Stephen D. Gutierrez
Oscar the Rose Dude Explains His Mark

Oscar gave me the lowdown on his rose. "I was sitting on my porch feeling all down, man. Just got fired from a job and I didn't know what to do. So I went out and got this thing," he pointed it out with a flick of the hand, dismissively. It was a big colored rose covering most of his bicep. It was bright red with a green stem. It unfolded beautifully and elaborately.

"A rose, man? Who wants a fucking rose on his arm? I don't. It was stupid," he looked at me, nodding his head as if for confirmation. I said nothing back. Pursed my lips and shrugged my shoulders. No big deal.

"But I was so damn down that day. The day was like a sack of shit on me. Dude sitting on his porch with a bag of mierda on him," he hoisted a big bag and put it on his shoulder, grinned, released it, this imaginary bag. "Just looking at the sunset, man, trying to feel better. You know what I mean?"

Yeah, I knew what he meant.

"'You've been skating on thin ice,' the boss told me, and then he called me into his office and shoved these papers across the desk at me. 'Your release forms,' he said. 'Sign here and you'll get your last paycheck next payday. You're done.' He got up and walked to the window. A couple of dudes were playing hackey sack in the parking lot. Lunchtime, you know, and everybody bored, ready to go home already. But got another four hours to do, the same old shit. I signed with a flourish," he smiled at me. "Remember Lynn used to say he'd beat you in ping-pong 'with a flourish!' Fucking Jap." He shook his head as if he didn't believe himself. "Fucking faggot, they caught him sucking dick at José's, all those dudes, Lynn and his friends, watching porno movies in a circle and sucking dick, all those dudes who play sports at the park, man, can you believe it?"

We were sitting on his porch that fronted the corner house he lived in with his mom, a rental that the whole neighborhood drove by to get to the liquor store. He knew everybody. He waved at a few cars.

Smoke stacks fed smog into the air a few miles away. A screen of grey set up against the hazy sunset. "So I came home from work, grabbed a beer, sat out here. I had nothing going for me, man, felt real low. It was the second job I had been fired from in two months. I gotta do something about my drinking, man. It's not good. It's ruining me."

He slapped his arm. "I got a fucking tattoo, this stupid thing," he peeled back his tee shirt and showed it to me again. "Can you believe it, me? With a fucking rose? Gaw, man, if I could fucking do it again, I wouldn't. A fucking rose, man, on my arm, how stupid. How fucking stupid, man, a big old fucking rose!"

"It's cool, man, it looks kind of ... rosie."

"What do you mean rosie? I got your rosie . . . " Then he started laughing, with me, staring at his arm, shaking his head and cracking up, slapping it, Oscar, the rose dude.