The Green Knight (Part #2)

(Part #1 HERE)

The interior of the lounge was thick with cigarette and cigar smoke when a tall skinny man walked in. Fresh air from the door opening moved the clouds around in a frenzy before they settled again. He ignored the sexy women sitting and standing around trying to catch his eye and the suspicious gaze of the men watching him make a path to the back. When he approached a gold painted door at the back, two large bouncers with guns blocked his bath with crossed arms and severe scowls.

“What you crawling back here for, street rat?” the blond one in the tank top asked.

“He didn’t learn his lesson last time,” the other snickered, flexing his dark skinned muscles against his white t-shirt.

The shorter man didn’t say a word but held up his phone to their faces and waited, a smug expression in place. The ‘roided out bouncers squinted at the phone and then snatched it out of his hand. There was a silent communication between the two; the fear and hope that the one who came forward would bring good news. The blonde one knocked on the door (seeming to win/lose the bet) and a foreign reply was shouted through. He was gone for a minute and then another face appeared, much older, more wrinkled and infinitely more deadly.

Her eyes were as keen and cold as a snake’s.

“Such a clever and resourceful rat. Come. You have been graced with an audience.”


Rhys was waiting for Flora as she strolled up to her salon a few days later She was wearing a pair of paint splattered overalls, a sky blue midriff and a bright yellow bandanna in her hair, tied up like a head band. She had on large aviator sunglasses and she jangled, her multitudes of bracelets in place. Her earrings were laser cut sugar skulls and she carried a bulging spiked leather bag across her body.

“Hey stranger,” she greeted with a red-lipped smile as she neared. “You’re here early. You really are a glutton for punishment huh?”

He felt a bit of tension go out of him as he surveyed her easy smile and laid back greeting. Because of her curt exit the last time they’d parted he was concerned that he’d done something to upset her and it made him anxious for their next meeting. But all seemed to be well.

“I was checking up on your poor doomed plant. Figured I’d stop by.”

His eyes traveled down her ensemble, the neon hurting his eyes in the morning light and he focused instead on the pops of color on exposed skin where she proudly showed her tattoos. What he had originally thought was stained glass or abstract paintings were actually flowers. He recognized belladonna, peonies, lilies, roses, tulips, oleander, freesia and Dianthus among the bouquet and found it was hard to take his eyes away when she stopped in front of him. He wanted to examine them more closely and see if they were true to form.

“Your tattoos–” he started.

“Yeah I know,” she interrupted with a deep sigh. “Kind of obvious right? With my name  meaning flowers and all. But beautiful flowers are always noticed.” She elbowed him playfully. “And I like being noticed.”

He closed his mouth, the question dying on his lips. As if the pink hair and neon wardrobe wouldn’t do that already.

“So what ARE you doing here so early? I didn’t expect you for another week at least.” she asked, taking a wad of keys out of her bag and selecting one for the door. “And probably more toward the afternoon. It’s an ungodly hour to be awake.”

“Better with no customers around,” he said simply, shrugging when she looked at him with eye brows raised.

“That’s true. And you get to avoid my She-Wolf Pack. Smart man. Come on in.”

She held the door open for him and he walked past her, breathing in some of her floral perfume. Sweet and warm. She locked the door behind him and set her bag down on one of the couches up front, unzipping it and taking out some containers. He watched her and contemplated. What was that scent that tickled his nose? Jasmine? Rose. Definitely something rosy in it, but musky too. Sandalwood? He normally didn’t like perfume because it always smelled so fake and gawdy and it made him sneeze. This was subtle and natural. Was it oils then? He wanted to ask but she was already talking again.

“Sorry I ran out on you the other day. I had a trippy memory come back to me from my childhood. PTSD kicked in. It wasn’t anything you did.”

He was relieved that it wasn’t him that made her upset and that she’d cleared the air between them. It made his task that much more pleasant without the dark cloud of doubt hanging over him.

“It’s fine,” he said simply and shoved his hands into his pockets. His shoulders relaxed a smidge. “Thanks.”

She took off her sunglasses and threw them in her bag.

“Good. Have you eaten yet?”


She laid out several tupperware containers and gestured for him to sit. When he didn’t she looked up at him pointedly with blue shadow streaked eyes. He sat on the edge of the couch to her left and watched her pop off lids with her newly painted rainbow nails.

“Here. Blueberry lemon bread, whole wheat banana chocolate chip bread, yogurt and granola parfait with fresh fruit, mushroom and bell pepper omelet and a selection of teas. We have hot water in the back.”

“You made all this today?”

Everything was still steaming as if it were fresh out of the oven.

She smiled at him and gave him a piece of banana bread on a napkin.

“I’m a morning person,” she said and reached for the omelet. She divided it with a fork and ate her half straight out of the container. He took a tentative bite out of his bread and chewed.

