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Angel Blossoms / Karl Koweski

The plant was fairly massive taking up far too much of the kitchen for my liking. The body of the plant sprouted a thick array of five-petaled blossoms so white as to be blinding when reflecting the sunlight beaming through the glass patio doors. No pot existed for this plant. It seemed to rest on a sort of gastropod base, a vibrant dark green, snail-like foundation of a type I’d never seen before. And though my wife didn’t want to hear my complaints, I’m certain this fucking plant hated me from the moment she brought it home from Bennett’s Nursery.

           

“I thought you were going to grab some lantanas for the flower bed,” I said. “Maybe one of those knockout rose bushes you like.”

           

Dana shrugged. “You should’ve come with me.”

           

“It was the last day of the Pop Culture Expo. I wanted to get Felissa Rose’s autograph and stuff. I couldn’t miss it.”

           

“Well, you got your comic books, and I got my flowers.”

           

I looked at the plant and, so help me God, the plant was looking right back at me. Its myriad blossoms faced me, anyway. There was a sense of movement behind those pristine white petals. Vines, perhaps, like arteries, shifting, expanding and constricting, as if the damn thing were alive. Or, you know, more alive than your basic, garden variety house plant.

           

“What the hell is that thing?”

           

“It’s an angel blossom.”

           

And did it shift its attention toward Dana upon hearing its name? I think it did.

           

“They don’t come around very often,” Dana continued. “And there’s not very many of them when they do. So, I had to pick one up even though it’s kind of spendy, though, not so much when compared to your comic books.”

           

“Hey! I’m not complaining. You work hard for your money. I’m not begrudging you a thing. I’m just saying this angel blossom, it’s kinda weird looking.”

           

“That’s what gives it its charm. I think it’s beautiful. You know, angel blossoms are what grew out of the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah after God smote those cities. They say angel blossoms are a symbol of God’s intolerance for man’s immorality.”

           

“They said?”

           

“Biblical scholars.”

           

I’d never met a biblical scholar. I don’t think Dana ever met one, either. But living in rural Alabama sure brought us into contact with a whole bunch of folks who thought they were experts on reading the Bible and expounding on all those glorious lessons to be learned from those gilded pages. That’s just me being sarcastic. I can be that way, damn near all the time, now. Hell, that’s half my charm.

           

The plant settled into the area between the refrigerator and the kitchen table. Dana baby-talked it as she spritzed its blossoms with a spray bottle. It seemed to preen under the attention. No other way to put it. The plant had swagger. Sitting there in the corner like a king holding court.

           

If the plant hated me, which it did. I hated it, too.

           

When Dana fondled the petals and whispered sweetly how beautiful its blossoms were, how strong and upright and splendid the plant was growing, I’d make sure to follow up (once Dana was out of ear shot) with a “fuck you, bitch ass plant.”

           

The first time the plant moved, legitimately moved, it made an aggressive motion toward me. Aggressive motion seems like such a non-batshit crazy way of saying the fucking plant chased me around the house.

           

I wasn’t even thinking about the damn thing at the time. I’d recently contracted diabetes two through a lifetime of innocently gobbling five-pound bags of gummi bears and avoiding sweet teas with anything less than sixty-four grams of sugar per swallow. So, I was rifling through the fridge for my delicious sack of baby carrots when I heard a disconcerting rustle of vegetation.

           

I froze and listened. If I were a slightly bigger idiot, I could have convinced myself the sound originated from outside, branches mobilized by strong, straight-line winds scraping and brushing the tin roof. Except… there was no wind, no trees within roof’s reach, and the roof was shingled. Damn my incredibly cerebral, logical brain.

           

I slowly edged the fridge door closed and the shaggy blossomed son of a bitch was right there, straining forward on its gastropod base like a floral ballerina. Its uppermost blossoms reached my height, six foot, two and three quarter inches.

           

I jumped back, spilling my nutritious snacks across the linoleum. The plant lurched forward, undulating on its green foot, blossoms trembling with what could only be photosynthetic rage.

           

It projected a sighing sound which manifested in my mind as a language I couldn’t quite comprehend though I intuited this sentient plant was calling me a dick head.

           

As it moved, extending its height, the blossoms separated revealing the dark green tensile vines which comprised the bulk of its interior. The flowers shimmered in the light arresting my attention. A vine lashed out and snapped past my cheek waking me from my sudden stupor.

           

My retreat to the bedroom was instantaneous. If I ran any faster, I believe I would have traveled backward in time. The sound of its pursuit could have been mistaken for a cadre of janitors frantically sweeping the hallway with whisk brooms. I slammed the bedroom door and sought a weapon to defend myself. Not being a gun owner really fucked me this go around. I had a choice between a bottle of Victoria Secret Heavenly perfume, Megadeth “Peace Sells…” on vinyl, and a five-foot-tall didgeridoo the wife purchased from an aboriginal craftsman during a trip to Melbourne, Australia twenty years ago.

