The Mysteries of Riverside Gardens

Chapter 6: One more theft

Riverside Gardens is facing a new crime, the theft of garden figurines. Who has dared to steal the residents’ treasures?

2 and a half years earlier


Sue shook her head as she watched Andrews. He looked at her haggardly, he was doing his best to find her blackmailer, he assured her he would turn heaven and earth to find the culprit.

She pointed a threatening finger at him, if he didn’t hurry to find the man who had been leading her on a boat for six long months, she would be happy to report him to Martha. She added with a sarcastic smile that she hoped it was the first and last time he had failed with Paula.

He nodded and resumed, he would need some equipment to conduct his investigation, a pair of binoculars, maybe a pair of keys or two to enter the houses of the suspects. Sue’s eyes were rounding, and what the hell, he also wanted her to give him the keys to the cash register and the code to the safe? Did he at least have suspects in mind?

Mitchell and Georgia seemed, in his opinion, not very clear, they often prowled around the lobby on Fridays. And always managed to do so when the hall was full. Yes, Andrews thought the legendary Riverside Gardens couple was hiding something. But without the keychain, of course, it was going to be harder to be sure. He looked into Sue’s eyes and said he understood that she didn’t trust him. He sighed, too bad they were so close to solving the mystery.

Sue grumbled that she was going to see what she could do. She had to get her hands on the guy who was blackmailing her, she was already over six thousand dollars in ransom and she couldn’t see the end of it. And then, she didn’t know what to make up in the accounts to make the $500 spending every week go through.

First, she had reduced poor Frank’s salary, adding an extra tax line, so she was getting back 200 dollars each week. There was nothing there. She couldn’t decently do that with Bill or Allison. For the extra $300, she was making expense reports on expense reports.

Unfortunately, the new owner had begun to question the expenses at Bunnings and the incredible fuel consumption of the two vans. Did the gardeners need so many gloves? Sunglasses? Perhaps they should stop providing the staff with milk, coffee and tea, or limit their consumption? Over fifty dollars a week in soluble coffee and tea bags, yes, all of this seemed absurd to him. He was going to dig, she could feel it, and for the first time this week she had to put her own pocket under the vent to ward off suspicion.

Andrews watched her one last time out of the corner of his eye. Reluctantly, she said she would provide him with what he needed. But beware, he had two weeks to complete his mission.

He left the room with a strange smile on his face. Sue went back to her computer and looked for the pair of binoculars.

As she scrolled through the items on her screen, the walkie-talkie started calling her “Copy Sue. She responded annoyed. What did the gardeners still have? Couldn’t we have been quiet for ten minutes here?

A new garden gnome had just disappeared, the fourth this month. Sue shouted, the wildcat and the blackmailer were no longer enough, there was now a garden gnome thief roaming around.


Franck cut off communication with Sue. She seemed even more angry than usual. He shivered, his boss made him very nervous. She scared him to death. Every time he had to call her on the walkie-talkie, every time he walked past his desk, he felt his courage leave him. Yes, all his muscles were tense, he was shaken with tics, and started to stammer. And the more nervous he was, the more she lost her patience.

He stammered, a last word on the walkie-talkie, and turned to Bill. “She’s not happy, she wants us to find the culprit.” . Bill laughed, she could always run. He thought this story about stealing garden gnomes was hilarious. A bit of excitement at Riverside Gardens wouldn’t hurt after all. Besides, he was a gardener, not a policeman, so if she really wanted to solve the case, all she had to do was call the police, the real police.

Franck was rolling his eyes all over the place. He didn’t know what to do, listen to Bill or obey Sue. He was shaken with tics, his eyes blinked frantically and he shook his head nervously. To reassure himself, he looked for his cap on his skull, but there was no trace of his headgear. His two hands straightened his greasy hair, he was annoyed, where was his cap?

Oh but maybe the one who had stolen the ceramic koala had also stolen his cap? What if he was hovering around them right now? Franck glanced furtively over his shoulder, no one… A branch moved over his head, he jumped. He couldn’t control the fluttering of his eyelashes, he was shivered. The wild cat, it was all the wild cat, he knew it.