“I thought you said mornings were ungodly.”

“To most other people it is. Good right?” she asked.

He nodded and took a bigger bite. Satisfied, she rose and got hot water from the back in two chipped mugs.

“Do you always make this much food for breakfast?”

“I had some nervous energy to get out. I bake when that happens. Besides, I knew I had to be prepared for when you came back. Breakfast is easier to start people off on when they try new things. It’s light and non-committal, unlike lunch or –GASP–dinner.”

She winked at him when he gave a small smile and continue to eat. He enjoyed the solitude and the meal. The tea she gave was a green variation and he sipped it slowly to savor it. While they ate, Rhys looked around the shop and his eyes picked out potential roosts for the plants he had in the bed of his jeep. He’d brought a wide selection of varying sun/shade plants and flowers based on the lay out of the Salon he’d remembered. But he felt dismayed now seeing that there was little shelving or surface area to put them on.

“Are you allowed to put shelves up?” he asked, a tiny frown appearing between his brows.

Flora nodded and finished her bite.

“We have some. We just didn’t have anybody to hang them. Or the time.

“The owner won’t get mad if we put holes in the wall?”

She answered as she walked back for more hot water and dropped another bag ito his steaming cup.

“She’ll be fine with it.”

“Could you call and ask anyway? Just to be sure?”

She cocked an eyebrow at him.

“So demanding. I rather like this quality. Say something else, Mr. Demandy-pants.”

“It wasn’t a demand–”

She shushed him and dug out her phone, dialing a number. Rhys twitched when the Salon phone rang and Flora rose to answer it.

“Hey boss we got a guy here that’s worried about putting holes in the wall for shelves. Is it cool?”

She looked ridiculous with two phones against her ears and Rhys gave her a sarcastic look. Flora changed her voice slightly and crunched up her face to look like a sour-faced old lady.

“I don’t care. But if he scratches the paint he’s my eternal slave. It’s a discontinued color.”

“Cool! Thanks boss.”

She gave him a cheeky smile and put the receiver down again and clicked off her cell.

“Boss says it’s okay.”

Rhys tried to keep his face neutral but her thoughts had already guessed at his.

“Yes, the pink-haired hippie is a business owner, but only a third of it is mine. I was just the money backer to get it off the ground. The concept was entirely Eta’s idea. The other owner is a distinguished gentleman who took pity on us and got the business side of it all worked out. He travels a lot but we give him free hair cuts when he comes in and a tarot reading.”


“Yeah, like, divining your future with cards? Answering life’s mysteries, yada yada.”

Flora sat back down and took a piece of lemon bread. He had to admit it was nice to be around a woman who could eat and not pick crumbs off a low-fat croissant then complain she’s full. Flora had a healthy appetite for food and life.

“Is that where the ‘Psychic’ come into your Psychic Salon?”

“Yep. Every new client that comes in gets a free reading. Our regulars pay a little extra to get a service of their choice. We got tarot, palmistry, aura reading, chakra healing–”

“I’m sorry but you’re speaking in tongues. I don’t understand any of that.”

“It’s okay. Stick around long enough and you’ll know a lot of things you never thought you would. Are you finished?”

He picked up another piece of banana bread and Flora packed everything away again.

“Alright my gentle knight, lets see what we can do today.”


Working along side Flora in the quiet of the morning wasn’t a bad way to pass the time. It wasn’t pruning and watering in his green house, but it was a nice change. She talked a lot and he listened, helping her wade through the back storage room to locate the shelves he needed and then dragging furniture out-of-the-way to hang them. She was handy with power tools. He liked that. He also liked that when he held the latter for her, he got a closer look at her tattoos. The shading and detail were intricate and vivid, just like any real flower. He wondered how long it had taken for all of them to be done.

“There,” she said, drilling in the last screw and handing the tool down to him. “Good enough?”

All together they’d hung six shelves and a couple random pictures to change out the decor a little bit. “To complement the new greenery.”

“I’ll get my plants.”

“Ohhh can I come see what you brought me?”

He set the drill on the counter and fumbled for words.

“Well, they’re not for you. I mean, yes they are but–”

She smirked at him and patted his pink cheek affectionately.

“You are a gentle knight after all. I should go easy on you. Lets go before the morning early birds come in.”

Flora unlocked the door and let him out and he led her to his jeep. A small forest greeted her when he opened the back and she made an excited “oh!”

“Is this Old Fashioned Swedish Ivy? It’s so mature and full! I’d love to hang that outside but in this neighborhood, it’d probably get stolen. Wait. Is that–”

Flora reached for a purple striped plant and held it up to the sun.

“Oh my gawd a Rhoeo! My aunties had a huge one in the window of the living room. I loved watching it grow as a child. Purple was my favorite color so they got it just for me.”

