“Night of the Rose,” Jay Coral
The girl with a red rose was followed by a guy with a bucket of roses. “Sir, will you like to give your sweetheart a rose for Valentine?” The girl spoke in Spanish as the guy translated into English. “No, thank you. I don’t have a sweetheart today.” I raised my eyes to see if my bus was coming. The young couple did not move and were blocking the passer-bys. They were dressed for a date and their perfume mixed with the smoke of downtown. “Sir, you can have my sweetheart if you like.” He gently pressed her lower back and lightly shoved her body towards me. The girl lowered her head and he continued as she preferred to listen inattentively. “You look like a good guy, sir. Mi amor is lonely and she wants to be treated tonight. She has very modest wants and I cannot give her that. A nice meal, dancing in a club and—” “Stop right ther—” “I know what you’re thinking, sir: A girl like her does not deserve a guy like me. I would rather share her with a stranger than have her myself.” I caught the girl’s eye, “Is that true?” “Yes,” she said. After awkward lovemaking, I paid her for her time and imagined the money as petals scalped out of the rose bud.