This was odd. I had the idea, and I couldn't quite get the shape I saw when I got the seed.
While part of me wants to write out the story that came from a workshop I ran, I feel that that particular story belongs to the group as a whole. So instead...
We begin with Deidre Wheaton, Urban gardener in the small Ohio town of Athens. Deidre, had a son she loved, Young Peter, who occasionally assisted her in planting gardens in larger cities. As we look in on Deidre, in Columbus, with Peter planting pansies in a different part of the garden.
Or at least Deidre assumed he was, because as she returned to the flowering beds, she found Peter had vanished.
"Help!" she cried, terrified of her older adolescent son kidnapped or worse in the big city. "My son is lost and I know not where he is!"
But no one was around to answer her.
She searched the garden, then began walking the streets surrounding the garden looking for signs of Peter. Finally, an older woman dressed in clothes of the finest black silk stopped the mad woman wondering the garden.
"What's wrong, lady?" the woman in black asked.
"My son is lost and I know not where he's gone!" Deidre lamented loudly.
"I will help you find him, dearie," the woman in black responded, offering her hand to Deidre. "My name is Helen, and I help people find things they've lost."
Deidre took Helen's hand. "I'm Deidre. My son Peter and I were here planting. Peter planted peonies and pansies then vanished!"
“I'm Helen, dear one,” the lady in black answered. “I live close by and know some of the locals. Why don't we ask some of them if they saw anything?”
With a sniffle, Deidre followed Helen around the garden perimeter block talking with various denizens of the area. With some luck, they found a driver for the horse drawn carriage cmpany, Sun Taxi. His name was Hector.
When asked, Hector replied, “Oh yes, I saw an older man arrive in a black limousine. He stepped out and waved at a youth who looks as you described your son. The younger man came running, and they left in the limo.”
“That rat bastard!” Deidre exclaimed, realizing in an instant who it was who took her son.
“Deidre, calm down and talk to me,” Helen comforted. “Who is this man? I assume you know him?”
“Yes, Helen, I do. That sounds like my not so beloved ex brother-in-law, Hiram!”
“Well, do you know where to find Hiram?” Helen inquired.
“I do, but I am not currently allowed into his estate,” Deidre blustered. “About the only way I could get a message to him is to speak with Peter's father, which requires a trip downtown.”
“Would you like me to drive?” Helen asked. “You don't seem to be in any condition.”
“Please do, Helen.”
The women loaded into Helen's black van, parked on one of the corners of the “Y” intersection near the garden and started driving towards the downtown area.
“Why do you dislike your ex brother-in-law so much?” Helen asked, driving well above the posted speed limit.
“It's hard to explain in so many words,” Deidre stated. “Most of it is a difference of opinion. I tend the gardens to provide food and beauty to those who need it, so that they can provide for themselves. Hiram has always been one to offer succor to those with nothing. It just feels like slavery to take in everyone and put them to work on his estate. It serves his interest, but I doubt anyone is actually redeemed there.”
They arrived in front of the high building that served as Zeke's, Peter's father's, office space. One glare at security guards, who were used to dealing with Deidre's rages, got them to the elevator bank.
“So what do you expect Zeke to do in this case?” Helen pestered, as the elevator rose.
“Given that Hiram has a vested interest in SkyCorp, Zeke can get a hold of Hiram and make threats to get my son back. And Hiram will listen to his brother,” Deidre added, spitting words like nails.
The elevators opened on Zeke's penthouse office are. A lone secretary, Gerry Mead, waited to greet the women as they stepped off.
“Ah, Deidre! What an...unexpected pleasure!” Gerry stated nervously. “Zeke's in his office on a conference call. Can you wait here for him to be free?”
Deidre pushed the young man out of her way and stormed into Zeke's office. “What the hell did your brother do with my son?” Deidre hissed through her teeth.
“Hang on, Arthur, Deidre, just showed up,” Zeke sighed, as he stuck his brother on the coast on hold. “Why, Hello, Deidre; you're looking swell, Deidre. Why the hell are you here, Deidre?”
“You know why, you conceited oaf,” Deidre ground out.
“Is it about Peter?” Zeke asked, doing his best to play dumb. Helen suppressed a smirk behind Deidre's back.
“You know damn well your brother kidnapped him and is holding him hostage on his estate!”
“Deidre, darling, I have Hiram's word that Peter came voluntarily and is enjoying his time on the estate.”
