This story is for Miranda Kate's weekly flash challenge. This is from Miranda's post:
I picked this week's photo as it is Valentine's week and it seemed appropriate. It was created by a company called Ars Thanea, and it is an actual sculpture they made, called The Ash. An explanation about how they did it is here.
Here's a link to the prompt photo.
This story is a mix of horror, noir, and maybe a few other genres... I'll let you decide.
Please note that anyone can join in with a story up to 750 words. Mine has 584 words for those who are counting (not including the title).
By Any Other Name
by K. R. Smith
Velvet was used to getting her way. When you're a big star, that goes with the territory. The Diva of Deathrock they called her. She had the money, the mansion, the cars—and me.
That was my fault, I suppose. Never amounted to much on my own. People always say, "Find something you're good at and make it your life's work." It's unlikely you'll ever see sycophantic kowtower in a job description, but it got me to where I am today.
Life wasn't always pleasant with Velvet, though sometimes, I'm ashamed to admit, it was. But whichever way it went, it was never enough. She was as much into excess as anything. The sex, drugs, and money were merely its physical manifestation. I should have known I could never keep up.
The last straw was the roses. She wanted them, lots of them, but only if they were black. They had to match her stage outfits. That's when I discovered black roses aren't truly black. They're a very dark red or purple. That infuriated her even though the audience would never be able to tell—or care, for that matter. I got the back end of a horsewhip across my face for telling her so—and an ultimatum to find black roses or she would find another, well, let's use the term "associate" if for no other reason than to appease my dignity.
I went to every nursery and florist I could find. Even made a trip down Mexico way looking for a source. I brought samples of every rose I could get my hands on hoping one might be good enough. I placed them in the main room of her house. You could barely breath in there from the perfume they exuded.
She touched each one, inspected them with a magnifying glass, even held them up to the light. I knew from the look in her eyes I had failed.
I won't go into details, but suffice it to say the situation became ugly. I begged her to stop, telling her I had one more idea. For whatever reason, she gave me another chance.
That night, I pulled her favorite Mercedes close up to the gate at the end of her driveway. I put it in park, stopped the engine, and tossed the keys into the bushes. Then I ran a chain through the metal bars of the gate and locked them in place. Next was the ropes tying the doors of the house shut. I did the same to the windows, even those on the second-floor balcony. There were a couple of cans of gasoline in the garage. I poured one into a small opening to the cellar and the other through a window I'd broken out near the kitchen. A single match was all it took to get a roaring good fire going.
I took a seat beside the fountain at the front of the house. The view was wonderful. After a while, I saw Velvet banging on one of the upper-story windows with flames whipping up close behind. I yelled to her, "All your roses will be black now!"
It took quite some time for the fire department to get into her walled estate. By then it was too late. They asked some silly questions, but I just sat there laughing. There was no point in trying to hide. I had nowhere else to go. I didn't even mind when they put on the handcuffs; I was used to it.