The Gardeners – Part Three

THE GARDENERS

PART 3

© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

 

            Betty poured a cup of tea. While it was cooling off, she decided to give Gwen a call. 

            “Hello.” Gwen sounded sleepy.

            “Gwen, I need to ask you about the certificate that you and Mildred gave me. I didn’t notice a dollar value.”

            “Well, that’s because there isn’t one,” Gwen replied. “The fellow who sold it to us said we could get a complete garden makeover for a special low price, one only offered to seniors.”

            “How can they do that without seeing the yard?” Betty questioned. “There’s something fishy going on here Gwen, and I don’t think I want this company poking their shovels into my yard!”

            “Betty, Mildred and I paid decent money for that certificate, even though it wasn’t very much and I don’t think…”

            “Safire didn’t like the man either,” Betty informed.

            “Safire doesn’t like anyone,” Gwen quipped. “Why don’t you just get done what you want and leave it at that? Mildred and I just wanted to do something nice for you, and you are still complaining!” Gwen added sharply.

            “I’m not complaining about you and Mildred––it’s this company––and the robberies that have been going on. We haven’t had a robbery in this town for years…”

            “Oh for heaven’s sake Betty, get in the real world. I’ll admit the guys in the truck were shady looking, but that doesn’t mean they are bank robbers. Really now!”

            Betty heard barking in the background. “Sorry Betty, I have to go; Buster needs letting out. I’ll call you later.” Gwen said, and then hung up.

            As Betty gathered her grocery coupons, she pondered on the situation. Safire was rubbing around her legs. “You don’t get good vibes from that fellow either, do you my pet?”

            Safire meowed quite loudly.

~

            In the meantime, John was explaining the situation to his partners at Unique Gardeners. “We are going to have to be cautious with this one; she’s pretty sharp. I think she liked some of my ideas, but she was a tough old bird to read. The two who bought the certificate would have been better candidates, but they don’t have the yard we need.”

            “Well, we know that she is an early riser and that she goes to bed early. We also know she shops on Thursday mornings at 10:00, so that will be a perfect time for us to bring in the special plants. Did you find out anything else John?” A sharply dressed, middle-aged man sat in the chair across from John.

            “Actually, I did Mr. Fornam. She naps around 2:00 in the afternoon, and she has a Siamese cat that does not like strangers! Well, I know it doesn’t like me!”

            “Ah, Johnny Boy, puddy tat doesn’t like you?” A scraggly character jeered from the couch.

            “Shut up Ace,” John threw back. “I’ve heard about Siamese, people say they are like a watch dog.”

            Mr. Fornam spoke up: “Does she let the cat outside.”

            “No, actually she doesn’t. She was quite adamant I not let it out!”

            “Good.” Mr. Fornam turned his attention to the two characters sitting on the couch. “Ace … Mac … get the truck loaded for the next job.  John, you make your call to Betty this afternoon and see if we can get started on her yard by tomorrow?”

            “I never got to finish the entire plan. I’ll…”

            “Finish it before this afternoon. Buy her a nice present–– something that will reach past her crustiness––maybe something for her cat.” Mr. Fornam frowned. “We need to pick up the pace a bit. I thought that by coming to a hick town like this, we would have an easier time of it, but so far it hasn’t been. Are you losing your touch John?”

            “No sir.”

            “Good … prove it to me, then.” Mr. Fornam turned to Ace and Mac. “I heard you guys were spreading dollar bills around last night down at a local bar. I told you never to do that sort of thing in the town we are in, and I don’t want to have to tell you again!”

            “Yes sir.” The replies were simultaneous.

            “Okay, I am happy everyone understands. You’ve all got your instructions. No more sloppiness, not at this stage of the game!”  Mr. Fornam stood up and walked to the front door. “I’ll be back tomorrow night, and I expect to hear some better news.”

~

            As Betty was driving home from her shopping, she happened to notice the Unique Gardeners truck sitting in a driveway. She slowed down just in time to see a well dressed, middle-aged man exit the house and get into a silver Lincoln. As she continued on her way, Betty’s imagination zoomed into full gear.