He reached past her to pull out a tray of potted plants. “Herbs are pretty hardy. Lavender, lemon balm, mint–”

She bent down and buried her nose in the fragrant purple buds.

“I hope you have more of that. Eta loovveeeessssss lavender. She has me make her hypoallergenic lavender lotion every month.”

Rhys smiled a little and made a mental note.

“I’ve also got spiral grass for texture and Hot pokers for some color. A ficus that’s been growing for a few years now. I transplanted it recently so I’ll have to keep an eye on it but it can go in the corner between the two chairs by the window for optimal sun and minimal damage. Most of the rest are succulents that do really well without regular watering. I brought a variety of colors and textures…”

Flora grinned up at him as he rambled on and on about his precious green babies. She didn’t mean to tune him out but she liked the way his lips moved and the warmth in his voice when he talked about a subject he liked. He also looked stunning in black and she was trying hard not to let her switched be flipped all the way on.

He came back. That’s what mattered right now.

She helped him carry pots and trays inside the salon and started to clean up their mess and prep stations while he got to work. Every now and then he whipped out a small notebook and penned a few words and muttered to himself. She kept the Rhoeo at her station, making room for it among the brushes and irons. She made him take a break right before opening and offered him a “get out of jail free” card by reluctantly saying he’d done enough and she appreciated it.

“I can’t leave yet.”

Flora’s heart skittered around her rib cage and she took a sip of her now cold tea to mask her surprise.

“Not that I’m eager to shoo you away or anything but why?”

“I have to take pictures of the light inside every hour.”

She gave him a blank look.

“Some plants might burn or wilt if they don’t get proper amounts of sun. I have a few questionable placings and some alternatives if they don’t do well but I have to make an accurate analysis.”

A whole day looking at eye candy? Her female clientele would be ecstatic, she chief among them. She just hoped no one came in needing anything too complicated because she would be a little distracted. Very easy to mix up the purple and blue hair dyes when tall, dark and hunky was sitting on a chez.

“Alllriigghhttttttt,” she sang and stepped down from the front desk to open the door for the few waiting customers outside. “But you’re buying lunch.”

He nodded.

“For everyone.”

He blanched. She squeezed his cool fingers and smiled brightly at him.


She unlocked the door and then looked back at him, her face warm and open.

“Thank you for coming back Rhys.”



Quickies #9 Simply having a Wonderful Christmas Time!!

PROMPT: What is your favorite holiday and what do you love about it? 

CHRISTMAS!!! Without a doubt, christmas. I celebrated it as a child and there was so much excitement and traditions to be followed during december. It was like, thanksgiving was the vacation that got us ready for Christmas. We ate and played and passed out from tryptophan OD to conserve energy. Then–THEN!!– it was go time.

We felt it, even at a young age. The change, the shift toward the last holiday of the year. THE BIG ONE.

It started with a list and it was always written in descending desired order. Top three gifts first and back when we were kids, those weren’t ipods and drones. They were usually CD’s, a somewhat expensive toy ($40 or less), books (guess who asked for those?), and crafting kits. I always put down one impossible gift, which was a “white Christmas”. It kind of became a tradition in and of itself. Gifts that we KNEW we would get every year were: Pajamas. Yep. Flannel ones. I still have my last pair! Life Saver candy books. SOOOO much better back when they had all the different flavor packs rather than just one bland boring kind repeated 8 times. Chapped stick. And, for me at least, blank journals. Go figure.

Alright. Lists, check! Next came the tree. This was usually the first week in December and we always had fresh trees. Sometimes we would cut it ourselves at a farm and other times we would buy it already cut. It was a competition to see who could find the best tree. Winner takes bragging rights for the entire year.

Once we got it home it was my sister’s job to help trim the bottom and I would transform the branches into a little wreath that I wound with ribbon and put on my door. Then the official Christmas magic started! Putting on lights and my sister and I always got to put on our birth year Christmas ornaments first; the balls my mom got for us the year we were born. Then it was a matter of speed versus perfection.

Jennifer would try her best to put more ornaments on the tree than me whereas I would go around behind her back and make sure that no two same colored balls were next to each other and there wasn’t any crowding on the branches. It had to be JUST RIGHT. I remember one year when my sister didn’t show up for Christmas, mom and I strung popcorn while watching “Snowden” on TV (movie with famous ice skater Katrina Witt). We ate more of it than we strung I think but it was a memory I’ll never forget.

Slowly the wrapped presents would start to appear under the tree and then the baking would commence. Friendship bread, oatmeal raisin cookies, brownies, banana nut muffins, and chocolate chip cookies. Fattening up for the kill. Cookie dough is the best in the world. Just sayin’. Family would start trickling into town and school would let out for vacation so we got to sleep in. Oh gawd HEAVEN!

