Edmund raced through the herb garden, escaped into the tool barn and slammed the door.
Close behind, Winifred and Murphy circled the building. Abby was waiting outside the barn door when Jerry finally got there.
“We’ve got you surrounded. Might as well come out,” Abby called into the barn.
Inside, Edmund surveyed his choice of weapons: rakes, hoes, shovels… then saw just what he was looking for.
Outside, Jerry took charge, pounded on the door. “It’s over! No reason anyone else has to get hurt. Come on out.”
“Be careful. It’s the same guy from the Barnyard,” Abby said.
“I know.” Jerry pulled the Black Class knife from his FHARP jacket pocket. “Stand back.”
Jerry grabbed the barn door handle… slung the door open.
Edmund stood before him, machete raised overhead ready to decapitate.
Jerry did a one-eighty, Edmund’s machete ripping the air behind his head. Twisted ankle notwithstanding, Jerry ran for his life.
In the library, Stanton sat in a chair, unable to hide palpable fear of the Boys standing before him, smiling their magnificent Doberman canines. Evelyn regarded them with pride, the Boys’ youthful vigor and powers of intimidation restored!
Rather less intimidated, Rosa patted them on the head and served Evelyn a cup of tea. Rosa poured another cup from the tea cart and was about to serve it to Stanton, then stopped.
“I work for you many years, Mr. Stanton. You tell me the truth.”
“Of course, Rosa.”
“Edmund. You and Edmund… You killed Mr. Knox, didn’t you?”
“Rosa… How could you think such a thing?”
“Because I do think. And I see. I hear things…”
Stanton wondered how much she really did know.
“So… I want the truth.”
Wrong answer. And Rosa emptied the cup of hot tea into Stanton’s lap. In serious discomfort, Stanton whimpered.
Charging through the herb garden, Edmund chased Jerry into the big greenhouse, shut the door and locked it keeping Abby, Murphy and Winifred outside looking in.
Jerry waved the Black Class knife at Edmund – might as well have been a pocket knife compared to the machete waving back. Distracted by Abby’s screaming outside, Jerry was caught off guard when Edmund took a swipe with his machete. The Black Class knife flew from Jerry’s right hand, along with half a knuckle from his ring finger.
Even from outside, Abby saw the blood spurt as Jerry grabbed the finger, squeezed tight. Abby pounded the glass, screaming at Edmund.
Jerry backed up, found himself surrounded by benches and shelves of orchids. Eyes darting left and right, desperate for anything to defend himself, he saw a hand trowel next to an orchid, reached for it…
Edmund stopped cold, trepidation in his eyes.
Couldn’t be the trowel that worried Edmund. Jerry’s hand moved away from the tool and crept towards the orchid next to it.
“Never been an orchid man, but this looks like a nice one.”
“That is a Ghost Orchid. Rarest of the rare.”
“Ahhhhh. Then we wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to it, would we?” Jerry’s bloody hand caressed the orchid’s bowl, one eye measuring Edmund’s reaction.
“Irreplaceable,” Edmund said.
“I feel the same. About me.” Jerry lifted the Ghost, held it up studying its unique color and shape. “Drop the machete and we can all avoid a terrible tragedy.”
Edmund thought about that. “If anything happened to the Ghost, Mr. Stanton would be heart-broken.”
“We wouldn’t want that…”
Edmund smiled, shook his head, Noooo. But the warm glow on his face said something else.
“Put the machete down and back away.”
Edmund shook his head again, Noooo.
No mistaking Edmund’s look of revenge. Jerry didn’t have time to dwell on it as Edmund charged, machete itching to slice and dice.
Jerry hurled the Ghost, Edmund side-stepped, the orchid smashing against a work bench vaporizing the bowl and priceless flower.
Edmund smiled, “Ka-boom… Your turn.”
The tip of Edmund’s machete pushed Jerry to the back wall.
Abby beat her fists on the glass, looked for something to break in, then saw the tool barn across the herb garden.
Inside, Jerry grabbed his last hope: Edmund’s latest pair of Bonsai mini-shears. Machete versus mini-shears. Edmund couldn’t resist a lunatic grin worthy of Jack Nicholson. The grin vanished the second Jerry picked up Edmund’s Juniper Bonsai, held it in front of him, a shield against Edmund’s machete.
No mistaking the very real panic in Edmund’s eyes.
“Now this I know something about,” Jerry said. “Used a rare Bonsai in a TV script I wrote.”
Edmund held his breath.
Jerry ogled the plant. “However, this looks rather… ordinary. And abused. Let’s see. One, two, three, four, five, six… and a half Junipers. Wonder what happened to number seven?”
Jerry pointed the shears at the Bonsai threatening a timber evisceration.
“Drop the machete, or…” Jerry snipped the air above the remaining Junipers.
Then Jerry sniped the top off a Juniper. “And then there were five.”
“Do I hear four? Four? Going once. Going twice…”
Jerry snipped the top off another Juniper.
Might as well have lopped off Edmund’s head. Crazed, he swung the machete at Jerry who ducked behind the Bonsai, the blade whacking the rest of the Juniper forest to smithereens!
“And then there were none.”
Bat shit crazy, Edmund flailed the machete at Jerry who grabbed pots and plants, hurling them at the maniac. Running out of ammo, the last pot nailed Edmund in the solar plexus knocking him to the ground.
Leaping over Edmund’s body, Jerry was out the greenhouse in a nanosecond.
Edmund scrambled to his feet, strangled the machete in both hands and charged out the door.
Racing through the herb garden, Jerry looked back, tripped over a garden sign and landed in a prickly bush. Before he could get up, Edmund was standing over him about to deliver the final blow when…
Winifred and Murphy leapt on the back of Edmund’s legs grabbing snout-fulls of pants and flesh. Howling, Edmund turned to bite back with his machete…
Too late as Abby took a baseball swing with a shovel and delivered a grand slam smash to Edmund’s head. Man and machete went down for the count, Winifred and Murphy piling on top of Edmund’s back.
Last woman standing, Abby surveyed the body count, then noticed the garden sign Jerry tripped over. There it was… last piece of the puzzle.
As Jerry lifted his head out of the bushes, Abby turned the sign around for him to see. Across the top of the ornate sign was a curvy twig with needle-like leaves, just like in Abby’s sketch. And one word:
Abby gazed at Edmund’s body sprawled across the trampled Rosemary bushes, Winifred and Murphy sitting victorious atop his backside.
“Rosemary… ROSEMARY!” Jerry looked at Winifred. “WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO??”
~ ~ ~