"Are you sure this is the right place?" asked Tony as he pulled into the empty parking lot around a two-story warehouse built out of corrugated iron. Except for the road they had traveled, only gently rolling green fields neighbored the warehouse.
"Google Maps says it is." Christine shook the newspaper flyer and said, "I double-checked the address. We couldn't be too early could we?"
"It's almost 10 AM, out here that is probably time for lunch. But, hopefully you're right. I don't want to just turn around and drive back so let's see if we can find anything."
The warehouse didn't have any signs on it or any windows. A single small door stood out because it was the one spot on the building without corrugated metal.
A blue placard was duct-taped to the door. It read, "Herndon's Food Lottery!!!"
"We're at the right place," said Christine. "You sure you want to go in?"
"We came all this way. It would be a waste to head back now."
"Doesn't it seem a little bit spooky? No cars and the middle of nowhere?"
"It's the middle of the day," said Tony. "Besides we can't really tweet about this unless we go in." Tony twisted the doorknob and pushed his way into the warehouse. It was dark and it took a couple moments for his eyes to adjust. The door clattered shut with the tinkling of small bells.
"Welcome to my food lottery," said a middle-aged man whose skin was prematurely wrinkled like a raisin and wore jean coveralls over a white shirt. "You look like first-timers here. Let me show you the apparatus."
The man, it had to be Herndon, turned and walked down narrow corridors between bins full of watermelons, corn, spinach, bok choy, and tomatoes. The wooden slat bins were about twice the size of the cage that Sandee, their golden retriever, slept inside. Herndon walked quick and Tony hurried to catch up before he got stranded in the maze of narrow corridors.
They arrived at a wall that must have been near the center of the warehouse, because it stretched at least twenty feet above them. Canvas-sided containers filled with produce were connected to a metal pole and chain-linked metal. Empty bins were scattered before the wall with one side open.
"How do you like it?" asked Herndon.
"What is it?" asked Christine.
"I call it the lotto wall. I charge $50 for a large box and $30 for a medium. Are you willing to play?"
Tony paused, it was a lot of money just to satisfy a little bit of curiosity. But not that much, they'd probably spent more than that in gas for the trip. "We'll take a large box," said Tony.
"Great." Herndon walked over to a wall and grabbed a small box that dangled from the end of a black cable and had a red button on it. The canvas containers shook as the metal chain lifted them higher. The canvas on the top row of containers folded back and Tony expected to see some of the vegetables fall. Instead, there was the loud noise of metal running on metal and a wedge-shaped sledge ran across metal runners that lined the top of the wall. The sledge pushed vegetables from the bins before it until it reached the end of the track and the vegetables fell into a large box.
"How are we going to use that?" asked Christine.
"There will be plenty of good stuff. You're getting it downright cheap so don't worry if you have to throw a little bit out."
Christine looked at Tony and raised her eyebrows.
"I'm working on a new one over here," said Herndon. "I call it the Can Claw. I'll throw it in for free if you want to try it out today."