Christmas eve we were allowed to open ONE gift to tide us over and then while the coffee maker trickled with life giving fluid Christmas Day, Jenni and I opened our stockings, littering brightly colored paper everywhere. Batteries were probably the most anticipated gift because that meant something under the tree required them. Heck yes.

Not hard to see why Christmas is my favorite holiday. It has the best decorations (green and red FTW!), the best smells (I LOVE fresh pine tree smell and cinnamon apple candles), and the best memories.





Quickie #7 Family Ties

PROMPT: If you had been given a choice, would you rather have been an only child or part of a very large family? 

(Picture features Blogger Jessica Jordan on the left, sister in the middle and mom on the right) 

I would definitely choose very large family for a lot of reasons.

First is that my sister boned out of my family at 14 because our step dad was an asshole so I was practically raised as an only child. I didn’t mind the solitude or having a room to myself but it would have been nice to have an available sister to hang out with sometimes. I remember when she left I wore her clothes and slept in her bed and listened to her music for like, a week because I missed her. Her leaving also increased my abandonment issues.

Second reason is that I might have been better prepared for the world having numerous brothers and sisters to learn from. I grew up in the whimsical and idealistic dream world of books so learning how to navigate socialism was not instilled in me until very late in life. Lacking this skill caused me a lot of heart ache.

Third is that I might have been more competitive and goal-oriented. Something I’ve observed about siblings of large families is they have a healthy competitive streak. Whether it be a video game, getting good grades in school, or being the first one to the bathroom in the morning, every single child had a desire to shine and stand out among their siblings. Adversely, if one sibling got TOO MUCH spotlight, the others would gang up to knock him/her off their pedestal. There was no pecking order there.

A fourth reason and probably the biggest reason for me is that I would have liked to experience the plethora of memories with my family. Reunions, Holidays, movie night, home work, beach days, grocery shopping, birthdays, schooling…I want to experience everything! To live a full and aggravating life but to always have an anchor to come back to. To be there through heart ache, births, deaths, marriages and divorces, illnesses, achievements and let downs. I want it all.

I don’t think this is a “grass is greener” situation. I just feel that I might have been a stronger and better person in a big family.

Vanilla with a Cherry on Top, Raw (#9)

It was code you see.

If the right people heard it, they would know and they would pass it on; like a stone dropped in a pond. Ripples would appear on the calm surface of the lives of every day people and just like that, it would begin again.

The whispers. The knowing eyes. The Hunt.


Vanilla. Vanilla meant white. Chocolate meant brown. Dark Chocolate was black. Pretty self-explanatory. People can’t change the color of their skin very easily. And where I live, any color other than brown stood out pretty well. Brown hair, brown eyes, brown skin. Brown callouses and brown dirt under the nails from working in the fields. Brown houses and store fronts.

A white moth stands out much better against brown trees.

We embrace brown in every sense. We’re agricultural. We work the earth, dawn till dusk to produce food for ourselves and the markets. Our ancestors used mud to make our houses. Our Gods came from the earth and sky. Our heritage is strong and proud, but we do not flaunt it zealously. We are a humble people, hard-working and vigilant. We work for our families, we play with our children, we dance to our music and laugh freely. We are a community that looks after one another.

We are Vigilant– We Watch.

We accept most flavors of strangers but they don’t usually like to stay in our brown-washed community very long. It’s hard work to stay here and people don’t like hard work. We are a “visit only” locale that boasts hand-made crafts, home-grown vegetables and delicious restaurants with recipes hundreds of years old on the menus. We’ve been labeled a “small but delightfully rustic town.”

We like it that way. Tourists don’t suspect a smiling and helpful person to be anything except kind. Some will take advantage of that. Some will respond in kind. It’s like that way with strangers.

We of the earth know better. As much as we are smiling on the outside, our dirt colored eyes watch and observe. Nothing goes unnoticed by us. We are as sharp-eyed as falcons . That white man sitting too long at a children’s park. That black man buying way too much fuel. The Spaniard that threatens his girlfriend with a subtle back hand to her cheek. She cowers likes she expected the blow.

We see it and we drop the pebbles into the well of our community. The rest of us will hear them drop and observe the ripples. We protect our own.

Precautions are taken. We are friendly and subtle people. A cadre of mothers suddenly start showing up at the park with their broods and make lively conversation until the white man leaves. A mechanic will show up and offer to work on the black man’s car since he noticed so much fuel being purchased. Subtly of course so he doesn’t suspect. An old kind-hearted grandmother will take the cowering girlfriend aside for some tea while the Spaniard is at the bar.

We watch and we wait. Often times it’s nothing.

But when it’s not–

–we become a people of action.

