“I never was good at carvin’ nothin’ but flowers. So that’s what I carve, and if any man says I ain’t fit to do it, well, I’ll carve him too.”

That’s what “Flower” Johnson used to say. A notorious knife fighter, he made ends meet with odd jobs on ranches or posses, but in his ideal moments he was known to carve beautifully detailed blossoms.

Some of them went as gifts to ladies he fancied, or as payment in lieu of cash–if Flower Johnson handed you a walnut rose and said you were paid, you were paid. A few even found their way into the hands of local children, with the rumor being that Johnson had a secret soft spot for them.

But the finest flower he ever carved was on the handle of his trusty Bowie knife, which he called Rose. Each time he got a little better at whittling, he had changed out the handle for one with a better rose, and by the time of his death Rose was a sight to behold.

In the end, though, it was Rose that killed Flower Johnson. At least in a manner of speaking.

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