“the parsley garden” william saroyan

One day in August Al Condraj was wandering through Woolworth’s without a penny to spend when he saw a small hammer that was not a toy but a real hammer and he was possessed with a longing to have it. He believed it was just what he needed by which to break the monotony and with which to make something. He gathered some first-class nails from Foley’s Packing House where the box makers worked and where they had carelessly dropped at least fifteen cents’ worth. He had gladly gone to the trouble of gathering then together because it had seemed to him that a nail, as such, was not something to be wasted. He had the nails, perhaps a half a pouf of them, at least two hundred of them, in a paper bag in the apple box in which he kept his junk at home.
Now, with the ten-cent hammer he believed he could make something out of box wood and the nails, although he had no idea what. Some sort of a table perhaps, or a small bench.
At any rate he took the hammer and slipped

it into the pocket of his overalls, but just as he did do a man took him firmly by the arm without a word and pushed him to the back of the store into a small office. Another man, an older one, was seated behind a desk in the office, working on papers. The younger man, the one who had captured him, was excited and his forehead was covered with sweat.
“Well,” he said, “here’s one more of them.”
The man behind the desk got to his feet and looked at Al Condraj up and down.
“What’s he swiped?”
“A hammer.” The young man looked at Al with hatred. “Hand it over,” he s The boy brought the hammer out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, who said, “I ought to hit you over the head with it, that’s what I ought to do.”
He turned to the older man, the boss, the manager of the store, and he said, “What do you want me to do with him?”
“Leave him with me,” the older man said.
The younger man stepped out of the office, and the older man sat down and went back to work. Al Condraj stood in the office fifteen minutes before the older man looked at him again.
“Well,” he said.
Al didn’t know what to say. The man wasn’t looking at him, he was looking at the door.
Finally Al said, “I didn’t mean to steal it. I just needed it and I haven’t got any money.”
“Just because you haven’t got any money doesn’t mean you’ve got a right to steal things,” the man said. “Now, does it?”
“No, sir.”
“Well, what am I going to do with you? Turn you over to the police?”
Al didn’t say anything, but he certainly didn’t want to be turned over to the police. He hated the man, but at the same time he realized somebody else could be a lot tougher than he was being.
“If I let you go, will you promise never to steal from this store again?”
“Yes, sir.”
“All right,” the man said. “Go out this way and don’t come back to this store until you’ve got some money to spend.”
He opened a door to the hall that led to the alley, and Al Condraj hurried down the hall and out into the alley.
The first thing he did when he was free was laugh, but he knew he had been humiliated, and he was deeply ashamed. It was not in his nature to take things that did not belong to him. He hated the young man who had caught him and he hated the manager of the store who had made him stand in silence in the office so long. He hadn’t liked it at all when the young man had said he ought to hit him over the head with the hammer.



“the parsley garden” william saroyan