“A Green Thumb on the Scales of Justice,” by David Marie-Garland

Apr 20th, 2021 | By | Category: Fiction, Prose

This is how I remember the fateful concatenation of events which led to my present state.

I’d gone to the flower shop to buy some flowers for my mother for her birthday, her birthday having been the day before. And even though her birthday was the day before, I thought she would still enjoy the flowers, anyway.

The clerk behind the counter was attractive, in a cute sort of way, so I decided to ask her a few questions about flowers, like what are they and does she fancy them as much as I do.

I then asked her what type of flower I should buy my mother. She recommended roses, which I thought was kind of obvious, but I went along with her recommendation, anyway, because she was that cute, in an attractive sort of way.

The roses, however, were quite expensive, and I could not afford all that she recommended; but we met a quarter of the way, and I bought my mother three roses. They were the best of the dozen, which I knew personally, since I had gone through the whole dozen individually and picked out the best three. The clerk acted like she didn’t mind, which was a good thing, as I really hate when people get bothered by the things I do.

After paying for the roses and thinking that was the end of my relationship with the salesclerk, I noticed a flower which sat all by itself on a small table. In front of the plant was a sign that read, “From The Jungles of South America.”

When I was a kid I’d heard stories about the jungles of South America. These stories always fascinated me, as kids are easily fascinated, but as an adult, seeing those words again, I was transported to my past, a simpler time, a time of delight and wonder. So I walked over to the table to inspect the plant further.

“Go ahead and smell it,” said the cute and attractive salesclerk.

I looked at her puzzled, then back at the flower and lowered my head to give it a sniff. It was sweet, like honey and fresh air, but also made my head a little dizzy. Then everything went white.

I became disoriented and started thrashing about, knocking over plants and lawn ornaments. I was causing real destruction to the little flower shop but could not stop myself. Vision returned to me, but it was not my vision. Now everything looked green, and yellow, and purple. My hands began to melt and my feet were stuck to the floor, which was good, as I was feeling so unmoored and needed to be anchored.

There was a tapping on my shoulder, and so I turned around and saw two of Satan’s henchmen. They began asking me questions, wanting to know if I had insurance and who my emergency contact was.

I told them I did not know the answers to their diabolical questions, and how dare they ask such satanic questions to me, a follower of Jesus Christ.

I felt a prick in my arm, probably from one of the pitchforks they were holding; then I fell asleep, just like in a fairy tale.

I awoke later in a hospital bed, strapped down, and my own vision having returned. Next to my bed was the cute-but-also-attractive salesclerk from the flower shop, and in her lap a small potted plant, which I hoped was a gift for me.

“Are you feeling better?” said the salesclerk.

“Yes, I feel much better,” said I. “I’m not sure what came over me. I’ve never had a fit like that before.”

“I hope it wasn’t the plant.”

“The plant?”

“Yes, right before you had your fit you smelled the plant—the one from the jungles of South America.”

“No, it coudn’t’ve been the plant. I have no known allergies, especially toward plants.”

“That’s good to hear,” she said, then lifted the plant, which to that point had been sitting on her lap.

“It’s for you.”

“Thank you. It looks beautiful.”

“My name is Carol, by the way.”

“Hello. I’m Carlo. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“We’ve already met, at the flower shop. Don’t you remember?”

“I meant formally. Sorry, I’m not quite myself yet.”

“Oh, I understand.”

“Thank you for understanding.”

There was a brief pause in our conversation as we took our time processing the preceding exchange. Then, Carol shifted in her chair.

“It’s funny, our names are so similar.”

“Yes, they do seem so.”

“By the way, would you like to have dinner with me sometime? Once you are out of the hospital, of course.”

“I would very much like that, dinner being a favorite meal of mine.”


We went to a restaurant, not a fancy one, but a nice one, where the waiters wore white button-down shirts and black pants and the menus were printed on paper, not laminated.

At one point, the mayor came in and sat at his usual booth. Both Carol and I took notice of the mayor. He was resplendent in all his glory. And seated across from the mayor was a beautiful lady, a once former beauty queen, who was not his wife. The mayor was doing business with her—she owned a car dealership and the mayor wanted to buy a car from her. Why did he need to go out to dinner to buy a car? It was a difficult question to answer, but, needless to say, the reason made sense. There was nothing untoward about it.

