Snakes and Pills

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The petunias were coming in nicely this year. Herschel carefully positioned the watering can above the small bed of flowers and tilted it forward. Delicate trickles of nourishment flowed forth from the spout.

He heard another tourist bus pull onto the block. It hadn't reached his house yet, as he was far from the only famous person in the neighborhood. The wheels squeaked as the small bus crept from one celebrity's house to another. The tour guide's voice prattled on over a megaphone.

Herschel couldn't hear the words clearly, but he knew the gist of their spiels by now. They tried hard to play up any bit of scandalous gossip and tie it to the locale. He knew that most of the houses around here were just like his: surrounded by tall, opaque walls. After the novelty of "Oh, this is where so-and-so lives!" wore off for the tourists, the guides had to put in a laborious effort to keep their guests entertained whilst staring at an endless parade of walls and fences.

Their heavy exertion did little to lessen Herschel's disdain for the guides. He didn't fault the tourists for having a desire to seek out the homes of the rich and famous. Tourism in general inclined people to partake in a great deal of stupid things no rational person would be eager to do.

The tour guides, though, were under no obligation to enable them. Herschel resented that they profited off of him. Not even for anything he had accomplished. Just merely for existing here in this place.

The bus now approached his property. He chuckled briefly when he imagined how the tourists would react if they could see what he was really up to behind the wall. Decked out in a gardener's hat, gloves dirty with soil, and his grandfather's antique watering can. Certainly a large departure from the image and antics that most people knew him for.

The wheels squeaked onward, and Herschel put the distraction out of his mind. He moved over to the sunflowers, taking a moment to appreciate their beauty in the afternoon haze. They received their allotment of water as well, and he realized that his day of gardening was complete.

Herschel could afford a landscaper without a second thought. He was hardly self-sufficient. He had a maid who cleaned his house, a chef who prepared the family meals. He had no illusions of being an ordinary man.

He gardened because he liked it. Gardening gave him something to do. He never thought he would lament an abundance of free time and comfort, but here he was. Retirement had been an odd and unexpected beast to contend with.

He put the watering can back on the shelf in his toolshed. It stood out among all of his other tools and implements, which were new and top of the line. He wasn't entirely sure why he insisted upon using it. He had not known his grandfather well.

When the old man passed away, Herschel had simply been the next of kin, called upon to deal with the estate. His possessions being of little value to Herschel, he gave desired items freely to whoever requested them, and donated or trashed the rest.

Herschel saved the watering can from the trash pile. For all he knew, his grandfather never actually used the thing, although it did show tell-tale signs of wear and tear. Herschel had added a few more of his own.

Someday, when he too was dead and gone, what would be preserved?

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