Orchard Flower (Version Charlie)

by Lubrican

Chapter : Prologue | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-16 Available On

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This story is written in three versions having the same or very similar beginnings, which branch out into different endings.

In Version Alpha, a mother and daughter compete for Bob's attention, and mom wins.

In version Bravo, the daughter resists her mother's attempts to separate her from Bob and she pursues him.

In version Charlie, neither woman wants to give up, and Bob finds himself in love with both of them.

The beginning of Version Charlie is different from the beginnings of the previous two stories. The differences take the story in a very different direction. For that reason it is important to read the entire story without skipping any parts.



Coincidence is an astonishing thing if you take the time to stop and think about it. Most of us don't. Oh, we think about it fleetingly, as it touches our lives now and then, but we don't actually give it the honor it is due. Some people think there isn't any such thing as coincidence, and that everything is preordained. They would call coincidence fate. I'm not one of those people.

Coincidence is neither good nor bad, in and of itself. The results can be either, of course, but you can't blame that on coincidence.

Take, for example the coincidence of my fiancé being involved in a fender bender with an up an rising NFL football star. Having been to a party and had a few drinks, he poured on the charm to talk her out of calling the police. She, it turns out, is susceptible to charm laid on by a jock.

Everybody said it was good I found out before the wedding ... like that would make me feel better or something.

Or, there is the coincidence that, when I left Chicago to get away from my ex and her new boyfriend, and was playing that game where you open an atlas and just put your finger down someplace, my finger landed on Hot Springs South Dakota.

Hot springs seemed like as good a place as any to just start over. It was close to things like Mount Rushmore and Sturgis. I'd never seen Mount Rushmore and, while I didn't own a bike, I might some day, and Sturgis would be right there, up the road. I'd never even ridden a bike, but I was feeling a little crazy-brash, so who knew what might happen. That gives you some idea of the mood I was in.

A little research told me there were about as many people in the national cemetery located in Hot Springs as there were walking the streets. That was fine with me because it meant having to get to know fewer people than had attended my high school. Its economic basis was tourism, and that was fine too, because all those people would show up once and never come back. That also tells you a bit about the mood I was in.

I was just looking for someplace to hide for a while, where nobody would know me and I could be something other than a certified public accountant. Tourist traps are always looking for workers, and being dirt poor fit with the way I was feeling just about then. There was also a big wild mustang ranch located there, and I had fantasies of magically becoming a cowboy, riding the range and living clean.

Hmmm ... shouldn’t they be called horseboys on a horse ranch? Who knows? Like most men who go off half cocked in pursuit of healing a broken heart I was a dreadfully uneducated and unprepared man.

Of course I have to mention another man named Paul who was living my fantasy, working with horses every day, and who was sitting on top of one which made him the highest point around during a thunder storm. It was coincidence that put him right there, where the lightning bolt would strike, killing both him and his horse.

The string of coincidences wasn't over yet, though. It was coincidence that my radiator lasted precisely long enough to get me just twenty miles short of Hot Springs, and that the first people to drive by were Paul's widow and daughter.

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