“Y’know, they must be the family that bought the Barlows’,” Mary Sue Jamison mused. “That FOR SALE sign came down a few days ago.” If she’d known, she’d have worn something more interesting than a worn gray University of Maryland t-shirt with her fading brown hair than a long, simple ponytail.

            With practiced grace, Ruthie Weiss disengaged her nipple and slipped her breast back into her bra, buttoning her sleeveless white cotton blouse, patting her baby’s back for a little burp. “The dad’s kinda short,” she noted, fingers picking at her heavy red hair, “but in good shape. He’s been pushing her for fifteen minutes or so without a break. Early forties?”

            “She’s adorable, with those big almond eyes and straight black hair,” Said Karen Romano, the only one of the mommies wearing a loose blue India-print dress. “Adopted? She’s clearly Asian and he’s obviously not.” The flying black mane and golden skin of the child in the swing contrasted with the man’s sun-pinked pallor and close-cropped yellow-orange hair.

            “Well, George says the mother is Vietnamese,” Nelda Harris put in, her dark eyes alert and her cocoa-brown skin goose-pimply since race had popped into the conversation.

            “Jeez,” Peg Alviar teased, “somebody knows something.” She yelled at her older daughter to slow down, satisfied that she’d steered the conversation back into placid waters.

            “Well, I took the kids with me to the Safeway Saturday morning, okay? So George could sleep late,” Nelda said, her grin alive with conspiracy, “and saw the moving van when we came back. Only the movers in sight. Well, George had wandered over, but he returned in twenty minutes or so. Men are so exasperating at these things! He’d gone across the street to help, but the movers did all the work while George talked to the husband. He actually didn’t get the man’s first name! Last name is Collins, though, and the wife’s is Minh. Collins writes books—trust George not to find out what kind—and Minh’s a lawyer or something for ‘some government agency,’ in George’s words. One child, sex not reported. Honest to God, men make you crazy.”

            “Probably discussed baseball,” Peg chuckled.

            “Well, no, it was the Barlows,” Nelda replied. “Why they moved, what good neighbors they’d been, and what tools George and Fred Barlow shared.” More comfortable joking about their husbands than looking at the new daddy with Baryshnikov’s ass, the mommies laughed their quiet laugh.

            The Romano sons raced over to their mother for some Juicy Juice®, and while Karen handed it out, she asked what the man had told them. The sum of their intelligence: the girl, named Angie, didn’t have a dog. Then the boys vanished, trailing squeals.          

[To be continued…]  

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