James felt a lump on his shoulder and booked an appointment with his dermatologist, thinking it could be a cyst. But as soon as he removed his shirt, his dermatologist sent him to an oncologist at Northside Hospital, who found lime-sized tumors in James’s shoulder and stomach, a grape-size tumor in his neck, and two strawberry-sized tumors in his abdomen. I’m sorry, will you excuse me for a minute? I’m starving and just got this craving to make myself a nice little fruit salad. Alright, are you still there, reading? I’m back with a tasty bowl of grapes and strawberries with some lime juice dribbled on top. Light and refreshing. Wonderful afternoon snack. Okay, back to the article at hand. The oncology team began a comprehensive treatment plan, targeting the biggest challenges: a grapefruit-sized tumor they found in James’s liver and a peach-sized growth in his kidney. I hate to do this, but would you mind if I stepped away for another minute? I’m still peckish and just got a hankering for a second round of fruit salad. Alright, peaches and grapefruit in the bowl nestled beside plump grapes and ripe strawberries, drizzled in tart lime juice, and I am all set to finish this article. James took a leave of absence from his job and began an indefinite stay at Northside Hospital. You know what? I’m three bites in and this combination of fruits is nice, but it’s missing something. Let me just take a quick look at the notes from my interview with James. Okay, shoot. It seems that limes, grapes, strawberries, grapefruits, and peaches are all the fruits his doctors compared his cancerous tumors to. But this fruit salad isn’t all it could be. Do you mind if I take a longer break? I promise I will finish this, let me just drive over to Northside Hospital real quick. I show my press pass to security and they remember me, they wave me in, and James is sleeping, and I look through his chart, read his doctor’s latest notes, scanning for fruit salad ideas, but there are none. His legs are covered in lumps, though, and I wonder if I might just get a bit of inspiration by feeling the growths and comparing them to — oh, alright, I’m sorry. Sorry. Seriously, I’m here reporting a story for a magazine about his cancer. What do you mean the police are on the way over? I’m not allowed to touch patients I’m not related to? I’m sorry, but this seems like an overreaction. Jail? Are you kidding? I left my fruit salad sitting on my desk, won’t you let me go home and put it in the fridge? You’re shielding my head as you push me into the back of a police car? Federal charges for violating patient privacy rights and trespassing at a medical facility? Taking me to the big house with the real crooks? Jesus Christ, you’re really leading me into the big, open area full of violent and psychotic criminals? They size me up. Know I’m scared. Tell me it’s October and the haunted house is here, lure me into a cell. Make me shut my eyes and reach into the bowl of eyeballs. I feel the slimy grapes, but then something more, something bigger. Two plums. My eyes light up. Plums! The missing ingredient that will perfect my fruit salad, I shout. The big men in the gang ask what the hell I’m talking about, tell me they’re hazing me and those ain’t plums, those are Sick Mike’s nasty nuts. They show me this deranged murderer is upside-down, standing on his head under the table, with his scrotum crammed through holes in the table and bowl so it bobs in the fruit. He’s a freak, the gang leader tells me, and you grabbed his nasty-ass grapes. I tell him no, these are plums, big and swollen. Sick Mike pulls his scrotum from the bowl and flips over, inspecting his genitals. I tell them they should be the size of grapes, but his are too large, they’re like plums or apricots or nectarines. The gang members and I look to each other as Sick Mike’s face falls. He says he’s been in pain for weeks. I tell him I think he may have testicular cancer. The prison doctor confirms my diagnosis, says I caught it in time to cure. Sick Mike demands that the doctor perform the testicle-removal surgery without anesthesia and in the center of the prison yard while everyone watches, a disturbing display of his toughness and mania. The gang leader rewards me with a meal of my choice and his men band together to help prepare my fruit salad, having their fathers and wives sneak in plums, apricots, nectarines, limes, grapes, strawberries, grapefruits, and peaches in their asses. We wash the produce, and while Sick Mike screams as the doctor makes his slice, I finally assemble the divine fruit salad I’ve been craving all day, crisp and juicy and refreshing.