Then there is the man who sells roses. That is all he does, day and night, walking the busy city streets with an arm full of roses. Red, white, and pink. He traipses through all the local hotspots and no one ever seems to mind. In the daylight he is seen in the coffee shops and bistros and at night he can be spotted in a busy club pushing his way through a crowd, always with his roses in tow. He doesn't ask if you want to buy a flower, he doesn't say a word, he just walks by and if you want a flower you have to go to him to get it. He wears a top hat and a leather jacket with dark jeans and a band t shirt, he is rarely clean shaven and it suits his style. If I was to guess I would say that he was in his late thirties, early forties. I haven’t seen any other rose sellers in this city, but even if there were some they would not be like this one. He is not like any other. This rose seller comes with some mystery.
If this rose seller was to stand still and quiet you might just see him as a normal guy selling roses, maybe as a side gig. But the moment he moves or tries to talk the mystery begins as your brain starts to turn in wonderment, trying to piece together the life of this rose seller based solely on what is standing in front of you.
This rose seller walks with a bad limp. And it is a tough limp to pin down. It is hard to say whether the limp is a result of some accident or birth defect or a birth defect that subsequently caused him to have an accident. The limp seems to derive from his right hip, the leg doesn't hinge properly so he lifts it up as if it was a peg leg and drags it forward. Needless to say he doesn't move fast, a fact that I have come to realize through observation may be beneficial to his sales. I ran after him once. I was on a date and it was going well. We had had some drinks and decided to walk a bit before saying goodbye. When I saw the rose seller a few blocks up from us, his head dipping up and down with every step and drag, the liquid courage took over and I decided to roll the dice and buy my date a rose. Slightly breathless I caught up to him and asked to buy a rose, he said something that I could only assume was the price so I gave him a five hoping that would cover it. It was an awkward exchange, I haven't bought a flower from him since.
Aside from the rose sellers limp there is also his speech impediment that may or may not be caused by the left side of his face being slightly droopy. His tongue sticks out a bit at the corner of his mouth, even when he is not talking. And his smile is always askew.
He could certainly be viewed as someone with a mental handicap or challenge or difficulty – insert whichever term offends you least – but according to what I have heard that is not the case.
The word on the street is, and I have heard the stories more than once, that it was an accident and that he used to be ‘normal’. The most popular history of the rose seller is that before the accident he was a handsome business man, well off even, and that because of all the money he made he sells roses now because it is easy and keeps him busy. I once heard that he was left heartbroken when his fiancée left him after the accident and that because of his heartbreak he sells roses to be closer to love. A couple of times I heard it told as a failed suicide attempt and not an accident at all, that his fiancée unexpectedly died and he couldn't take it.
They all say he fell from a few stories up and landed on concrete and that it was a miracle he lived at all. But whether he fell or jumped doesn't seem to matter much. Now he is the rose seller.