No one suspects us. We’re too nice; too accommodating and there are lots of places to hide in our rustic and far spread town. We know every place though. And the Police–they’re one of us too on the inside. But while they took an oath to uphold the law, we took one to uphold life. OUR life.

When the first child went missing, we had to let it happen. The police had to launch their investigation first. It had to be legal and official. We still watched. Information was passed around. We could have helped the authorities. COULD have. We didn’t. We never did. You might think it’s immoral and unethical to withhold information this way. “Impeding an investigation”, in legal terms. But what would happen if the police caught him? Jail? Appeals? A 5 year sentence; a slap on the wrist?

People of action don’t give slaps on the wrists or appeals. Not when it comes to ours.

Three days. That’s our limit. That’s all the time we need to search and plan. Day four is execution.

More pebbles are thrown in the water and the ripples crisscross over each other, like a dozen conversations. “Vanilla…” “Raw.” “Sticks and stones…” “Red sauce.” It’s code, you see. Eventually our whispers merge into one definitive echoing agreement. Day four.

Vanilla with a Cherry on top, Raw. 

The white man didn’t come to the park day five. The mothers showed up as usual to laugh and gossip and let the little ones run off energy. They give their reports to the police and tell them to come by for some flan because they work too hard. The black man accepts the help with a smile and our eyes soften. The Spaniard breaks his hand in a bar fight. Oops. So the grandmothers come over to help the girlfriend move out and disappear while he’s at the hospital.

We are an involved people.

Day seven, the newspaper reads:

A body was found yesterday brutally murdered in an abandoned field off Arrow Head road. The police k-9 units led officers to the body late last night while scouring the area of the missing child. A perimeter has been set up for investigators and teams of forensics have been dispatched to the scene. Preliminary reports state that the identity of the body belonged to Darrell Ferguson, a known pedophile and child abductor in three Southern California counties. Officials state that Ferguson had fled the authorities and disappeared across the border months ago. The details of the murder are not being disclosed at this time.

In good news, the child in question has been found and returned to her family although the state of her health, mentally and physically, are yet to be determined. The family requests that the public keep their distance to let the incident pass into memory but they want to thank the police offers that found the child and the community who never stopped supporting them or searching.

“Thank you for Watching,” was a direct quote from a family member.”

We didn’t need the media telling us the details. Our whispers paint a picture better than any photograph of that bastard. His white skin was no longer white but a cracked and rusty-red, rivulets and spatters painting his corpse. His ribs had been cracked open with a rusty bolt cutter and the bones thrown far for the coyotes to chew on. The heart had been extracted and set upon his broken, wide open mouth like a prized glass egg on display. And then a large hole had been bored through it, just large enough to squeeze his castrated manhood inside like a bulbous and flaccid dagger.

Afterward the body had been surrounded by gasoline so the animals wouldn’t disturb it before the police discovered the kill. Be a pity to waste all that time and effort for no one to see the end result as intended.

Something the press would never divulge was that he had been alive when this happened. They wouldn’t, because some of them were there.

Just desserts.

We Watch. Welcome to our brown-washed town.

The Green Knight (Part #1)

Whatever he touched, grew.

Seeds, bulbs, out of season fruit, clearance bin brown weeds in cracked pots, dying trees set out on the side of the road and notoriously difficult plants to keep alive, like african violets and bonsais. If it could grow, then it would, under his care. That was how met him actually. They were in line at Lowe’s in the gardening department. She had one solitary succulent in a pretty pot. Behind her was a tall, clean-cut man who had a cart full of nothing but brown dying plants and some soil.

“You give new meaning to the Green Knight,” the lady commented, looking down into the cart and whistling impressively.

“Pardon?” His dark brows came together in confusion. The bangles on her wrists tinkled as she shifted her pot from one arm to the other. He saw a flash of a colorful tattoo under her flowing dress. She looked up at him with a friendly grin, a strand of her flamingo pink hair blew in front of her face.

“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” she explained. “A famous poem about King Arthur’s nephew and a fairy named Bertilak.” She said it as if everyone should know what she was talking about. “About testing a man’s virtue and the truth of his word.” When the dark-haired man continued to stare silently at her she cleared her throat and gestured to his cart. “Annywaayyy are you really going to try bring those back to life? They already have one root in the grave by the looks of it.”

He blinked, trying to catch up, but nodded to the last bit. Sir Gawain? Bertilak? Who talks like that? He couldn’t decide if she was flirting or genuinely being friendly. Or a know-it-all trying to impress him.

“That’s a type of magic then. I even kill these things,” she said, lifting the succulent mournfully. “They’re so pretty and graceful when they’re alive.”

Finally a response spurred his mouth into action. It came out a little more harsh than he intended but he did want to know.

“Then why do you keep trying?”

