Estimated reading time — 3 minutes
The neighborhood always was a tight-knit community. The gatehouse kept out all the wrong people, and the rotation of retiree guards provided a second filter for the riff-raff.
Most homes went for over half a million, but a few sold in the quarter-mil range. All of those, they were in the back, all on one cul de sac.
They all used the community pool.
It came as a bit of a scandal, then, when it wasn’t one of those houses that went into foreclosure.
It came as a bit of a scandal, then, when it wasn’t one of those houses that had the owners go missing.
They didn’t just disappear into thin air, though, oh, no. That would have been preferred.
They let the grass go, first. Neighborhood association letters and fines and summons piled up. It was quite scandalous when they actually lit a little fire in their driveway, burning all the notices.
In a further act of defiance, they stopped taking their trash to the curb.
So it was a relief when the young family of three who lived there just…left.
All their possessions, except a suitcase each and one of their cars, poof. Gone.
“Internet money,” the whispers went. “They never really belonged here at all,” people said. “I heard they found their minivan in long term parking at the airport,” they claimed.
That part was true. They did. And nothing else.
Meanwhile, the bank foreclosed. The yard was tended to by the neighborhood association, the house went on the market.
More new money moved in, but they seemed a respectable sort, so they were welcomed to Mallard Street. As it happened, they settled in right around Halloween, just in time for the kids to trick-or-treat and the parents to mingle at a couple of parties.
The first time the Jones met the Emersons, right next door, everyone was enjoying drinks, hilarious costumes, and the most delicious barbeque ever tasted, served from what was probably the largest, most complex smoker anyone had ever seen.
The Jones family were the newcomers, and they raved about the dinner and hospitality, and Mr. Jones asked about the smoker. James Emerson, proprietor of the region’s largest packinghouse, explained that he competed in barbeque cook-offs for fun, and he nicknamed his smoker the “Long Pig.” He liked to share his talents with friends, family, and neighbors at all major holidays and excuses to throw a party. “Everyone likes to come over for my dinners. Good fences don’t make good neighbors,” he’d joke, “good sauces do!”
“Just wait until Thanksgiving,” he winked. “We won’t be doing turkey. I have something special planned.”
Everyone got on famously.
The Emersons invited all of Mallard street, and quite a few folks from other places in the gated community (but no one from that cul de sac) for a Black Friday Night Party.
The smoker could be smelled all the way up at the guard shack starting Wednesday night.
As promised, the barbeque was amazing; Mr. Emerson had saved the youngest, tenderest of quality meats for the holiday season.
“What are you thankful for?” Mr. Jones asked as he enjoyed a plate, savoring each bite because he took the last available serving.
“New, respectable neighbors,” Mr. Emerson responded, stealing a glance at his wife and seeing her smirk where the Jones family couldn’t see. “I’m incredibly thankful that we’ve run out of the terrible ones.”
“Now that the freezer is empty, dear, I think we’ll switch to beef for the Christmas party,” Mrs. Emerson commented, offhandedly.
Everyone chatted and dined as the Long Pig ticked and popped, cooling in the November chill.
Credit To – Nick O’Caliban