(sigh) I hate doing this crap. She always makes me do this by myself. Nobody even eats fruitcake!
Crap. They’ve seen me. Let’s get this over with.
Luckily for Bob, another neighbor was also coming to join the welcome wagon. Mrs. Jones had seen them collecting on the side of house and decided to come out and introduce herself.
“Good morning! I am Mary Jones. You must be my neighbors!”
“Hey. I’m India Cornelius,” the woman said. “I live right there across the street with my son, Lester. I think I saw that you have kids his age.”
“Oh, how delightful,” Mary said. “I was hoping there would be some teenagers in this neighborhood.”
Both women stood there smiling at Bob as it was his turn for introductions.
“Oh… I’m Bob. My wife is coming…”
Mary waited for a few seconds to see if there would be more to his story, but that was all she was going to get. “Well, it’s certainly lovely to have met you both. Please, come inside and meet my wonderful family.” She pushed off on her gleaming white pumps and lead the way around to the front door. She let Bob and India inside and found her daughter and husband reading. “John, these lovely neighbors dropped by to welcome us to the neighborhood! Isn’t that nice?”
“Oh,” John said. “That is nice.” He went to the bookcase and tucked the book he was reading back in its place before he met his guests. “Hello, I’m John Jones! Please, come in and make yourselves comfortable.”
“India. I live across the street.”
“Good to meet you, Bob…and you, India.”
Mary noticed that her daughter was still sitting on the sofa reading. “Susie, honey, we have company…”
Susie looked up from her book and saw the two strangers standing at the threshold. She rolled her eyes as she put her book away. As she was standing with her back turned to everyone, she took a deep breath and put on her smiling, outgoing face and happy voice. “Hello, Bob and India. I’m Susie Jones. It is so good to meet you…”
As everyone moved to find a place to sit, another neighbor came in.
“Hellooooo! Anyone home,” said the new woman.
Bob breathed a sigh of relief when he heard it was his wife.
“Why yes, my dear,” Mary said. “Please come in!”
“I’m Eliza Pancakes…you’ve met my husband. We live in the middle house across the street. I am also the president of the neighborhood association, so on behalf of the Courtyard Lane HOA, I’d like to extend to you a hearty welcome to the neighborhood!”
“Oh how splendid,” Mary exclaimed. “Did you hear that, John? We have the president of the HOA in our living room!”
“Yes, that’s nice, dear,” John said.
Susie saw the perfect opportunity to escape.
“What brought you to the area?” Bob asked.
John began to answer. “Well, I was recently—
“John is an illustrious scientist and found a new opportunity nearby,” Mary interrupted. “Oasis Springs is so dusty, and dull. Willow Creek was a better suited fit for our family.”
There was something about Mary that Eliza didn’t quite like. She seemed to be compensating for something. It might not be that day or even that month, but she would get to the bottom of it for sure.
“Oh! Everyone, this is my handsome little Timmy,” Mary gushed when her son walked into the room.
“For Pete’s sake, dear,” John said. “He’s as big as we are.”
“Hey,” Tim said.
“Timmy, this is Bob and Eliza Pancakes,”—Tim snorted at their last name—“and India Cornelius. She has a son your age. Maybe you should introduce yourself one day.”
“Oh, I brought freshly baked fruitcake,” Eliza said.
“Oh how nice,” Mary said. “Thank you, but we’re trying to watch our calories.”
Bob looked at Eliza and then back at Mary. Oh no she didn’t.