I've got a lot of time for the Floralia. For six days the whole dingy city breaks out into colour like an old oak tree bursting into spring leaf. There're flowers and garlands everywhere, even on the Speakers' Platform in the Market Square and in the dead empty eye sockets of the city tenements. Girls, too - Jupiter knows where they come from but for some reason there're more around, and better lookers, at the Spring Festival than at any other time. And I don't mean whores either although you'll see plenty of them about. People are friendlier. They actually smile at you, genuinely smile, and it's not uncommon to meet someone in the middle of the day who's drunker than you are. Happy drunk, I mean, not looking for a fight-Flora's a civilised goddess, the kind you wouldn't mind being parked next to at a drinking party. Even some of my father's cronies take the pokers out of their arses and unbend at the Floralia. Some of them. And not all the way. Flora may be a goddess, but even she has her limits. I went round to Perilla's early, bright-eyed, bushy tailed and (more to the point) clean-shaven, wearing my best mantle and carrying my party slippers. Callias led me through to the sitting-room. By the look of her Perilla was just up. Beautiful as usual but crotchety as hell.
Classic Crime Fiction
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