‘Geez Helena, watch the curves. I’m going to break my neck riding with you.’
‘Well, since you don’t drive you’ll just have to take your chances.’
Helena looked over and smiled at her friend, Peggy, they’d been close a long time. Helena had moved up to the Seattle area to be with her husband he was in the military at the time. Scott had been everything to her, they’d met in high school and were so in love. So while she’d gone off to college at UCLA, he’d joined the army. After she graduated they’d reconnected in San Diego at a high school reunion and the love hadn’t gone anywhere. So before she knew it she was saying yes to his proposal and moving up to Fort Lewis in Washington. It had been difficult being the wife of a soldier but he always did his duty in both. He’d done it when they’d sent him off to fight in Iraq so when First Sergeant Scott McDermott left in late 2005, she didn’t know that would be the last time she’d ever see him. He’d been killed, May 12, 2006. Those were the hardest days of Helena’s life if not for her mom, sister, Renee, and Peggy she would have cracked up. How could he be gone and although she was left with a nice estate because her dutiful husband. She had a rough road to travel, but she’d gotten it together. It still hurt sometimes to think about him but she remembered the good times, the wonderful memories they’d shared as a couple. He’d also left her this 1958 Porsche 356, a car he had lovingly cared for so she did the same.
They pulled into Helena’s driveway. It wasn’t raining hard in Seattle, it never did, but this mist had been coming down for days and it was getting old. She pulled under the carport and the hopped out. Helena was having a few friends over tonight, since Peggy was a chef on a cruise ship she was the one cooking. Peggy was the best friend anyone could ask for, a chunky Asian chick which was a rarity, she had lots of spunk, great sense of humor, a handsome husband and two kids that Helena doted on completely. Helena hadn’t had a chance to make Scott a dad, she was pregnant when he’d been sent to Iraq and the news of his death caused her to have a miscarriage. The grief was almost too much to bear.
‘Come on Helena let’s get in the house.’
It was a Saturday afternoon but since it was raining not much was going on, not that Seattlites stayed home in the rain, they didn’t. It was just quiet. Nothing happening besides the moving truck that had pulled up at the Ellerys old place. Mrs. Ellery has died a few months ago, she’d been such a great neighbor but had passed one night of a stroke. Her son had come from Colorado to settle the estate, the house had been on the market a few months. It was a two story brick Tudor style house. It wasn’t updated so Helena figured that was why it was hard to sell. She lived in a bungalow herself. She was getting bags out of the car being nosy trying to see who the new neighbors were. Peggy had taken her keys and was in the house setting down bags.
Helena laughed, she was curious she’d always been a curious kid and it had gotten her in all kinds of trouble. If she hadn’t been a graphic designer, she would have been a detective.
‘Oh Peg, I’m just trying to see who my new neighbors are.’
‘Neighbors? Who’s moving in?’
‘Across the street, you know where Kathy Ellery lived. The lady who passed a few months ago.’
‘Yea, I know. Now will you please pass me those bags. I need to get cracking or we will all be eating carrot sticks and celery.’
‘Alright, but I wanted to see. I saw that they put the sold sign up a few weeks ago. I’m just wondering what kind of family lives there now.’
Helena was taking bags to the back porch and Peggy picked them and took them inside. It didn’t matter about the rain, she had on her Hunter rain boots and her hair was cut close in a natural style. One of the things she loved about her natural hair, it could get wet.
Helena saw a black Toyota Tundra drive up. Hmmm she wondered to herself. It had few boxes in the back, a guy jumped out all she could see was the back of his head as he talked to one of the movers. He went up to the door and opened it. Helena was mesmerized she really wanted to see his face, all she had a look of now was black shoulder length hair, very nice hair she thought though. Then he turned and looked straight at her, Helena’s bag slipped from her hands and everything tumbled out onto the driveway. He didn’t look concerned and looked away to continue his business.
Peggy’s head came out of the back door, ‘what is going on?’ She noticed the spilled groceries at Helena’s feet. ‘Aw come on butterfingers. We’re never going to get this show on the road.’
Peggy came out and help to pick up the groceries.
‘Helena, calling Helena!’ She was talking to her as Helena stood staring.
‘Oh I’m sorry, I just saw one if the people moving in across the street.’
‘What do they look like?’
Helena stood in her kitchen for a moment searching for the right expression, ‘gorgeous.’
Peggy turned from the pantry to look at her, ‘really. I hope he’s not married, at least for your sake.
Helena wasn’t even thinking about him married or having a girlfriend, she wasn’t sure she was ready to date again anyway. She’d tried it a few years ago and it was a complete disaster but she was putting the cart before the horse in this case. The man could be married and if he was what a lucky woman, he was beautiful. Dark black hair, beautiful lightly tanned skin, those gorgeous light eyes, he was mesmerizing. She wondered what his name was, she wondered what the possible wife’s name was.
‘Maybe I should invite him and his significant other,’ because now that she thought about he could be gay, ‘over for the little get together tonight.’
Peggy turned quickly, ‘what? I’m only supposed to be cooking for 8, extra guests I’m not prepared for.’
‘Oh come on Peg, sure you are. I don’t know if they’ll come I just want to be neighborly this isn’t a big deal. How about it? You think that’s a good idea.’
‘Its your party, chocolate goddess.’
