CHAPTER NINETY-SEVEN: DEAD FLOWERS

Author’s Note:

 

The following is really a ‘chapter fragment’ rather than a chapter, but it is extremely important with regards to the final sweep of chapters which you’ll be getting in the coming weeks.  It will need to be inserted in the novel’s opening chapter.  If you’ll recall, in that opening chapter, as Phil is surveying his surroundings in Redmond’s office and looking down at Gallows, he fixates on Dewy’s Floral & Variety across the way and thinks of Dewy selling his flowers, “remedies for divorce” as Dewy calls them.  The flowers in question here are actually ‘irises’ and, if I end up having Phil ‘soundtracking’ to them, I will probably link them up with ‘Iris’ by the Goo Goo Dolls (link after this chapter fragment).

 

 

Phil eyed the flowers on the desk.  The petals, indigo with yellow centres, were wilted, drooping toward a myriad of other petals which had already fallen and were drying at the base of the vase.  For the life of him, Phil couldn’t remember what those flowers were called.

Lilies, were they?

No, not lilies.

Gladioli?

What the hell were gladioli?

Don’t even try, he told himself.  The only flowers you need to know are Dewy’s ‘divorce prevention’ staples: roses and carnations, daffodils, and tulips, with a sprig or two of baby’s breath.  You don’t need to be a flower expert, not in your line of work.

All Phil knew as he stood there looking at the finished blooms is that their glory days were over.  It was time for Norm to put them in the compost, particularly now.  The last thing Phil needed was wayward petals wafting onto his work, accelerating his headache with their overwhelming scent.

“I’ll get Norm to throw them out,” said Serge as if he’d read Phil’s mind.  “Why Detective Redmond messes up her desk with overpriced bouquets, I’ve no clue.  It’s a bloody waste of money.”  The sergeant paused, calling over his shoulder for Norm who flitted through the door and snatched the vase up, sending down another flock of petals in the process.

“Oh, for God’s sake,” said the sergeant gruffly.

“I’ll be back with the hoover to get them,” Norm chirped brightly, toting the vase out into the Polaroid Room, headed for the stairwell so he could take them to the compost bin in the precinct’s kitchen.

In the wake of Norm’s departure, Phil eyed the vivid trail which led from Redmond’s desk toward the office door.  And it was strange, because he suddenly thought of the pathway of breadcrumbs in the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, the trail intended to lead the siblings safely home, the trail devoured by birds, leaving them to execute their return by other methods.  And upon thinking of the breadcrumbs in Hansel and Gretel, Phil then thought of BREADCRUMBS, the navigation tool named after the trail of breadcrumbs in the fairy tale, the tool he used to keep track of his location in computer programs and documents.  Petals → breadcrumbs → navigation → documents.  Christ, his mind was in overdrive these days.

And thinking of overdrive –

In whirred Steve, the robotic hoover with the obnoxious googly eyes and pom-pom antenna Someone-or-Other had stuck to his shiny little body.  Steve, bless his battery-operated soul, skirted around Phil and Serge’s boots, sucking up the petal trail, then whizzing back out into the Polaroid Room to Norm who stood there with his small arms folded.

Once Serge left, Phil retrieved the rubbish bin from the corner of the room and, with his palm, swept the rest of the petals from Redmond’s desk into it.  Serge was right, he thought.  Unless you were buying flowers to save your marriage, bouquets like the one that Norm and Steve had just disposed of were a bloody waste of money.