Down on Skid Row


Celestina_icon.gif Colin_icon.gif Edgar_icon.gif Jessalyn_icon.gif Moxie_icon.gif Samuel_icon.gif

Summary: The florist shop on Skid Row has a grand re-opening, but it only winds up with an employee shot, a random homeless man turned into a large, stinky flower, and several people who may not be the same way again for a while …

Date It Happened: December 13th, 2001

Down on Skid Row

Skid Row Florists, Skid Row

Those who frequent this area would not recognize the florist shop on Skid Row today. Almost overnight, the shop has blossomed (so to speak) into something, well … classy. Advertisements went up everywhere to show the flower shop's newest stock, and it is astoundingly vast. There are several rare, even unheard of and gorgeous blossoms for sale. The interior of the store is positively radiant, and Lou, the man tattoo-laden Latino behind the counter, is unusually busy fielding all the customers that have stopped by to see this miracle of merchandising.

Colin hasn't the least notion that this place was ever not classy. He's on the search for something. As soon as he's through the door, his face glows hopefully. This might be the very place where he'll find what he seeks! "Hello." he greets to Lou upon seeing him. Lou has that I Work Here look to him. The Scot asks in characteristically accented English, "I don't suppose your store could order something unusual in the way of flowers for me, could it?"

One of those customers is Edgar Montero. A phone call from a friend wise to his love of flowers has directed the lawyer to the little shop on Skid Row, where he currently browses the plants on display with an appreciative eye. It's a nice change from the surrounding gloom. He has already made one small purchase: a yellow carnation. The single flower is now threaded through one of the buttonholes of his suitjacket, matching the color of his golden tie. It works out well! And it is a fashion statement.

There's always room for more customers, whether poor Lou is ready or not. Naturally attracted to pretty, shiny, colorful things, where Samuel would otherwise pass the shop by, today he looks to be drawn in by its new state. While he is not partial to houseplants, the demon does find small joys in flowers. Just after a few moments inside, there's something else he seems to be drawn to- Edgar, a familiar face in an unexpected place. He is quick to decide, and makes his way over towards the lawyer with gliding steps. "Do you like flowers too, mister Montero?" If Edgar was not paying attention when being approached, the smooth voice right beside his shoulder might catch him off-guard.

It's almost the new moon, which means that Celestina isn't exactly the most pleasant person. In fact, she's out to start some trouble. A flower shop makes a wonderful place to meddle with some magics and mess with some people. So the brunette wanders into the flower shop, letting the door close behind her. Her eyes sweep the shop, and then she heads for the roses.'

Moxie really has no business here, but she needs something to keep her busy, and the facelift and rush of customers are enough to make her curious. She peeks in through the window before shrugging and yanking open the door to step inside. Hands slide into her pockets as she navigates the crowd, browsing the new selections without a great deal of interest. She leans over to sniff at a colourful flower and then turns back to look over the shop.

Brand new to the city and investigating options for decorating and furnishing whatever apartment she might acquire, Jessalyn's attention was caught by the impressive advertising campaign. She brings her bike to a rumbling halt outside, killing the engine before stalking to the door, brows arching as she wonders quite what a place like this is doing _here_. Still, she peels her shades off and steps inside, peering around curiously.

Lou is in the process of trying to help a little old Black lady package half a dozen of almost everything the shop owns when Colin asks his question. The haggard Latino stares at him with a mixture of exasperation and disbelief. "You want wh— We got a ton of unusual stuff already. Whaddya want?"

Unfortunately, Celestina isn't the only one aiming to cause trouble here. Almost directly behind Jessalyn enters a man in ragged attire who walks with a slump to his back and shoulders, hunched over something that he carries within the folds of his ratty jacket. He doesn't stop to browse or anything of the sort, he simply sidles into line behind Colin and waits for his turn at the counter, casting twitchy paranoid glances here and there.

"My apologies, I didn't see you were busy." the Scot says, politely deferring to the lady Lou's helping. Once he's got Lou's attention though, he continues, "I am looking for a rafflesia arnoldii." Colin explains this carefully to Lou, as if it's going to take a lot of explaining and he already anticipates this. So he'll start out with the scientifically correct taxonomic nomenclature. He follows it up with something that will probably answer at least part of the mystery as to why he hasn't found one yet. "It's also called a Stinking Corpse Lily."

Edgar may have been caught off guard, but damned if he'll look like he has been. He turns slightly without startlement or delay, fixing Samuel with a smile. "I do, actually. If I had more time I'd probably have grown myself a nice little garden by now. I was thinking of taking home an arrangement or two for my dinner table." The lawyer turns the rest of the way, offering his hand for a friendly shake of greeting. "May I buy you something as well? I'm feeling rather generous."