~  

            At three o’clock that afternoon, Betty’s door bell rang. She was quite angry when she saw who her visitor was. “I told you to call me at 3:00,” she said angrily. “Besides, I’ve changed my mind about the entire garden thing…”

            John’s facial expression was not a happy one as he pushed the door open and stepped inside. “I don’t think you want to do that,” he smirked. “At least, not before I show you the plan,” he added––with a smile.

Part four, August 1, 2012

 

 

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The Gardeners – Part Two

THE GARDENERS

Part Two

© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

           

Betty hadn’t slept well. She was apprehensive about this gardening thing. The fellow on the phone had sounded pleasant enough, but she was remembering how Gwen and Mildred had described the shady characters waiting in the truck.   

Safire followed Betty out to the front porch, jumping directly to the screened window, swatting at imaginary bugs in the dusty trail of the sun’s morning rays. Betty retrieved the paper, sat down at her little table, and turned to the front page. The recent robberies still played on Betty’s mind. She wondered if the police had made any progress.

POLICE ARE BAFFLED was the headline. Betty kept reading.   She set the paper down and looked thoughtfully out to the street. Safire was swishing her tail and meowing loudly at the birds on the front lawn. Betty didn’t let her outside because her previous cat, Ginger, had been hit by a car. She checked her watch––7:55. A battered red truck pulled into her driveway, and a nicely dressed young man got out. 

“Hi, Betty,” he greeted as he opened her door and stepped into the porch. “I’m John, from Unique Gardeners. We spoke last night.” He smiled––a nice smile.

“I know who you are. I’m not senile. Besides, the name is on the truck.” Betty smirked. 

John smiled, a tad artificial, this time. “Do you mind showing me where you would like your flower gardens?”

Betty got up and headed for the door. “Don’t let my cat out,” she ordered. John followed, being careful of the anxious Safire as she arched her back and hissed at him. 

As they entered the back yard, he smiled again. “Beautiful,” he commented.

“Well, if it’s so beautiful, maybe you don’t have to do anything,” the words were quick out of Betty’s mouth. What was wrong with her? She wasn’t usually this rude to people!

“Oh, I just meant that it will be a nice yard to work on,” John returned. He looked around. “Those maples look old.”

“Planted them myself, the year I moved in; but, the leaves are a pain in the fall.”

John pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and began sketching. “What are you writing there?” Betty queried suspiciously.

“Some ideas,” he smiled.

He smiles too much,” Betty thought. “Can’t trust someone who smiles all the time.”

John walked the perimeter, checking the tall wooden fence. He turned to Betty, as if he knew she was going to ask why. “Just seeing how strong it is for when we start digging,” he smiled––again.

After about 20 minutes of sketching, John put the pencil behind his ear. “I think I have enough here to get started. Let’s return to your porch and I’ll show you some pictures and ideas I have for your yard.”

Betty led the way. “Watch the cat,” she reminded John as Safire made a run for the door.

“I’ll just grab my brief case from the truck,” John called out.

Betty scrutinized him closely. There was something about him that left a creepy sensation in her bones. She observed him making a call on his cell phone, noticing his head bobbing up and down, and there was a bigger than usual smile on his face. “Maybe he’s had botox,” she whispered to Safire, “and it left him with a permanent grin.”

John shut the phone and then joined Betty in the porch.

“Important phone call? Betty queried.

“Just checking in at the office,” John replied.

Betty pointed to the table, then sat down and waited for John to begin. He opened his brief case and pulled out some catalogues. For the next half hour, he filled in his backyard sketch with diagrams of flowers and bushes.

“I am aware you need something with low maintenance,” he mentioned at one point. “And, just to let you know, our company can also offer you a regular, cost effective program so that you would barely have to lift a finger.”

Betty was wary. “You just fix my garden with the amount of the gift certificate; I don’t have money to pay your company to maintain,” she emphasized.

John’s smile appeared strained. “Whatever you like Betty,” he said, patting her hand.

She pulled her hand away and checked her watch. “It’s getting late; why don’t you call me later with the final details and I’ll let you know if I want to go ahead with it.” Betty stood up. Safire hissed, at John, from her window sill.

As John gathered his things, Betty noticed his lips were smiling, but his eyes weren’t. In fact, their blackness was tainted with anger.  Eyes were something she’d learned to read well, during her many years of classroom teaching.

