Chapter 20: Dale’s Flower Salon.

Having lived through the weekend, and polished himself nicely, with his fancy suit properly febreezed and his hat ready to go. He admired his new cleanly shorn, yet indestructible face in the mirror and walked out a whistilin.


In the morning sun, everything that had happened before, even waking up in the park all seemed like a distant memory, and he wore the shineiest smile anyone had ever seen in Courage Mininesota at this time of year. He skipped down the steps of his apartment and back up the familiar main road. There was no sign of Alouicious, and he almost had forgotten about him as well. His mind was being spent getting into the zone for working at Dale’s with his flower smithery. He passed by the haunts that had strung him through the last several days, the bar, the alleys, the electrolysis shack. All along the way to the flower shop.


Dale’s wasnt the nicest building in town, it was a squat square building with a faded navy blue paint job and a light pink trim. The windows seemed perpetually cloudy and the store managed to face away from any convenient angles for sunlight. Its interior was lit with dingy yellow flourescent lights that buzzed almost constantly, bathing the store in a sickly light that made everything but the plants look green.


Morty tried at flowersmithing like he did with everything else, but just wasnt very good at it. Either that, or the town was too small to need a specialized flower shop, so no one would have probably bought his bouquets anyway. That didnt stop Morty from trying. He put his bright white apron on, and his fancy gardeners gloves and sat there cutting and arranging flower bouquets for all sorts of reasons: funerals, prom, that kind of shit that people expect flowers for.


This wasnt helped by Dale, the shops proprietor. Dale was a middle aged woman who could not seem to understand that she was crazy. She was not unattractive, but dressed like an ’80s nightmare and talked loud with a thick accent. She loved flowers, but couldnt stand touching them. Flowers, to her, were actually a wonderful social contrivance, and she spent her days imagining wonderful new scenarios that all the wonderful people would naturally want to buy her wonderful bouquets.


“Morty,” she would say, “today, lets try making a new type of bouquet: anniversary of buying a second pet! It will be wonderful, we can make a nice little bouquet, and a sign that says ‘today only! buy yourself a bouquet for the anniversary of getting your second pet. There has to be someone out there in that strange, wonderful, workaday world and can just walk in and get just want they need for something they hadnt even thought about.


“Morty, can you do that for me? Can you make a bouquet that just screams ‘Second Pet Anniversary day?’”


And so it would go. Each day, there were new asinine plans, every day, Morty would smile, and agree and do his best to come up with flower bouquets that would match her fleeting, abstract ideas. He would smile, and he would try.


On the off chance that the store did have a customer, they would often walk in with a simple request, and leave quite puzzled.


“I’d like a dozen roses, please,” they would say.


And Morty would then have to explain, and give them the tour of the weeks bouquets. There would be the festive second pet anniversary, the more morbid ex-girlfriends dads funeral, the selective service registration bouquet. He would walk them through the various offerings, which were almost invariably, expensive and exotic, never a simple selection for a standard birthday or wedding day.


The one time of year when things seemed to make sense was valentines day. Unfortunately, Dale would use this as an opportunity to deck the store in plastic red roses which were not for sale.


“Why would I want fresh roses? I would just have to replace them all to decorate the store next year!”


This would of course bring in far more people than average, and Morty was left explaining that the roses they were looking for were just decoration and that they only available bouquets were the once being arranged capriciously for nonsense reasons that week.


Dale had very little aesthetic sense, and really only saw flowers as a vehicle for coming up with new special occasions that people should be thankful for, and creating artificial reasons to sell extremely rare and exotic flowers at prices far higher than the average working class citizen of Courage Falls.


And so Morty showed up day after day. The job went no where, but he didnt know what else he could do. He never really gave it any thought. He had amassed a forgettable resume of working class and retail experience, but could not seem to remember what any of those jobs were, and his only memory of getting this one was simply walking in the store to try to get directions. Dale hated the public, and doubly hated having to explain her vision to every asshole that walked in wanting a dozen roses for their goddamn miserable wives. She was so relieved to hear something other than such common flowers or peoples actual needs for something other than what she wanted that she jumped at the opportunity to give Morty directions.


And a job.


So, now, as he smiled his way down the street, he walked onwards to the inevitable decay of his own attitude.


Were Dale an ordinary business type person, she would have wised up or closed the shop, or at least learned how to do the work herself, but she was wealthy from some earlier inheritance that she never spoke of. Morty just assumed she was a widow.


He stepped in to Dale’s, feeling better than he could remember feeling recently, having almost completely shook off the remnants of his debauchery. He stepped out of the sunlight and into the shaded, buzzing green flourescence.


“Morty!” Dale came practically singing out of the back room, looking around.

“Morty, Morty, Morty, my you are so handsome this morning,” she handed him his apron, “I’d like to go over some new ideas with you. Over the weekend, I developed a new paper work system so I can introduce my ideas more effectively.


As the last traces of the morning sunlight left Morty, and he felt the darkness creeping in, his mind wandered from the details of the new filing system. He nodded along, but his concentration was lapsing.


She finished going over the complications of the new metrics and left. Morty stood there: suit, apron, gloves, his arms at his side. He stood at the counter, unaware of the days concept, he couldnt even remember the last bouquets he had made. The stoor seemed utterly unfamiliar.


He stood there dazed, his mind was completely blank. He peered out the window, his body motionless. He watched the silent streets, the occasional car passing by. There were no pedestrians, save a few young transients, hustling by. The alleys were motionless, at least from where he was standing.


It was well into the afternoon when a customer came wandering in.


“Hi, Im just looking for a dozen roses, me and the little ladies anniversary today, y’know.”


“We dont have a dozen roses.”


“What do you have?”

Morty drew a blank. Again. He was not smiling, he was not even looking at the customer, he was still standing motionless, staring out the window. Dale had left in the morning for some undisclosed errands, and had not returned. Morty seemed uninterested in helping the man, and eeven less interested in explaining why they didnt carry the one fucking thing that every single fucking person who came in the store wanted.


Morty was beginning to feel like he had had enough.


“Look, Mister, I’d like to help you, I really would, we dont have what you want. We dont have normal flowers, we dont have things people want to give their wives, and if we did, it would costs more than you would ever want to pay for it. Why dont you just get a divorce, huh? You’re an ugly fuck, so your wife is either cheating on you, blind, or even uglier. No matter what, that’s grounds for a divorce. Why dont you just go back out to the fields, find some farmers horse and just fuck it. The horses wouldnt run from you, because you look like a horse you ugly fucking piece of shit.”


“Excuse me?”


“No, look motherfucker, I am not excusing you because you fucking heard me and you fucking know I’m right. I bet you aren’t even fucking married, I bet you dont have friends I bet your fucking ass just walked in here to try to convince someone that you actually had a wife because you have no one to fucking talk to. Well, motherfucker, I have something to tell you, so you better open your fucking ears: I AM NOT YOUR FUCKING PATSY, YOU MOTHERFUCKER, I AM MORTY FUCKING SHARP!”




Morty looked down and saw the mans words being choked by Morty’s gloved hands, he broke himself a way and staggered back against the wall. The man buckled and fell to his knees, looking at Morty in terror, he regained his words and backed slowly towards the door, on his knees, mouthing words, but unable to speak them. When he reached the back of the shop, he broke and ran.


Morty sat, staring at his hands. He shook his head quickly, dropped the gloves and followed suit out the door.



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