           

Snap decision, the didgeridoo was my best choice of weapon. I figured very shortly we’d see how this angel blossom would react to getting thrashed with what amounted to a massive, hollow, wooden dick.

           

I put my ear to the door. The soft sighing that felt more like it was infiltrating my mind rather than my ears, faded. I counted to five, steeling my nerve, and opened the door, leading with the blue tip of the didgeridoo, ready to cram it where I believed the plant’s maw to be.

           

The hallway was deserted. Only two green leaves and a fallen petal, curled and discolored like desiccated insect husks, marked the plant’s passage.

           

Chalking this up as a victory for the good guy, I replaced the didgeridoo in the corner and sat on the edge of the bed. I had thirty minutes of relaxation remaining before Dana returned from work. I thought about those carrot sticks strewn across the floor and how I might have returned and challenged the angel blossom for the snacks if they had been gummi bears.

           

By the time Dana came home, the adrenaline rush had worn off and I began questioning, not so much my sanity, as to how I might have misinterpreted what could have been a play of shadows on the plant as a sinister surge of vegetation hellbent on strangling me out with its prehensile vines. Maybe, the entire situation was a hallucination brought on by the total absence of sugar in my diet.

           

Once Dana returned, I ventured out of the bedroom. Seeing the angel blossom hulking beside the refrigerator with its stark white blossoms arrayed against me rekindled my fears.

           

“What’d you do with your day?” Dana asked as she poured a glass of extremely sweetened tea.

           

I stopped preparing the lemon pepper seasoned salmon. “Your plant attacked me today,” I said sullenly.

           

“Are you out of your mind?” Her eyes pleaded for a punchline.

           

“I was going to fight it with your didgeridoo, but it ran away.”

           

Dana laughed at this. “You’re so crazy. You crack me up.”

           

I looked at the angel blossom. It stood stock still. Seeing me side-eyeing the demon plant, Dana arched an eyebrow.

           

“You don’t have nothing to be nervous about, baby. Historically, angel blossoms only eviscerate immoral men.”

           

Dana and I maintained eye contact, but in my periphery, I could see the plant smugly nod its blossoms.

           

“Well, then, nothing to worry about here,” I smiled.

           

“You sure? If I look in your phone I won’t find your arm around the waist of a certain no-talent, has-been scream queen who hasn’t been relevant in horror movies since the nineteen eighties?”

           

“If you had kept on looking, you’d see me in pictures with Mick Foley, the fantastic character actor Dave Sheridan, the kid from Walking Dead… and she ain’t a has-been, or even really a scream queen, and she’s still relevant in the horror community.”

           

“She had her mouth open like she’s ready for dick.”

           

“That’s her signature pose from Sleepaway Camp! She does that expression for every fan selfie. And I refuse to believe that fucking plant chased me around the house cause I posed for pictures with Felissa Rose.”

           

“Well, I refuse to believe my beautiful angel blossom chased you anywhere.”

           

“Well, it did.”

           

“Is the salmon close to being done?”

           

“It is. I just got to boil some rice.”

           

Later, after a mostly silent dinner, while we were lying on the couches reading, Dana decided to continue the conversation.

           

“I’m surprised you ain’t tried telling me my plant is an alien.”

           

While it did occur to me this angel blossom could have been Venusian in origin, I kept this theory to myself. My interest in the Ancient Aliens television show was a point of contention in our relationship. Dana hated it. I considered the possibility of an alien hand in the creation of the Great Pyramid, Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, the Nazca ley lines, the origins of farming and the domestication of animals, samurai swords, microprocessors and stealth technology to be highly plausible. Dana considered my open-mindedness to be a character flaw.

           

When confronted with the mystery of the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan with its pools of liquid mercury and hard volcanic rock cut with laser precision, Dana invariably related an experience during her vacation in Bali where she watched artisans carve elaborate teakwood lounge chairs using only the sharp shards of broken coke bottles. Never dismiss the superior ingenuity of man being the lesson she wished to impart.

           

“I’m not saying it’s alien,” I defended myself. “But you have to ask yourself, is it a possibility this plant originated somewhere other than earth? Ancient astronaut theorists say yes.”

           

“My word, you’re maddening, you know that?”

           

Later still, Dana fell asleep first. I was getting there, stretched out with the latest Joe R Lansdale novel butterflied across my chest. I never feel as good as I do on the precipice of sleep, eyelids drooping, breath deepening. And that’s when the fucking plant decided to fuck with me again.

           

My eyes snapped open with the sound of foliage scraping against linoleum. Bitch ass plant trying to get the drop on me. The street light filtering through the blinds on the front room windows illuminated twin blossoms like glowing eyes peering over the back of the couch. I couldn’t quit staring at those blossoms until a set of vines wended through the bottom couch cushions and roped around my throat.

