intro

Before I proceed, you need to know that I am putting myself in grave danger for telling this story. I recommend that you do not forward this to anyone, or even mention that I told it to you.

You have been warned.

 

The Purple Flower Joke

Jimmy is pretty much your average nine year old. He's got a good family, is making good grades in school, and everything is going good.

One day as he's walking to school, he passes a small patch of purple flowers growing along the sidewalk. He thinks of how his third-grade teacher is nice to him and how much she would enjoy these. So he kneels down, and starts picking. He's within a block of school, and after he's got about a handful of flowers together, he hears the bell ring. Oh no! He's gonna be late! So, he gets up and hurries to the building, dropping a couple flowers on the way there.

He walks into class. Everyone is already seated, and the teacher is about to start today's lesson.

"Jimmy?" she's very curious, "you've never shown up late before. What's up?"

Out of breath, Jimmy answers, "I'm sorry. It'll never happen again."

"Don't worry, it's alright. I wouldn't start class without you."

Before he sits down, he walks up to her desk with a gift, "but I did pick you these purple flowers.."

The room went silent. His teacher looks up in horror.

"Purple flowers? PURPLE FLOWERS!! Young man! You're going to the principal's office!" She jumps to attention, kicks the chair out from under her, and slaps the flowers from his hand.

"but.."

"NOW!" She points to the door, refusing to look poor Jimmy in the eye.

He turns around, stares at the floor and starts walking.

In the hall, he starts mumbling to himself. "But they're just flowers. What's wrong with.. I mean.. just.. I.." He could barely keep his composure.

...

The principal is at his desk, lazily organizing his fine collection of pencils, when Jimmy walks in.

"Hey there Jimmy, you look awful. What's troubling you?"

"Well, I just.. My teacher sent me."

"That's weird. You're a good kid. I don't think you've ever been here before."

"I know, sir." He finally works up some effort, "You see, I was on the way to school when I decided to pick some purple flowers--"

"Okay, that's it." The principal takes on a fierce demeanor, "you're out of here."

"I --" Jimmy is shocked.

"Just go home, and don't come back." His principal swivels his chair away from him, "I'm destroying all your records. You're no longer allowed to enter this building."

Confused, Jimmy understands he has no choice but to get up and walk home.

...

With barely enough energy to move, he opens the front door. Hearing him walk in, his mother comes in from another room. "Are you not feeling well today, son?"

"I dunno, mom.. They told me to go home."

"Oh dear. Did someone pick on you?" She walks over and hugs him.

"No, mom."

"Did you make a bad grade on something?"

"No.."

"It must have been pretty bad. What was it, dear?"

"Well, I was walking to school this morning, and since my teacher is pretty nice, I decided to pick some flowers for her. They were these little purple flowers--"

"SON! YOU. DID. NOT!" She pushes him away and points across the house, "You go to your room right this minute and wait until your father comes home! There will be none of that in this family!"

"Bu--"

"GO! He won't stand for this!"

Jimmy runs to his room, slams the door behind him, and jumps under the covers, crying.

...

Three hours later, he hears the front door open -- his dad is home for lunch. With his bedroom door shut, and being covered with a layer of blankets, Jimmy hears some muffled talking in the hallway. Then the door opens. "Son? Your mother tells me there's been a problem at school. Care to talk about it?"

"No. Uhh, yes. I mean, no I don't want to talk about it." Jimmy is having trouble keeping back the tears.

His dad sits on the edge of the bed with him. "Don't worry, son. It can't be that bad."

"Are you sure?" A muffled voice peeks over the covers.

He father reassures him, "Yeah. We can talk about anything. What's been going on?"

"Well.." Jimmy stops crying, "I was walking to school. And, and I thought of my teacher.. and I thought she would like a gift.. so I, uh.. I picked some purple flowers--"

His father stands up. "WHAT?? I thought I taught you better than this?? If there is one thing I won't stand in this house, it's.. it's.."

"It's what, dad??" Jimmy is cowering in fear.

"You get your stuff together right now, and get out of here. Your mother and I are just going to have to try again at this kid-making business!"

"But Dad?!?"

