The Greenhouse Murders By: L.M. Mercer


The Greenhouse Murders
By: L.M. Mercer

“Okay. Be back as soon as I can,” he said and kissed her lightly.

 Justin walked out the door and moments later Susan heard the SUV start up and pull away. She turned toward the parlour and said to herself, “Well, with the fireplace here, this will be the easiest room to heat if it gets too cold tonight. Let’s move this furniture out of the way.”

 She began moving the heavy Victorian sofa toward the wall, scooting first one end and then the other. After moving the larger items so they lined the walls, Susan stacked the tables on top of each other and then rolled the oriental area rug up and out of the way. Stepping back to survey her work, Susan noticed a rather large, roughly circular rust-colored stain on the floor that had previously been concealed by the rug.

“I wonder what could have caused such a large stain?” she said and moved closer to examine it. “Maybe it will come out with a good scrubbing or sanding. I would hate to have to rip out that section of the floor. I don’t think we could ever replace it with the same kind of wood.” Although she was alone in the house, Susan found it comforting to talk aloud to herself while circling the stain. “Well, I had better find a broom and sweep away some of this dust.”

 Susan walked into the kitchen, looked around and noticed an eclectic mixture of turn-of-the-century conveniences and modern amenities. Next to the enameled iron sink, which a previous owner had updated with a faucet, was the original hand-operated water pump. A pine butcher block counter ran the entire width of the kitchen, beginning at the sink and ending at the refrigerator, with enclosed cabinets below and open shelves above. Upon closer examination she could see where part of the counter and cabinets had been removed to install the avocado-green refrigerator, next to the antique wooden ice box. After completing her survey of the kitchen she located a straw broom standing in a corner, leaning up against an old wood-burning stove with a box of timber next to it. As she set about sweeping the parlour floor, a cold breeze lifted her hair back and away from her face. “I wonder where that breeze keeps coming from?” she said, remembering the breeze they noticed when first entering the house. “There must be a broken window somewhere causing the draft.”

                                            § § §

 When Justin returned thirty minutes later, a frazzled Susan met him at the front door. “No matter what I do it won’t stay away! Nothing works, nothing!”

“What? Slow down, you’re not making any sense,” he said, trying to set the bag of food and the tray of drinks on a table, while she pulled him to the center of the parlour. “Now, slowly tell me what’s wrong.”

 After taking a deep breath to steady herself and swiping hair out her face with the back of her arm, Susan began. “As soon as you left, I began moving the furniture towards the perimeter of this room, so we could sleep in front of the fireplace in case it got cold tonight.” Wringing her hands together, she continued, her words coming faster now. “Well, when I rolled the rug out of the way I found this stain.” Pointing to the floor, she paused to take catch her breath.

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