I’d never known a garden could be as desolate and spooky as a graveyard, but that night this one sure scared me. I pulled the letter that had brought me here out of my pocket, just to reassure myself.
TO FIND THE INFORMATION YOU SEEK, COME TO THE GARDEN ALONE AT 11.
The letter had caused quite a stir in the Hyacinth Society. It had been pretty obvious to me that it spoke of the secret underground tunnels that the resistance had been searching for, but Marilyn and Wanda were suspicious.
I’d finally convinced them that this was an answer to prayer. The fact that the letter smelled strongly of hyacinth perfume hadn’t hurt, either. “We don’t have time to sit around worrying,” I’d admonished. “Pastor Turner is going to be arrested any day, and we’ve got to sneak him out before that.”
It was smack in the middle of WWIII and any practice of religion, especially Christianity, was outlawed. The Hyacinth Spies had infiltrated all the main businesses and government offices. Our secret signal was hyacinth perfume, and our trademark was acting ditzy. It didn’t take too much acting for some of us.
So here I was, in the middle of Town Square Garden, at 11:00 P.M. I tried to ignore the dark shadows, and the way the wind rustled and made the moonlight dance like ghosts.
I touched my ear like I’d seen the spies on TV do. “What am I looking for, exactly?”
Marilyn huffed in my ear and I winced. “You’re the one who insisted on going out there. How are we supposed to know?”
I heard something behind me. Swirling around, I found myself face-to-face with a police officer.
“Who were you talking to?” The officer scowled.
“Uh, I was talking to…the roses!” I smiled sweetly. “They grow better if you talk to them, you know.”
He stared at me. “In the middle of the night?”
I thought fast. “Oh yes! We’re having a party tomorrow morning, and I want the roses to look lovely. Happy roses make for a happy party!”
I couldn’t tell if he believed me, but he let me go.
The three ladies in my ear made an explosion of noise.
“You’re crazy, Dorothy!” Alexandra laughed out loud.
“Copy that.” I swaggered to the van.
“So now what?”
We poured over the note, pulling out every possible meaning. That is, all possible meanings except any that actually made sense.
Alexandra was typing away on the internet on her laptop, and Wanda was humming a hymn under her breath when Alex looked up.
“Sing that hymn, Wanda.”
We all stared, but Wanda obliged. “I come to the garden, alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice--”
“Got it!” Alex crowed. “There’s an art gallery on 11th Street that has a painting called ‘Dew On The Roses’.”
Marilyn looked doubtful. “Isn’t that kind of a stretch?”
I grinned. “It’s worth a try!”
The next morning found me once again on a steak-out. This time Alexandra was with me, which was very comforting, since the rather dark and empty art gallery had just as many shadows as the garden.
It took a bit to find the right painting. It was a lovely oil painting of a garden, with sun rays streaming through pink-tinged clouds in the background, and in the foreground a close-up of a beautifully detailed pink rose, kissed with sparkling dew drops.
Alexandra yanked the picture off the wall. I glanced at the price tag and gasped, “Careful!”
Engrossed in studying the back of the frame, Alex mumbled, “How much can we afford to spend on acquiring this info?”
“Not that much!”
She was poking gingerly (at least, I hope it was gingerly) at the backing. With a triumphant cry, she pulled a sheaf of papers from between the canvas and the backing.
I rescued the painting as Alex gave a happy bounce. “I’ve got them! The papers were hidden here.” She lowered her voice to a stage whisper. “The map of the secret tunnel is here, and--” she choked on a squeal, “A bunch of prison floor plans! A lot of lives can be saved with these, girls! Thank you, Lord.”
“Excuse me, can I help you?” An employee stood right in front of us, staring with narrowed eyes.
I jumped. “Uh, we were just--”
A hiss in my ear interrupted me. “Don’t you dare tell her you were talking to a painted rose!”
Hymn: In the Garden by Charles Austin Miles
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