She shrugged, making more tinkling noise. One of her dangly silver earrings caught on the neck of her dress and she shook her head to dislodge it, wincing as it pulled. She was like a living fairy orchestra or something. She made noise with every movement. It wasn’t unpleasant though.

“Practice makes perfect?” she guessed with a chuckle. “I don’t know really. Just that I like having something alive in the house besides my cat.  I had plants growing up as a kid but never seemed to be able to take care of them myself. When I kill them though, the pots are always useful to catch water from the leaky roof.”

She peeked up at him to see if he would smile. He didn’t.

“Have you tried a gold fish?”

It didn’t occur to the man he was being rude at this point. All he could see was new life potentially being carried off to suffer a slow death by a pink haired hippie. She laughed though, accepting the hidden insult behind his words and throwing it back at him.

“Gold fish are ugly. Betas are better and my last one lived for two years before the cat ate it. He gets jealous of any attention I give other animals. Another reason for the plant.”

He nodded and looked away. Awkwardness now. She was undaunted though. She had to see him smile. He looked so stoic. A smile would transform him.

“Any tips for me?”


“For the plant. I can see it bothers you the crazy pink-haired lady might be carrying it off to its death.”

“Don’t over water,” he said immediately and seriously. “If the leaves start browning, stop watering. Only do it once a month or so. And maybe get some succulent food.”

Slate grey eyes peered up at him and he looked into them for the first time, making him notice the smattering of freckles on her nose and cheeks. Her glossy pink lips pursed in consideration. She nodded.

“Thanks. That’s good to know actually. Do you ever smile?”

He blinked at her again and she saw his face shift from serious to shut down. He thought she was flirting. Not untrue but it was friendly enough. He was a tough customer. She snorted delicately and gave a rueful smile.

“Good luck on your quest, Sir Knight.”

She paid for her plant, looked behind her. He wasn’t paying attention at all. Deliberately so.

RIP little echeveria, he thought, carefully placing his dying specimens on the counter. It would have a few months of good life at least. He paid for his clearance bin projects and rolled the cart to his car. When he popped the trunk and began setting them in a box to avoid spillage, he felt a tap on his shoulder.


The pink haired lady handed him a business card with a crystal ball and a pair of scissors on it with bright pink lettering. He couldn’t see her eyes behind her sunglasses but he had a feeling she wasn’t looking directly at him. She was biting the corner of her bottom lip. He looked down at the card.

“The Psychic Salon?”

“We predict what the future holds for all your beautification needs!”

Her voice was fakey-happy and it made his eye muscles twitch.

“Don’t judge. It pays the bills,” she sighed, acknowledging the ridiculousness of it. “My cell is on the back if you want to check on the plant. I have a feeling.”

He tried not to show any emotion on his face. A few of them swirled in him. Incredulity. Irritation. Humor. And curiosity.

“A feeling?” he asked as she started backing away.

Her hair was a waterfall of ombre pink down the front of her neon dress. He saw more tattoos along her shins and the tops of her sandaled feet.

“Yep. The name’s Flora by the way.”

“That’s ironic,” he said, tucking the card into his jeans pocket.

“Ain’t it though? But at least I’m still alive.”

She waved from a pink (what other color would it be?) VW Beetle and drove too fast through the parking lot, squealing the tires.

Welp, it’s dead now for sure, he thought. Snapped in half by the 2-G turn she just pulled off into the street. He, however, drove home carefully. He had precious cargo in the back so he naturally drove like an 85-year-old granny.

It was a long, lovely drive out of the city and he allowed the day to melt off his shoulders. Not a pink thing to be seen out there except a random tea rose or a hibiscus. When he pulled into his drive way he was greeted by the shushing of the wind through the trees all around. His mind was immediately wiped of the encounter with the pink haired Flora as he made a mental list of chores to do. It was a long list.


Flora would be lying if she said she wasn’t disappointed that her cell didn’t ring with a strange man’s number the next day.  Or even the next week. She didn’t really expect it to given his disdain for her murdering plants but a girl could hope. He was a handsome one.

Her cat watched her with derision as she carried the phone all around the tiny apartment, even into the bathroom. She considered dying her hair green and getting it cut. Maybe some bangs? or a pixie cut? She settled on doing her nails instead. Less dramatic.

She researched succulents online. She thought about going back and getting another one, just to spite the unsmiling man. She bought a modest dark green dress and pulled her hair up into a bun. She hated it and returned it the next day for a bright orange one and some gold flats to match.

After the second week, she stopped hoping for the phone to ring with a strange number (that wasn’t bill collectors) and cut her losses.

She resisted the urge to water her little succulent as she stared at it on her table during meals. It went against nature to NOT water things, right? What a backward plant. But the serious face the man pulled on her when he talked about watering was so darn cute it stuck with her. Maybe he was like a succulent too. He was happier being dry and humorless.

