Green gardens run red. For V & V.
When Grandpop St. Vincent built his home, he positioned the garden so it got full sun. He made his grandson Ian pick up pinecones from the front yard before he ever let him near the garden. Slowly, Grandpop St. Vincent showed Ian his quiet, beautiful attention that went into tending to the growing vegetable bed.
Ian’s grandparents passed away and eventually he was able to buy the home his father’s father had built. It was the right thing for a man to do and it felt very good.
Ian’s childhood best friend, Mulligan, came to live with him. Ian and Mulligan drank beer and watched the movies they’d always watched together; childhood classics and their own adult lives mingled.
“Mulligan,” Ian asked, putting his briefcase down next to the door, “Why aren’t you at the restaurant? Need a ride?”
Stately, plump and drunk, Mulligan’s words sprayed around the room, “I’ve been doing the garden. I want to help so I drank some of these beers and did the garden.”
Ian picked up some of the beer bottles that covered the coffee table, dropped them in the recycling container by the back door & went out to see the state of his garden.
Ian’s garden was choked with memories of his grandfather’s careful rows and caring crop rotation muddled up with Mulligan’s clumps of plopped in tomato plants and the unmarked thicket of plants crowding the rest of the garden.
Ian took a deep breath and sunk his hands into the dirt & relined the tomatoes.
“Aw man, why the hell did you move them around? They were lined up to grow in and look like a dick,” laughed Mulligan.
“They had to be moved so they would grow in right,” replied Ian, relaxing in the green of his garden and his mind.
“What do you think about all those watermelon plants? They were expensive, but you can buy the vodka we dump into them!”
“Sounds good, man, sounds good,” said Ian, “I’ll check out how to grow them big & sweet, just like your mom! Haha Mulligan, grab me one of those beers! Starting today, I am no longer a high school art teacher; I’m not Mr. StVincent for 3 months!”
“Want to stop at Lowe’s so I can get a few more watermelon plants?” asked Mulligan in between bites of his burger.
“I guess so. The amount of plants we have are going to take over most of the backyard anyway. Might as well take it all the way.”
The salesgirl was very pretty so while Ian went to find the watermelon plants, Mulligan went directly to the pretty salesgirl for help.
“Here they are, Mulligan,” said the pretty salesgirl, laughing at the string of jokes and attention Mulligan passed to her.
“Thank you so much,” Mulligan paused to conspicuously check her nametag, “Ivy. Ivy, I want you to meet my friend Ian.”
“Hi Ian,” said Ivy, “Mulligan tells me you guys need more plants, something about a watermelon summer.”
“Yeah,” Ian said, “We are going to grow a huge watermelon patch and have a Labor Day party with all the summer fixins. You going to come?” Ian asked Ivy with sincerity and young man daring.
“If I’m still around, maybe. I might be moving to New York with my boyfriend.”
Ian slid her phone from her Garden Center apron, “Well here’s my number if that all falls through; I definitely know how to throw a party. So Ivy, can you tell us about how to grow a great watermelon patch?”
Ivy smiled with sincerity and young lady daring, “How about I come over after work & help you plant it?”
Ivy was blond and shiny, round and sweet. She was as bright yellow as a zucchini blossom, her eyes green, green, green. She laughed with Mulligan, but gardened with Ian. They dug the proper size holes and placed the plants as they should be. They whispered to the soil with their fingers, sending compassion and interest into the land, let a moment of care become the nesting place for love to grow.
Ian and Ivy washed their hands at the garden hose together. Ian kissed Ivy, the water gushed down their legs, rinsed their feet and flooded the bed.
Ivy snapped pictures of Ian as they lazed in the garden, her floppy hat sometimes coming into the viewfinder. No one had every captured Ian like Ivy did, and he was attracted to her beauty, as well as her exquisite attention. Ivy took pictures of the watermelon vines reaching across the yard and the pea shoot tendrils that underground, curl through earth, lock the vines into the ground and pull the plant into open spaces. Baby watermelons under shadows, their stripes young and soft like infant animal markings, using color to blend in unnoticed, a survival tactic, hide and grow.
“My boyfriend is wondering why I’m always here,” said Ivy, skipping, flaunting, hat bouncing, blond beaming, pieces of her hair curled just like the vine tendrils.
“Did you tell him it’s because the garden & I want you here,” said Ian, as he strolled around the garden picking the first fruit, ripe and warm, early summer.
