He passed away before she and I met. An inoperable tumor left him cognizant but crippled. Slowly, it metastasized into his soft tissue stripping him of his dignity. An imposing man, before the disease ravaged him, he was bone and sinew at the end. While the final papers were drawn, he included a provision in his will, on her birthday, for the rest of her life, a local florist would provide her flowers; marigolds, her favorite.
She’d purged herself of their mutual possessions, but his aura shone in the reflection of the new appliances. We had grown closer to the point where discussions often turned toward what the future might hold. The flowers arrived as I was making her breakfast. She placed them in a vase on a ledge above the kitchen sink. She’d held it together, but later I heard her dissolve under the strain. While her reaction had become less extreme, the sense of loss still resonated deep within. She was open about her feelings of guilt and longing and wondered if they’d ever go away.
She didn’t outwardly change when the flowers arrived, but I didn’t want to stick around. I came home blackout drunk and incoherent. The following morning I was met with silence, as I nursed a crippling hangover. The remnants of the flowers were escaping from the mouth of the garbage disposal.
I threatened the delivery boy; beat him to death and replace his organs with marigolds as the ancient Egyptians would. An eight iron in my hands, I stood on the lawn and parted the air with swift cuts. The kid froze. He couldn’t reconcile the enormity of what was happening as he stared at some deranged customer who harbored a vendetta. He collapsed to the ground. The police arrived. Sanity rescued me before it could escalate beyond reproach. Cooler heads later prevailed, and my contribution to the kid’s college fund did wonders for allowing everyone to forget.
Without her knowledge, I sought to have an injunction to overturn “The Marigold Provision” on grounds of cruelty and mental anguish. The judge saw me because of an old family connection and admonished me for wasting his time but finally relented. Shame was not the right word, but it was close. However, the flowers were delivered once again; gold reminiscent of the sun. Later, I was to learn he’d had a private investigator on the payroll, a friend of twenty-odd years. They’d served together, had sworn blood oaths, the whole nine. Days after were spent stewing, spiraling, looking for a target for my rage. What could I do, exhume, and desecrate the body? How do you enact revenge against someone who no longer exists? I found the PI at his office. Overweight, he was popping antacid tablets like Tic-Tacs. In the movies, PI’s always look like Robert Mitchum. He was seasoned enough; didn’t flinch when I produced the gun. He’d done matrimonial work before, adultery. It wasn’t the first time a weapon had been brandished. I was advised to take serious consideration of what I was doing. His calmness only seemed to unnerve me further, and I doubted whether I had the fortitude to see it through. Swinging a golf club at an adolescent was one thing. Go home he said. He picked up the phone, dialed the number, and continued with his day as if I ceased to exist. I put the piece away and sat back down in his chair. I can’t, I told him. Hold on he said into the phone, then put it down as if he was just seeing me for the first time. What? There’s no home to go back to anymore. She left me six months ago. My body began to tremble as the thoughts manifested themselves into emotions. The PI sucked his teeth. Perhaps, he’d offer up some infinite wisdom he’d pooled from years of seeing the worst in people; some philosophical tenets I could hold onto as I began the rest of my life. Nothing, he finally said into the receiver. Some guy messed up. Heh, yeah, man is a bastard.