INSPIRED BY ACTUAL EVENTS
From 1911 to 1933, 166 patients, mostly girls, left the Rosewood Asylum for the Feeble Minded outside of Baltimore, Maryland under writs of habeas corpus to unknowingly become slaves for the bluebloods of Baltimore society. When it was finally discovered, only 102 girls could be accounted for—the other 64 were never located or heard from again.
The wheels of the dusty Mercedes sedan came to a halt at the end of the neglected lane. The years of careless disregard for everything on the property were painfully evident. Still, a small crowd had gathered to bid on some of the items–unusual and otherwise—left behind in the rush to evacuate. To relocate. To forget.
The old man’s assistant rushed from the driver’s side to assist him as he placed the tip of his cane on the bone-dry mud and stray pebbles still scattered upon what was once a pristine and manicured lane.
“Let me help you, sir.” The young man took his arm and raised him from the car as if unloading a delicate piece of artwork.
Pushing from the black doorframe of the car, the old man balanced himself and caught his reflection in the shine of his black shoes. With minimal effort and one heavy sigh, he was standing. At ninety-two, he still refused to give up his formal ways, always wearing a suit and tie every day just as he’d done for the past seventy-five years. He balanced himself as he checked the time on the gold pocket watch that hung from his vest before tucking it back into its proper resting place. Like his watch, he was an antique—well taken care of, yet frangible. “I’m fine.”
With a glance toward the east end of the property, he blinked hard and dropped his head. The rose garden, now mostly a gnarled snake of burrs and thorns, still managed a few scrawny buds. The idea that the roses still bloomed in the midst of the rubble caused the old man to pause. “As a rose among the thorns, so is my beloved amongst the girls.” He muttered the words and adjusted the golden skeleton head that served as the knob of his cane to gain a foothold before shutting the car door behind him.
The old man’s assistant watched him carefully. It was obvious he wanted to help without compromising the gentleman’s independence. “Sir,” he began. “It’s my understanding that the auction is to happen behind the main building.”
The old man nodded as he watched others arrive around him and hurry to the western side of the rotting structure. The sun would set soon, marking the end of the day—marking the end of years of misery.
“No need to hurry,” the old man replied as he placed one foot in front of the other, slow and with purpose. “What I came for will surely be overlooked by most.”