“I did actually,” replied Ivy, tossing a cherry tomato into Ian’s basket. “He asked me, not so nicely, to leave. Any chance of me crashing with you?”
“Nothing would make me happier,” answered Ian, wiping dirt from a young watermelon, just one of the many hopefuls that would reach for sunshine.
He pulled a watermelon vine up and wrapped it around her waist, “Come stay with me, Poison Ivy. This can be our watermelon summer.”
The watermelon tendrils grew long and strong through hot nights of cool compassion and wet mornings of dew and blinding light. Watermelons grew big and their vines stretched further and further out. The yard became covered in vines, a tapestry of green leaves and striped bulbous fruit.
In the florescence of breaking dawn, Mulligan stumbled home. Stepping on watermelon vines and crushing leaves without care while crossing the yard, Mulligan flopped in a lounge chair which was wrapped in vines. The watermelons were big and round like basketballs so Mulligan lugged his big leg up and heel slammed a ripe watermelon, cracking it’s rind, smooshing its flesh, spilling its seed. He picked up half of the watermelon and bit into its pulpy rouge, watermelon juices ran onto his tshirt.
Vines climbed and crawled up his chair legs and pulled closer to Mulligan’s legs. Tendrils entwined with his leg hairs, wrapped with nature’s strength around his ankles, formed an organic fabric through the cotton of his clothes. As Mulligan pulled his arms away from the creeping vines, the vines climbed around his body, mulched into his torso, rooted into his stomach. A vine grew out of his mouth and his eyes became red and watery, darkened like blood, then became lightly striped with green. His body broke down, liquefied, passed into the soil and nourished the growing plants. Mulligan’s eyeballs grey and bulged under the leaves, quickly growing into small, perfect watermelons.
The vines reached far and strong, growing up the side of the house that was Ian and Ivy’s bedroom window.
The vines creeped through the open window, pulling along like an octopus on tentacle tips. Ian and Ivy slept soundlessly as the vine tendrils curled into the bed sheets and clothes and thatched down like landscape fabric. Ivy’s hair became braided into a thick crown of green leaves, blond and baby green locked her into the growing garden bed.
A vine tickled up Ian’s chin and he woke up to swat it away. He grabbed the vine and pulled it, yanked a blanket of growing green toward himself.
“Ivy!” Ian yelled, pulled and ripped vines to grab his samurai sword above the bed.
Ivy’s blond hair latched her hair into a pillowcase lattice. Ivy tried to sit up and couldn’t, her head matted with leaves and twirling tendrils. Ian cut and hacked at every vine, trying to sever the one that was burrowing into Ivy, rooting, taking seed.
The vines covered his feet and grew strong up his legs, while his arms as hands attacked vines that were like the rapidly multiplying hydra.
Ivy’s face became covered in the green shadow of midnight leaves, “Cut me Ian! Cut me off!” screamed Ivy, her eyes red and watery. Ian swung the samurai sword, cutting his lover and the vines, spraying the room red and fluttering green. He hacked her head and matter oozed out thick; her insides were full of black and whitish yellow seeds and pulpy vegetative flesh; the serpentine tuber only looked like a human body.
Ian screamed and a vine sprung down his throat, deep down into his belly.
Ian fell against the bed, his eyes hurt, his stomach grew. He lay face to face with Ivy’s severed head, which grew striped with shades of green. His stomach felt fertile, seared green. Pea tendrils crawled out of his bellybutton, slowly pulling a fine vine that grew plump and leafy as his soft skin pulled apart. A large ripe fruit grew fast and vines fed on the compost host.
The watermelons bulged and grew by the waning moon, huge and healthy and as dawn began to shine, the rind began to crack from the inside. Faint clawing and weak pushing, and a small man unfolded himself from the watermelon incubator, covered in seeds and sweet, watery red. The small man was still attached to the vines and they nourished him as the sunlight welcomed him. He grew into a man who looked like Ian. Nearby, a watermelon spawned a woman who looked like Ivy. They did not know each other, but they were one. One part of many, one part of a whole, together, always growing together, and as one.
Watermelons continued to grow. The vines reached through every window of the home and fruit hung heavy and frequently along the vines. Ian St. Vincent’s scratched from behind rinds, born men with seedy insides and a burning desire to grow a large watermelon patch. Lovely girls named Ivy cracked through green striped shells, rooted into men’s hearts and turned them into watery mush.