In the Night Garden
Early summer and the nights were already not as cold as they had been. Tulips planted that year were illuminated by warm light spilling out from the kitchen bay windows directly above the small front garden.
There was a remote joy in that garden. He attended it almost daily. He liked to the plastic flamingoes that dotted the garden’s perimeter.
There was a breeze air. He was aware of it as he walked close to the flowers. Tulips in different colours nodded and bobbed as though they were having a conversation.
He bent over for a better look.
Beyond the garden there was only inky black. No moon. He stood, smoking a cigarette, and looking in directly at the flowers. He was middle aged and balding, with the beginnings of a pronounced paunch that would take a personal trainer or years of yoga to tame. He held down a job he didn’t like much, was married to a woman who didn’t like him much. The trajectory of his future was well known and it did not make for an interesting read.
He could leave, he thought, just walk away. Well, drive away, and not look back. In the distance he could hear the sound of traffic moving towards the freeway. A nice fantasy, but that was it. The aging sedan in the driveway just didn’t seem to be the type of escape vehicle required for a reverie about freedom and the open road — the same road that would simply lead to the next town, and then the one after that.
Better to stay and go through the motions. He bent a little closer to the tulips and inhaled more of the tobacco smoke. The breeze was stronger now, its effects visible in the blurring motion of the flowers. For a moment or two he saw only their colour.
And eventually they were washed by the lights of the ambulance parked temporarily in the driveway. Within minutes the verdict was delivered, he was moved to the closest hospital and, eventually, its morgue. The big jammer, they said. A real widow maker. No way to stop it once it kicked in.
After the body was removed the flowers were once again free to pursue their nightly ritual of swaying in the night air. Their time would come, but it wouldn’t be tonight, and autumn was still a long ways off.