“May I call you this afternoon around 2:00?” John asked.

“Make it 3:00; I nap at 2:00.” Betty watched him get in the truck and throw his brief case on the seat. She watched long enough to see him hit the steering wheel as he sped off down the road. “I’d give a penny or two for his thoughts right now,” she commented to Safire.

John was angry. These old people were getting more difficult to manipulate, but he’d find a way to get through to this one––she had the perfect backyard! 

                                    To be continued on July 25, 2012

 

Review: Too Close to Home

Too Close to Home
Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book I have read that was writtn by Linwood Barclay, and once again, he did not disappoint me. “Too Close To Home” kept me wanting to read more, even when the eyelids said it was time to shut down for the night.

Barclay writes about ordinary people caught up in situations beyond their control. The Cutters are an ordinary family of three. They have had their ups and downs in life, but have managed to remain in tact as a family unit, despite the situations. Now, they are faced with something more horrible than can be imagined. Their 17 year old son has been charged with the mass murder of their neighbours! And, then, suspision begins to enter their minds – what if the real murderer actually killed the wrong family? Stolen manuscripts, suicides, crooked politicians, dark secrets, zealous cops, and the “ordinary guy” trying to figure it all out – this makes for a great read that any lover of the mystery genre will thoroughly enjoy.

View all my reviews

The Gardeners – Part One

THE GARDENERS

(Part One)

 

©Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

           

            Betty was celebrating her 65th birthday and her friends had bought her a landscaping certificate. “We’re tired of hearing you complain about your flower beds,” Mildred commented.

            “So, we thought we’d do something about it,” Gwen added.

            The three women had been friends since childhood, sharing both good and bad times. They’d all become teachers, and none of them had married––well Mildred almost did, but her beau was killed in a car accident just weeks before the wedding––she never totally recovered, mentally. Gwen used to say to Betty, on the side, that she thought Mildred was a bit touched in the head.

            Mildred had taught business; Gwen, math and science; and Betty, English. Mildred and Gwen always laughed when Betty mentioned she was going to write a great Canadian novel one day. 

            Betty took a sip of her tea and looked at the gift certificate. She didn’t recognize the company name. “Are these local people?” she asked.

            “Just moved into town about a month ago,” Mildred answered.

            “We got a deal,” Gwen added. “Looks like some young fellows just trying to get their business going.”

            “They showed us some pictures of gardens they’ve done in other towns,” Mildred mentioned.

            Gwen’s voice became serious. “I was a bit hesitant at first. The fellows sitting in the truck––two of them––looked a tad too shady, but the one at the door was clean cut, very polite.”

            “I was having tea with Gwen that day,” Mildred intervened. “I didn’t like the looks of the fellows in the truck either … I was peeking through the living room curtains … but, like Gwen said, the sales fellow was quite striking.”

            “Bottom line is, we got a deal; you can get your garden done Betty; and we can have some peace from your nagging about not being able to do it yourself!” Gwen set her tea cup on the coffee table. “Well, I gotta get going; Buster will be wanting out for his afternoon constitutional.” Buster was Gwen’s Cocker Spaniel; she’d left him home today.

            “I better move along also,” Mildred said. “Prince will be missing me.” Prince was Mildred’s poodle; she’d left him home, as well. Gwen and Betty couldn’t figure out why Mildred had called such a small dog, Prince, but it was her choice, and of course, since they thought she was a bit touched, they never mentioned it to her.

            Betty shut the door behind her friends, turned, and gazed into the emptiness of her home. It was times like this she wished she’d married. She heard a meowing from the kitchen––Safire, her Siamese.  Betty gathered the teacups and headed for the kitchen. She leaned over to pet Safire, who arched up and began to purr. Maybe her cat missed the dogs coming over for a visit. Believe it or not, they were the best of friends.

            “This all you want, old girl,” Betty said. The purr got louder.

            The phone rang. “Who could that be?” Betty mumbled. “The only two people, who call me this time of day, just left my house … hello.”

            “Hello, is this Betty?”

            “Yes.”

            “I’m John from Unique Gardeners. I believe your friends bought you a gift certificate to get your flower beds fixed up, and I am just calling to set up your initial appointment.”

