The Beauty at the End of the Block, A Brew Parkers Mystery

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Chapter 2

The next few weeks moved quickly with school, work and snow. Jerry and Roger were quick to get involved with Brew Park life. Margret told Holly over tea that Jerry volunteered to be on the committee for the summer block party. Gretchen, Becky and Jordan hired Roger to plow their driveways and sidewalks. Their husbands enjoyed the extra free time. Jerry and Roger kept the exterior of their property movie set perfect. If it snowed, they plowed and shoveled to the concrete. Gretchen noticed their garbage cans never blew around the neighborhood. John talked to Jerry almost every day. The feedback was the guys really liked everything about Brew Park. After the incident with Postman Phil, Jerry stopped over to Holly's place and ours to give Holly and me flowers.

“You ladies are brave! I would have thrown up at sight of a dead body.” Jerry laughed. “I am man enough to admit it.” He reached down to pet Charger. “Oh, I want to tell you a large garbage container will be showing up this week. I am renovating the bathrooms. Sorry for any extra noise.” Our conversation turned to plumbing and tile.

Margret announced, at the February meeting, after the body of Postman Phil was found, that the other house for sale on our block sold. The new owners were moving in mid March.

The Goldtrees showed up the second week of March on a rare warm Saturday. It was hard to miss the yellow metallic painted two seater convertible that pulled up in front corner house. The couple waved from the car as if they were in a parade. The She was Hollywood perfect. Dark hair cut in a severe bob, bright red lips, and size zero. The He was big, blond and at least ten years younger than her!

Holly and I sat across the street on her porch with Charger, and her cat, Princess. (Yes, they got along.)

“That's not something you see every day.” