Black licorice, black orchids...
An order that intrigued me.
I went to see my colleague to share my questions with him.
-It's special... Is it for a teenager who listens heavy metal or for a woman sending herself flowers to console after a heartbreak?
-It's a sign of death.
-Well, we will figure it out later.
I arrived in front of the door of the strange orderer.
A woman with a swollen face from crying, and a hematoma under her right eye openned the door.
She hastened to sign for the receipt of the package, with a trembling hand.
She closed the door immediately, while I had to stop the words at the edge of my lips.
I know this was not part of my role as florist, but I was worried about this woman. Black flowers, a sign of death... And if the person who sent her these flowers was the same one who had damaged her face like this…
Was it a death threat?
What was the role of licorice in this story?
As I turned back, I calmed down, telling myself that I often had a lot of imagination. However, the memory of this lady stayed with me throughout the day. A certain guilt tormented me for a few time.
Approximately one week after this delicate meeting, I had the idea to consult the register of the deliveries. As I was not the only flower deliverer, maybe my colleage had been to this place?
I was surprised to find that, yes. About two months ago, a full package of black orchids was delivered to this address.
I could not help questioning my colleague.
He remembered this order, ‘’both because it was very special, and because the lady was beautiful.’’
He told me that a man had taken the package from the door. He couldn't remember any other details, other than classical music playing in the background.
The next day, under a wind of madness, the idea of an order error crossed my mind. I could finally draw a line under this story. I tell myself that I will return at the approximate time of the last delivery to make sure that the man was not there. From the top of my five feet four inches, I will not be able to defend myself in any way, if ever there was an altercation.
The lady opened the door for me, with a big smile. She was frail in her body, and despite the warmth of her presentation, I discovered two sadly glassy eyes.
Without restraint, I approached the incident of the last time.
Her gaze darkened. She explained to me that she had been attacked in the street. This man, whom the police had not been able to identify, was still at large. She never ordered flowers. The flowers, without words, probably came from this same individual, however malevolent, she concluded.
I did not know what to say.
Having believed in a story of domestic violence, I found myself meddling in a story that did not concern me.
The openness and transparent naivety of this woman turned my heart. I couldn't think of anything else to do but apologize for the inconvenience.
At the end of the afternoon, a police officer came to have the register of calls and orders, to identify the possible aggressor of the lady. An investigation had been opened.
Although this story was none of my business, I was emotionally invested in it.
Flowers breathe love, forgiveness, mourning… not violence? I did not grown flowers for that!
Unable to check the call log myself, I was left unanswered.
I ended up putting this story aside, until Tuesday morning...
At the end of the telephone line, a man, however courteous despite his strange accent, asked for a packet of black orchids and licorice.
Two, or even three seconds, I was speechless.
Taking all my courage, I took the order, avoiding to the best of myself the wavering of my voice.
I wrote everything down. His accent, the words he used... I found myself a witness in this story. I contacted the police who made me file a statement.
When I questioned them about the case, they revealed to me that the previous calls had been made from a telephone booth, and that it was therefore impossible to trace the person.
The address this time was different from the first. Same scenario, a pretty woman opened the door for me. No instructions on the flower packet...
I couldn't help saying to the lady ''take good care of yourself''. She looked at me questioningly, and answered ''so do you''.
Am I a little paranoid?
The days go by... I watch the orders closely. Nothing abnormal. Until one day…
-Abigaelle! Watch this. Said my co worker
The newspaper's headline read, "Dark Flowers Killer, Investigation in Progress."
The article explained that the lady to whom I had delivered the package of orchids had been found dead.
The link with the flowers had been made. The day after the attack, which had taken place in the street near the lady's home, black orchids and a packet of licorice had been sent to the lady's home. It was from another florist, who ignored of course the previous pattern.
The assassin had therefore tried to kill the first woman, but she had fled just in time, the luck that the second victim had not had.
Then followed the details of the telephone box, the physical description given by the first woman attacked, and the description of the voice of the man, as well as a warning to the public and to people making home deliveries.
