The Gardeners – Part Three



© 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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