“That's a damn lie, and you know it!” Deidre shouted, slamming her fist on Zeke's desk. Then she noticed the nice new gold ring with the SkyCorp glyph inscribed on it. “The bastard bribed you, didn't he?”
Zeke paused, taken aback. “No,” he answered, after a beat. “And if you and your new friend don't leave now, I'll have you escorted out.”
“I will walk away, Zeke, but I want my son back. If you won't help, with all of your power and influence, I will make sure all of my gardens grow with nothing but poison weeds and all the food that you consume tastes of ash and bitterness.”
“Is that a threat, Deidre?”
“No, that's a promise.”
With that, Deidre walked out of Zeke's office and made her way out of the building.
“What will you do now?” Helen asked.
“Exactly what I said I would do,” Deidre replied. “Let all of Columbus know that the food they love so much will be terrible thanks to the CEO of SkyCorp.” Helen drove Deidre back to her car in silence, and Deidre drove off.
A few months passed, and the food in Columbus grew terrible. Gardens, however well weeded, became chocked with elderberry, ivy, and oak, and seasonings lost their flavours. As word got around that it had something to do with the lofty CEO of SkyCorp, people began picketing outside the high rise.
Inside and up top, Zeke took notice. With a sight, he first called Hiram, then called in Deidre.
Deidre arrived, Helen in tow. Hiram and Peter sat on the opposite side of the room from them.
“Before the screaming starts,” Zeke Said, silencing all parties with a glare, “allow me to set down some ground rules. First off, no shouting. It upsets Gerry, and I think he's already hitting the bottle he doesn't know I know he has hidden too much as it is. Second, I have rendered my decision on this matter, and you would all do well to obey my dictates. However, before I reveal my thoughts on this, I want Peter to tell his side of all of this, since he's about the only one involved here who's opinion hasn't been heard.”
Peter looked up, looking quite a bit like a deer in the headlights. “Um, do I have to?”
“Mom, I need to tell you something. And I'm scared to tell you, since I don't think you're going to like it.” Peter looked for a reaction from Deidre, but she was busy shooting glares at Hiram, who in turn was returning the glares. “Mom, I'm gay. Uncle Hiram agreed to take me in, since I didn't feel as though I could live my life the way I want to while living with you.”
That got Deidre's notice. “What? What in the name of SkyCorp would give you that idea?”
“I've heard the way you talk about my cousin Artisa when no one's around,” Peter said defensively.
“That has more to do with her wild ways more than who she sleeps with. What makes you think I would have an issue with you?”
“Mom, you treat my like I'm still a child! I've known for years now, and yet when I'm with you, I feel like you still want complete control of my life! Hiram and I have been talking in some of the few times I get privacy at your house. He helped me sneak out and go see cousin Artisa perform. He helped me with my drag persona, and he got me a few gigs dancing. It's why I ran off and eloped with him!”
“You what?” Deidre exclaimed, her focus now completely on her son.
“Yes mom, Hiram and I wen to the Coast and got married by Uncle Arthur.”
“You son of a bitch!” Deidre screamed, turning her fury on Hiram. “How could you? Peter is still a child!”
“Deidre, calm down,” Hiram said. “It wasn't my idea. Peter seduced me.”
“Is there any truth to this?” Deidre asked, again directing her fury at her son.
“Yes, mom,” Peter said. “I knew what I wanted. Given that I'm adopted, there's nothing particularly barring it. And I love him.”
“And you knew about this?” Deidre turned, looking at Zeke. “And you couldn't be bothered to tell me?”
“Deidre, I knew, but I didn't find out until after the fact,” Zeke intoned. “And since Peter and Hiram have consummated the marriage...what, six times? I can't exactly demand they annul it.”
“So that's your judgment then? I lose my son in this abomination?”
“Well, not exactly, Deidre.” Zeke sighed, then sipped from a cup or tea with honey. “Among other things, I doubt that would have you release the curse you put upon all of us. Due to laws that we have no control over, I talked with Hiram and Peter, and we reached what might be the best arrangement that can happen. As the marriage has been consummated six times, Peter and Hiram will be allowed to live together six months of the year. The other six, Peter will be with you, helping you with the planting and growing. Will you accept this judgment?”
“I see I have no other choice,” Deidre said, tears in her eyes. “And I shall life most of my curse. However, in the months when Peter is with his Uncle, weeds shall cover the gardens as I mourn him. I suggest you people figure out food preservation in the mean time.”
With that, Deidre and Helen left with Peter in tow, Helen vowing to help Deidre accept and clebrate her son's revelation.