|The plant housePage 1 of 1 |
|This had to be the place. It stood out like a cat being entered for crufts. The house was virtually covered in ivy, and the well maintained garden looked like it was to be entered at the Chelsea flower show, with a central water feature surrounded with white roses and expertly trimmed grass, as though it was the turf of a football pitch immediately prior to a cup final. Bill Norward got out of his fiesta and approached the wooden gate. He had heard of the reputation of the owner of this house. Unsurprisingly, he sold plants, and other horticultural items. Bill’s grandmother had been taken into hospital, having fallen down a set of stairs in her residential home. He hardly ever visited her there, so now that she was in hospital, he thought he’d better show his face to show he still had some semblance of compassion. So where better to buy flowers? rather than at a florists where they charged high prices.|
The person who lived here, sold through recommendation, and could not be found advertising. Nor where they in the yellow pages. It was not an official business. He grew the flowers here, and sold them from here.
He opened the well oiled gate and walked along a marble path to a sturdy oak door, where the brass knocker was in the shape of a rose. He knocked and waited. It was soon opened by a frail looking man who must easily be in his eighties. He leaned on a walking stick and looked up through thick, black rimmed spectacles, the glass of which must be from the same material used in magnifying glasses. His eyes were not magnified, just indistinguishable and distorted.
“Hi,” said Bill, “I understand you sell plants”. The man nodded.
“That I do,” he said, “Come in”. Bill stepped in and the man closed the door behind him. He extended a frail hand, the other gripped tightly on the walking stick, keeping him from falling over.
“My name is Eugene Clemence” he said. Bill shook it and looked around the hallway. Everywhere where there could be a plant, there was one. All available corners had been taken, even each side of every step leading upstairs.
“My water bill isn’t cheap,” said Eugene with a smile. He walked along the hallway to a door at the back, which Bill assumed led into the kitchen.
“The plants here are not for sale,” said Eugene. “Those ones are through here”. He opened the door and gestured Bill through. He found he wasn’t in the kitchen, but in a room the size of a small bedsit. There were shelves full of plants, and Bill could not make out any part of any wall. There were some scattered randomly on the floor.
“Take your pick,” said Eugene, “I’ll get you a cup of tea”. Before Bill could refuse, he had gone through another door which Bill assumed again to lead into the kitchen. How could he refuse a cup of tea from such a dear old man? Bill mused, and then noticed something that had not registered when he’d entered. In the middle of the room, there was a table. There was nothing special about it. It was a typical, cheap dining table, but on it, there was a briefcase, with both latches up. Bill’s curiosity was piqued, and he listened for sounds of Eugene, but he could not make anything out. All he had to do was open it, he thought, see what was inside, and close it, back the way it was when he found it. He stepped across to it, listened once more incase Eugene was on his way back, and found that he wasn’t, so carefully opened the briefcase, only to be greeted by a cloud of yellow smoke, or steam. It billowed around his face and Bill could not help but breathe it in. Its effect was immediate, and as Bill could feel consciousness slipping away, he also felt himself dissolving, like paracetamol in water. Darkness enveloped his mind and he could feel no more. After a good five minutes, Eugene came into the room, sure that all the gas had gone. He looked at the open briefcase and grinned.
“They never can resist” he said quietly, and looked down at the new plant on the floor.