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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2228910-The-People-Next-Door
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2228910
It's hard to trust people wearing masks.
“Wave at them,” I pleaded. “Are you waving, Samantha?”

“Yes, Johnathan. I’m waving.”

“Just keep waving. Wave like our lives depended on it. That’s it. Nice and slow. We don’t want to spook them.”

“Johnathon, are you trying to freak me out?”

“We have to show them we’re nice white people and that we don’t hate them. Did you lock the front door?”

“Hi-hi Asian people” Samantha cooed. "We don’t hate you. Yes, I fucking locked the front door!”

“Smile, Samantha. Are you smiling?”

“Trust me, I'm smiling. I can't feel my cheeks.”

“That ‘a girl,” I said soothingly. I felt like I was calming a skittish horse. “You’re doing great! Just keep doing what you’re doing. I doubt very much they’ll attack. At least, not until it gets dark. Did you check the windows? They could come in through the windows you know.”

“They're not waving back at us. Why aren't they waving back at us?”

“They’re busy.”

“Yeah, they're busy! They remind me of ants.”

Samantha and I were looking down from our bedroom window at our new neighbors. And I mean new, like fresh off the boat new. Korean or Chinese. Maybe Vietnamese. It was hard to tell. They all had black hair and wore gauze masks. They looked like Ninjas. They moved like Ninjas. And they were everywhere carrying boxes!

Box after box was being unloaded from one of the four trucks parked on the street. Then the carrier of the box rushed with it across their lawn and into the Langley’s old house. Samantha and I were going to miss the Langleys. We had played bridge with them every Thursday night for fourteen years. Now we had Asians for neighbors. Gobs and gobs of Asians. Too many to count! They didn't look like Bridge playing people to me. As a mater of fact, they looked like Non-Bridge Playing People.

They were hard workers though. Even the very youngest of them was running around with a lampshade or a rice-cooker, while the bigger ones carried couches and tables and widescreen television sets. They were in a state of continuous movement, almost like a choreographed dance. Not one missed step. It was easy to see they were a strong and well-coordinated people. I felt sad for them that they didn't play Bridge.

“You need to go out there,” Samantha said. She was whispering to me without moving her lips. “Are you hearing me? You've got to keep them off our dichondra.”

“They’re nowhere near our lawn, Samantha, nor your rose bushes!”

“Well, you’re the man, Johnathon. You have to go out there and keep an eye on them.”

“I am keeping an eye on them!”

“We look like we’re hiding. You should go outside. Let them see you’re not scared.”

“Maybe I should bring my shotgun.”

“Maybe you should. . .”

I looked over at my wife of thirty-eight years. She was mulling over the shotgun idea. She was half-heartedly waving out the window and whole-heartedly mulling over me going out there with a shotgun in my hands. Samantha is a Southern Girl, long vowels and everything. She doesn’t quite understand the whole Confederate statue hubbub. She’s also a Trump supporter, but we rarely talk about that.

“No,” she concluded. “A shotgun might be too much. Just go out there. Walk around. Let them know you’re watching them.”

“Great idea!” I scoffed. “Boots on the ground! Let me just change out of my slippers.”

“It’s a husband-thing, Johnathon. You know it, I know it. Everybody knows it. My daddy would a been out there already with his dogs and his AR15.”

“You think now would be a good time to put up our STAY OFF THE GRASS sign?”

“No, no. Oh no! That would be wrong!” Now, she too was getting sarcastic. And a bit angry at me as well. “We should all be like you. Vote for liberal socialists and let them all come in! Doors wide open. Let us feed you and house you.”

“You see that? One just waved back at us!”

“I saw it!” Samantha said. She spoke with hushed excitement. “Oh, my God!”

“Another one!” I said.

“Here we go. Now they’re all waving! Look at them, Johnathon! They look like, I don’t know what. Like a horde of little black haired people with masks on who might or might not be smiling back at us. You can’t really be sure, can you?”

“They might be sticking their tongues out at us.”

“We don’t know they’re not.”

“Speaking of feeding and housing them, maybe you should bake them a casserole, Sam.”

She grunted.

“I’m not kidding! Take a casserole over there and introduce yourself. It’s a wife-thing. Say, ‘Welcome to my country, but stay off our grass!’”

“How is a casserole supposed to feed all those people?”

“Load it up with Lima beans,” I said. ”I don’t know. Bring them your cat! I hear they like cat stir-fried. That fat old fur-bag should feed them all! Just hand them the Cuddles and say, ‘Mangia! Mangia!’”

She looked at me without a trace of humor in her eyes and I knew I had gone too far.

“Okay,” I said. “Let’s you and me go over there together and say hi.”

"Just march over there and say hello?"

"That's right"

“They might be riddled with Coronavirus?”

“We wear our masks and not get too close.”

“They might not speak English. They don’t look like they speak English.”

“Then we can make fun of them and they won't know it."

She punched me on the shoulder. “And if they do speak English?”

“Then we say, ‘Please enjoy our yummy cat!’”

Samantha said I was hysterically funny.

We put on our masks and gloves and lowered our face shields and were ready for business.

I said, "Okay, listen up! Stay close to me-- the last thing we want is to get separated out there!"

"I'm not amused, pal, I'm really not!"

It didn't take long to realize the Lees spoke perfect English. I didn’t tell them they were welcome to eat our cat. I’m still kind of hopeful they will though. Just kidding. I think they might be vegetarians. They look like vegetarians, don't ask me why. . .


--995 Words-- ”




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