volkswagen Beetle into the neighborhood, the whole block was overtaken by the smell of apricots.
It was one o’clock in the afternoon and the desert town was taken hostage by the flaring sun.
Mrs. Noori, who was always first at anything, no matter how malicious or benevolent it was, immediately plucked the chador draped over the chair, threw it over her head, and leaned her top-heavy torso out of the window to see where the smell was coming from.
Mr. Yavari, wearing a worn sleeveless undershirt, set a bowl of pigeon feed on the rooftop wall so that his plump birds wouldn’t step on it. He looked over to see what was going on down in the alley.
By the time the retired Colonel had finished parking his car, every window and door in the neighborhood had a pair of eyes peeking out. To give his car the greatest amount of shade, he parked it as close as he could to the old orange taxi that belonged to his younger brother, who lived next door.
Before getting out of his car, he scanned the entire alley as if looking for the enemy on a battlefield.
The only person who had stepped outside was a barefoot little girl in a red polka-dot skirt, shifting her weight from right to left foot over the hot marble pavers in front of her house. Through her pacifier she murmured, “Mommy, apricots!
When the Colonel opened his door, eight ripe apricots spilled out onto the melting asphalt.
Mrs. Noori craned her neck to follow the last apricot rolling up to a tire, settling cheek to cheek with the feverish rubber.