"No 'buts'!" He storms over to the window and yanks the curtain down. As the whole mess starts crashing, he pulls the curtain rod away. Next, he yanks the blanket away from Jimmy. With it, he proceeds to scrape up all Jimmy's toys up from the floor. On the blanket, he also empties all of Jimmy's clothes from the dresser. He grabs the curtain rod, bundles the blanket with all of its new contents, and finally picks up Jimmy, who is absolutely terrified of the situation he's found himself in. His father drags him by the shirt collar to the front door, slaps the curtain rod and blanket full of his possessions onto his shoulders, smacks Jimmy on the back, pushing him outside, and slams the door behind him.

...

Three hours later.

Jimmy is alone, walking north along the railroad tracks, with all of his possessions bundled over his shoulder. With bags under his eyes, and patches of stubble on his face, he appears to have aged 20 years in the past morning. On his right is the town, disappearing. On his left is the beginning of the forest. Just ahead however, is what appears to be a small camp fire at the edge of the trees. Jimmy can just barely see a small figure huddled around it. With nothing to lose, he changes his path down the hill and toward the fire.

As Jimmy walks up, he sees a homeless man wearing some tattered clothes, stuffing twigs and a shoe into a pot half-full of water sitting above a flame. The man ignores Jimmy as he sits down.

After a couple minutes of silence, the homeless man speaks, "where ya headed, boy?"

Hesitant, Jimmy works up an answer, "nowhere."

"Naw, everyone's going somewhere."

"You wouldn't understand."

"Oh, you're running away."

"No I was kicked out."

"What the hell for? did ya kill someone?"

"I said, you wouldn't understand."

"Don't worry about it, I've heard 'em all."

"You want to know why I'm here? Walking along the railraod tracks, alone, with my only possessions bundled over my shoulder?"

"sure."

"you promise not to get mad and kick me out?"

"yeah, okay.."

"well, I was walking to school thinking of my teacher.." Jimmy looks at the homeless man out of the corner of his eye, "and I decided to.." he gets up on his knees as if to get into a better position to run away, "pick some purple flowers for her--"

"DUDE!" With only one eye, the homeless man glares at him.

"YOU PROMISED!"

"naw man! You don't do THAT!"

"What's the big deal??"

"I cain't talk about it! And if you knew what was good for you, you'd get your crap together and the hell outta here!"

"Where am I gonna go?? I've been kicked out of school, disowned by my family, the only person who would speak to me is probably going to tell me to run away again, and I'm only nine years old!" Jimmy stands up. "I want to know what the big deal is with these purple flowers!"

"keep yer damn voice down. You never know who's hiding in these woods. Now sit down boy."

Hearing the first positive reaction from anyone all day, Jimmy calms down. "I'm sorry, I've just had a bad day."

"And for good reason! Here, I'm only gonna tell ya once, so listen up. You can find the answers to all your problems in the next town."

"Where?!" Jimmy is a hyper nine-year-old, remember?

"I'm gettin there, boy. What you do is you get back up on them tracks. Walk about fifteen miles in the same direction you were going and you'll get to the next town. At the first big intersection, head to your right about two blocks. Go left for a block, then go to the left again about half a block, and on the north side of the street in the middle of a bunch of buildings all run together, you'll see an open doorway. Inside that is a flight of stairs, and at the top of them stairs is a hallway. You need to go to the right all the way to the end, turn to the left, go down four doors on your right, there will be another hallway. Then the second door on your left will be a door with a purple flower on it. Behind that door is what you're looking for. Now get your ass movin, because it make me sick just having to look at you."

"Oh my god! THANK YOU!"

Jimmy is so excited, he runs off without picking up his belongings. The homeless man glances back and forth between Jimmy, happily running away, and Jimmy's belongings sitting next to the fire in front of him. He shrugs, unties the blanket, grabs a random toy and tosses it in the boiling water.

...

Three hours later, Jimmy, exhausted from fifteen miles of running, sees the next town in the distance. The shadows from the forest on his left are getting longer and nightfall is coming soon. Looking forward to a conclusion to this strange set of events, he continues jogging.

As he gets to the first intersection, he remembers the homeless man's directions:

"head to your right two blocks.."
He goes to the right a couple blocks, and jogs to the intersection.

"go left for a block.."
He turns to the left, jogs across the street, and goes for another block.

"go left again about a half a block.."
Jogging around a building, he takes a left.

"across the street.."
He looks across, and sure enough, among a line of clearly marked offices, is an open doorway. He can barely make out the flight of stairs in the darkness behind it. He takes off running across the street, and he's hit by a truck.