Samuel returns the greeting with a shake and a smile, eyes roving past Edgar's shoulder. "There is no need for that, Edgar." One of the few times that he does happen to use the man's name and not a big fat 'mister'. "But I will not stop you." In other words, he would be a sucker for something. It is one of his many moments of not speaking what he is actually thinking.

Celestina leans in, as if to smell the flowers that she's near, but at the same time, whispers a few words. There's a very brief sparkle about the roses, quickly gone, and she straightens and smiles. That should be interesting, for the people who purchase those. In the Chinese curse sense of the term.

Moxie seems to be finding the people-watching more interesting than the flowers themselves, though she does reach out to feel a large, waxy leaf, just playing it between her fingers as her gaze flickers around the shoppers and browsers who have found their way into the little shop. She notices Colin at the counter, and one eyebrow goes up as she recognizes him from the other day. She smoothly turns away and gives the leafy plant a closer look, but keeps a watch over her shoulder.

Failing to recognise anyone in the place after a cursory glance, Jessalyn drifts away from the door, trying to avoid the more congested portions of the aisles as she ambles along, hoping that something interesting will catch her attention by sight or scent.

Lou just stares at Colin. Blankly. He could be speaking Latin — or perhaps Romanian or Egyptian or Something Not Plain English — for all the man comprehends. So he just stares before he slowly adds, "I … dunno what that is. But I don't think we carry anything like that." Hell, a flower with a name like 'Stinking Corpse Lily'? Doesn't sound like something one would find in a flower shop dedicated to pretty things. Lou thrusts a thumb over his shoulder at the strange-looking plant sitting in a large pot on the back shelf. "That's the craziest thing we got in here, and it ain't for sale." Then he spots the man behind Colin and glares. "Hey! You! I told you to get outta here and not come back!"

The man responds by withdrawing a gun and firing one shot at Lou. The bullet strikes him square in the shoulder, sending him hurtling back and spraying blood over the shelf, plant, and wall behind him. Then the man straightens, revealing a gas can with a moistened rag poking out of the top strapped to his stomach, and a lighter in his free hand. "GOTTA BURN!" he screams. "GOTTA BURN! THE LORD GOD SAYS GOTTA BURN IT!"

Colin's response to the sudden shout and ensuing violence is wide-eyed jawdropping. Strangely it SHOULD include ducking or getting behind something, but it doesn't. Colin's just too suddenly stupid-shocked to do those sensible things so he stands there looking like someone who can't believe what just happened. Which is pretty much the truth of it. When he does muster the guts for words it's a feeble, "A-are you all right sir?" directed at Lou is a detached voice. At that rate if this place goes up in flames the only way Colin will survive is if he's pulled out in his daze.

The lawyer is only too happy to buy flowers for Samuel, but — well. Edgar is somewhat distracted by the sudden screaming about burning and the fire and the crazy man and the gunshots. He lets go of Sam's hand and reaches down for the nearest object that is a potential weapon and comes up with an empty ceramic flower pot. There's almost lagtime between the lawyer picking up the object and the immediate hurling of it at the pyro's head. Let it never be said that Edgar's years of pitching in high school baseball were wasted.

Talk about out of nowhere. At first, Samuel doesn't seem to react much- maybe he is just not used to realizing people have been shot. Initially, it is more of a 'what the heck was that noise?'. Only after he sees Lou take the fall and hear the other yelling does he tense up and freeze; then there is a gas can and lighter and Edgar why are you throwing that. The demon almost reaches out to stop him, but there is more concern for the fact that there is a crazy man in the shop, yelling about burning things.

The screaming gets the witch's attention. The gas can and lighter, on the other hand, that's enough to get her annoyed. And this really isn't the best time to get the witch annoyed. She starts to consider her options…and then there's a flower pot flying through the air. She exerts a telekinetic tug on the lighter, timed to coincide with the pot…the hope is that with the distraction of the pot, she can yank it away.

Moxie lets out a little squeak of surprise at the suddenness of the gunshot, her first instinct to drop into a crouch, grabbing the edge of the shelf to balance herself. She's about halfway down to the floor when reason wins out over instinct and she looks back over her shoulder towards the counter, her eyes going wider as she realizes someone has actually been shot. And there's a guy spouting crazy and seeming ready to light himself on fire. Oh good. Her eyes then follow the trajectory of the flower pot as it comes flying through the air, watching with a bit of a grimace to see if it will hit.

Certainly not what she'd expected when she stopped by to browse plants, but this'll definitely count as a memorable first day in the city for Jessalyn. She momentarily hangs back, eyes widening in shock, then she starts attempting to circle around towards the end of the counter - away from the main action, but with the intention of hopping over the obstacle and going to Lou's aid before the poor man's afternoon gets even worse.