While at the restaurant we ordered some food to eat. But we not only ate; we also talked. And you might say that we were the topic of our conversation, and not because of arrogance, but because of formality. We were getting to know each other.

“I work in a flower shop.”

“Yes, that is where I met you. I was in the hospital recently.”

“Yes, I came and visited you. I brought you a plant from the flower shop, where I work.”

“Yes, I remember that.”

We were having a nice conversation and really getting to know each other. She was pleasant to be around, and did not talk too much, nor too little. And she had excellent taste in food, for the meal she chose from the menu was a superb choice. My meal, on the other hand, was quite horrible. Although I finished it, it was only to prove to her that I could.

She was an excellent dinner companion. But I was curious if she would also be a good companion to accompany me to a movie or the museum. I asked Carol if she would be interested in accompanying me to either of those places, and she said that she would. To both, in fact. The look on my face told her I was excited by her answer; and so we made plans to see each other again.

That night I went home and wrote in my diary about what had just happened, how wonderful the dining experience had been, how great Carol was as a dinner companion.

I further confided to my diary that I had not been on many dates prior to the one with Carol and was, therefore, nervous about what we would do if our first date went well. I’d heard about others asking women to movies and museums, and thought I could try something similar to that, if not that exactly. I knew it would not be easy to ask her about a future outing, that it would be fraught with grave danger. But since the two of us got along so well, I was able to do it with the confidence of a man who had read many magazines.

I told my diary that Carol had indeed accepted my offer to a movie and a museum, then I thanked it for its time and said goodnight, turning over in my bed and shutting off the light.


For our second date Carol picked me up in her car, a late model sedan, which she had purchased from her landlord, who was also her mother. The car ran nicely. And I was glad when Carol had offered to drive, since I was still feeling unwell from my hospital stay.

She was a good driver, able to signal well, and could change lanes with relative ease, all areas where I have great difficulty. I was also impressed with her parallel parking skills, as this is a skill that does not come easily to most. Many a car has been damaged due to neglect in parallel parking.

Our first destination for the evening was the movie theater. We had decided on a movie earlier that day, by phone, and so when we arrived at the theater, we knew which movie we were going to see and at what time it was playing.

(The movie was excellent and provided many laughs.)

After the movie ended we headed for the museum. The museum itself was having a retrospective of the photographs of Helmut Newton, an artist whom both Carol and I respect. While there we enjoyed ourselves, looking at the many photographs, and made plans to return another day.


For our third date I had a novel recommendation, something I thought the two of us would thoroughly enjoy. And the idea itself was quite a romantic one.

“Carol, I have a romantic idea for our next date.”

“Yes, Carlo, what is it?”

“A bank robbery.”

“A bank robbery? Carlo, that is romantic! Have you ever done anything like that before?”

“No, never. That’s what makes it extra special.”

“Oh, I’m so excited. I just know it will be so special. And romantic. When shall we do it?”

“Well, the thing with banks is they’re only open during the day. So it will have to be a daytime date. And no weekends. When do you have your next day off?”


“This Thursday?”


“Okay, that works for me, too. So you want to do it this Thursday, then?”

“I really do, Carlo. I really do.”

“Then it’s a date. This Thursday we will rob a bank. I’ll come up with a plan tonight and ask my friend Tony if I can borrow his gun, he’s got plenty, then I think we’ll be ready to commit our first robbery on Thursday. Don’t worry about anything, I’ll handle all the details. I want you to really be able to enjoy this.”

“I can’t believe it. I’m buzzing I’m so excited.”

“Me, too. It’s going to be great.”

Afterwards, when I asked my friend Tony if I could borrow his gun, he said no, he didn’t want any of his guns used in the commission of a crime, that he could be held responsible if we were captured with his gun. I told him I understood, and so he recommended a friend of his who sells black market guns. These are guns with their serial numbers rubbed off, therefore untraceable. Tony’s always been a good friend.

As for the planning of the robbery? The task was not difficult. All I had to do was decide which bank we should rob. That was it. It only took about fifteen minutes to do, and just as I was finishing the planning, Tony’s friend with the gun came over. We chatted for a few minutes then he left, and I was now the proud owner of an untraceable gun. Fate is a funny thing sometimes. I never thought that when I went to buy flowers for my mother for her birthday, I would also find someone whom I would care so deeply about.



