Wasty Presents: Choice Of Your Pain

Dung For The Flowers

Only the small snow piles at the street corners were still witnesses of last winter. It was typical spring weather and the yet weak sun rays would soon have melted the remaining snow too. The meadows were shining with fresh green and buds sprang from the bald branches of the trees and bushes. Crocuses and snowdrops rose in strong colors from the ground of the yards in a suburb of Detroit.
Let's turn to the frustrated hobby gardener Edward Vandel whose house was located in said suburb and whose garden didn't want to host the splendor of the spring flowers. The trampled lawn was more brown than green and he was embarrassed because everybody who went down the street also saw his yard.
Mr. Vandel sat in his armchair in the living room and read a magazine about gardening and plants that he subscribed too. He was hoping for useful tips inside. He wasn't interested in the advertisements for lawn mowers, electric hedge shears and other inexpensive gardening tools. What plants should he have planted with those anyway? There was an article about seedlings that can be planted in the current season. Well, then in the center of the magazine was the "Tip Of The Month" column by some experienced, former gardener which caught his attention. Specifically one paragraph caught his eye, it said: If one's plants don't grow quite right, one should use ashes as fertilizer because ash, regardless what kind, contained important nutrients and would be more efficient and better for the environment than commercial fertilizer.
Unfortunately he didn't own a wood stove or a fireplace or something else that would produce ashes on a regular basis. In the basement though he still had some leaves stored from last fall. Next to the compost pile he made a fire. It smoked so intensely that he feared complaints from his neighbors but after a quarter of an hour a nice pile of ashes remained from the smoke and leaves and he distributed it across the flower beds right away. It was enough for starters and hopefully he success would show in two or three days. He planned to produce a good supply of ashes the next day as he intended to fertilize his beds every other day.
In the coming days he asked around for yard clippings and the like. He offered to be the voluntary taker of their garbage so as not to give them the idea to charge money for it.
After a week there still was little success. At least here and there a green tip peeked out of the ground. Edward Vandel needed more ashes to supply the demand of his protégés. His own and the neighbors' yard waste was all used up. According to the saying "it costs nothing to ask", he remembered a shady great-uncle who, yes, who worked in a crematorium. Although it seemed a little far-fetched to him, he reached for the telephone and dialed a number in Winnipeg. A Bertrand Vandel picked up at the other end. In the background was the sound of machinery, more exactly ovens... Edward described his problem and asked for the delivery of ashes. After a few silent seconds the called suddenly broke out in laughter. As he had composed himself again, he joked: "You are kidding, aren't you?" He must have laughed tears because he sobbed and then giggled slyly.
"No, I am serious about what I'm saying. It just might be that every once in a while you have a dead deer or run-over rabbit to cremate. Or maybe a useless bum that bit the big one. I'm sure know one will care about someone like that. Just send me the ashes. I'm sure you still have my address." And since Bertrand Vandel was what was called a sly old devil, he agreed willingly and hung up.
Already four days later a large but light-weight package from Winnipeg arrived. Edward Vandel opened it outside, already in his gardening clothes. The gray-black ash spread an unpleasant smell and he sprinkled it on the flower beds immediately. It was just enough to cover each bed. Happily he returned to the house and read a magazine.
The next morning, after a warm and humid night, green tips poked through the gray layer. Edward was perplexed and hope for a quick follow-up delivery from his great-uncle. It arrived in the evening. A note was attached; it read: "Milly Potter and Amy Potter." The meaning of it eluded him. He sprinkled the ashes right away.
As he went outside the next day, the little flowers already had developed small leaves and he was pleased. All day long he worked in the garden that got increasingly beautiful. The people who walked past his yard now would be surprised. The next package arrived Saturday. Again, a note was attached. "Richley Hoggin, Joseph Harrison and Ethel" was scribbled in black ink. Edward was only interested in the flower food. After his coffee break he went to work. With an old shovel he spread out the ashes. When he was done he watered the flowers. He threw away all of the various water-soluble fertilizers that never were any good. Now he left for the station of the regional train and boarded a train to Detroit in order to go shopping. He visited several gardening stores. In each one he picked up brochures about almost anything that was related to gardening and plants. With a heavy bag under his arm he returned home. He even bought a bag of pansy seeds. At home he believed that the flowers had already grown a little more.
Wednesday, when there already were buds on the flowers, the next package arrived. This time the attached note was longer and written in regular blue ink and an easy-going tone: "Your wish is our command! I'm sure you have already figured out that the names on the little notes are the names of the people whose ashes you pour on your plants. Some were bums and hobos but other people too, ha, ha! Today I give you Jane Canes and Evan Ferrier. I am not taking any responsibility because it all happened on your request. Have fun taking care of your garden!"
Edward Vandel grew pale after he had read the supposedly humorous note. The way he remembered his great-uncle he believed every word of it. He ran outside where the buds had already turned into shiny red, blue and yellow flowers...
A resident reported that he suddenly saw his neighbor burst into flames and roll around in a flower bed. He had called the police and fire department immediately but by the time they arrived Edward Vandel was already dead and halfway cremated too. His ashes laid on the flower bed and the next day wonderful, black-blue flowers grew. Why he had set himself on fire, no one knew.


Copyright © January 1981, Wasty, Dung For The Flowers
German title: Asche
107 lines
Reading time: approx. 6 minutes


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Last updated February 12, 2001 by Martin Mathis, e-mail lastbandit.com