Kendall sat at the bar waiting for the woman with the yellow rose in her hat to show up. He was loathe to order another drink as his voice would begin to slur; he was already finding his gaze falling on breasts rather than faces, and was tempted to call the whole thing off. After waiting to see what Sassysuzanne86 looked like in the flesh of course. Catching a glimpse in the mirror behind the bar, Kendall makes a mental note to remove the yellow rose from his own hat before carrying out his dastardly plan. He orders. If I get my change before she gets here I’ll hide in a booth.
Kendall settles in the booth and removes his hat, places it on the seat beside him and sets to watching for the entrance of Sassysuzanne86. Kendall picks up a newspaper and idly flicks through it; makes a prediction of double figures for the number of death-related stories, the same for those describing the fall from grace of a k-list celebrity, and two – as he was feeling optimistic – for feelgood stories where someone has helped a fellow human being. Kendall’s cynicism was finally rewarded on the penultimate page, where someone with the same name had died peacefully in their sleep after suffering for three years with a debilitating, painful muscular degenerative disease…please give generously to the fuckers who made him suffer for that long.
He’d considered his own death on many occasions. It always came back to being in a massive explosion; where there are no traces of a body; he was either blown to smithereens or is still alive…living in Venezuela…a yellow flower in the rim of his Panama signalling nothing; merely telling anyone who saw it that I have picked a yellow flower and placed it in my hat band. It’s what the flower would have wanted. The idea of a slow and lingering death makes me physically ill; he takes a large pull of his drink to quell the rising stomach contents; has a brief thought about watching his stepfather slowly die of bone cancer and then is ripped from his reverie by an incoherent scream from the bar.
Kendall looks up just in time to catch the barrel of a gun staring straight at him. The woman holding it is breathing heavily, specks of phlegm dot her lips, and beads of sweat her forehead. He knows she’s asking him something, but all he can focus on is the vision of himself, bleeding to death on the floor following a bullet wound to his retroperitoneal space; a student doctor hunched over him, yet to attend the lecture on treating bullet wounds to the retroperitoneal space; pooling blood; his mother crying at the funeral and thinking you know what, this actually didn’t happen to the better of the two; I could’ve been better had I given a shit about your opinion; no explosions here; not even talking the crazy bitch round and shagging her at the end of it; having a gun pointed at you really tests your subconscious fantasies; mine are shit.
I said, she said, have you seen a man with a yellow rose in his hat?
Would humour work? Would she laugh if I said Moscow is cold this time of year?
Kendall says no. Kendall feels the feeling that in the past he has half-halfheartedly attempted to categorise as guilt…it is not guilt…it is, oh shit I may very well get found out; I must take an active role in the cessation of hostilities.
Kendall says, would you like to talk about what’s troubling you? Shit fucker shit balls! why didn’t I say yes, I saw a man with a yellow rose in his hat leave not long ago?! He looked gravely ill in fact.
I beg your pardon?
Would like to talk about what’s troubling you?
Would I? You know I think I might.
Sassysuzanne86’s eyes fill with tears, they narrow; her head cocks, she musters the closest thing to a smile she can, and she nods silently; lowers the gun and hugs herself. Sassysuzanne86 says, I used to think it was just me who thought that I was rotten to the core. But I had the evidence. I’ve spent a lot of years with myself. If anyone is qualified to make any judgment at all about me then it’s me. Now it seems that strangers have hacked in to my memory banks and come to the same conclusion.
Kendall saw in his periphery a man cowering in the corner with a phone clamped to his ear. Kendall didn’t dare take his eyes away from those of Sassysuzanne86, lest she wonder what he was looking at and put holes in half a dozen retroperitoneal spaces.
Tell me, is my soul’s health that visible? Is it written on my face? Am I the colour of decay?
There was a pause…a little trickle of urine feathered out on his boxers when he realised that these questions were not rhetorical.
Then why is everyone I meet disgusted by what they see.
Kendall was certain that no question mark was attached. And he was also convinced that he could hear the sweet melodious tinkle of police sirens in the distance. She may very well be angry that the police had been called…but she couldn’t be angry at him; he’d been stood in front of her the whole time, staring into her eyes, those windows of her soul, the only man who’d given a care to what she was thinking and feeling. She couldn’t be angry at Kendall.
They were sirens. And Sassysuzanne86 heard them too. She calmed at the sound. Kendall saw it, and cared not a whiff that a larger patch of urine was the result. Her eyes released their inclement grip and began to focus on other things in the bar; realisation dawning that this could be the last room she ever sees. She sees the clock; it looks to have stopped. She sees drinks; the bubbles ever so slowly rising. And she sees a battered, off-white Panama hat, with a yellow rose blossoming from within; specks of what look like red paint lightly dust the nearside.