Weekend Wind Down – A Flash of Red

   Being the ‘Undead Liaison Officer’ of the city police isn’t exactly how I had planned to spend my year of Community Service. I only got the gig because I’m a mixed-blood – and because nobody else wanted it. Be that as it may, I hadn’t made to bad a fist of it. Until now. Two weeks of my secondment left an I hafta cop for this.
    What did I ever do? But I digress…
    The Chief called me into his office and stood looking down his impressive nose at me. When he thought I had squirmed enough spoke.
    “Ah. Cadman. Got a job for you. Woman dead. Up there,” he indicated the posh end of town with jerk of one thick thumb. “Her family is screaming murder, but she died alone in a locked room. You cut along and look into it.”
    Which left me walking up streets that got steeper and steeper, past houses that got bigger and bigger. I glanced at the ageing, and wooden-faced constable they had sent with me to see that even he was beginning to look concerned.
    “Fraggit,” he mumbled. “What’re we doing here.”
    “Praying,” I said shortly.
    He grinned tautly. “On it.”
    There were two smartly uniformed watchmen outside our destination. They knew my companion, and let us in without hindrance.
    “Watch the son,” one murmured out of the corner of his mouth. “He’s an asshole with attitude.”
    We had barely got into the house when a tall guy, whose handsome hawklike countenance was marred by a sulky pout, bore down on us with his brocaded soutane flapping behind him like a sail. He pointed a dramatic finger.
    “I demanded the best that the city has to offer, and this is what they send me!”
    “Undead Liaison,” I kept my tone neutral, “they have to send me, then I  call out the big guns. It’s procedure.”
    “Oh well. If it’s procedure.” His voice just about dripped sarcasm. “Come this way then.”
    He stalked ahead of us, and I had to run to keep up. Being half-dwarf and half-elf, I ain’t the longest in the leg. But we got to the room. Also guarded. 
    “Thank you maestre.” I’m always scrupulously polite to assholes.
    He didn’t deign to reply.
    “Nice,” one of the door guards muttered.
    I shrugged and opened the door, finding myself in what was obviously the boudoir of a very wealthy and spoilt woman. It was all done out in shades of pink, from the palest mother of pearl to screaming fuchsia. The only false note came in the form of a vase of flowers on a side table. They were roses, red as blood, and as out of place as myself and the constable in this room of decadent beauty, and as soon as I saw the roses, I knew who did it. Or I thought I did. I stuck my head out of the door. 
    “Does anybody know who was responsible for the floral decorations in here?”
    “No.”
    Fortunately for the state of my temper the second door guard was either brighter or just less lazy. “I’ll just go find out.”
    He was back pretty quick. “The deceased ordered them her own self from Mattie’s in the Pantheon.”
    I gave him the thumb, before shutting the door and sitting down, plump, on the floor.
    “Oh fraggit,” I said bitterly.
    “What?”
    “I know who killed her. The kicker is gonna be finding the proof.”
    “So. Who? And. Howja know?”
    “She done herself. And the clue is in that vase over there.”
    He looked at me like I’d flipped, but I kept my cool.
    “You notice anything odd about them flowers?”
    He scratched his head. “Well. I guess they are the wrong colour. But so what?”
    “Well. Did you know roses have names?”
    “What. Like Eric and Sid?”
    “No.  Not quite. Them roses is a variety called ‘Suicide’. Seems telling to me.”
    “You sure about the name?”
    “Ninety per cent. But I guess I should check.”
    I dragged out my telecaster and called father. He answered as grumpily as ever. 
    “What do you want, child?”
    “Can you identify a rose for me?”
    He pricked up his ears. “Show me.”
    I panned over to the vase.
    “Suicide,” he snapped. “Where?”
    “From Mattie’s in the Pantheon.”
    “Okay.”
    He cut the connection.
    “That’s my dear old dad.” I managed to hide the hurt under a jaunty grin. Or so I thought. 
    The middle-aged constable patted my head. “Now what?”
    I had one of them thunderbolt inspirations.
    “Search the room for roses.”
    I’ll give it to him, he was a better searcher than me. I’d have never even thought of the marquetry roses on the table that held the vase. But he lifted the cut glass and looked down.
    “I seen one of these tables once before. It had a hidden drawer.”
    “So does my mother’s table.” It was mister sarcastic. He strolled over and pressed three rose petals simultaneously. A tiny drawer flew open disclosing a cream parchment envelope. He opened it with one overlong fingernail. When he had finished reading his face was the colour of old ivory. To do him justice he pulled himself together and bowed to me.
    “My thanks. Liaison Officer. This explains much.”
    Me and the Constable buggered off quick, but the financial bonus, when it come through, was enough to set both of us up for life. Me? I’m a housewife now and my partner is a retired City Constable of phlegmatic temperament and quiet humour. 
    And all because my absent father breeds roses.

©️Jane Jago 2019

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