This is a Sunday Photo Fictionsubmission. It’s quite long for a piece of flash but I like it so I hope you’ll let me off. Thanks. As always, to Al for the photo.
Declan left the force under a cloud. There was talk of an affair with the super’s wife. Others would have it he’d been caught stealing stationary but we all knew the truth; it was the drink. We covered for him as long as we could, but it was no good. By the time he started seeing little green men in the station, it was obvious the game was up. Textbook, said the police surgeon; he’d let the bottle take hold and there was no way back.
After he left, he tried to cut it as a private detective but, what with his drinking and his gammy leg, it was never going to work. He closed the business after a client lamped him for pointing out that of course the trophy wife he’d paid him to tail was having an affair. Why wouldn’t she, he asked, married to a halitotic lump of adipose tissue like that. Declan had always had a way with words. He had to sell the suburban semi after that, move into a high rise flat. All things considered, he didn’t mind, but he was going to miss the garden.
He’d been drinking when he had the idea; most of his best ideas came when he was drunk. Most of his worst ideas, too, but with Declan, the glass was always half full. He wouldn’t leave the garden, he decided, he’d take it with him. Using an old salmon kettle as a base, he scattered soil from his flower bed and planted a few seeds. Every morning before the shakes set in, he’d tend his little urban garden. It wasn’t the same, but at least it was something. When they’d drummed him out of the force, he hadn’t been allowed to take any mementoes.
For a while, all was well. His azaleas grew spectacularly and he came to find the time he spent with his salmon kettle garden oddly calming. It wasn’t enough to stop him drinking-he was too far gone by then-but it was close. For the first time in years, he was happy.
It ended one Sunday. The azaleas were beautiful but they made for a monotonous vista. Declan decided he needed to plant some narcissi. With his newly steady hand, he prodded at the soil with his trowel, ready to dig out the housing for his bulbs. He was surprised to meet some resistance. Strange, he thought; the soil should have been an accommodating loan. He pressed harder with the trowel but it wouldn’t move; there was something there. It was only when he dug it up that he saw what it was: the body of a little green man, about six inches tall, a paperclip through his heart.