            “Bit quick on the draw aren’t you, son?” Betty questioned.

            “Well your friends told me when they would be giving you the certificate…”

            “I see,” Betty said. “Well, I don’t want you coming over tonight; I’m too tired now and I like to retire early.”

            “Not a problem Betty … I may call you that?”

            “Of course, it’s my name.”

            “How about tomorrow morning, around 10:00?”

            “I do my shopping on Thursday mornings at 10:00. How say we make it 8:00, I’m an early riser. I’ll have my breakfast and dishes finished by then.” Betty smiled. She was testing to see how ambitious this lot were, if they could be about business early in the morning.

            “That will be fine Betty; I’ll see you at 8:00.” The line closed.

            “Well, what do you think Safire; shall we read the paper before supper?”

            Betty’s forehead creased into a frown as she read the headline.  This was the third bank robbery in a month and the police were unable to catch the culprits––the robbers didn’t even show up on the security cameras! 

“Strange,” Betty thought, “there hasn’t been a major robbery in this town for over 30 years.”

            Safire pushed her head against Betty’s hand, ripping the newspaper. “Safire, look what you did, you tore the last paragraph of the story!” The cat jumped down and walked away in a huff.

            Betty ate her supper and then took a walk to her back yard. It wasn’t huge, but it was more than she could maintain now. She started to imagine how she would like it to look. 

To Be Continued on July 18, 2012

 

Magic Mike!

Well, last night I went to see the movie “Magic Mike” that everyone is raving about. I must say that this was my first time “attending a male strip show!” LOL! Well, that is exactly what it was, mostly. My friends and I had a few laughs, and I sat there thinking to myself, “maybe this is fun, but all the screaming and carrying on – well, that would not be for me.” Now I know for sure why I have never bothered to go to such places.

On the other hand, what Magic Mike did do was give an insight into the world of strippers, this time from a male perspective. That, in my opinion, was the meat of the movie. Would I watch the movie again – probably not. Was it okay for a light night of fun – yeah, I enjoyed it that much.

Have a wonderful day, everyone…

p.s. watch for the baby boom that is supposed to happen; I understand that with the release of Magic Mike and 50 Shades of Gray in the same year our maternity wards could be quite busy next year! LOL!

Review: Missing Pieces

Missing Pieces
Missing Pieces by Joy Fielding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Missing Pieces” was jam packed with a number of “life” issues – Kate Sinclair is coming to grips with the early stages of menopause, while raising two teenage daughters – one who is the perfect child, and one who seems like the child from hell; tending to a mother who is in the early throws of Alzhimers; dealing with a husband, who in her mind,tries to avoid family conflict; adolescent feelings for an old highschool sweetheart who just happens to appear, and hits on her at a time in her life when she thinks she needs something exciting; and, to top it all off, having to deal with a sister who is more than a little “off the wall!” Kate’s sister, Jo Lynn, fancies herself in love with a serial killer who is on trial for the murder of 13 women. Jo Lynn drags Kate into her fantasy by forcing her sister to attend court with her, and even go to the prison to visit Colin Friendly.
A lot of women will relate to many of the issues Kate was facing in her life. An interesting and entertaining read.

View all my reviews

Review: Missing Pieces

Missing Pieces
Missing Pieces by Joy Fielding
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Missing Pieces” was jam packed with a number of “life” issues – Kate Sinclair is coming to grips with the early stages of menopause, while raising two teenage daughters – one who is the perfect child, and one who seems like the child from hell; tending to a mother who is in the early throws of Alzhimers; dealing with a husband, who in her mind,tries to avoid family conflict; adolescent feelings for an old highschool sweetheart who just happens to appear, and hits on her at a time in her life when she thinks she needs something exciting; and, to top it all off, having to deal with a sister who is more than a little “off the wall!” Kate’s sister, Jo Lynn, fancies herself in love with a serial killer who is on trial for the murder of 13 women. Jo Lynn drags Kate into her fantasy by forcing her sister to attend court with her, and even go to the prison to visit Colin Friendly.
A lot of women will relate to many of the issues Kate was facing in her life. An interesting, and entertaining read.

View all my reviews

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