We arrived at the bank around lunchtime, the inside crowded with people on their lunch breaks. I was glad to see so many people inside, for there cannot be a performance without an audience, and a bank robbery is certainly a performance of a kind.

Before entering the bank, we paused, breathing in the air of the moment; then Carol and I walked through the bank’s doors, ready to commit our first robbery.

Once inside I pulled the gun from my front pants’ pocket and pointed it in the air. It was now time to yell the famous line.

“Everybody put your hands up, for this is a robbery!”

I noticed people were doing what I asked of them, which gave me a feeling of great confidence, and I was able to proceed much more comfortably than when I’d first entered the bank.

The tellers were handing money to Carol as I waved my gun around the bank, pointing it at various customers and bank employees. While I was performing this activity, I noticed out of the corner of my eye one of the bank’s employees bending over, as if she were pressing a button under the counter. I knew this meant she was probably tripping the silent alarm, so I shot her.

The shooting of the bank employee prompted the security guard—an elderly gentleman, who had worked at the bank for quite some time—to action. He reached for his gun, which he did with great difficulty, fumbling with it, then holding it with both hands, in an unsteady manner. I had to wait for him to finish with all this, being that I did not know what his intentions were. Did he plan to engage in fire with me? Because I was more than willing, as my confidence had been steadily increasing since I’d entered the bank.

It turned out he did want to have a gunfight. With unsteady hands, he pointed his gun at me and took one shoot, luckily missing me by a mile. But he did shoot one of the customers, which was probably bad news for his position as security officer at that bank.

Now that I knew what his intentions were, I aimed my gun at his head and pulled the trigger. I was not sad by the results. The bullet struck its target and inflicted mortal injury.

In response to this, one of the bank tellers yelled out, “You killed Bob.” And I say, I did not know his name then, but now I will never forget it.

By this time the police had arrived. We did not take the time to exchange pleasantries, but instead exchanged crossfire. The shooting caused a mess, covering the floor in blood as the customers kept getting in the way of the bullets. The police kept yelling to the customers, “Get down, let us do our job,” but little good that did. They really did seem to have no control over the situation at all.

After about twenty minutes of this shooting business, the chief came in and said it was time to cut out the nonsense. He asked me what my demands were, and I told him—I would like to leave the bank with my money, as I intended to do when I first entered.

It would’ve been nice if he let me do as I wanted, but he had another idea. He wanted me to lay down my gun, put my hands up, and walk outside to his squad car. “No dice,” I said.

“I’m taking a hostage.”

“Now, can’t we talk about this for a minute?”

“You’ve had your chance for talk, and it’s over. I’m taking a hostage, and then I’m leaving, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

“I can ask you to think this over, you have so much to live for.”

“Darn right I do. I have me a woman, who I love, and we’re both leaving here, and we’re taking this hostage with us.”

I took the hand of the person closest to me, who happened to be a small boy, that couldn’t’ve been more than three or four. This caused the child’s mother to go into hysterics. I told her to calm down, I was not going to hurt her child, but if her child did get hurt, the police were probably to blame.

And so we walked out of the bank, the three of us, with me exiting first, holding the small child’s hand, my gun to its head, and Carol behind me, holding the bag of money that was our score from the robbery.

Once safely in our car, Carol seated in the front seat and I in the back with the child, still with my gun to its head, we drove away, not really knowing where we were headed. However, we needed to make a decision, sooner rather than later, knowing that the police would not leave us alone.


When we got far enough away and saw that the police had kept their word and did not follow us, we let the child go, dropping him off at a gas station and giving him a few dollars to buy a treat while he waited for his mother to come collect him. He waved goodbye to us as we drove off, and we gave a little honk of the horn to let him know it’s been fun.

And off we went, to the great unknown, except we knew now where we were going, for we had seen a sign on the side of the road which advertised lodgings in a secluded location for a reasonable price. Exactly our qualifications.

We would stay there awhile, count our money, see what the police had planned, and then make our next move.

That night we went to bed.

The following day I awoke with my fingers sticking together. I could not pull them apart, though I did not try too hard for fear of causing great injury to my hands. My feet as well had undergone a change. They were now a lot more veiny than before. This was all very odd to me. Just what could be going on here with my body? I wondered aloud to myself, but also to Carol.

“Let me see your hands.”

I showed Carol my hands, and she inspected them as a mother looking at a child’s hands making sure it had washed them properly.

