The Traveling Lemon

Yeah, I know, I’ve been away.  Sorry about that.  Anyway, this is something I’ve been sorta planning on and off for a while.  You owe it to a glancing reference my good friend Walter inadvertently made and is now being expected to live up to.  One’s breaths are bated and all that, Walter. Please don’t kill him.
In addition, you owe this to a game that was played aboard Gertie the Lockheed McDonnel 3-12, which game is called the Traveling Lemon, and goes as follows: an ordinary lemon is selected.  The first player is to take the lemon from the flight deck into the passenger cabin, and there place it somewhere in plain sight.  The first player then retreats to the flight deck, and it is the part of the second player to sally forth, locate the lemon, and place it in another hiding place, also in plain sight.  This is one rally.  Repeat as many times as possible.  (See Reference 1 for rules and Reference 2 for an extended example.)

Anyway, on surface, this is a story about an ordinary person, having a relatively ordinary day.  Ladies and gentlemen, the lemon is in play.  (See the footnotes if you get stuck.) 

Lemonia[1] Meyer[2] was having an interesting day.  It was a Saturday, which was fine, Saturdays aren’t evil.  However, this Saturday, the thirteenth of February[3], Meyer had many errands to run, and her car was, again, in the shop for repairs.  After five years’ saving, riding her bicycle to and from her work as an administrator for a large private aquarium owned by a madman (or so he was called throughout the county), buying her clothes from charity shops and, the ultimate sacrifice, giving up buying books, she had finally scraped together the £6000 for a refurbished Pontiac Trans Am.

It was the most beautiful car Meyer had ever seen – sleek and gleaming, the smooth lines racing back from the flip-up headlights like it was trying to run away even when it was standing still, the dark-brown leather bucket seats and slim steering wheel rubbed with a patina of wear, but still good.  Left hand drive.  Imported from America.  Not a common car, not in Devon.  Best of all was the color.  Trying to explain it to her father over the phone, Meyer eventually resorted to speaking the language he understood: ‘It’s that Crayola yellow, dad.  255, 255, 102.’ [4]

A beautiful car.  All cars have problems, though, and Meyer’s seemed to have more problems than most.  The clatter that arose from deep in the cultured, throaty growl of the V8 engine whenever the car was pushed above 65 miles per hour was persistent.  The garage had tried twice before to fix it, and both times the rattle had seemed to fade for a few days, but came back with a vengeance.  It was loud, and harsh, and Meyer was terrified it was something that would permanently damage the engine.  So, the car was in the shop for the third time, [5] and she was walking again.

And of course, it had to be this Saturday that the boss bought new 11-foot sharks from an aquarium in London – a pair of Negaprion brevirostris[6] – and this Saturday that Meyer and Trevor, the delivery guy the aquarium usually worked with, had to work out the details of getting the sharks from their tank overlooking Westminster Bridge to the aquarium’s brand new shark tank, its glass front facing out into the deep water of the river just above the Holbeam Dam. [7] Trevor was a good sort, chatty and pleasant, if a little inclined to short-lived intense obsessions.  Serial monomania, Meyer privately thought of it as.  This month his intermittent interest in computer programming held sway, and he had been bubbling for days about a new library of functions in the C++ coding language – the library for efficient modeling and optimization in networks [8], which was designed to determine the most efficient way of performing a given series of tasks.  Meyer usually tried not to encourage Trevor’s new ideas.

In Meyer’s office, a glass-fronted box perched on a gantry above the aquarium, she perched a phone between her shoulder and ear, and tried to talk sense to Trevor while she scribbled down notes.  His computer program might have been very useful to someone who understood it clearly, which meant it was not very useful to Trevor.  Meyer had arranged the transport of everything from a Rachycentron canadum [9] to a narwhal, and the sharks fell roughly in the middle regarding size.

“Trevor… just how we did it for the sea unicorn, all right?  Box ‘em and ship ‘em.”  It took a while to talk him out of optimizing the shipment to its literal death – always a risk when shipping live sharks.  However, eventually Meyer had the arrangements to her satisfaction and could turn to other things to fill what little remained of the morning, such as paying and filing invoices from a veterinarian who had seen to a blue tang with a case of cryptocaryonosis, and replying to the complaint of a ‘guest’ – read customer – whose child had beaten on the glass of an octopus tank and been startled when its occupant objected.

