“…this kingdom of ash, this place so familiar…”
“Nah, I don’t smoke. Wait here, will you? My wallet’s in the other room.”
“Cool,” Howard says, leaning back against the wall. He’s got the pizza balanced on one hand like he’s a waiter with a dish, but that’s getting old. He sets it down on the end table next to the couch and looks up to see the college kid has disappeared. “Well uhh, well that’s a shame, my ‘man. What is it, don’t like to smell the flowers?”
“What are you talking about?” comes waltzing ‘round the corner.
“Well you have the money for the habit, if what you said of your family is to be believed, and you seem like the kind of guy who could get the right connections, if you don’t already got ‘em. Why not smoke pot?”
No answer. Then Johannes comes slowly around the corner with bills outstretched in his hand, body draped in the exact same outfit he was wearing when they came up. “I’ll answer with a question: you’re older than me yet you’re delivering pizzas.”
“Doesn’t sound like a question to me,” jests Howard, his brain always lookin’ for jokes to crack.
“I didn’t get there yet; you deliver pizzas. You clearly don’t have a lot of money, but you choose to keep up the habit. Why?”
Howard counts the stack of bills Johannes handed him, then thanks him for the generous tip. “Well, it’s like my granddad used to tell me before he hooked the big one and the big one hooked him right back: say you’re down to your last twenty bucks, ‘kay? You’re walking down the street towards a food stand and there’s an old man selling flowers on the sidewalk. He’s skinnier than you are and, as you were walkin’ up, you saw him starin’ over at the food stand and lickin’ his lips. He’s probably been here all day just smellin’ the grub cooking, he’s driving himself half crazy. He’s coming up on your right. So what do you do?”
Johannes, bewildered, doesn’t have an answer.
“You give him a ten-spot, you take his bouquet, and you tell your fellow ‘man how good it smells as y’walk to the food stand together.” He pockets the bills, then, “See what I’m gettin’ at, kid?”
“I don’t,” Johannes replies indifferently, if only to hide how mesmerized he’s found himself by the pizza guy’s folktale.
“You spend half of what you got on food so you can live; that’s a given. You spend the other half on flowers,” Howard tells Johannes as he slips a joint out of his breast pocket and tucks it behind his ear, “so you have reason to live; no, more than that. So you want to live. That’s the one thing folks usually forget about. Forget or take for granted, anyway. It’s always one of the two.”
He turns to go then, but Johannes grabs him by the shoulder. “Wait,” the college kid says, joining Howard in the hall. “Can you show me?”
As it turns out, Howard can. And all it takes is a little prodding.
Some flowers bloom beneath the sun, some flowers bloom beneath the moon.
Some flowers never bloom at all.
The blanket of ash wilts them all regardless.
Hello Commons, this has been the last subchapter of the third chapter of Flowers, a novel about a man who smokes the last of his pot.
Flowers is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Flowers is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Flowers and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~