An old woman selling flowers on a city sidewalk. A fresh college grad at a new job. Life ain’t what it seems. I offer this week’s story bite, “City Sidewalks.”

And a few fun quotes from mystery novels I’m reading.

What I’m Reading

I always enjoy humor, especially snark, in a novel. Here are a few quotes from one of the books in Dublin-born Jane Casey’s crime series set in London. The book is The Kill:

  • “Write it on a Valentine’s card I can throw away.”
  • “He’s got a face like a wet weekend.”
  • “Hammond had just missed out on being handsome…”

And in another Casey mystery, The Cutting Place, a conversation between two characters about some very old food in a refrigerator. A leftover container of curry has leaked and sat for some time:

“I didn’t notice for a couple of days. By the time I realized what had happened, it had settled in.”

Her companion: “Yeah, it’s hard to kill something with a personality.”

A last quote, describing a fellow detective:

“He had never met a grudge he didn’t want to cherish.”

What I’m Writing

I am continuing to experiment with story bites. This one combines old memories and fresh imagination. Life on city streets.

City Sidewalks

“Dolla bunch! Dolla bunch!”

The voice caught Olivia Frost’s attention. She stepped closer to the curb to avoid being jostled by the lunchtime crowds streaming by on the sidewalk. A sunny day in a new city. Her second day on a new job. So much for a fresh college grad to explore on her lunch breaks.

“Dolla bunch!”

The voice came from an older woman standing at the curb. She wore a faded, shapeless housedress. Thick, chunky black shoes. A scarf wrapped around her gray hair.

Credit: DepositPhotos

The woman waved a couple of meager flower bouquets in her hand as she called out. On the sidewalk in front of her stood three buckets filled with flowers. Some red, some white. All carnations. No greens, only flowers. 

Olivia thought: a dollar for a bunch of flowers. That’s pretty cheap, even for the small bunches the woman offered. Supermarkets would sell them for at least four dollars. 

A man in a crisp navy blue suit stopped in front of the woman, gave her a bill, pointed to a red bunch. The woman handed him the flowers, reached for an open coffee can on the sidewalk next to the buckets. “Don’t forget food packet for flowers.” He took a clear plastic packet, the size of a catsup packet, from her, nodded and walked off.

The woman shouted, “Dolla bunch!”

I’ll get a bunch on my way back from lunch, Olivia told herself. She wandered off in search of a sandwich shop.

Half an hour later Olivia came back, nearing the flower woman again. Just as she stepped up to buy flowers, two men in casual clothes flashed badges at the old woman, grabbed her arms, and handcuffed her. Undercover cops. She struggled, called out, “I got permit. Let me sell my flowers!” 

In the struggle the woman kicked over the coffee can with the food packets. They scattered on the sidewalk. Olivia reached down to help gather up the packets.

“Don’t touch that, lady.”

“Don’t touch that, lady,” one cop said to her. “Move on.” Olivia stepped back.

An unmarked police car pulled to the curb. They put the woman in the back seat. The two cops dumped the water out of the buckets, put them and the flowers in the trunk. They grabbed up the flower food packets and the coffee can, threw them in the trunk as well. The car drove off. 

The cops waved to the small crowd that had gathered. “Nothin’ to see here, folks. Keep movin’.” They walked off down the street.

When Olivia got to her work cubicle, she said to Johnny, the office assistant: “The cops busted an old lady out front for selling flowers. Don’t they have anything better to do?”

Johnny smiled. “The ‘dolla bunch’ lady?”


“Welcome to the big city, girl… She sells more than flowers.”

“What do you mean?”

Johnny put his thumb up to his nose and sniffed. “You know those little packets of fresh cut flower food you get with bouquets?”

I nodded.

“Her packets aren’t flower food…they’re coke.”



“Huh?” Olivia opened her palm to reveal two packets. “Want one?”


Find my book A Twin Long Gone on Amazon Kindle.