The Greenhouse Murders Part Nine By: L.M. Mercer


The Greenhouse Murders
Part 9
By: L.M. Mercer

(Editor's Note: If you have not yet read "Part One - Eight", please go to the Horror Archive and read those stories, first. Thank you, TDS.)

The couple worked in silence to finish the cleanup of broken glass, their thoughts focused elsewhere. When they were done, they each turned to their separate tasks; Justin went into the office/studio to begin work on a new painting, while Susan took the four piles of information on the murdered couples and settled comfortably into the sofa to begin examining the documents.

The first pile she looked at contained the small amount of information she had found at John’s house concerning Emma and Jebediah. First she picked up an old newspaper clipping, folded in half with one corner torn off. When she opened the yellow paper, she saw another article; this one from the Hartford Gazette, detailing the disappearance of Jebediah Smith. The article explained that two years after he had taken a position as gardener for the Brackleburns of Burnsville, he disappeared without a word to his family. It also mentioned that when questioned, Archibald Brackleburn said he had no idea where the young man was, and that if the young man ever returned to the area, he would no longer have a position as his gardener. Susan slapped that tattered scrap of newspaper down on the sofa, unable to believe the nerve of Archibald in making those comments, especially knowing that he had brutally murdered Jebediah.

Shaking her head, she picked up the next document lying in the pile. She saw a ragged piece of white paper, similar in size and shape to the photograph of Emma and the puppy. Turning it over she discovered that it was another photograph; this time it depicted Emma and Jebediah arm in arm. Looking closer, Susan noticed the couple was wearing their time period’s version of party clothes and they stood posed beneath an archway of potted, flowering bushes in the corner of a ballroom. She flipped the photograph over for a second to quickly read the notation written on the back: “Rose Ball, June 1901.” Upon further inspection, she realized that the flowering bushes were, in fact, potted white roses. Staring down on the happy faces of the couple who thought they had all the time in the world, she whispered, “Now I understand why Jebediah planted the red roses as a gift for Emma. It was to help remind her of a happier time.”

After a few moments of quiet contemplation, Susan sat the photograph aside and picked up the last thing she had discovered that related to Emma and Jebediah. Feeling like she was a voyeur of sorts, she opened the musty smelling stationary and began reading the small neat handwriting. Inside she found a letter dated the day before her wedding, from Emma to Jebediah. As she read through the letter, Susan’s heart ached for the young man who’s love shattered his world by ending their relationship in her version of a “Dear John” letter. Refolding the papers, she placed them with the other documents and wondered if Jebediah had realized the rings of ‘ink’ that had dropped sporadically on the paper were in fact Emma’s tears, the only evidence she could provide him that her own heart had been breaking while she wrote the letter.

After taking a deep breath, Susan continued with her work. The second pile she read through dealt with the first couple killed by the “Warning Killer”—Frank and Thelma Gehlt. Thelma was one of Jebediah’s sister, Jaquline’s, two children. Upon initial exam, this couple did not appear to be victims of the serial killer; he died nineteen hours before his wife and the causes of death listed on their respective death certificates were murder, and accidental. After reading the Marriage License that stated Frank Gehlt married Thelma Lews on June 30, 1920, Susan looked at a fading photograph from their wedding day. She stared at the smiling couple; they were looking at the camera and he had his arm wrapped around her waist, her lace veil bunched at his wrist. She could tell from their expressions that Frank and Thelma, while both young—aged 20 and 18 respectively—were very much in love. It was hard to believe that within ten years they would both be dead.

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About the Author

An avid reader from a young age, L.M. Mercer developed an addiction to books in her childhood that has intensified into an obsession that is getting more expensive by the day.

Although L.M. Mercer draws the inspiration for her poetry mostly from her life and those lives around her, her stories are influenced by her favorite authors. She draws on her love of the works of Edgar Alan Poe to add a touch of morose to her work and multiple romance novelists for that spark of romance.

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