She should be used to the disappointment by now. She scared men with her colorful hair, bold tattoos and even more colorful life style. Her choice of career usually put them off especially after they discovered what she could have been. They never understood why she settled for less. Pfft! Stupid male egoism and power. She was socially awkward and in-your-face and enjoyed a good laugh. She always asked for what she wanted and meant what she said. Life was too short to mince words.

She was sure the stoic man was long gone. Sometimes her “feelings” were wrong, mainly when they regarded herself. She confused “feelings” with emotions or desire. She wanted to see what he looked like with a smile. It was important to her somehow.

So it was a delightful surprise when tall, dark and lanky darkened the door step of her work, looking completely out-of-place amid their female clientele. Her first thought when she saw him at the counter was she was glad she wore the matching bra and panties that day. Jesus.

“If it isn’t the Green Knight,” she said casually, looking up from shaving half a woman’s head in an intricate tribal pattern.

She felt a frisson of mean-spiritedness hum briefly in her veins seeing how uncomfortable he looked amidst the gawdy, gypsy caravan interior of the salon waiting room. His dark blue polo shirt and jeans stuck out like a black fly in unicorn poop. The other stylists eyed him with interest, ready to pounce on virgin hair and snag a new client.

“I lost your card,” he said, looking at her and then away.

Was he blushing? Oh gawd. A fierce bubble of hope lifted her mood.

“You lost it?”

“I washed it, actually.”

The salon went dead silent and he slid his hands in his pockets self-consciously. Buzzers stopped vibrating. Magazine pages stopped turning. Bubble gum popping stopped mid snap. He looked at his shoes; probably the safest place for his eyes. The sexual tension in the room went up about 16 degrees and he had the attention of every female in the building now. He fidgeted under the scrutiny.

“Is that so?”

Flora mashed her lips together to stop herself from smiling broadly. He came. She’d been right this time. Her feeling wasn’t wrong then.

“Miha, marry him right now! He does laundry!” a plump woman named Marrieta called from the back, cackling joyfully while she washed a client’s hair.

“Lay off Eta,” Flora called out. “The poor thing is ready to run as it is. He’s a gentle Knight after all.”

“I’ll do him for free!” another dark-haired woman called out, patting the vacant washing chair and snapping a curling iron playfully at him.

“You had the last one Dionne! Give him to me!” called the resident flamboyant gay from another empty chair. He flashed a very white toothy grin and blew a kiss at Flora, who gave him evil squinty eyes.

She breathed deeply to calm the girlish giggles threatening to erupt from her throat and concentrated on finishing up the last details of the shave, before passed her client on for a break. She grabbed the man’s arm and hauled him outside and around the side of the building where they could talk without spying eyes.

“Hi,” she said, putting her hands in the pockets of her apron where he couldn’t see them fidgeting with nerves. She tried to pull off ‘causal’ even if she felt far from it. Her nerves were tingling and distracting her.

“Hi,” he replied.

He looked good in dark blue. He wasn’t looking at her. He was looking everywhere except her but he was THERE. She decided to go easy on him.

“Sorry. You look shell-shocked. Will you ever recover from my embarrassing co-workers?”

She’d worked there so long that they were more family than co-workers really. The teasing and bickering and competition was from years of ups and downs together at the salon. It was second nature to her now and most of the clientele were used to it as well. They enjoyed the casual, playful environment. Like a mexican “Barber Shop” with Flora as the resident white girl. In the face of her green Knight though, every glaring embarrassment was apparent and she felt she needed to apologize.

“Uh…yeah I’ll recover. Eventually. I hope.”

She gave a half-hearted chuckle.

“Time will tell I guess. I know a good therapist though, if you need a recommendation.”

They stood in awkward silence, her joke dying on the vine. They scuffled their feet and shifted their weight, deliberately not looking at each other.

“How’s the echeveria?” he asked quietly.

“The what?”

“The plant you confessed to possibly murdering.”

She gave a full bellied laugh now that briefly revealed a gap between her two front teeth before she covered it her hand. Her nails had been done in bright acid green since he’d last seen her. His favorite shade of green. They matched the sweep of shadow on her eye lids and complimented her mulberry purple lipstick.

“You came all the way down here and offered yourself up on a silver platter to ask about my plant?”

He blinked and looked away from her face.


Oh he was a rare one.

“It’s not dead yet. I read that it’s pretty hard to kill them actually. One question though.”

He waited. She admired his profile. His lips were nice and full. They even looked soft and moist, not like most men’s lips. Her gut tightened painfully even thinking about getting close to his face. As it was she had to curl her fingers into fists to stop herself from straightening his collar and brushing a fingertip through his soft dark hair.

“You do have a phone right?”


“And you know how a phone book works. And the internet?”