The commotion also draws out another spectator: a small bald-headed man from a door marked "Office" in the back of the shop. He, however, does nothing but stand and stare in horror. Now that he has everyone's attention, the insane homeless man brandishes the lighter threateningly as he begins to preach: "'The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire! Thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therin: for it is an abomination to the LO— "


The man lets out a pained and enraged sort of sound as the pot shatters against the side of his head, leaving cuts and possibly a concussion. More importantly, it causes the lighter (no doubt influenced by Celestina's pull) to fly from his hand and go out as it skitters on the floor. The man, too, hits the floor and begins to scramble about, whimpering and letting out cries of terror.

Lou himself is unconscious, slumped with his back against the wall and bleeding from his shoulder wound. He's alive, but in definite need of medical assistance.

The crazy guy getting cold-cocked by that GIANT MAN WITH THE POT (because this is what Colin thought he just saw, in spite of the fact that it was nothing like that) snaps Colin out of his daze just enough to realize Lou's been shot! The nice man that was going to get him that stinking corpse lily! So he leans far over the counter to see how he's doing, muttering, "Jesusmothermary." and grabs the phone on the counter, dialing 911.

Edgar Montero prides himself on being a relatively nonviolent man, but when someone screws up his prospects of buying another gentleman flowers - then it becomes another story altogether. "Please excuse me, Samuel." And then the lawyer starts making his way across the shop, heading straight for the crazy homeless dude. He may have picked up a trowel along the way. Just saying. He's probably a scary thing to see: a six-and-a-half foot guy with a sharp metal gardening tool and a mean look in his eyes is not exactly comforting. What he plans to do is up in the air.

Samuel would much rather stay away from fire and/or certain burnination. If Ed feels like picking up that trowel and going at it, then good for him! Not that Samuel is a coward, just that he'd rather not be the one getting dirty up in here, you know? He turns his head as Colin reaches for the cashier's phone, and then again over at the small bald man, then again at the skittering lighter on the floor. Taking a couple of steps towards that, he keeps his eyes on the man that had moments before been preaching.

With the lighter removed, it looks like the danger is handled. And is about to be disembowled. Or is that disentrowel'd? Either way, the Witch settles in to lean back and watch the forthcoming show.

Moxie straightens up slowly, though her knees stay bent, her hand on the shelf, ready to duck and cover at the slightest provocation. "Forget the lighter, get the /gun/," she orders no one in particular, not exactly rushing in to do so herself. No, she'd much rather help from the sidelines, at least until there's less risk of ending up dead.

Jessalyn hurries to Lou, sparing the bald man a glance en route before she crouches over his employee. As she sets about hastily examining the wound, then applying pressure to lessen the bleeding, she decides that it might be a good thing that he was knocked out immediately. Looking up towards the presumed manager or owner, she snaps out, "Call for an ambulance!" Colin _might_ be intending to do that with his grab for the phone, but getting more than one attempt underway might be wise.

The bald man seems to snap out of a daze as well and quickly disappears back into the office at Jessalyn's order. Colin's call goes through, of course, and he's soon on the line with a 911 operator. The homeless man, meanwhile, stops scrambling about for his lighter and instead drops his gun and clutches his head, emitting blood-curdling screams even before Edgar gets to him with the trowel. Gasoline has begun to drip from the cloth-plugged canister on his torso, pooling around himself and the gun. The skin on the man's face and hands also looks … different. Waxy, redder — it seems to be ballooning out a little.

"Hello nine one one my name is Colin Caird and a man's just been shot by a homeless man who threatened to burn the shop down but…I don't…don't YOU know the address?? That's the correct address! Send everybody! Uh." Jess is yelling. "Send ambulances! I don't know how much more blood loss this man can take!" That's actually kinda funny coming out with the Scottish accent. Much to his eventual regret, Colin has failed to see the further developments behind him.

The angry lawyer stops several paces away from the homeless guy. While Edgar might not know exactly what's going on with him, it's very clearly not something good and not something normal. Rather than following through with whatever his original plan may have been, the tall man steps over the prone one and kicks the gun away towards a wall with the aid of one shined leather shoe, then backpedals towards Samuel with the trowel still brandished.

Now that gas is leaking all over, Samuel has an obligation to pick up the lighter from the floor as if it were some sort of creepy crawlie. When he looks up again, the lawyer is moving back- and with the shovel. "You could have traded weapons?" The shorter man peers at the trowel in Edgar's hand. Well, at least Ed's shovel won't run out of bullets. "What is wrong with him?"

Okay…now there is screaming and..swelling? And looks like there is about to be eminent explosiveness. Celestina heads for the door, at a quick walk. It looks like now might be a fine time to be Anywhere But Here.

"/Thank you/," Moxie says, just a wee bit sarcastically as the gun is removed as a potential threat. She hesitates just slightly before skirting over towards it, edging along the perimeter of the room as she pulls her sleeve fully down over her hand, to gingerly pick up the weapon and tuck it behind her back, not exactly a weapons expert but figuring at least that will prevent the wrong person from grabbing it. Of course, she's so focussed on this doing that she fails to notice that the ruddy man might be the real risk himself.

