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On The Rainbow Road

by butterfly2000 

Posted: 07 October 2013
Word Count: 2214
Summary: Tweaked piece submitted here before. I've reworked the MC's bad language to make her softer. Becca, you'd said you found her hard to like - is there any difference now? Any feedback would be great. Sorry if you've read this before!
Related Works: On the Rainbow Road (short section of play) • 

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

On the Rainbow Road

“Come to collect my lil’ Daisy. Yeah, tha’s right. Sweet lil’ bud of a girl as I remember.”

The name’s Flowers. Sometimes.
Sometimes it’s Iris. Goddess of sea an’ sky… messenger ‘tween gods an’ men. Not that I got any message to give. I ain' sayin’ that. Just sayin’ I like the name’s all. But if there’s one name I don’t like, it’s Daisy.
You ain' goin’ nowhere for a minute, right? ‘Cause I sure as shinola ain'. They got me all strapped up. Trussed like a turkey on thanksgivin’. Been waitin’ for this moment though. Knew it’d have to happen sooner or later.
Oh man, my head hurts! Jesus H, whas’ the needle for? What you tryin’ on here!

“Well… least you got pretty clean arms. Lucky you’s white girl. Means you get to have this shit. There ya go. That’ll fix you up for a while.”
“What you sayin’ man?”
“Ah, nothin’. Just talkin’ shit. How ol’ you think she is?”

I could get real pissed at that. Who they think they are, stickin’ needles in where they ain' wanted. Gonna stay calm though. Yeah. I try not to get so emotional these days.
Guess ya can’t escape ‘em, huh. Emotions, I mean. Jealousy can be a real b-i-t-c-h. ‘Scuse my cursing mouth, mind. Yeah, I’d have to say, if there’s one emotion I’d ditch, I mean, if I had a choice an’ all.
Drives some to kill. See it all the time in the news. Crimes o’ passion I hears it called. But I don’t think usin’ a gun counts. There ain' no kind of passion in a bullet. Nope. It’s jus’ cold. An’ you gotta keep a real steady hand, you know?

“Hey Joey, looks like the crazy bitch’s got a flower growin’ out her pocket!”
“Hey! You’d better check your respect man. Jus’ ‘cause she look the way she do, don’t mean nothin’. She could jus’ as easily be your sister, jerk!”
“Jeez Joey, who died an’ made YOU guardian of the whack-fuckin’-jobs!”
“Hey up yours man. Sure I seen this girl before though… somewhere’.”

Yeah, don’ like to let emotions get the better of me. Got the ol’ man to thank for that. Was ‘bout four or five first time I remember him beatin’ up on ma. Even then I realised somethin’ was up with the picture, ya know? He’d be kinda calm on the outside all the while. Wasn’t just her either. Me an’ his belt go way back. Pretty sure I still have that buckle tattooed on my be-hind.
Damn this crushing crap-for-brains ol’ headache. Jus’ like a hammer’s loose in my head. Fact is, I feel real tired. Kinda floaty.
Like a…

“OK, OK. Listen, I’m sorry Joey. I… wasn’t thinkin’. Listen, Jacky an’ I split last week… It’s been tough man.”

…dream or somethin’.

“Hey, I’m sorry bro… Damn! How are the kids?”
“Oh… pretty good I s’ppose. You know, they’re good kids… But, think I need some time off. I’m… not feelin’ myself. You know?”
“Yeah. I know. It’s not like you man. I know you. Damn! Can’t believe you an’ Jacky split! She loves you man.”
“Yeah, well seems love just ain' enough sometimes.”