She nodded and rocked back on her heels, grinning smugly. A car drove passed them and parked in a back spot nearer the liquor store on the other side of Flora’s salon.

“It’s okay if you wanted to see me you know. I like a guy who’s upfront with his attraction. You score extra points for coming to my work.”

She stared up at him, looking closely for any change around his mouth. Last time she tried to flirt he’d shut down. This time there wasn’t even a hint of emotion to give any indication of his mood. Damn he was hard!

“You don’t have any plants in the salon,” he said by way of changing the conversation.

And had a one track mind. What a pity.

“They die too,” she said, resigning herself to working around his pedantic exterior. “Lots of chemicals you know and kids dropping their juice boxes in them or pulling them out at the roots. Difficult to keep alive and unharmed here and fake ones are a hassle to keep dust free.”

He nodded, considering her answer. She took a breath to reply but what he said knocked it right out of her.

“I could bring some.”

Wha…? Her mouth dropped open in surprise. Was this guy for real? Did he have roots for brains? Her neatly plucked eyebrows went way up along her forehead, completing the shocked look.

“Some plants? Some living plants with real leaves and soil? Didn’t you hear what I just said?

“Yes I heard. I could bring tropical flowers maybe. Or Ivy. It’s pretty hardy and likes humidity.”

Flora barked out a laugh and covered her mouth again. Her bracelets jangled and slid up her arm. He was serious. He’d really given this some thought! She should feel flattered he’d given her a passing thought (and she was sure to girlishly flip out over it later).

“Now who’s planning to be a murderer? None of us have the time to take care of things other than paying clients. Why do you think my plants die? I’m never home to water them or too tired to remember.”

He shifted his weight and looked up at the gawdy pink sign advertising her work place.

“I’ll come water them,” he said.

Astonishment billowed off her in thick clouds. He raised his eyebrows at her once again open mouth.

“You’ll come every week to water them?” she asked, her voice sharp.

“Yes. Twice if it’s needed. Just depends.”

She reached out and put a hand to his forehead, checking for fever. She did so without thinking. He stepped away uncomfortably, out of her reach and she dropped her hand with a jarring cacophony to her side. Even more uncomfortable was the fact that she was staring so hard at him he had no choice but meet her eyes. The shimmering green shadow on her upper eyelid brought out the grey sharply and he noticed there were streaks of gold in the irises.

“You’re going to willingly come into that she-wolf den every week to take care of our plants? Do you have any idea what you’d be doing to yourself?”

“Yes. I think.”


He didn’t hesitate.

“You said you liked having living things around you, not just animals.”

Flora thought he might at least consider running away. She was willing to give him a head start but the fact that he answered right away made her suspect he’d thought about this for a lot longer than the 5 minutes he’d been standing with her.

“You remembered that?”


Flora thought she might burst. She didn’t know if it would be into tears or in screams but she nearly vibrated with the need to do something. She couldn’t hug him. He really would run away screaming. So licked her lips and took a step back, out of temptation’s reach.

“Alright. If you think you’re brave enough to come back I’ll let you bring some greenery in.”

He waited. There was another shoe waiting to drop in her statement.

“On two conditions.”

“Which are?”

“One, you will allow me to bring you lunch once a week as repayment.”

His sideways glance of unease made Flora roll her eyes and huff at him.

“I can cook pretty damn good, okay? And I know how to cook vegetarian. Or are you vegan? That’ll take some practice.”

“Vegetarian is close enough. More like clean eating though. I still enjoy chicken.”

Wow, she thought, he divulged something personal.

“Alright. Second condition.”

She paused for dramatic effect and he waited, tense and not looking at her.

“Can I have your name or do I keep calling you the Green Knight?”

His lips curved into the smallest of smiles, bubbling his cheeks and revealing a hint of a dimple. It transformed him into a man who was lighter and more open. Flora’s heart beat so loud it almost choked her words off.


He didn’t ask her ‘what?’. He knew what she meant. She worked damn hard for that glimpse of him.

“I’m Rhys,” he said.

“Reese?” She spelled it out.

“R-h-y-s,” he corrected.

The fidgety woman stilled suddenly. The noise of her ceased and it brought his attention around. Now it was Flora’s turned to look away. Irish. Goddamn Irish man. A hundred questions frothed up in her mind and she clenched her jaw against them.

“What?” he prompted, sensing her hesitation.

“Come whenever,” she said abruptly. “I’m usually here 6 am- 3 pm.”

Flora walked away, fast. She walked into her salon, passed all the waiting clientele and straight back into the break room where she sat in a corner and buried her face in her knees, trying to breathe. More than a “feeling”, she thought. It was deja vu. It was a memory. A pre-memory not realized until the moment it happened.

She’d dreamed this all when she was just a girl. It was the dream that had been the start of her ending, all those years ago.