Crouched behind the counter, Jessalyn doesn't even have line of sight to the unfortunate would-be executor of the Lord's will. Instead, with one hand on Lou's wound, she's casting about for something to use as a compress. A clean pair of gardening gloves from beneath the counter might do, but she'll settle for just about anything that'll help her to keep more of the man's contents where they're meant to be.

The operator informs Colin that police and ambulances are on the way. Beneath the counter is a wad of white towels, probably used to wipe down hands after handling moist plants, but they look clean. The homeless man isn't so much on the verge of explosion as he is … transformation. As he convulses wildly on the floor, his body starts to shrink and gyrate as it becomes rounder. Skin appears to peel in large sheets, turning even redder and more waxy, soon gaining yellow spots. His torso caves in, creating a large hole within a large round bud, and soon all that's left of the man is a huge red flower that reeks of decaying flesh, sitting amidst the tatters of what was once clothing. Colin might recognize the plant, as would anyone fairly knowledgeable of such things. The gas can remains forgotten off to the side, and people are following Celestina's example and heading for the exit at a quick rush.

"Thank you!" prays Colin on the phone, hanging it up. He begins to ask Jess, "Is he all…" stop. Sniff. He looks over his shoulder and just Stares at the man turning into the huge nasty flower. Wordless.

"No idea." That's the only answer Edgar can dig up for Samuel's question. The lawyer watches, mildly perturbed, as the transformation takes place. "-But you don't see that every day. I'd suggest burning it immediately." That last sentence is said in a somewhat louder tone, meant to reach everyone still in the store.

Samuel glances from Edgar to the Plant Man, and back again, though his staring at the plant is not something borne of 'oh god, weird'. Foot in mouth kind of thinking. It is mostly a face of mild disgust. "..If you are going to burn anything, I want to be gone when you do it." His eyebrows lift up, and he holds the lighter out to stick it down Edgar's jacket pocket. Take this. Have a ball.

Moxie turns back, whatever triumph from snagging the gun short-lived as she sees just what it is she's been missing. When the smell hits her, she makes a gagging noise and claps her free sleeve-covered hand over her mouth, staring at the plant-thing with wide eyes. "What the /hell/?" she finds herself demanding of the world for the zillionth time in a very strange week.

Jessalyn remains the most oblivious of everyone involved - save perhaps the poor manager in his office. Crouched over Lou behind the counter, now turning a wad of towels a brilliant scarlet, she carefully shifts him forward to see whether the bullet passed through, ready to apply a second compress if it did. "I'd advise _against_ setting fire to anything at a crime scene the police are already coming to!", she calls out, aware of the words if not the subject they concern.

And speaking of the police, sirens are audible outside. It will be only a few moments before the place is swarming with paramedics and police officers. Lou's shoulder has indeed been shot clean through, leaving a mess of blood down his back and on the wall behind him. And the man-turned-flower still smells like something died.

Distractedly, Colin glances down at Jessalyn and wordlessly taps her on the shoulder to get her attention. He points back at what used to be the homeless maniac. "It's a rafflesia arnoldii." he mutters. "A stinking…corps….did I do that?" Suddenly the thought that he DID do that occurs to Colin and he looks about as if for hidden cameras.

Aaaand there's a guy turning people into plants. Edgar reaches over to take Samuel by the shoulder, attempting to gently guide the other man towards the door of the establishment. "I think it's time to depart. I'd hate to see something terrible happen to one of us."

Samuel was thinking about doing just that, actually. He has already taken a step away from the incoming paramedics and backed one pace towards the door when Ed takes his shoulder. "Indeed. It is a pity about the flowers." Didn't get to do much of anything with the actual flowerist, huh? Another day.

Moxie seems to think getting out of here is sounding like a very good idea herself. She sets the gun down on the shelf behind her, still handling it like the slightest bump might cause it to go off, and then she starts edging back around the room for the door, keeping a wide path from the stinky flower.

Jessalyn glances up at Colin, who is at least visible over the top of the counter. She has no idea what he's pointing at, save for the fact that there seems to be a startlingly bad stench coming from that direction - and the sounds of more people departing. She frowns confusedly at her fellow Briton. "I think you should wait here and talk to the paramedics", she suggests. "I think you're in shock." Her hands remain on either side of Lou, attempting to keep him alive until the professionals arrive.

And arrive they do, in a timely fashion. Lou will survive his ordeal with the crazy man-turned-huge-stinky-flower, and while the police will be asking questions, it doesn't look like they'll be making much headway as to the cause of it all. Unseen by anyone, the strange-looking plant on the shelf behind Lou is no longer spattered with his blood — but the pinkish seam along the almond-shaped bud looks just a little rosier.

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