Story from Chris Butler

The Terror of Tulips
By Chris Butler

The cock of the walk. The early Saturday morning's sun beamed through the gray overcast of night with the rays of golden gods. The college campus's freshly barbered lawns glistened. The acoustic melodies of an older generation echoed from the insomniac stoners' room, playing the soothing soundtrack for coming down. The birds chirped their harmonious courtships. A college junior, with his combed hair parted to perfection across his head and his brand new satin shirt hung across his plateaued shoulders without a wrinkle, had the stride with the pride of a royal lion as he smirked fondly across his kingdom.    

Leo strolled past the mailbox built within a block of individually selected bricks and up the winding driveway of his fraternity house. Alpha Beta Gamma was a century's old mansion that was formerly the home of the university's founder and first dean. His body swaggered with the fluid swing of each arm. He inhaled deep, free puffs that filled his bagpipe lungs to capacity. He skipped up each of the three concrete steps that led to the massive oak door. He paused for a moment, the sly smile of the recollection of satisfaction smeared across his face, lifting the corners of his lips just below his bloodshot, bright blue eyes. His sure hand gripped the iron doorknob as he took one last breath of fresh air.      

Leo reminisced of the evening before, and massive celebration at his friend's parent's house, who left their son in charge as the caretaker of their home as they flew south for a lavish vacation. His friend had decided that the Friday evening of that week was the opportunity of a young lifetime to throw the perfect keg party, along with a shapely array of plastic bottles of clear and brown alcohol. Since Leo the had the earliest date of birth of everyone in his class, he had been placed in charge of procuring the drinks for the epic celebration. Most of the girls who had arrived at the party with promises of free liquor and beer had already spent an evening with Leo, and were aware of his predatory ways. They were lionesses, and knew all too well that it was the female of the species who brought home the dead meat. They were more interested in spending their precious evenings with anyone else. 

But from across the room appeared a girl Leo had never seen before. She was as fully fulfilled and developed as a woman, yet naively younger than college age, she must be eighteen he thought to himself. But these numbers weren't of any concern to him on this evening. He seduced her with a special cocktail of his own concoction, mixed with his special secret ingredient of a little white pill. After she chugged his drink of choice as he whispered in her ear his favorite rehearsed lines to impress girls with a lower maturity level than their age, he offered to give her a refill. As her cup drained down her throat and below halfway mark of the plastic container, her body began to sway and she had to use his dominant body to help her equilibrium stay balanced. He had no intentions of carrying a passed out girl upstairs in front of the rest of the party's participants. He lifted the cup from her hand and placed it on a table. He grabbed her by the hand and pulled her towards the stairs that led to the second floor. She said something about her friend Lily, and Leo assured her that they would find her. And they should start their searching upstairs. With minimal resistance, he pulled her into the dark guest bedroom. He assured her that they would find her friend, just as he plopped onto the bed, pulling her down on top of him. Frenetically pulling off her sweater and jeans, he kept saying sweet nothings over her drifting voice. Flipping himself onto her, he pried open her legs. After the climax of his conquest, he pulled his underwear up and put back on his jeans, and as she squirmed in what he assumed to be as blissful dreams. He left, closing the door as quietly as a home invader behind him.
        
As Leo turned the iron knob to enter his fraternity home, a honeybee landed on his hand. His other hand went upward to callously swat it, when the bee's wings lifted it towards the bushes that grew around the exterior of the lavish house. He noticed that the annual tulips had spread open their closed petals for the spring season. The bee flew into the moist center of the flower. It crawled up and down and all around the sweet, sticky insides, fleeing with the bright yellow pollen clinging to its appendages. He nodded with approval towards the busy bee in its desire to master all the flowers in all the gardens around him. He removed his hands from the knob to smell the sweet, sticky insides that were still clinging to his fingers. He opened the massive door and disappeared from the daylight.  

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The walk of shame. The Saturday morning sun hid behind a tarp of gray cloud cover. The spring air was moist, leaving a foggy glaze on the car windows across the suburban neighborhood. The early birds chirped with the hunger of hunters. A young high school sophomore, with long, bedraggled hair, strands dangling from the ponytail barely held together by a scrunchie, and her brand-new turtleneck sweater with a tear across her shoulder, she shuffled her feet down the street, arms crossed, her eyes staring downward at the asphalt before her feet.

Rose almost walked past her home before she noticed the mailbox painted with an array of colorful floral arrangements at the end of the driveway. She hugged herself harder until she wasn't inhaling enough air to catch her breath. She stepped onto the brown, worn welcome mat with "Home Sweet Home" embroidered in black lettering laying before the front door. She paused for an eternal moment, taking prolonged, bottomless breaths, until her head felt like a helium-filled balloon. Her shaking hand clenched the doorknob to steady her body tremors.

Rose hesitated. She remembered through the hammering headache, the queasy nauseousness in her stomach and the thorny pain in her groin about the lie she had rehearsed the night before. She had convinced her parents that she was spending her Friday evening at a slumber party at her best friend Lily's house. They were going to binge watch the newest episodes of their favorite show about fashionable, quick-witted high school girls and their everyday high school girl problems that claimed complete control over their lives, record themselves jokingly following the latest social network trends and uploading the results online, and staying up until dawn talking about the clear-complexioned boys in class they thought were cute, the girls they thought were sluts or bitches and the homework assignment they had to finish before Monday's classes were back in session. 

The night before Rose's long, lonely walk home, the best friends had learned of a kegger hosted by college men at a house only a few short miles from Lily's house. Not boys, but men. The allure of leaving the same old high school boys that made juvenile jokes and always talked about subjects that made the girls' eyes roll around in their heads and instead spend their Friday night with a gathering of mature, intellectual men. It enticed their imagination of a party without lightweights who could not hold their alcohol inside their teenage tummies and by the end of the evening wouldn't spread sprinkles of vomit onto their shoes. But once Lily became separated from her friend, she met and conversed with her first college man. Tall, with golden hair perfectly parted to the left side of his handsome head, a man named Leo introduced himself to Rose. He offered her a drink, returning from the bottles of booze with a red solo cup full. The drink was cheek sucking sweet, but with a strange aftertaste. She noticed the college women staring in their direction, likely glares of jealously because they weren’t flirting with the hottest piece of man at the festivities. From then on, the rest of the night was a spinning blur, as the young virgin eventually found herself away from the crowd she was so interested in meeting, to a private room with a guest bed, the first time she had ever been alone with another man, or boy. She had tried to say no, more than once before and after she fell onto the bed, but she wasn't aware that her words slurred when they left her lips. But her refusals didn't slow him down, but instead sped his libido up by a thousand horses of power. Her pushes were too weak to express her displeasure. She thought of screaming, but his tongue was licking her tonsils as her lightened head spun out of her control.       

Rose remained still at the front door of her home. She released her grip on the knob. She collapsed on the mat with her back against the door. She saw the crotch of her jeans glimmered with a spot of fresh blood from her hymen that was busted by that man's battering ram. A buzzing began between her ears. A honeybee hovered over her head for a long moment, looking like it was ready to sting. It then flew around the flower bed next to the concrete path from the mailbox to the front door. It landed on a tulip next to her. The bee penetrated the unpeeled petals and burrowed its way inside onto the virginal anther. It began molesting the unadulterated stamens until it was caked in yellow pollen. The hairs covering its twiggy legs pillaged the pollen. Then the bee's wings fluttered as it flew away, hunting the next flower for a taste of nature's nectar.

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