Since my banishment, I’ve learned to close my eyes rather than watch a rotund attendant with short arms try to cram himself and my flowers through the same doorway, using as much caution as a rhino charging through the grass.
One time, in the good old days, a customer ordered an arrangement out of a picture book. The arrangement was made with springeri—sometimes called asparagus fern. Asparagus fern is made of lots of tiny, beautiful green fingers that make an arrangement look soft and delicate. Those little green fingers also shed like crazy! I had discouraged the customer from the design because it looked more like a floral garland that trailed up and over the top of the open lid of the casket—which would potentially be very messy. The customer insisted, so I obliged.
I carried the garland in to the viewing room, coiled in my arms like a python. I cautiously placed the garland at the foot of the casket, where it dangled, gracefully off the end. Then, I maneuvered the rest as carefully as I could, across the top of the open lid. As I reached up and over Mrs. Oleson’s head, my shirt came untucked. I instinctually grabbed for it, to cover my immodest display. As I moved, a shower of tiny green leaves exploded—like a firework—all over the face, hair, shirt and hands of Mrs. Oleson.
I was instantly ill. I looked around frantically to see if anyone had witnessed my blunder, but the coast was clear.
So I did what I had to do.
The thing about those tiny green fingers is that they are incredibly sticky in places where you don’t want them to be, and yet they’re slippery too, especially against the silk shirt of a woman nestled into her final satin linens. I tried to pinch my fingers as tight as I could, to pick the tiny leaves off of her face and out of her hair. Suddenly, I heard voices, growing louder. The new funeral director, who I didn’t know, came into to see if I was finished yet. He told me the woman’s son was here to see his mother before everyone else came. The young funeral director told me the son was very picky, and that he had an extremely short fuse and that he had already yelled at the secretary on the phone before he’d arrived.
“Oh no,” I said. “You have to see what happened. I tried to fix it but, I can’t pick up these tiny leaves. It will take hours!”
The funeral director’s face flushed and he looked back toward the hallway. “He’s out there right now. I told him I wasn’t sure if we were ready yet. Wait here. I’ll get something to pick up the leaves while the secretary stalls him with paperwork.”
After what seemed like several minutes he returned. With a Shop-Vac.
“What will I do with this?” I said. “I thought you would have some special mortician’s tool or tweezers or something.”
“This is the best I can do. I’ve got to go.”
A florist is called on to do many different things. You want me to suspend a piano covered with flowers from a ceiling? I can do that. You want me to make a floating centerpiece with a volcano erupting out of the center? No problem. But Shop-Vac a dignified woman’s face? Of course. A florist has to do what a florist has to do.
I took a deep breath, and switched the machine on, hoping it wouldn’t be too loud.
Apparently Mrs. Oleson had the best wigmaker on the planet. Because until I reached the area above her shoulders, I had no idea she was wearing a piece.
As it happens, a Shop-Vac makes a really weird sound when you suck a wig into its hose.
You know, now that I think about it, it was right around that time that I was banished to flower room only deliveries, and that about sums up my relationship with the mortuary.
About The Final Arrangement:
The Vulture is dead.
The body of Quincy McKay’s nemesis and biggest competitor in the floral business has just been discovered in a casket at the mortuary, complete with flowers on the lid.
Derrick Gibbons, aka The Vulture, stole all of Quincy’s funeral business, and now she’s on a mission to get it back. But there’s a problem—Quincy is now the main suspect in The Vulture’s murder.
Armed with only her Zombie delivery van, good intentions, and the business card of a handsome cop named Alex, she must find the killer, save the flower shop, and keep from ending up in the next casket. If she can dodge burning bushes, the plague of a polygamist ex, and her mother’s Mormon Mafia Spy Network, her life with Alex and her shop could become the perfect arrangement.
About Annie Adams:
Annie Adams is the author of THE FINAL ARRANGEMENT, book one in The Flower Shop Mystery series. She lives with her husband, two giant dogs, and two too giant cats in Northern Utah at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains. When not writing she can be found arranging flowers or delivering them in her own Zombie Delivery Van.
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