Jesus, it’s cold! You feel that?
Why am I so goddam cold! I hate the cold. Make me depressed. Like I wanna bawl. An' sometimes I just feel the need to cry. Like if I don’t, I feel like I gonna blow, know what I mean?
Therapist once said that was on account o’ my repressed emotions. She said it’s good for me to cry. I wasn’t seeing her or nothin’. We’d just got talkin’ on the subway ‘tween Cypress Avenue an’ Canal Street.
Thing is, it don’t usually take too long to find somethin’ sad. Just walk a couple of blocks and I’ll usually find the thing. Like garbage bag Bern. That’s on account a’ his garbage bag a-ttire. Anyways, he hangs out by 17th Precinct most days. Says it safer there, you know, near the cops. An’ I know I don’t look too different in circumstances, but what I’m sayin’ is he don’t even register you walkin’ by no more. That’s the thing that gets me. Bein’ resigned. Know what I mean?
I can’t do that shit. Gonna go fightin’ all the way. But the other day I had to take off the boxin’ gloves, jus’ for a minute, to help this ol’ lady. I got this affinity with the old, see. Think I was born old. Got a 50 year ol’ head on a 25 year ol’ body. Yeah, yeah. Lookin’ good for my age. Not.
So, as I was sayin', found her cryin’ somewhere downtown ‘cause someone stole her purse. Why’d someone wanna go an' do that?
Anyways, she just wanted back the picture of her son. Was the last one she had, an’ she was cryin’ an’ all, seeing as he was dead. She was wailin’ like a banshee an’ dribblin’ real bad outta her nose, so I cleaned her up best I could on my sleeve. Made me wanna be sick, wipin’ her drippy nose on me, but I couldn’t leave her like that. She was a little nuts by most peoples standard. Kept repeating herself over an’ over, askin’ ‘is he coming to pick me up yet?’ An’ I’d ask who, an’ she’d say ‘Robert, my son. He’s an angel now.’
People is scared of that shit. Don’t bother me none. An’ the whole body odour thing. She stank like a wet bed. So what?
Now where was I? Oh yeah, I saw an ambulance caught in traffic up ahead. Driver didn’t wanna pay me no attention mind But the other guy, he made him pull over, kerbside. He was real nice to the lady. Real kind. He didn’t mind about her talkin’ to her dead son. Didn’t mind me either. Fact of the matter is, he thanked me.
Anyways, speakin’ of dead things, I remember passin’ by the cemetery.
Don’t ask.
Was a beautiful day, in any case. Might have been today, but I’m a bit foggy on the details, if you wanna know the truth. But there I was, walkin’ through all these gravestones. Lookin’ at name an’ dates. That kinda shinola.
There were lots of flowers; I remember that. Plenty dead people in that there graveyard, but I couldn’t see one dead flower.
Truth is, the graveyard made me think ‘bout ol’ lady Haines, back when I was a skinny kid. Seems a long time ago I stopped by ol’ lady Haines’ garden. Used to whenever I went to school. Mostly when I came back too. Man, she really took care o’ her garden. An’ I don’t know nothin’ about names of flowers and the stuff she grew in there, but it was colourful. Real pretty. Jus’ made me feel so good to see it, y’know? Kinda peaceful like. It spoke to me in ways I couldn’t say. ‘Cause there’s a lot I can’t say, you know.
Guess she must’ve seen me so many times, she actually came out one day. Didn’t say a word, mind. Just reached over the fence. Gave me a pot with a lil’ tiny speck a’ green pokin’ its head above the soil. It killed me.
It really killed me.
I just stood an’ watched her slowly amble - the way she did - back inside. I turned and walked away, holdin’ that pot like it was a gift from God hisself. Then I got all ‘plexed, ran back towards the garden. Ol’ lady Haines leaned out the porch like she was some kinda sage. Said, ‘It’s a bulb. Just water it child. Tend to it with love.’
An’ I did tend it too. Every day. Had in on my window’s edge so I could wake up to it and go to sleep lookin’ at it every night. It knew the secrets in our house, that lil’ bud, but it bloomed even though it knew.
Me an ol’ lady Haines struck up a friendship after that. There weren’t too many words passed between us, but something else existed in their place I suppose. An’ when she passed on, I kept her garden neat as I could till my own troubles came.
Tend to it with love. Jus’ chokes me when I remember them words.

Guess all the reminiscin’ took my mind away from where I was, but when I looked up again, I seen I was sat right under a big ol’ angel. Arms spread open. Great wings reachin’ all the way to the ground. An’ I swear, it was like that angel was speaking to me. Sayin’ ‘Hey, wake up stupid! Get your lazy good for nothin’ ass up; get the heck off my grave and go do somethin’. Somethin’ good.’
She’d be right though. I’d never done nothin’ worthy of shinola. ‘Cept maybe when I shot my pa.
Found him ‘bout to put his filthy hands on my baby sister. Yeah, I don’t like to think of that… knowing what he’d done to me an’ all. But I ain' sayin’ no more on that. I know most people, well… they can put two and two together. Truth is, I’d already gone by then. You know… switched channels in ma’ head. I’d say it was the time he came to my room an’ I knew what was comin’, an’ I just look at him. Straight in the eyes. Not close ‘em, like I done before. Well, he didn’t like it see. So, know what he did? He picked up that bulb I been growin’, an’ he tipped it on the floor. Stepped on it as he left the room. Couldn’t cry; jus’ felt numb.
But I managed to save her. Still got her today, see. ‘Course he never came to my room after that.
You know, I got to thinkin’ maybe I’d go back West and find my sis. Hope she’d forgive me for disappearing like I did. For killin’ pa.