He spoke aloud without realizing it. Bill was looking at him with that gleam of amusement and annoyance that was his own. Enough Franck with this wildcat, he had to leave the beast alone. He could see that the ten traps weren’t working. Defeated, he had to admit defeat, that’s all. No man had died!

Bill’s words flew away like the petals of a dandelion, they were blown away by the wind, before reaching Frank’s confused brain.

He remembered his little victory six months ago. The trap had blood in it, he had almost succeeded in catching the wild cat. When he realized that the blood came from the animal, he had looked for the traces of blood, he had followed the trail. He had walked almost two blocks, following the little drops of hemoglobin. Yet they had stopped like that in the middle of one of the gardens. He had not dared to question the residents.

He remembered sneaking under the basement of their house, but there was no trace of blood or a wild cat… The cursed feline had escaped again. For six months, he had been relentlessly stalking it, but no more results, the traps remained desperately empty, and immaculate, no more bloodstains.

No, and then the feral cat started to steal koalas and stone meerkats? What was the matter with it? It had to be very agile to be able to carry them with his little paws. Franck imagined the agile animal carrying the heavy statuettes on its back. Maybe he was wrong? Maybe the wild cat had nothing to do with the theft?

He was pulled out of his thoughts by Bill who put his cap back on his skull. One less mystery to solve.


Rita finished sipping her tea while looking at her cards. She could win now, but her political duty dictated that she let her companions lead the game. To make up for the disappointment of having to pretend, she took a cookie. It was the eleventh one she had tasted. Eleven chocolate-filled cookies, ten too many, ten more than the four women facing her. Did they realize it? Were they judging her secretly?

She felt that since she had become president, looks had changed. If before, she had only received looks of sympathy, sincere smiles, she felt that today it was different. Some people were deliberately hostile. Others were ostensibly open and encouraging, to convince her to accept their projects or support their requests. She no longer knew who to trust. Who was frank and loyal? Who was not?

Yes, which of her good ladies was really happy to play cards with her? Who was just there to tell the whole village that she was eating more cookies than she should have?

As she was about to take a twelfth cookie, she changed her mind and apologized. She had to go to the toilets. When she was finally alone in the bathroom, she leaned against the toilet door and sighed. She was tired of pretending, she was tired of worrying about other people’s problems. Since she had been elected, her life was taking a leak, and she felt that soon she would not be able to breathe.

She dreamed of being able to confide in Susan again. Her friend had been distancing herself from her in recent months. It was her fault, she hadn’t been available, she hadn’t been able to see the signs, she hadn’t taken the time to listen to her. Eventually, she learned about Rick’s cancer from Bruce. Immediately, she tried to make it up to Susan, she called him, she apologized. She promised she would be there no matter what. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done.

Susan was still talking to her, of course. She even stopped by for tea from time to time, but she didn’t reveal herself as she used to. Susan no longer confided her sorrows to her, and Rita no longer dared to share her doubts with her. There were now too many secrets and unspoken things between them. Rita was losing her only real friend, all for a damn presidency.

Yes, her two pillars of life were falling apart and she didn’t know how to stop them. Bruce was running away from her. He hadn’t touched her for six months, since she was the honourable chair of the committee.

On the plus side, he had stopped drinking, he had stopped wandering around the house in his pajamas. From now on, he would leave in the early morning and return home only to dine in monastic silence. When he finally spoke, it was only to mourn the loss of his beloved van. He had stopped asking him a thousand and one questions. Oh, at first she was relieved, no questions, no answers. But the more time passed, the more she detected something in Bruce’s eyes, something that didn’t mean anything to her.

Sometimes she almost wondered if Bruce didn’t already know the truth. The way he spoke to her, the way he moved, everything had become so distant. She didn’t want to lose him, but she didn’t know how to find him anymore.

Come on,” Rita breathe”, these weren’t the first things that happened in her life, and they wouldn’t be the last. Bruce was coming back, almost fifty years of marriage. They were going to get through it.

Well, she had to go back, too bad, she was going to win the game. She wasn’t going to pretend during her two years as president. Besides, there wasn’t much playing time left, the crisis meeting was about to start. The theft of four garden statues was starting to make Riverside Gardens gossip. Some had even started to hide their little stone companions in their little houses. As long as the thief was not unmasked, Riverside Gardens would no longer sleep soundly.

