Mr. Tipton: A Short Story

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For those who knew Ed Tipton—resident of the traditional Nantucket cottage just down the road, it was clear that his garden meant everything. Every day of every week, one could see the salt-and-pepper head belonging to the stocky widower bobbing through the flowers. More often than not, a tawny cat would accompany him—weaving through the flowers with the elegant, flowing steps. However, while Mr. Tipton’s garden held a variety of flowers, during the summer, the garden bed would always be alive with the vibrant blooms of zinnias. Dozens – no, hundreds it seemed like—of scarlet, fuchsia, and gamboge blossoms of varying heights rose above the manicured lawn like reeds near the water’s edge. They carpeted the area in front of the child-height…show more content…
Tipton’s house was a small, two-bedroom abode with a brown gable roof. Two windows with lavender shutters were strategically placed equidistance from the central bright red door. In fact, the door itself gave impression of Mr. Tipton’s passion. Painted in the same lavender as the windowpanes, zinnias with green stems and leaves bordered the bottom of the door. It was here, on a balmy mid-morning in the last days of summer (six months from Valentine’s Day to be precise), that one found Mr. Tipton tending to his plants. Dressed in grass-stained canvas pants and a green plaid shirt with black suspenders looped on his shoulders, he walked from the door with a nervous pace—stopping occasionally, wringing his calloused hands, and starting yet again. Before long, he slowed ahead of his zinnias. He kneeled, took out gardening clippers, and, after several long, silent moments, cut the stem of the longest scarlet zinnia. Flower in hand; he slowly raised himself up—grunting and heaving like a broken record. Once he was standing, he looked around and spotted a man, on the other side of the white picket, clipping a…show more content…
Tipton. Rather than looking up and smiling at Mr. Jones, he gazed at the red zinnia still in his hand, and let out a desolate sigh. “Ed? Is there something wrong?” Mr. Jones cautioned. He set down his clippers on top of the bristly hedge, placed his tanned hands on the white picket fence, leaned forward in a concerned manner. After a long pause on Mr. Tipton’s behalf, Mr. Jones continued, “If there’s anything Tracy and I can do to help, holler.” “Larry, neighbors shouldn’t bother each other with their personal problems. Heaven forbid that I give you more to worry,” Mr. Tipton tsked. Mr. Jones shrugged, “Well, then I hope everything turns out. I’d hate to see you suffer more than your share.” Here, Mr. Jones is referring to the slew of health problems that had befallen Mr. Tipton from the beginning of the year to just a few weeks past. Frankly, Mr. Tipton was only in his fifties, but, even though he led a healthy lifestyle, his life-long arthritis was worsening. As a result, hospital bills as well as the rising health insurance premiums had sucked his wallet nearly dry. The surrounding neighbors were aware of his problem and pitied
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