“Ok, let’s get her in. Outta the way sir! Hey nurse, we need assistance here, right away. If we’re not quick we’re gonna have another Jane Doe on our hands.”

Hell… I feel kinda fine. A1 serene as a matter fact… what was that? Jeez, these guys are makin’ some noise! What’s that? Jane Doe? No, it’s...
“Hey, did you hear that? She’s tryin’ to say somethin’.”
“Flowers. I’m sayin’…. Flowers. Now don’t you be takin’ lil’ Flowers to no jail.”
“Flowers? Is that your name?”
“Jus’ said so, didn’t I?”
“Well, Flowers, you had us worried there for a minute. An’ I know the Bellevue ain' the Waldorf, but it ain' no jail either. An’… hey! Wait! Now I know where I seen you before! You the girl that helped a lady the other day. Remember? The ol’ lady who lost her son?”


“So man, what happened to Flowers?”
“Well, seems her dad showed up. Said he come to get his Daisy. I asked about the name Flowers, but he said no… she was his darlin’ Daisy. Picked the name himself he said.
She didn’t look real happy to see him though. Didn’t say a word the whole time he was there. ‘Cept when she whispered she wanted me to take care o’ Flowers. But I said I couldn’t do that an’ she said no, not her… the one she had in her pocket.
Remember that?
Made me promise. Anyway, it’s doin’ real well. Neighbour o’ mine says its an Iris.”
“Well, I’d love to hear some more, but I gotta let you know ‘bout Jacky an’ me before you think this stupid grin is ‘bout your new found gardenin’ skills bro… Yeah, that’s right.”

So, you’re still here, right? You wanna know ‘bout Flowers too huh?
Well, that dead maggot strolled right back into my life, alive as alive can be. Yeah. That mean, sonnova lyin’ bitch had disappeared with the gunshot wound I gave him. Pronounced dead even though they never found no body! ‘Course, he was in tight with that sheriff. Tha’s right… I had no chance an’ I couldn’t take it. Couldn’t take the thought of being cooped up in no jail. So I escaped. Ran so fast when I heard they’s comin’ for me. They found me guilty of his murder anyways, even though I wasn’t there.
Now he tells me we ain' got no family left. It's just him an' me. Says not to bother cryin' over those no good bitches. Say’s I gotta take real good care o’ him, or he’s gonna give my no good ass over to the law, seein’ as I’m a wanted felon back in hells-ville, where I comes from.
Anyhow, way I see it now, I got 2 choices. I give myself up; prove I didn’t kill my daddy, seein’ as he’s alive an’ all. But see, thing is, second choice has a lot more to offer by ways of satisfaction. Yeah, there’s this thing called double jeopardy. You heard about it, right? Yeah, the law states that I can‘t be found guilty of the same crime twice. Well, I can take care o’ him real good this time.
God bless America.

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Comments by other Members

Becca at 10:17 on 16 October 2013  Report this post
Hi Debra,
I've been away for a couple of weeks with no computer, so have just read this again now. It's really powerful work. I definitely did like her better this time, and it hasn't lost any edge because of the changes. As I read, I saw it strongly as a radio play, and then I saw that it is part of a play from what you wrote at the top. I found that to read the different characters slipping in and out of the scenes was a little bit hard, but not that much, and I did enjoy reading it, and 'seeing' what the MC talks about. I was amazed that the main character was so consistently true to self and so strong. Also, the way the threads of her different stories and thoughts overlap or touch each other at certain points is very skillfully rendered. Where has this fully-formed character come from? She feels very very real. What are you going to do with this play?
thanks for posting it.

butterfly2000 at 15:58 on 16 October 2013  Report this post
Hey Becca, thanks so much for your very encouraging words ;0)

I started this piece of writing, God - must be 22 plus years ago. That was the first edit - and the MC was a lot harder, not very endearing at all! The old addage about writing about what you know is all I can say about this story. It started out as an angry out-pouring from a bit of an alter ego I suppose, and stayed that way till I picked it up again 2 or 3 years ago and started to try and make this character a little more likeable - as well as give her a story to sit within so it wasn't all 'inner' focussed.

I suppose I've invested a lot in this MC, so I'm glad you see her as consistent and strong, that's very gratifying!

I've recently sent this out as a short story to Structo magazine, so will wait and see - though I am prepared for rejection. I don't really expect I'm quite there yet with my writing, but that's cool. I'm in no rush. Actually - I also sent 3 poems and they've rejected them all, but 'Deep' which is in the archive - had a really encouraging rejection (I was over the moon at my rejection LOL).

