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Wayne Scheer

Springtime in Mississippi

Sensation of an Imprisoned Man by Kasimir Malevich

Spring finally found its way to Thornton, Mississippi. For Jimmy Rob, the season meant he had to get a new job and a new girlfriend.

He had been working at Holcomb Nurseries for a year, unloading trucks and setting up plants. Now, with pansies in full bloom, the nursery was getting in marigolds and other summer plants. He hated marigolds. The smell got under his fingernails.

Cherry, his former fiancé, thought he smelled like insecticide. “That ain’t no flower smell. It’s the stuff supposed to keep skeeters away, but don’t.”

They finally split. He blamed the marigolds as much as her new boyfriend.

There were a couple of girls during the fall and winter, but none lasted much longer than daylilies.

Now the marigolds were back. He had promised himself a new job, girlfriend, and a new life by Easter.

Jimmy Rob knew he didn’t have much going for him, even without smelling like marigolds. With his stringy blond hair and bean pole body, an ex-girlfriend once said he looked like a mop with a dick.

Worse, at twenty-six, he still lived in his parents’ home. He hoped to have had enough money to move into his own place, but it was hard saving anything from a $12.50 an hour job. He had made good money as a welder out of high school, but the plant “downsized,” a fancy word for sending most of the work to Mexico. Now his choice seemed to be working as a short-order cook at Bosco’s Diner, and smelling like hamburger grease, or working at the nursery and stinking of marigold juice.

He needed to get away from Thornton.

He’d been to Memphis but couldn’t imagine living in such a big town.

He liked Yazoo City well enough. He once had a friend there, but they had lost touch years ago.

Time was he thought about joining the army, he but didn’t have the nerve. Besides, even his father, who’d been to Vietnam, said only a damn fool would volunteer for that nonsense.

Jimmy Rob hated his life but felt trapped, too scared to break out.

He even thought of killing himself with the shotgun in the hall closet, but he knew he didn’t have the nerve for that.

Instead, he got ready for work.

“Jimmy,” his father said, “why’nt you bring home some marigolds for the front of the house?”

“Sure thing,” Jimmy Rob said.


About the writer:
Wayne Scheer lives with his wife in Atlanta. After twenty-five years of teaching writing and literature in college, he is trying to follow his own advice and write. A Pushcart Prize nominee, his stories have appeared in such varied publications as The Christian Science Monitor, Sex and Laughter, The Pedestal, Flash Me Magazine, Cezanne’s Carrot, The Binnacle and The Better Drink. More of Scheer’s work is available under the title Zen and the Art of House Painting in the 2022 Chapbook Series from Buttonhook Press.

Image: Sensation of an Imprisoned Man by Kasimir Malevich (1879-1935). Oil on canvas. 98 x 78 cm. Between 1930 & 1931. Public domain.

OJAL Art Incorporated, publishing since 2017 as OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters (O:JA&L) and its imprint Buttonhook Press, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation supporting writers and artists worldwide.

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