Hop, she came out of the bathroom, took a look at her reflection. She looked bad, her shirt was about to burst. Embarrassed, she tried unsuccessfully to tuck her stomach in. So much the worse.

As she walked towards the table, a fake smile on her face, these few words came to her ears: “No wonder she eats so much, Bruce is cheating on her, for sure. I’ve seen him lurking around the house, from… what’s her name… roh… whatever…. the dangerous horny woman…”.

Rita’s blood was just a trick, and she left the hall.


Susan walked around the garden. She looked around, no one. Three short knocks on the door, and one long one, then she tried a discreet meow. With a squeak, the door of the small shed opened.

“Come in,” Andrews summoned her. He stood facing Susan, looking amused. How funny it was to have invented these rituals to open to his customers! He always saw them before this absurd ceremony. Most of the time, their faces were tensed with apprehension. Sometimes they were wrong, and that was the most hilarious. They would go over it several times, get lost, and almost give up and turn back. Only then would he open up to them.

Susan was different, she had followed the instructions without any hesitation. She seemed more than determined. Perplexed, she looked around her, the shed had been transformed into a real pharmacy and a store selling a wide variety of pick-me-ups. It was so tidy that it looked like a real apothecary’s store. With her fingertips, she brushed against the boxes of “Herbs” tea. No doubt she would find what she was looking for here.

Andrews looked at her. He liked Susan, she was the wife of one of his best friends here. She was rather graceful, and she possessed a sweetness that few still possess at her age. If he could exchange her for the bossy Martha, he would. But they weren’t there for that.

Susan hesitated for a moment before going for it. She needed a little natural pick-me-up to ease Rick’s pain. A black cloud passed through Andrews’ turquoise eyes. Rick wasn’t well, Rick was in pain, Rick was in the hospital, and there was nothing he could do.

Susan sighed, tears piled up in her eyes. Rick’s cancer wasn’t getting better. He couldn’t take the chemo, he’d given up care after only a month of trying. All the words that Susan and her children had been able to say had not changed anything. He didn’t want to take care of himself anymore, he wanted to leave quietly.

Quiet, quiet, what did he think? That he was going to die, peeling in his bed, a smile on his lips? Well, no, Rick, cancer hurts! Two weeks ago, his condition had suddenly worsened. She had to take him to the hospital, he couldn’t breathe properly. Well, bravo Rick, now you’re on a respirator in a hospital room, impersonal and so far away from Susan.

The hardest part was waking up alone in the sheets, not feeling Rick’s warm, crumpled body next to her. Even his foul morning breath was missing. She was going to have to get used to it, she knew it. Rick would never come home, he was going to die in the hospital. All hope had left him.

Andrews took her by the shoulders and pulled her against him. She put her head against his chest and started sobbing. He stroked her hair and whispered reassuring words. Susan suddenly felt like a little girl, so weak, but finally reassured. They stayed like that for a moment. When Susan’s tears dried up, when Andrews felt that the jolts that had been lifting her chest had stopped, he loosened his embrace.

A little embarrassed, she stepped back and smiled at Andrews. If no sound came out of her lips, he could read “Thank you”. “I’ve got what he needs for our Rick”. He rummaged through the back shelf and pulled out a large slab of green butter. “With this, you can cook him little sweets that will make the pain much more bearable.”. She nodded her head, yes it was perfect. Perfect, discreet, and easy.

He wrapped the butter in a plastic bag and added a box of “soothing” tea for her this time. She had to sleep, she had to have enough strength for both of them. Susan searched feverishly in her bag for the cash. Her fingers were still touching the bottom of her bag when Andrews put his hand on her wrist and said, “Ttttt it’s for me. ».


400 dollars! He had managed to sell this horror for 400 dollars. He would send it tomorrow morning. Perfect! He still had the ceramic meerkat left, the auction had just started. But he thought he would get at least three or four greenbacks.

What a genius idea he had had! His scheme worked perfectly. We had wanted to play him? Well, now he would play the others. There was no question of him giving up his van.

The only problem was that the uninhabited houses had no more garden figurines, no more dwarves, no more exotic animals. He had sold everything. It had been disconcertingly easy. He had been doing this for months, and nobody had noticed anything. However, since he was attacking the gardens of living residents… Riverside Gardens was becoming more suspicious. He had to be careful.

