Donal Mahoney, a native of Chicago, lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has worked as an editor for The Chicago Sun-Times, Loyola University Press and Washington University in St. Louis. His fiction and poetry have appeared in various publications, including The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Commonweal, Guwahatian Magazine (India), The Galway Review (Ireland), Public Republic (Bulgaria), The Osprey Review (Wales), The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey) and other magazines. Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs
(Photo: Carol Bales)
A Husband Goes to a Flower Show
A few years ago Herb Adams, a plumber by trade, went with his wife, Ellie, to her flower show where many ladies and a few men displayed their skill arranging flowers they had grown in their gardens during the summer. Usually Ellie wins prizes with her arrangements. It was the first time Herb had ever gone to one of the shows but that morning he could think of no plausible illness to feign. But as Herb likes to point out he spends a great deal of money buying the rare bulbs and seeds his wife plants so at least he is helpful in that respect.
That year, however, Ellie finished second to another woman in the competition and she felt cheated. She said the other woman used different flowers but had stolen Ellie's design that was original with her for that show. Since this was a Creative Design competition, an innovative and original design was very important.
To a novice like Herb, all the bouquets, as he likes to call them, didn't look that much different except for size and color. He had no idea what was going on and wished he had come down with a disabling attack of the croup before agreeing to attend the show.
After the judging, Ellie and the woman who had won first place had a very loud argument. Afterward, Ellie asked Herb to talk to her husband.
“Talk to him about what?” Herb asked.
Herb figured the husband was a man like him, a horticultural doofus, there to please his wife, and didn't know diddly about posies or putting them together. But Ellie told him the man was a retired flower show judge and she thought Herb should have a word with him about his wife’s stealing her design. It was too late for Ellie to win first prize but something like cheating, she said, should never happen again.
What’s a man to do in a case like that? If Herb wanted dinner for the rest of his life, he knew he could not be a shrinking violet.
Ellie pointed the husband out to Herb. He was older and smaller so Herb strolled over and told him about the controversy raging between their spouses. The man took great umbrage at Herb's suggesting his wife would cheat. He and Herb then had it out right there on the floor with the man shaking his cane at Herb.
Herb doesn't have a cane yet so he pointed his cell phone at the man. The husband's spectacles were so thick Herb was hoping he might think the phone was a weapon of some kind. Herb didn't know what he was talking about but it was obvious to him the retired judge knew exactly the nuances his wife had used to beat Ellie in the competition. And it didn't sound like she had cheated.
That evening at the big dinner that followed the show, Ellie and the lady who won first place were chatting like alumnae from Vassar. They obviously had known each other for years. And they apparently liked each other under normal circumstances.
Now, for the last three years, Herb has had to go with Ellie to every flower show in case there’s another problem. Happily there have been no other problems. But for the last three years neither the woman accused nor her husband have spoken to Herb. They ignore him. But they chat it up with Ellie just fine even though Ellie has won first place two out of the last three years.
It seems no one but Herb is upset anymore.