Thursday, March 12, 2015

March Madness: Red Rose

Welcome to my version of March Madness. I will post several brief scenes showing characters embracing insanity. Here's the first.

Red Rose
By Nomar Knight

     Phil Daly never forgot the night a weird stranger came in to the diner he worked at. As a short-order cook, Phil observed some strange people, but none like the man in the black raincoat. It was a humid night, and the place was filled with prostitutes and johns looking to regain some energy. The occasional police officer would stop buy for a quick coffee and the usual small talk with Thelma, the fifty-nine year-old waitress. Thelma was busy serving the other patrons and flirting with cops half her age. The weirdo took a seat located in the middle of the diner. He sat quietly, rocking back and forth.      
     It seemed to Phil that something wasn't quite right. The man's salt and pepper hair was disheveled. He maintained his coat on and appeared to look straight ahead at an old jukebox that was playing Return to Sender by Elvis.
     When the officers left, Thelma finally approached the man and greeted the stranger with a smile until she got a close look at his face. "What will it be, mister?"
     The man maintained his stare at the jukebox and said, "All I want is a red, red rose."
     Thelma glanced at Phil and shook her head. Then she said to the stranger. "We don't sell roses here. Would you like some coffee?"
     The man remained silent so Thelma took it upon herself to fetch him a cup of coffee. Then she went over to Phil and whispered, "Something about that guy gives me the creeps."
     "Take care of the others and give him some time. Maybe he's trying to decide what to order."
     She rolled her eyes and did as Phil suggested. After a few minutes she went with pad in hand and asked the stranger, "Are you ready to order?"
     The man continued rocking in place, staring at the jukebox as the Beatles played Let It Be. He spoke louder, "All I want is a red, red rose."
     Thelma put the pad in a pocket in her apron and sighed, "Sir, there's a flower shop two blocks from here, but they don't open for another four hours."
     "All I want is a red, red rose."
     The man practically yelled.
     Thelma shot Phil a worried glance. Just when Phil was about to call the police, a pair of uniformed officers entered and greeted Thelma. She took them aside and explained the situation.
     They both approached the stranger. The younger of the two said, "Do you need help, sir?"
     "All I want is a red, red rose."
     The older officer asked, "Are you lost? Is there someone we need to call on your behalf?"
     The man stopped rocking in place and for the first time, shifted his stare from the jukebox directly to the officer's eyes. 
     "My wife."
     "You want us to call your wife? What's her number?"
     The man looked back at the jukebox and began his rocking, but the older officer placed a hand on the stranger's shoulder then removed it.
     "We want to help you."
     Again the man turned to the officers and said, "My wife is mad at me."
     The older officer grinned, "Shucks, I'm married, my wife is always mad at me. Is that why you want the red rose?"
     The stranger smiled and slowly rose from the chair. He acted as if a burden had been lifted from his shoulders.
     "All I want is a red, red rose."
     The younger officer said, "The flower shop is still closed, but you can buy her one when it opens. Why don't you let us take you home?"
     "My wife," the man fidgeted on his feet. He glanced around as if the walls were caving in on him. "I broke her heart."
     The married officer said, "I figured that. Don't worry, the flowers should help make things like they were."
     The officers looked at each other then back at the stranger. The married one said, "Nothing is impossible."
     The stranger put a hand inside a pocket and pulled out a red rose. It was soaked with a red liquid.
     "Is that blood?" The younger officer's eyes bulged upon seeing the flower.
     The man reached in his other pocket prompting the officers to draw their weapons. Then he opened his hand. "This belonged to my wife."
     The stranger held a human heart. 

© Copyright Nomar Knight 2015. All rights reserved.
A Knight Chills Flash Fiction Presentation.

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