Nick leans against the inner wall of the woodshed, catching his breath. As soon as he deciphered the clue, he knew whatever was inside would be bad—the woodshed is one of the places he used to have sex with Andie when they were sneaking around. He realizes now that the other spots Amy left clues—his father’s abandoned house and his office at school, and even Hannibal—are all places where he and Andie carried on their affair. Now, at the “final stop” on the tour of Nick’s infidelities, he has found the woodshed packed with all the things he’s recently sworn to Gilpin and Boney he didn’t buy with his many credit cards—Amy has dumped it all here, and it looks now like he’s stored it all away in anticipation of the day when Amy would be dead and he “could have a little fun.”
Nick is coming to grips with what he’s found in the woodshed—in a way, he’s found his entire fate. One of the novel’s most potent symbols, the woodshed is full of falsified purchases attributed to Nick—but more largely the woodshed represents the piling up and hiding away of all the secrets, lies, half-truths, and deceptions which have defined Nick and Amy’s entire relationship. Now, they are all laid bare—and Nick is going to suffer for them.
Nick drags Go out to the woodshed to show her what’s going on. He tells her that Amy is framing him for her murder, feeling like he is going to “sob or laugh” as he does. He realizes that Amy’s final clue is her victory lap—she’s unable to resist showing Nick just how “fucked” he is. Go asks Nick where his “real” anniversary present is, and he wades into the mess of stuff inside to try and find it. At last he comes upon a heavy box which weighs at least thirty pounds and makes a rattling noise when he picks it up. Attached to it is a note—a cryptic one which reveals that Amy has “made a study” of Nick. She knows where he’s been and where’s he’s going: for their anniversary, she’s arranged a trip for him “up up up!” the river—in other words, to prison.
As Nick unravels the last of Amy’s clues, he begins to understand just how angry and sadistic his wife truly is. Amy wants him locked away for what he’s done to her—and she wants him to know that she’s responsible for her deep unhappiness. Nick is helpless to stop the things Amy has already put in motion, and the only person who might believe him is Go.
Nick opens the box to find two wooden puppets, side by side. There is a husband puppet and a wife puppet—beneath the wife puppet is a tiny baby puppet attached by a ribbon. Nick picks up the male puppet and moves it using its large wooden handle—the “creepy” movements freak Go out.
The “creepy” antique puppets—a husband and wife—seem to suggests that Nick, Amy, and even their fictitious “baby” are all puppets engineered by forces larger than themselves—even Amy is controlled by the narratives others have foisted on her.
Inside, Go and Nick arrange the puppets on the dining table and try to figure out the full picture of what’s going on. Nick realizes that Amy arranged the treasure hunt to keep him busy, and that the puppets are a message of some sort—Nick is a “puppet on a string.” As the twins hunch over another note inside the box, written by Amy, which reads ”That’s the way to do it!” Go realizes that the words are the “trademark” of Punch and Judy—a traditional, old-timey puppet show in which Punch kills Judy and their baby. As she looks up more about the puppet show on the internet, Go realizes that Amy is truly “crazy.” Go and Nick realize that Amy’s endgame is to get Nick charged with her murder in Missouri—a state that has the death penalty.