A Florida Folktale
Excerpted from Spooky Florida
She was always in the garden. Day after day after day. It drove him crazy. Supper never came when he wanted it and he had to go outside and kneel down in the dirt every dad-blame time he wanted to have a conversation with his wife. When he complained, she told him to get his own supper. Ha! She knew he couldn’t boil water without burning it.
The garden wasn’t the only thing that drove him crazy. His wife also loved the color pink. She wore something pink every dad-blame day of her life, and most of the flowers in the garden were pink. "Choose another color," he yelled one day. So what color did she choose? Mauve!
One day, his wife started complaining about her knees. She wanted an assistant to help her in the garden. "Why do you need an assistant?" he grumbled at her. "Do you want to help me?" she retorted. "Heck no," he replied, and told her to go ahead and hire a gardener.
He didn’t expect the handsome young fellow who showed up the next day to help his wife in the garden. The fellow had a charming manner that soon had his wife laughing and fluffing up her hair as they talked. That drove him really crazy. Some folks might think it was natural for her to find the new gardener charming. But he wondered.
He started coming home early from work to spy on his wife and the new gardener. They were always laughing together as they worked. He didn’t like it. Then his wife went out and bought a brand-new red lipstick, though she’d only ever bought pink lipstick before, and got her hair cut in a new style. That really made him suspicious.
He spoke to the new gardener one afternoon while his wife was out. The young man denied that there was any hanky-panky going on, but he knew better and fired the gardener on the spot. At supper that night, he confronted his wife with his suspicions. "I’m not having an affair," she retorted, "but if you keep this up, he could get lucky."
Her smart reply filled him with rage. His vision went red and misty as his hands closed around his wife’s neck and he started shaking her. It was several minutes before he calmed down enough to realize he was shaking a rag-doll figure that was no longer breathing. He dropped his wife’s dead body on the floor in horror, realizing what he’d done, and what would happen to him if he were caught.
Fortunately, the dirt was always disturbed around his house because of his wife’s incessant gardening, so he dumped his wife’s body into a flowerbed and cover the grave-mound with pink flower seedlings. End of problem. He closed the house the next day, telling the neighbors that they were going North to be near his wife’s ailing sister, and put the house on the market to be sold.
When seven years had passed without suspicion, he decided it was safe to come home. He got an apartment and told folks that his wife had left him some time ago. But he was frightened of discovery, and wanted to know if his wife was still buried in the flowerbed of his former house. Waiting for the new owners to leave for the weekend, he slipped into the garden at dusk to look for the grave. To his horror, he saw the old mound was still there, and was still planted with pink flowers. Only now, the pink flowers formed the shape of a woman! Trembling, he dug a deep narrow hole into the mound, feeling for his wife’s bones. But her body was gone!
Alarmed, he made discreet inquiries and was told that the new owners had found a family gravesite on their property and had the grave moved to the local cemetery. He felt a surge of relief at this explanation, but morbid curiosity sent him along to the cemetery to check on the truth of the tale.
He searched for a long time, looking for a grave with no name. Then he caught a glimmer of pink, and his pulses started pounding. Could it be? Yes, there was a narrow grave, covered with pink flowers. It had no name attached to it, and he knew it was her.
In that moment, his vision was clouded once again by a red mist. He lurched as he was suddenly overwhelmed by a massive heart attack, and his helpless body tumbled down among the pink flowers as the whole world went dark. His last thought was of a dead rag-doll figure that had once been his wife.
After the authorities found and removed the dead body, the flowers crushed by his fall never grew back on the unmarked grave. Each spring, the unmarked tomb is covered with pink blossoms, though the flowers never grow in the blackened, body-shape space where the murder’s body lay. And in the house where the couple once lived, the pink flowers on the empty grave mound still grow each spring in the shape of a woman’s body, no matter how many times the owners have rooted them out.
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