Helena started to laugh when she got too bossy Peggy would refer to her as ‘chocolate goddess’ which was true with her deep, dark chocolate skin which she always loved she was quite a goddess. At 5’6″ and 130 lbs more or less, she wasn’t short on male attention but Helena hadn’t really been interested in anyone since her beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed baby had been killed. No one ever made her feel as special as he did but it would be nice to find someone else who would. Her mind wandered back to the new neighbor.
‘Yes, I think I will go over and invite the new neighbor.’
Peggy rolled her eyes and started to chop vegetables for tonight’s meal.
The evening had started out great, although it was cool outside, Helena’s house was warm with laughter and fun. She’d invited some friends over, some old, some new but all great comfort to her.
Peggy and her husband, Errol were there, they were good friends of Helena from her early days in Tacoma. Also her co-worker, Allison and her girlfriend, May had joined them and also her military friend, Rowena, whose husband was also killed in action. Along with Andrea and Billy Dalton good friends from her old neighborhood in Lynnwood. They were laughing, talking and drinking wine, although it was fun. it was at these times she missed Scott the most. Helena had put up pictures of him everywhere in the house but about a year ago she’d taken many of them down when she decided she needed to start anew. She was sitting talking to Rowena when she asked her to join her as she crossed the street to ask the new neighbors over to the party.
‘I just saw him today as he was moving in, I’m not sure if he’s married or not but I thought it would be neighborly to ask him if he’d like to join.’
‘Oh I think that’s sweet, I know we both know how it is to be new to a place.’
She took Rowena’s arm into her own as they crossed, ‘yes I know. Not always easy but good people make it easier.’ She squeezed Rowena’s hand in appreciation and love.
They moved up the path to the new neighbor’s doorway. Helena bounded up the steps. The truck was still in the driveway and the lights were on in the house, so she decided it would be a good idea. She looked back at Rowena with her tall, slim, brown skinned frame egging her on to knock. So she did, she heard someone stirring but it took a moment for them to reach the door. The lock was unbolted and it opened and there he was illuminated by the porch light.
Helena got a good look this time and it was better than she believed, he was beautiful, not too tall about 6 ft, with a slender muscular frame by what she could tell, his hair was pitch black and he had a beard to match he had slight flecks in gray in both his hair and beard. He had keen nose and beautiful green eyes but she noticed they reflected a slight sadness. He wore black framed glasses but took them off as he stood looking at her, waiting.
While she stared intently, she heard Rowena say ‘Hello,’ from behind her.
‘Hello,’ he said kind of stoic and stiff.
Helena finally came out of her reverie, ‘oh hello, I know you’re wondering why we’re here.’
He didn’t answer, he just stood there and crossed his arms. He leaned to the side and started to look completely annoyed with this interruption.
Helena was now wondering if this was a good idea but she pushed ahead, ‘well, I live across the street my name is Helena McDermott. Nice to meet you.’ she put out her hand to shake his but he just looked down at it and back up at her, still annoyed. She returned her hand to her side, now she was getting upset at this guy’s absolute rudeness. She wasn’t sure she wanted anyone like this at her dinner party.
‘Well, I’m having a little dinner party and wanted to know if you’d join us…’ she left the remainder hanging in hopes he’d give her his name but what she got was more abrupt than she anticipated.
He said, ‘I’m sorry, no,’ and suddenly Helena felt a burst of air as the large wooden door slammed in her face.
She was stunned, the man was a menace, what an absolutely rude jackass. She turned to see Rowena at the bottom step wide-eyed with a look of girl, no he didn’t.
She walked down the steps in shock and anger, ‘well, what the hell was that?’ she asked Rowena rhetorically.
‘Girl, I’m not sure but he’s a rude bastard. I wouldn’t ever come over here again.’
‘Oh don’t worry, I will not be coming near here. I wonder what his problem is?’
They stepped in from the chilly night to everyone still talking and laughing. Helena headed to the kitchen where Peggy was getting everything dished up.
‘What happened?’ Peggy asked her and Rowena.
‘He was rude jerk,’ Rowena answered promptly.
Peggy’s brow furrowed in confusion. ‘Rude? What?’ She stopped prepping dishes for a moment to listen.
Helena agreed, ‘he was. I asked him over, I tried to be cordial. I even introduced myself. The man slammed the door in my face.’
Peggy was speechless, which is a lot for her to do.
‘I don’t know his name. Nothing. Barely heard his voice,’ but what she did hear she liked. It was deep and sweet although he was terribly unfriendly.
‘Did you see a wife or kids? Maybe he’s a weirdo keeping his family trapped in the house.’
‘From what I could see, there was no one but him there. I couldn’t see or hear another person.’
‘Maybe Peggy is right,’ Rowena commented, ‘maybe he’s like a serial killer and that’s why he’s so odd.’
Helena smirked, ‘you two. You guys watch too much true crime TV, your imagination is running away with you guys.’ But Helena was now curious to figure out more about him, her instincts told her he wasn’t a killer but something had to be going on for him to be that awful.
‘Maybe he doesn’t like black people,’ Rowena said, ‘it’s happened to me before with neighbors.’
Helena looked at her and shook her head, ‘no one would move to Seattle and hate minorities, that’s what the suburbs are for.’
Peggy started to laugh, ‘okay, enough about your nasty neighbor. You guys grab a dish it’s time to eat.’
But Helena’s mind was still on her neighbor’s abrupt and rude action, she knew she shouldn’t care because she didn’t know him but she did. The sadness in his eyes just made her want to know more. © EugeniaBerg 2013