The Gardeners – Conclusion




© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour

John had sent Max and Ace on ahead to get started on Betty’s landscaping, and to bury the body before it began to smell!

            “Why were the cameras on?” he demanded to know from his boss.

            “Must have gotten the wires crossed,” Mr. Fornam replied.

            “We were lucky Max caught the guard just as he was about to activate the alarm. Max went a little crazy, though––hit him too hard…”

            “You didn’t clean up your mess; the police found blood at the scene. I hope none of it belongs to you guys?” Mr. Fornam pointed to the scratch on John’s arm.

            “A cat.”

            “You have a cat?”


            “Ah … so that is how you got the old woman to sign for the maintenance program?”

            John nodded.

            “Nice work. Well, by summer’s end the heat should be died down on the robberies. You guys can dig up the loot when putting the garden to bed for the winter. Where did you say you were burying it?”

            “I didn’t.”

            Fornam glared at John.

            “Under the gladioli.”


            “I thought so. Glad bulbs have to be dug up in the fall.”


             “Can’t you control Buster and Prince?” Betty demanded.

            “Something about the tree they don’t like,” Gwen speculated.

            “Oh Gwen, it’s only a tree; the boys are just excited to be here. By the way, where is Safire?” Mildred asked.

            Betty’s stomach waved with nausea. “Sleeping,” she replied curtly.

            Gwen was annoyed. “Maybe if you invited us in for breakfast, Betty, the boys could play with that lazy cat of yours.”

            “Safire isn’t lazy.”

            “Well she is…”

            “Why don’t you two just take your dogs and go eat somewhere else!” Betty snapped. She turned and noticed Ace wheeling some boxes over to the back corner. Max was finishing up around the tree. “What’s in those boxes?” she queried.

            “Gladiola bulbs,” Ace grinned.

            “I didn’t ask for Glads.”

            “John has it on the list.”

            “When is John going to be here?”


            Betty turned and stomped into the house. Her fingers hovered over the phone. How she wanted to call the police. What were these men up to? Why was her back yard so vital to them?  Why did they have to kidnap Safire? And, oh how she hated being so brusque with her best friends, but she didn’t want them to get hurt. Betty sat down on her couch. The floodgate opened.

            She awoke to loud meowing. “Safire?” she muttered, heading to the door. And there she was––Safire––alive, and demanding to be let in! Betty opened the door, and Safire rushed in and began rubbing around Betty’s legs. Betty had never heard Safire purr so loudly. Betty thought for a moment, and then picked up the phone and dialled.


            “Is this John?”


            “Betty here … I was wondering when you were coming back to finish the job? Your boys have left quite a mess––I don’t like messes.”

            “How say, around three, so as not to disturb your nap.”

            “You’ll be coming, I hope; I need to discuss some things with you.”

            “Yes, I’ll be there.”

            “Good.”  Betty hung up, smiled, and then made two more calls.


            At 3:00, The Gardeners arrived. At 3:05 Gwen and Mildred arrived with the boys. It was a joyous re-union in the house at 42 Huddle Street, as Buster and Prince licked Safire all over. Betty filled her friends in on the events of the last 24 hours. 

            Another car pulled up and parked across the street from Betty’s house. Two suited men came up to her door, flashed their badges, and stepped inside. Betty motioned them toward the kitchen: “You can observe from there.” She turned to her friends: “Well girls, shall we take the boys out for some fresh air; I think Safire could use some as well.”

            The ladies headed outside with their pets. Buster and Prince made a beeline straight to the tree and started digging. Safire saw John and began growling and hissing!

            “Get those animals away from here!” John ordered as he tried to shoo the dogs away. Buster and Prince began nipping at his pant legs.

            And then Betty let Safire go. The cat instantly leapt onto John’s back. He cursed when he saw her, and then screamed as her claws ripped through his shirt!  The police officers rushed out the back door and headed off Ace and Max’s departure.


            The police Captain shook Betty’s hand. “You’re a brave lady,” he acknowledged. 

            Betty smiled. She was remembering the shocked look on the faces of the gardeners when the police had dug up the tree and found the security guard’s body. She was remembering their shocked expression as the bags of money were found under the gladioli! She could have carried, in a basket, the number of Glad bulbs they’d planted––she wouldn’t have needed to wheel them in! But the best moment was John’s face when he saw Safire––it was the look of utter defeat! And, it hadn’t taken long for John to give up his boss, Mr. Fornam, the owner of one of the town’s security companies.

            “Shall we go out for supper ladies?” Betty smiled to her friends and patted her purse. “It’s on the police force tonight!”


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mirella van der Zyl
    Aug 17, 2012 @ 12:24:06

    I enjoyed your story Mary and look forward to read more from you. Congratulations on your steady work.Mirella


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