Who knew that staring at the neighbor’s backyard, watching for signs of life could be considered nosey?
I wondered if the whole concept of “Mind your own business” was carried just a tad bit too far. After all, I hadn’t seen hide or hair of the old man for weeks. He could’ve been dead for all I knew.
He could’ve turned into something… Okay, that image stemmed from last night’s horror flick that my teen son had insisted wasn’t scary. It all depends on if scary meant I freaked out on the couch or simply spent the entire day picturing my eighty-something neighbor as an alien experiment.
“Can I help you?”
Oh, great. The son. He caught me red-handed…actually wide-eyed. I turned from the fence amazed that he had snuck up so close. Gravel roads usually gave people away. And where were my lousy dogs? I gazed around. Sure enough. Napping in the sun…probably didn’t even lift their heads as this veritable stranger strolled up the driveway.
I faced the fifty-something gentleman and smiled brightly, frantically thinking up a good lie. Unfortunately, my mouth tends to leave the station before my brain is finished giving instructions.
“I just wanted to see if Mr. Jacob is still alive.”
A low whistle.
Well, I hit the prize impression with that one. “I mean…I haven’t seen him for a while, and he’s been on my mind.”
“He’s fine.” The man’s eyes stared at me as if an interrogation room was being contemplated. Dang, but he’d have the whole alien experiment thing outta me before I could get properly tied to the chair.
So what now? The guy is standing between me and my back door. I could skirt around him, pretending that I’m just ambling toward my garden to pick— Heck it’s full of seedlings too young to touch and with my daughter’s ruthless war on weeds, there wasn’t even a stupid dandelion to hide behind.
He clasped his hands and continued to stare as if he wanted to talk. Probably not about aliens.
The only decent thing to do was stand there and take it. Yes. I’ve been nosy. I’d imagined gosh-awful possibilities all day until I just had to sneak over and see if poor Mr. Jacob could still walk…or crawl…around his place. And no, I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone else was watching me with an overloaded imagination ignited by horror movie scenes.
Thoroughly ashamed was I.
He cleared his throat. Always a good sign. It meant he’d like to tell me off but was holding himself back.
“Dad’s been off his feed for weeks. My sister is spent taking care of her daughter who broke her leg and has three little ones to corral. I’ve got to go out of town for the weekend, and I was just wondering if you’d keep an eye on him for a couple of days.”
My brain couldn’t back up fast enough. For a moment, I actually believe I lost the power of speech. Which is darn unusual for me. “Uh…well…sure…I’d…be happy…to.”
“Pa thinks he can manage everything himself. But you know, he watched some scary movie last night and thought you were coming to get him for some kind of alien abduction thing.” The guy actually laughed.
I could’ve wept in relief.
“Oh, how silly!” I grinned good-naturedly. After all, I am a decent human being. From planet Earth no less. Heck, I now imagined baking this man the nicest pie in creation—after I fed his dad a delicious non-alien dinner.
Funny how life goes. When I stopped by that first evening, Mr. Jacob backed up against the wall, apparently expecting my pie cutter to slice through more than the crust, but when I unveiled the cherry pie, all was well.
Now I go to the fence nearly every day and stare until Mr. Jacob or his son comes out to chat. Occasionally I call ahead. But usually, they seem to just feel my presence. We meet up and talk. I might bring a pie. The son might bring a couple of beers. Mr. Jacob brings his smile.
And so far…no aliens.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page
A collection of short stories to enjoy and ponder.
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A collection of contemporary short stories involving families, friends, and distant relations. It is the hazards of daily life that test the soul.
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