“Yes, they do look different. They appear to be changing color, too. They look greener than normal.”

It is true my hands have always had a sort of greenish tint to them, but she was right, my hands were becoming greener. I thought it might be from the stress of the situation.

“I think it might be from the stress of the situation,” I said.

“Yes, perhaps. But I couldn’t help notice that your feet look different as well.”

She had noticed my feet! I guess it was to be expected since they no longer really looked like feet anymore. Yes, my feet had more veins than before, but it was more than that. It was like the muscles and bones and toes of my feet had become—not veins, no—had become, well, roots. My “feet” looked as if they needed to be planted in a pot of soil. There was no longer any mass to them. Our situation was greatly changing.

Hours passed by as we waited in the motel. We didn’t do much, as there wasn’t much to do. And even the great time killer coitus was out of the question, since my legs had begun to fuse together and I’d lost my member completely, which was all very unfortunate, as I have heard on-the-lam sex is quite good.

By evening it had become obvious what was happening. I was transforming into a flower, specifically, a chrysanthemum. My feet had become roots, my legs and torso were the stem, and my head the petals. I spoke to Carol with what I knew were going to be my last words.

“Please, you need to plant me in a pot of soil. My roots need to be in soil.”

Carol drove the few miles to town where they had a general store. At the store she asked one of the employees if they had any flowerpots or soil for sale, which, luckily, they did.

As Carol moved down one of the aisles in the general store looking for the soil, another customer approached her. The other customer was a curious lady, who wore a pink sweater with a poodle on it.

“You look familiar. Are you famous or something?” asked the other customer.

Thinking quickly, Carol replied, “No, I’m just in town on vacation, visiting some relatives.”

“Well, which is it, vacation or visiting relatives?”

“Both, I guess.”

“You guess?”

“It’s both. I had to use my vacation days from work to come and visit my grandmother.”

“Why are you visiting your grandmother?”

“She recently married, and I wasn’t able to attend the wedding, so I wanted to come and bring her the wedding gift I had bought for her. I didn’t want to send it by mail, since it is very fragile. It’s a serving plate with a picture of her and her new husband on it.”

“But where did you get this plate from? I have a wedding I was invited to coming up and that sounds like a great gift.”

“I bought it from a kiosk at a local market in the town where I’m from. Unfortunately, the kiosk went out of business, as the owner of the kiosk didn’t have the proper licenses.”

“Oh, don’t get me started on the government. Well, it’s been nice chatting with you, but I must get on. Take care, and I hope you enjoy your visit with your grandmother.”

“Thank you. And take care.”

After her conversation with the curious customer, Carol went to the front counter and paid for the pot and soil. As she was walking out of the general store, she noticed a post office next door with a flyer posted on its window. The flyer caught her attention due to its subject matter. It was a picture of Carol and me with the words “Wanted” written above our heads.

She rushed back to the motel room and helped me into the pot. She was out of breath the whole time, which was very concerning, to be honest.

I asked her why she was so out of breath, and she explained to me what had happened. I told her the flyer was worrisome, but she shouldn’t concern herself about the lady at the store. She probably did think she recognized her, as Carol does bear a striking similarity to the famous actress ****.

My comments were very helpful to Carol and she calmed down considerably.

Once things had settled down a bit, I asked Carol if she could water me. My voice had a dry sound to it, which is why I thought earlier I was losing my ability to speak, but I was still able to communicate, though I no longer had a mouth. However, this ability would not last—by midnight I would lose complete use of this function.

That night the police finally did show up. They broke down our door and entered our motel room with their guns drawn. There must have been over a hundred of them, and you could tell they came to play, wanting to use their guns and send us to the morgue.

What they found instead was Carol, sitting on the edge of the bed, a cup of water in her hand and at her feet, a flower in a terra-cotta pot.

“Where is he?”

Carol did not speak or move.

“Look, you two are in a lot of trouble, but we really just want your boyfriend. So give him to us, and we’ll let you go. Okay?”

She looked down at her feet, then back up to the police officer who had spoken to her.

“This is my boyfriend. He’s a plant. He wasn’t always a plant, but he is one now. I must take care of him. I know how to do this, because I work in a flower shop.”


David Marie-Garland is the author of two short story collections: Stories From Hell and The Wisdom Of Wisdom Man. He lives alone in the American Southeast.

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