As he took his leave, we stood in the shady road overhung by huge maples and oaks. A small house faced us, its riotous front yard overwhelmed with flowers; red, yellow, blue, interspersed with hostas, ferns and bonsai-like evergreens.
The Warrior looked at the home, his expression difficult to discern. “Mother loves her gardens,” he said.
“You’ve helped her tremendously,” I replied. “This house. Such a beautiful place. You can be proud.”
“The strong fight constantly so the weak may live.”
“Perhaps,” I reply, “the weak make beauty in which the strong may survive.”
“Someone must bring order to the chaos. Necessary order.” He frowned slightly; in the cruel way of Warriors.
“Your tools feed order. Our blood feeds flowers. It seems a fair enough trade,” I observed.
“Fair enough indeed,” said the Warrior as he turned to begin his walk back to the city.
Soon the trees thinned and grew scrawny where he passed. Small garden plots dotted a landscape of ramshackle hovels and dirty people. Small plot squatters. Subsistence people. Immigrants. Farmer’s Market traders.
The city came in view; crouched on a far river bank, steel claws dug into earth. Its glass, stone and metal spider web admitted only intermittent sun through an ever-present pall. Roadside flowers had dwindled. He walked slowly toward home.
The young men materialized in front of him as he was dreaming. “We’ll be needing payment if you wish to pass,” said the largest.
The Warrior sighed and reached into his pocket.
“What-the-fuck-is-that-old-man,” said the largest, laughing, when he saw the tiny black pistol.
“It’s called a Bobcat,” replied the Warrior, shooting off the large one’s big toe. Before pain reached comprehension, the Warrior shot off his other big toe as well. “He will have some trouble walking,” he said, looking at the others who were busily shuffling to keep their toes behind the largest, fallen to the sidewalk moaning. “He’s going to need something to do all day,” said the Warrior. “Plant him some flowers and tomato vines so he has something beautiful to cling to. See you do it or I will be looking for you and your toes next.”
The Warrior walked down the concrete sidewalk; turned left at the corner and disappeared, bound away from blood, perhaps toward beauty; but who can say?