It was almost noon, and Meyer was looking forward to going into town to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen restaurant to buy a bottle of the soda the owner imported from New Zealand [10].  She treated herself to one bottle, once a month, and drank it standing atop the dam.  Even Trevor could not spoil this for her.  So, of course, it was Trevor who called, at 11:58 exactly.

“Hey, Miss Meyer – can I call you Lemmy, ‘cause this is just weird – I was wondering did you want to go out for a drink with me this evening? The bar in town does a terrific cocktail with vodka citron and triple sec [11], do you want to…?”

“No thank you, Trevor, I hope to be picking up my car from the garage this evening.”

“I could take you? Or – ha – if your car isn’t fixed you could enter it into the endurance races, there’s one in America they’re trying to start in Lincolnshire as well, all you need is a car that comes in under about five hundred quid and mostly works [12].”  Meyer did not wait for the shrill burr of the disconnect tone before setting the phone gently back in its cradle, unhooking her leather jacket from behind the door, and setting off into town.

It eventuated that although Trevor could not spoil Meyer’s monthly treat, her mechanic could.  Fortunately, he did not; instead he called when she was approximately halfway through her soda, to say that the Pontiac was repaired – he had found a spanner that was wedged between the radiator and the block.  Meyer drained her soda, carefully flattened down the plastic bottle and dropped it responsibly in a recycling receptacle, straightened her pale-yellow cable-knit sweater (RGB color code 255, 244, 79 [13], her father the graphic designer would have told her) and set off across the dam and down the road to the garage to collect her car, which was not a lemon after all.

The End

[1] Lemonia: naming girls after flowers is normal…

[2] Meyer: Meyer lemons are awesome.

[3] 13th of February: In a mnemnonic system a friend taught me for remembering number strings, 13/2 (the New Zealand order, day/month) is encoded as lmn, which is then pronounced ‘lemon’. It appears to be a modification of Herigone’s System (, but I haven’t been able to find out what it’s called.  Incidentally, this date means the story takes place in 2010.  This lemon was not in plain sight.

[4] 255, 255, 102: This is the RGB formulation of the former Crayola color Laser Lemon.

[5] Car in the shop for the third time: A new car is defined as a ‘lemon’ when it is sent away for repair three or more times for the same issue, or is away for more than 30 days.  In many cases, it turns out that a tool was accidentally left somewhere inside the car.

[6] Negaprion brevirostris: Lemon shark.

[7] Holbeam Dam: While the river in question is a typical English river, which is to say it is not deep anywhere along its length, naming the dam fixes it as the River Lemon.

[8] C++ Library ‘library for efficient modeling and optimization in networks’: LEMON.  Trevor is using it wrong.

[9] Rachycentron canadum: A species of fish commonly eaten, and known as lemonfish.

[10] Soda imported from New Zealand by the Gourmet Burger Kitchen restaurant in England: Lemon & Paeroa. Magnificent stuff.

[11] Cocktail with vodka citron and triple sec: Lemon Drop, composed of lemon-flavored vodka, lemon juice, triple sec and simple syrup.

[12] Endurance races in America: 24 Hours of LeMons.  A road race modeled on the 24-hour race at Le Mans, with the additional rule that the total value of an entered car must be less than USD500 or NZD999.

[13]  255, 244, 79: Lemon yellow.


About coruscantbookshelf

"A writer is an introvert: someone who wants to tell you a story but doesn't want to have to make eye contact while doing it." - Adapted from John Green
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9 Responses to The Traveling Lemon

  1. sarahtps says:

    Ok, I will say that I don’t quite get the point of the original game, but I like the story. It’s clever. I will say that I caught very few of the lemons, but oh well.
    Nice to see you back!


  2. Kirsty Walker-Swears says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. WM says:

    Very clever! can’t believe how many references exist and that you managed to hide them all in a story.
    I… can imagine the lemon game could get you in trouble though. 😀


  4. I don’t honestly know what to say about this. sets story down and walks carefully away. [because I ALWAYS have something to say about stories]


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