I shook his hand and promised: "I'll see you again soon, Mr Whitlow." I would, too. It was in my organiser to collect his soul next Tuesday, though there was no indication of how he was supposed to die. I sincerely hoped he wouldn't get chomped by his own zombie plants before then. I paused, chuckling.
"What's so damned funny?" said the first head.
"Yeah, Ugly? What's the joke?" said the second.
"mmm mmm mm."
"Mr. Whitlow," I said. "These heads in pots of yours... will they grow into anything?"
He put down his tea. "I was going to plant lily bulbs," he said. "I was rather hoping the heads would just rot away into nothing. Why?"
"Oh, no reason. If they grew into little plants you could have opened your own head shop."
"Oh, I see." Whitlow gave a bark of fake laughter. "Very droll."
It left me feeling oddly deflated and a little bit dirty, as if I were someone who'd just made a racist joke in a bar full of Liberal Democrats, or allowed myself to be seduced by a madman and encouraged to perform lewd acts with a novelty inflatable hammer. I nodded silently and hurried down the path.
The three corpses were still intact, the glow of embers revealing the skeletal structure beneath the translucent flesh. It was fascinating, like when you burn a novel and afterwards you're left with a perfect three-dimensional image of it made of ashes.
"Go on." Whitlow nodded encouragement from his balcony. "Give it a prod."
I did. The corpse collapsed into itself just like the burned book, scattering a cloud of ashes like a dandelion clock. Great. Now I was wearing dead zombie on my suit. Not the most innocent attire to talk to people with.