Queen of the Farmers Market by Collin McFadyen
Queen of the Farmers Market
He was taking a long time reading the wooden menu, the long list of sausages I
was selling written neatly in chalk. When I said hello, he just nodded slowly and kept
I had a lot of time to check him out. I’d guess he was about eighty, clean shaven,
sitting in an electric scooter. His grey hair was tidily brushed back off his face, and his
light blue shirt had perfectly pressed creases along the yoke and sleeves. On a thick
silver chain around his neck hung a surprisingly large orb of golden amber streaked with
erratic, artery-red lines. I followed the length of his slender arm to a wrist draped in
bracelets of colorful glass beads stacked in a mosaic of pinks, yellows, bright blues and
a shocking persimmon orange. On the hand below them he wore two silver rings, one
on his thumb, and another on his middle finger. It was strange to see an old man
wearing such modern jewelry.
“I like your rainbow.” He said it soft and clear, like a password or a secret code.
I looked at my Pride wristband, “Thank you. I like your bracelets.”
Slowly, still reading, he reached out and adjusted the beads on his wrist.
His delicate fingers reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a slim silver money clip.
With distant politeness, he said, “I will have the Chicken Feta, please.”
He placed a twenty on the counter and I counted out his change, then snapped
open a paper bag left over from another customer’s pickup order. Dropping the pack of
links into the sack, I said brightly, “This has someone else’s name on it because I’m
recycling it. Guilt free!” I held up the bag and read aloud “Julia Derby… Sounds like a
drag name. Can you imagine her hat?”
For the first time, he met my eyes. Lifting his chin, he raised an eyebrow.
“Mine was Glory.”
The slight twang in his voice and the tilt of his head was that of a proud, catty
Southern belle. His upswing didn’t last, and he sighed, looking at the bills in his hands.
His voice lowered, back to his quiet, even tones.
“My sister didn’t care much for me doing drag. After the accident, they moved me into
an apartment and someone destroyed my drag things.”
“She says she didn’t do it.” He reached for the bag and I leaned over the counter and
passed it to him.
“But I think she did,” he said bitterly. He sat up taller and with a slightly curled lip his
voice became Glory’s again. “She’s always been jealous of my beauty.”
His silver ringed fingers pushed the lever and the scooter turned away, rolling
slowly into the parting river of shoppers.
I called after him loudly, to be sure he heard me, “Goodbye, Glory!”
He raised his arm and waved back at me like a true Queen, his bracelets
sparkling like sequins in the sun.
Collin McFadyen is a Butch Queer writer from Portland, Oregon. A former owner and chef of a busy cafe, they love writing in the language of regular folks out in the world. They have been published in Subjectiv. Connect with them on twitter @crayonsdontrun and on Instagram @mx._sk8