Publish Novella 7 May 2023
EPISODE 1 – BLOOMING
Alan Timbre is a brutally beaten florist who does not report the crime or return home, but begins solving his own mugging despite memory loss.
Alan impresses customers with his gift of memory that stimulates a flourishing business.
A prosperous merchant vanishes into obscurity while trying to overcome amnesia and piece his life back together.
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By Kevin RR Williams
Everyone loves floral arrangements from Alan’s Petals. The stately 49-year-old owner, Alan Timbre, has hyperthymesia. It allows him to spontaneously recall, with great accuracy, a vast number of experiences with their associated dates.
He recalls customer names, their favorite flowers, colors, and anniversaries without notes. Clients share good monetary tips because he remembers to send flowers when they don’t.
A gregarious customer named Russo excitedly bursts into the shop, not to order flowers, but to thank Alan personally for sending such a beautiful arrangement for his anniversary. It is not the same bouquet every year, as you might expect from competing subscriptions. Using Russo’s favorite flowers, Alan creates a totally unique arrangement each time.
“You’ve earned this tip again my friend! Keep up the good work.”
A new customer named Lily comes to request a floral arrangement for a funeral.
“The tripod horse reefs that other shops offer do not appeal to me. I want an arrangement that is both impressive and durable.”
“Of course. I can incorporate some perennial living plants and closed buds—perhaps even lilies. When and where would you like them delivered?”
“Which do you recommend—the mortuary or the family’s home?”
“If few people are sending them to the mortuary, it would be nice to have a display there. But since your blooms will last at least a week with something to plant in a yard, it’s best not to have the mortuary discard them after the services.”
“Good points. Here’s the address to the family’s home.”
There are three employees at each of two New York locations who open up the shops, greet customers, and fill orders. In the event that something happens to Alan, they also endeavor to replicate his memory by using calendar and scheduling apps.
After delegating morning orders, Alan visits the newest location in order to create some buzz. “Remember to wear boutonnières,” he tells the men. While making some snips on a floral bouquet, he continues, “Always advertise the product.”
Blooming flowers within sidewalk displays are merely a means of attracting attention. Alan’s secrets to preservation are refrigeration of fresh-cut, pre-bloom flowers, glycerine, and dyes. Arrangements often include evergreens and eucalyptus for contrast and aroma. Workers receive training in techniques and formulations before Alan heads home.
At his plush New York apartment, Alan plays a collection of jazz albums on a retro phonograph. His favorites like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Wes Montgomery permeate the room as much as the oregano within simmering pasta sauce and vintage red wine, that he sips for dinner. True aficionados say the sound of vinyl is more authentic than digital.
While happening upon YouTube, he discovers the more contemporary talent of Kaki King. Her guitar solo of “Doing The Wrong Thing” enthralls him for 7 minutes. After looking at photos of his ex-wife and children, he walks away from his computer as the flower garden screensaver takes over the display. It’s time to end a long day with peaceful slumber.
In business for 10 years, Alan has a routine. He makes bank deposits for both locations on Wednesdays and Fridays. Because it is a common month for anniversaries, June deposits are historically very high. To minimize attraction to himself, he does not drive a fancy car and wears casual clothing without jewelry.
Prior to making his runs, Alan visits a favorite restaurant for a pizza slice named after him—The Alan Bite. It has plenty of oregano, fresh mozzarella, roasted garlic, red onions, sautéed mushrooms, fresh basil leaves, and colorful squash blossoms.
On this Wednesday, with one hour remaining, Alan visits Shakespeare Garden in Central Park. It relaxes him before his rush to empty safes at each location, in time to arrive at the bank before 4 o’clock.
Most payments are with credit cards. Alan does not pocket the personal tips. Instead, he divides them among employees. Bankroll at the first location is $27 thousand in cash. The second location has a little over $23 thousand. With so much money in his car, he makes no stops along the way and keeps an eye out for suspicious persons.
Seven years ago, Alan was robbed of $12 thousand. The money was never recovered. Afterwards, he obtained a concealed weapon permit. He’s been to the firing range a few times, but hopes he never has to use his handgun. Another precaution is to keep a full tank of gas on collection day in the event of a pursuit.
One diversion technique he uses is similar to a game of three-card Monte. He has three identical satchels. One decoy, padded with newspaper, contains about $300 on top. Each of the other two he carries into the different shop locations.
In the event of the holdup, he plans to surrender the decoy bag. After parking, he has an available security guard escort him into the bank with the two satchels for deposit.
On this particular June Wednesday, some activity concerns Alan. He spots the same vehicle at each flower shop during cash pickups. To confirm suspicion, he does not head directly to the bank. Instead he takes a number of backstreet detours. Eventually, the pursuer is no longer in sight.
Friday of the same week, he notices the pursuing vehicle in his rearview mirror. Again, he diverts his route in an effort to shake the pursuer.
Using an app on his phone, Alan is able to identify areas without roadwork, to keep from slowing down. Unfortunately, no viable paths are completely clear. So Alan decides to head to a place he knows well—Central Park.