I will continue to re-work this into a play and will look at radio plays, as I've no experience of the format - but as another writeworder had also mentioned radio play as a suitable vehicle for this, it seems I must try it!

I just noticed on another read through, I've still left in a couple of 'shit's' which should be 'shinola's' LOL - will have to get back to them. Anyway, thanks so much for reading this again, I appreciate it ;0)

Best wishes

Becca at 16:06 on 16 October 2013  Report this post
... I think a couple of 'shits' are fine, although I really like shinola, whatever it means. Lol.

GaiusCoffey at 17:15 on 20 October 2013  Report this post
Read this, loved the twist, enjoyed the story. Felt a bit confused sometimes, though. I'd maybe like a little more explanation in places as it felt like there were several loose ends. Still, a very powerful story.
Thanks for the read,

butterfly2000 at 21:02 on 20 October 2013  Report this post
Hi Gaius, thanks for reading ;0)
Oh no, confusion isn't good! Maybe you could point me to areas of text where confusion arose and where you felt there were loose ends and I can see how to address it. I'm glad you liked the twist and the general feel of the story though

Best wishes

FelixBenson at 17:21 on 23 October 2013  Report this post
Hi Debra
I agree with the others - powerful is the word. i think she sounds quite real and I am quite happy with a likeable or unlikable hero really, so long as it's interesting to hear their point of view. Angry is fine by me, but I didn't read earlier drafts, she certainly seems likeable enough now. Her voice was very absorbing. Your main character is certainly memorable and distinctive.

This story feels like a part of a much longer piece - although I think it works in its shorter form - just that I think it that it could be extended into a novella. The only parts where I felt some (only slight) confusion was in the slipping between her father's dialogue at the beginning, then the ambulancemen and Flowers. I think it's fine that I was not absolutely sure what was happening to her until nearer the end of the story, and that I didn't know the two voices were definitely ambulancemen until later, but I think perhaps their two voices (plus her father's) were a little too similar to one another, so at the beginning of the story I wasn't sure exactly who was speaking to whom. It's not a big deal though, and I was reading on because of Flowers' voice anyway, so when I 'got' who they were all was well.

At the end the plot (her father returning and blackmailing her) felt ever so slightly compressed. I am not sure it needs to be explained so much, (this part: "Yeah, there’s this thing called double jeopardy. You heard about it, right? Yeah, the law states that I can‘t be found guilty of the same crime twice." I don't think you need to explain double jeopardy for example. ). It's possible that this part would work better with a bit of dialogue between Flowers and her father. Just an idea. Then ending with Flowers' revealing her double jeopardy plan.

Anyway, just suggestions.. I really enjoyed this and Flowers felt like a fully realised character with a strong story to tell, which I very much enjoyed reading.

Good luck with the submission.


butterfly2000 at 19:17 on 23 October 2013  Report this post
Hey Kirsty ;0) thanks for reading and your insights, they are very helpful and maybe I will think about ditching the fathers opening lines in the story - and/or tweaking the voices/speech of the ambulance guys, who are supposed to be latin american, with Flowers and her father hailing from Mississippi. I'm sure there is something that I can do to highlight it...

I think I must be more of a novella length girl - I'm currently re-working The Ungecila Report, another 'short', into one, and I think the length and style will suit me better - though I do love a short story to read!

Anyway, thanks again for your thoughts and wishes!
I had better get back to my onions, which are about to burn in the pan! Arrghhh

Best wishes

FelixBenson at 20:07 on 23 October 2013  Report this post
Hi Debra
No problem.
Your ambulance men definitely sound Latin American, and Flowers and her father do sound Southern - (I always enjoy writing which gets stuck in with dialect/regionalism - and you do it well), but it really is just that the ambulancemen sounded too similar really, (not so much the father - but he sounded the same as Flowers), so at the father's line I thought ....mmm who is that? I wasn't sure. It just caused a blip of confusion. All becomes clear later, but maybe removing the father's line from the opener would be a good solution. Don't lose it completely though - it did make me shudder once I knew who it was. And that's a good thing obviously!

Best, Kirsty

butterfly2000 at 20:43 on 23 October 2013  Report this post
LOL thanks Kirsty - (I just about salvaged my cooking onions) a shudder is definately good for him! Good, I'm glad the accents came across well, but I'd still consider changing one of the ambulance guys voices. I certainly love a vocal inflection and I'm really pleased you enjoyed that aspect - I couldn't get those voices out of my head for this, it's just how I heard the story unfold in my head so I went with it.

Best wishes

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