Compared to yesterday, today's temperature was pleasant so I walked over to the little park on the Corner of Columbia Road and Buttonwood Street. One of the usual denizens had already taken up his position. He answers to Sal and he has never told me his last name. He was just twenty ounces through his second bottle of Haffenreffer Private Stock when I sat across from him to soak up the December sunshine and engage in a bit of conversation. I mentioned that Dorchester experienced its 23rd murder last night.
Sal took a long swig from his bottle and looked at me seriously. "I've got a solution for this crime wave," he said, then he fished a bent, half-smoked cigarette out of his parka pocket. He asked me for a light I didn't have, then he elaborated.
"When I was in the service, that was Vietnam you know, those danged hippies used to put flowers into the barrels of our rifles. I thought they were crazy then but you know what? We never shot one of them." He smiled as if having proven a point.
He found a lighter of his own and talked while cupping his hands around his mouth and moving his lips around the cigarette butt, "I think the city should pass out flowers to everybody in Dorchester. Then, if somebody pulls a gun on you, Plup! you put your flower in the barrel and nobody gets shot."
I thought it may be a little more complicated than that. Sal got agitated, "Who's got anything against flowers? They're pretty. They make people happy! You wouldn't shoot a man with a flower would you? It would be like hitting a skinny kid with glasses." Maybe.
"Besides," he continued, "If you saw a pretty girl who caught your fancy you'd have a flower to give her." I pointed out that if everyone was carrying flowers the girl would already have one. Sal shook his finger at me, "Then you could trade, that's all. It's the thought that counts."
Warming to his idea, Sal stroked his beard, burning a few wild hairs in the process. He looked contemplative. "I'll have to mention this to the Mayor the next time I see him," he said. I encouraged him to do so as I left to walk home on Dot Ave.