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The Meaning of Flowers

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Nothing quite prepared Leon Orcot for the sight of his bedroom when Jill helped him limp through the door to his flat after a week in hospital. The white paint of the windowsill was covered with a scattering of crinkled, dark brown leaves, some escaping down onto the olive green bedspread. Leaning awkwardly over the footboard, the detective tried to pick up one of the small pieces up between his fingers, but it was more fragile than rice paper and crumbled to dust between his fingers, leaving only a faintly sweet smell and a coating of black grit on the pad of his thumb.

"Oh, your plant!" Jill exclaimed from the doorway. "I didn’t even know you had any." She said in a guilty tone, stepping over to look at the wilted husk in the pot. "I’d have come to water it if I’d known."

Leon shook his head. "It’s alright. It’s just a plant." He pushed away the clenching feeling of sorrow in the pit of his stomach. "It’s just a plant", he muttered again, and turned away, unable to look.

I’m sure after a few days you’ll grow to absolutely love it. Her name is Gattolotto. Treat her nicely.

Leon hadnt been quite sure whether to feel smug or insulted at the Count’s gift – the man had been so scathing of Leon’s ability to look after any kind of living creature and it had really gotten his hackles up. He still couldn’t decide if there had been some kind of implication on his care of chris. Yet, even if it was only a rather boring looking pot-plant, Gattolotto, as the count had called it ("Her!"), had seemed to imply that D thought him capable of at least some form of responsibility. Knowing the count, he probably thought even scruffy pot plants were more important than human beings. Still, if the Count thought Leon could take care of the tangled mess of leaves in the pot, then Orcot wasn’t about to prove him wrong.

He’d eventually managed to find a nice sunny spot ("A brightly lit place, Detective – she doesn’t like to hide!") on the windowsill in his bedroom, wedged between an overflowing ashtray and a half-full bottle of vodka. Leon had to admit it wasn’t really much like a flower, even if Count D had called her ("It!") a “flowering plant”; thorny tendrils half masked by rough three-pointed leaves. Leon had half expected something to happen after the bizarre dream of the vines encompassing his room, binding him to his mattress, so the sudden production of thin stalks in the morning – each bearing multiple tiny ruby buds – hadn’t really been a surprise. Odd coincidences seemed to be part of anything concerned with D and his petshop and the abrupt blooming of Gattolotto wasn’t anywhere near the peak of freakishness.

Even wierder, Leon had found himself carrying it around the house on his day off, to follow the sunlight, from kitchen table, to lounge window sill and back. ("Talk to her, the best blooms are grown with affection"). Of course, he would have rather hung himself from city hall by his underwear than admit he’d been talking to a bunch of greenery like some kind of tree-hugger, but it had become something of a habit after only a few days.

A good relationship requires a balance of spirit and chemistry.

He’d been reckless – going in like that without back up, and when the thugs had showed themselves he’d reacted without thinking – only to get shot for his troubles. Hours later, while Jill bit anxiously at her nails in the hospital corridor by the operating room, in the darkness of Orcot’s apartment, brilliant crimson flowers, many-petaled among the deep green leaves, blossomed for a moment, releasing a heady perfume into the air... and died.

She bloomed for you, Officer Orcot. And her red flowers have fallen in your place.

And on the other side of town, Detective Leon Orcot took another breath.