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Like a Red, Red Rose
Alejandro Sanchez was tending the garden of Mr. Carver Wells. The late afternoon sun beat down on his back, causing his brow to sweat profusely.
“Alejandro! Get in here!” called Mr. Wells from the sundeck. Alejandro removed his soil-encrusted gloves, placed them on the ground next to his spade, and slowly ambled up to the sprawling house.
Mr. Wells sat behind the long polished desk in his study as his gardener cautiously took a seat. He spoke first.
“How is my garden? Thriving, I hope?”
“Yes, sir. The red roses by the front gate were beginning to wilt last week, so I took extra time with them. Such lovely flowers. It would be a shame to let them be… neglected.”
The gardener’s boss cleared his throat. “Well. I was never particularly fond of those roses. Sweet-smelling, pretty to look at, sure. But those thorns will prick whoever gets too close.”
Alejandro said nothing. He couldn’t look his boss in the eye. Mr. Wells’ hands were folded stiffly on the desk. He noticed how different his boss’s hands were from his own calloused fingers.
Mr. Wells had tan, soft hands. There was a small pale circle around the fourth finger on his left hand.
“Is there a problem with my work, Mr. Wells?”
“No, no. You’ve been doing a superb job. Now that this big old house is so empty, I appreciate having nice things to look at while I eat breakfast on the sundeck… by myself.” He glanced longingly over at a framed photograph sitting on the desk of a beautiful, dark-haired woman wearing a red silk scarf and sighed. “My wife was also a fan of your work before—before she left.”
Alejandro still could not meet the man’s eyes. “I’m glad that you’re satisfied.”
There was a pause.
“I think you know why you’re here, Alejandro.”
“I don’t believe I know what you’re talking about.” Alejandro fingered the red silk material in his pocket and shifted nervously in his seat.
“Don’t play games. You know full well what I’m talking about.”
“If this is about the roses, then you don’t need to worry. I’ve been taking very good care of—“
Mr. Wells slapped the desk. I will not stand for this, Alejandro! You are dismissed! Gather your tools and leave. Immediately!”
“Fair enough.” Alejandro stood up and walked out to the door. Then he stood in the doorway and stared straight into Mr. Wells’ cold, hard eyes. “It was a pleasure working for you, Mr. Wells. I’m sorry about… the roses.”
And he walked out of the room.
Mr. Wells ran a hand through his thinning hair and spun his chair to face the window behind his desk. He stared at the rose bush near the front gate and ran a finger across the small pale circle around the fourth finger on his left hand.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
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