Blue Stripe - The Life and Times of a Harkonnen Florist
Wherein Feyd-Rautha Selects a Boutonnière
I spend weeks scurrying frantically around the Barony with my surviving assistant Rhayt in search of various and sundry flowers for the arrangement. I procure thousands of Ginaz daisies from a black market dealer in Bloodswell. I spend an entire day negotiating the purchase of several hundred Wallach pitcher lilies from a skinless woman living in a sewer. I have Rhayt drive a truck to Maggot's Mire to bring me two dozen Ordos color-shifting snapdragons in a cold case. I buy a hundred kilos of shigawire just to use it as an accent to the arrangement.
I call in every favor from Kaitan to Richese. It's a lot of painstaking labor and time wasted on bad deals. I really blame Rekko for this predicament. If he hadn't provoked the Baron into removing all of Rekko's blood then I wouldn't be shorthanded in my moment of need.
There is one small blessing in the midst of my nightmare scenario of creating the ultimate floral arrangement on Arrakis, a planet with nearly zero atmospheric water. The Baron has been leaving me alone. I am not sure if he has forgotten about me, he is preoccupied, or he has decided in his infinite benevolent wisdom to give me the time I need to prepare.
Alright, I confess, it's probably not that last one. I'm pretty sure the closest thing to a benevolent act the Baron has participated in was when he ordered an operating children's hospital leveled with incinerator bombs and they missed and hit the terminal care hospice. That's the hospice where they take care to load the dying into the protein reclaimers that produce the hound feed.
The point I am trying to make is that the Baron and his henchmen have been leaving me to my work. Until today.
I am just getting back to the ship with an armload of hallowed poppies from Chusuk when the call comes. The discordant chiming of my walkabout communicator is the dreaded indication that someone from House Harkonnen desires my attention. I flip open the device and see on my summoner-ID that I am being requested by Feyd-Rautha. I connect the communicator and discover that it is Feyd's assistant, Louise, who is contacting me.
It seems young master Feyd-Rautha is going to be attending a formal slave mixer tonight in the flesh pits and he wants a flower for his jacket.
"It has to be very Harkonneny," Louise relates to me. "He specified red and, if possible, skull shaped."
A simple thing! No problem, Louise! I keep "very Harkonneny, red, skull-shaped flowers" in the cooler behind me. I can just pop one out and- you know, actually, that's not a bad idea. This is exactly the sort of thing that the Baron would go nuts over. Well, more nuts than average, which is a fairly high level of nuts for a baseline.
"He will be at your shop in an hour to pick it up," Louise adds.
She disconnects without giving me the chance to scream.
I select two dozen of my finest flowers and trim them down to boutonnières. Each flower is exquisite and each boutonnière is perfectly cut down despite the rush. I know they won't please Feyd-Rautha, though, but I have already devised a plan.
I take the flower closest to the red I know the Harkonnens to prefer and I begin to trim its petals down and sculpt the flower. With each snip of my micro-pruners a leering skull begins to take shape. With only seconds to spare before Feyd's arrival I complete the flower exactly as it was ordered.
Feyd enters with an entourage of preening guards and louche friends. I would envy the easy wealth of Feyd's friends, but to get that wealth you would have to constantly hang around with Feyd. That's a job for men and women with a death wish.
I agonize as Feyd moves from one lighted pedestal to the next, carefully examining each flower. He even leans in and smells them. At last, he motions me over. My scheme has worked!
"That one," he says and points to his desired flower.
Without thinking I open the case containing the flower I have sculpted. Feyd scowls.
"Are you a fool?" He hisses at me like a greased snake. "That one!"
He jabs his finger at a small blue flower with white petal edges. It is a Caladanian water daisy, one of the most beloved flowers of House Atreides.
What can I even say to that? I give him the flower.