A third victim, second murder, was found. In her house, the police found black licorice and hand-painted black orchids.
Black orchids are rare…
The killer was running out of florist.
What a disgusting way to treat flowers… They are to beautiful for that. They breathe. They live. What a life for a flower.
The journalists got carried away with the details of the investigations, the women no longer dared go out at night, the police continued their search.
The composite sketch was on page 2 of the newspaper, with the headline ''A serial killer rode''.
He was a person of Caucasian origin, with brown hair and brown eyes, and of average height. It could be anyone!
So many people matched this profile...
DNA had been found at the last two crime scenes, but none of the recorded profiles matched.
The article indicated that among the number killers, the toughest often had a ritual, which one day ended up backfiring on them.
The psychological profile of the killer put forward, he was an organized and violent person, who physically attacked his victims, before strangling them with his bare hands.
Like flowers, humans can’t survive without breathing.
As a florist, was I responsible for a part of this murder?
Orders for orchids began to dwindle as locals began to associate this magnificent plant with the morbid tastes of the killer.
Our business took a hit, but I did not plan to fire anyone. There was still plenty of work to do.
And all of a sudden, a detail came back to me: The person who answered the door the first time at the first lady, was a man who matched the description of the suspect. Was it this woman's boyfriend who was the killer?
They may well have had something to do with this story, considering that the first victim hadn't died, and even seemed very disturbed, when we first met.
I went directly to the police. The police took notes, than asked me to leave.
Once again, my imagination was racing... had I gone nuts?
The next day, a uniformed policeman entered the business. He asked to speak to my colleague.
I listened to the conversation, which began before he left for his testimony. He remember that classical music song in the house had a rather floral title.
I did not hear the rest of the conversation.
I stayed there, wrapping the flowers.
I followed all the press articles.
The strangest thing, and what I would not have suspected, is that the first victim had not received the first packet of orchids, but they where sent. She was away from home when the flowers were received.
The weirdest detail was that she didn't have a boyfriend and no one was supposed to be in the house at the time.
My colleague delivered the flowers to a person who had therefore broken into the house!
A second robot portrait was drawn again, with the description of my colleague.
The portrait looked quite different to me.
Maybe the victim must have had a rather abstract memory of the face of her bourot, because she had suffered an emotional shock that prevented her from remembering her face precisely...
Seeing my colleague chew liquorice that morning, I couldn't help but throw him a disgusted look.
How could he eat licorice under such circumstances?
He gave me a smile, a smile I will never forget.
Wasn't he absent when the call was made for the flower order?
The voice on the phone, that weird accent... perhaps invented and vulgarly spat out on the line?
And the robot portrait so different, wasn't it to ward off suspicion?
The first portrait was very vaguely resembled him... How could I not have seen that? Was it him all this time?
A shiver of horror ran down my spine. Having participated in the job interview a few months ago, he had very few job references, a job as an amateur florist that I did not confirmed.
Investigators had been watching everyone who had bought orchids recently, probably. It would have been easy for him to have taken a bunch, without me realizing it. ..
I remembered his intervention: a black rose is a sign of death...
Lost in thought, I had lost track of time. I looked up, and found that my colleague had gone into the next room.
I took a few packets of flowers, mine to go make deliveries.
Before going, I cast a last glance at this individual, who was watering the flowers, his head lowered, whistling a rather familiar tune... At that moment, I understood that he had understood.
My head wanted to run away, but my body was paralyzed.
I saw him glare sideways as my mouth began to quiver.
I don't know why, maybe it was because of the cameras, but he didn't attack me. I didn't say a word, and went to my car.
I had difficulty putting the keys in the ignition, shaking so much.
I finally take off. As I drove, I kept rewatching her mouth chewing licorice and her wicked smile, feasting on the fact that I was horrified.
Was I next?
I never saw him again. Neither the police nor the florists knew if it was him.
I will always remember his machiavellian smile.
I changed my occupation.
Since that day, the store I owned noted ''local for rent''.