Danielle was once again trying (and failing) to parallel park her car on the street in front of her house. The movers would be coming shortly with another load of her things and, because she wanted most of these items to go in her garage and shed, she wanted the movers to be able to pull into her driveway. Which was why she was parallel parking on the street again, despite the fact she hated parallel parking.
To make matters worse there was a man walking down the sidewalk as she started parking and that only made her more nervous. She was always sure people were judging her when they watched her park and that certainty made her more likely to get it wrong. She didn’t know how she always managed to get it wrong.
Sure enough, the man stopped in his walking to watch her after she had abandoned her first attempt and started to try again. Danielle tried to ignore him, but then he approached the curb and started waving her back. Danielle was sure she was about to hit the car behind her, but she decided to trust this stranger and kept inching back until he motioned for her to stop. Then she turned around to put the car in drive again and, this time, found she had plenty of room to straighten out her wheels without worrying about hitting the car in front of her.
“Thank you so much,” she said to the man as she got out of the car. “I really do need to practice this sort of thing. You’ve been such a help.”
“Any time,” said the man. “Like you said, you just need to practice. Do anything enough times and it becomes second nature. I’m Jason by the way.” He extended a hand and Danielle shook it.
“Pleased to meet you, Jason. I’m Danielle. I just moved in to this house here.”
“So I gathered. I heard you’ve already met Gloria and Harriet.”
“Word travels fast around here, doesn’t it?”
“You’re not in a big city like Dallas anymore. People around here look out for each other.”
“I see.” Danielle wasn’t sure how to take the news that he already knew where she was from. After a moment’s hesitation she decided to reply in kind. “If I remember correctly, you’re the widower with a daughter who lives in Austin, correct?”
Jason laughed nervously and looked down at his feet as his cheeks turned slightly pink. Danielle immediately regretted her words.
“That’s true. See? Word does get around fast in this neighborhood, as you’ve already seen for yourself.”
“I’m sorry if that was out of line.”
“No, not at all. It’s clearly not a secret so there’s no reason you shouldn’t know. It’s not as if it’s anything to be ashamed of.”
“That’s true enough.”
“Even if it were a secret, there’s no point in trying to keep anything secret around here. Nothing ever stays hidden for long, as my wife used to say.”
Danielle tilted her head to one side. “Is that so?”
“What about Kiera?”
Jason’s brow wrinkled and his head moved backward on his shoulders an inch or so, as if he were literally taken aback by the question. “What do you mean?”
“Just that Gloria and Harriet both mentioned her, but neither seems to know what she does for a living. Gloria says she mostly keeps to herself. She thinks she might be an heiress or a divorcée or both. Meanwhile Harriet is convinced she’s a lesbian.”
Jason snorted. “Really?”
Danielle shrugged. “It seems everyone has a theory. I guess I was just wondering what yours is. Or if by some miracle you might actually know something about her. I’d expect nothing less from someone who claims nothing ever stays hidden for long.”
Jason rubbed his chin with one hand and narrowed his eyes as he looked across the street at Kiera’s house. “You do have a point there. I suppose Kiera’s the exception to the rule. Must take a professional spy to accomplish that.”
Danielle choked back a laugh. “You think she’s a spy?”
“Could be. One of those Russian communists trying to infiltrate honest, upstanding neighborhoods like this one. The Russians would like nothing better than to make us comfortable, make us think they’re one of us. That’s when they’ll strike.”
“If that’s the case, she’s not doing a very good job of it, is she? I mean, if she wanted us to think she was one of us, wouldn’t she spend more time with us? Get to know us? Let us think we know what she does all day while she’s really gathering intelligence on us all?”
“I suppose so. Maybe she’s not a very good spy.”
To be continued…
Thanks for reading! If you like what you see here, you can sign up for my newsletter at the top of this page. You’ll never miss an update and you’ll get a free short story every month that won’t be posted on the website. No spam and no sharing your information, I promise!