           

I quick worked my hand between vine and neck before the damn thing could tighten its grip. I kicked my legs out spastically, resisting the vines’ attempts to envelope my lower body. The vine around my throat ratcheted its grip pinning my left hand against my neck. I flailed about with my right hand, trying to wake Dana, but I couldn’t so much as slap her couch.

           

Desperate, I heaved forward gripping a blossom and wrenching it free from its floral mooring.

           

Its scream was shrill and reedy and I’m pretty sure the sound didn’t exist outside my mind. I dropped the severed blossom and tore the next blossom loose. The vine eased its death grip and I ripped the vine from my throat. Keeping a firm grip on the vine, I rolled off the couch and yanked the limb from its body.

           

That took some of the fight out of the fucking plant, but I wasn’t done with the skirmish by a long shot. I leapt over the couch and tackled the angel blossom. It collapsed beneath my weight as I wildly pummeled and shredded its defenses.

           

I straddled the plant, my hands dug through soft vegetation until my fingers groped against its firm, almost skeletal core. I wrapped my hands around this pulsating interior and began throttling the fucking plant for all I was worth.

           

Blossoms curlicued off the plant like flakes of ash. Curled petals like discarded toe nail clippings littered the floor. Vines weakly tapped against my hips and shoulders, lacking the strength to find purchase.

           

Its oddly communicative sighs devolved into gasping bleats. What life this angel blossom possessed, I could feel ebbing away with its every spasm.

           

“What the fuck are you doing to my plant?”

           

Dana had awakened. She stood at the edge of the couch with her fists balled, eyes blazing.

           

I kneeled there with the plant lying suddenly comatose between my legs. Dismembered blossoms surrounded me. I felt like a retarded child who had just been interrupted creating his masterpiece in magenta crayon on the front room walls, a mixture of pride and anxious dread coated in a thick veneer of ignorance.

           

“That’s it,” she said. “I can’t take this crazy shit anymore. You need to go. You need to pack up your Acapulco shirts and get the fuck out.”

           

“But baby… Your plant was trying to kill me.” I shook it and there wasn’t the least bit of resistance in the damn thing.

           

“All the more reason. Get out.”

           

Now would be the time to mention, I didn’t have a job., had been between jobs since about the time I met Dana. Also, even though I often referred to Dana as my wife, we weren’t conventionally married in the religious or governmental sense of the word. Beyond that, I had nowhere to go.

           

After a few nervous nights sleeping on park benches surrounded by all sorts of vegetation I felt could go malevolent at a moment’s notice, I ended up at my brother’s apartment with my thirty vibrant shirts stuffed in a garbage bag slung over my shoulder. Pete offered up his couch and I settled in.

           

Her poured us a round of jagerbombs to start things off.

           

“Pete, you know I got the diabetes.”

           

“It’s okay. I caught the ole Wilford Brimley disease, myself. It’ll be okay. I used the sugar free Red Bull.”

           

“Really?”

           

“Hell, no. Sugar just tastes better. And diabetes is just a product of a weak mind invented to explain pains in the pancreas. Now tell me what happened.”

           

I told him, leaving out everything about the angel blossom which, it turned out, left me without much of a story to tell. That was just fine by Pete. He understood how unfair women could be.

           

A week later, I was sitting on a lawn chair outside his apartment enjoying a morning cigarette and a nice cup of Maxwell House coffee sweetened with three spoonfuls of sugar and a splash of Baileys, when the neighbor next door, Cynthia, arrived home from her shift at the Huddle House.

           

We introduced ourselves and got to talking and she invited me into her place for a refresher on the coffee.

           

I sat at her kitchen table while she brewed a pot.

           

“How do you take your coffee?” She asked.

           

“With whiskey if you got it.”

           

“I don’t got it. But I do have some decent weed if your wanna smoke out here in a sec.”

           

“It’s a little early for the marijuana, but I guess I can make an exception at least once a day.”

           

Life was good. I leaned back and surveyed my surroundings. My eyes immediately fell upon the gigantic angel blossom dominating the back half of her living room. Its blossoms reached the ceiling.

           

“What the fuck?”

           

“Oh,” Cynthia smiled, pouring the coffee. “I see you noticed my star blossom.”

           

“Star blossom?”

           

“Star blossom on account of the white blossoms shaped like stars. They say star blossoms are indigenous to the Roswell, New Mexico area; that it grew from the soil where the UFO wreckage was found.”

           

“They?”

           

“Ancient astronaut theorists.”

           

I looked at the fucking plant. The fucking plant looked at me. Its blossoms trembled.



/


KARL KOWESKI is a writer, friend, fan. An expert of nothing, an enthusiast for everything. Pop culture guru, collector of all things groovy. You can find him on Twitter @KarlofKoweski.

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