Soon he would be able to buy the van of his dreams, at last… the bus in which he was going to fit out his van. A little over a thousand dollars more, and he could get back to work. And this time, he would work hard to leave as soon as possible, with or without Rita!

Ah Rita, what a viper! He couldn’t think of her without feeling a burning rage rising inside him. She had sold his van! Sold it! Who was doing that? Who was plotting behind the back of her adorable husband?

And she was still hiding it from him! Not only had she sold him, she had implicated her son! Who else knew about it? The whole family, or just Rita and Mickael? The worst thing for him had been the lie. She had been lying shamefully right in his eyes for more than six months. He thought she was sweet and loving, but this woman was unscrupulous!

Yes, okay, she had done it to pay off their debts, but she could have told him. And then, hop, she used the money to buy awful koalas to decorate the garden! Ah yes, he had searched after having seen the surveillance video showing Mickael, he had had a doubt. Was Rita involved? Mickael had never been the cleverest of his children, fomenting such a plan was not in his capacities. He was sure that Rita was the mastermind of the crime.

So he had snooped, he had searched through the bank statements, through the administrative papers. She had sold the poor van, ten thousand dollars, ten thousand unfortunate dollars. It was a joke! It was worth at least five thousand more! Then he had continued looking, and he had seen the expenses of the garden figurines. Almost a thousand dollars for two poor koalas, he had lost his mind.

That evening he had locked himself in the guest room and skipped dinner. He had pretended a horrible stomach ache, she had left him there. Oh, he could have told her everything, put her on the spot. But he wanted to see how long she could lie to him. Too long.

Then, thinking back to the exorbitant price of stone figurines, he had this brilliant idea. His van had been stolen, he would steal the residents’ figurines.

Thinking about it made him angry, his love for Rita was waning day by day. He needed to go see Paula, his caresses would do him the greatest good…


Paula caressed Andrews’ wrinkled skin. She ran a finger over the long scar on his calf. In all men, she loved scars. Oh yes, she liked the fantastic stories they made up about a simple cut, a DIY accident or even an untimely fall. Oh, she loved to question them, to make a silly little girl out of them, oh really, oh it must have hurt a lot, how brave you were then?

Yes, a flattered lover was always a better lover. If it was her who decided where and when, she made them feel like men, powerful, virile, indispensable to her pleasure. Until now, it had worked like a charm.

Andrews looked at her intensely. Her beautiful blue eyes contemplated the nymph’s worn-out but harmonious body. Would he be in the mood for a second round? Paula wouldn’t say no, but she wouldn’t deny it. The man was seventy years old, not twenty. At that age, it was not a few hours that they needed but several days to start over again.

He touched his shoulder and grabbed it to pull it towards him. She huddled for a moment against his broad chest, which had kept its firmness despite the years. Her head resting on her heart, she listened to the regular beats. She had to stop this adventure, she thought. She felt that the dikes were beginning to take water, she felt that if she continued like this, she would no longer be in control. There was no way that this situation could escape her. It was out of the question.

He was still in bed, so we might as well try to make the most of it. She tried one last maneuver, pressing her pelvis against Andrews’. Well, well, it doesn’t look like it’s so sleepy down there. With that, she kissed him.

After several minutes of a passionate and tender frolic, they lay down side by side, out of breath. Oh, how good it was, Andrews was truly a lover of choice. It was going to be hard to do without him, but it was better for everyone.

In a breath, she said, “Your wife will be waiting for you for dinner. ». Andrews looked surprised. She never talked to him about his wife, and she never pushed him out. What was happening to her? Proud, he nodded his head. “You’re right, I’m going out the back door.” . He hastily put his clothes back on, a little confused. She looked at him tenderly and hid her nascent affection under an equivocal impatience.

She could not bring herself to say goodbye to him at that moment. They met a few days later. When she heard the back door slam, she sighed. Tempted to sniff the sheets with her scent, she hastily undid the bed and stuffed it into the washing machine. She would stay in control no matter what.

As she started the short cycle, someone rang the doorbell. She covered her naked body with a blood-red satin bathrobe and walked towards the entrance. Opening the door, she found Bruce facing her, a naughty look in his eyes, his only message.

More next week.

Translated with (free version)

Leave a Reply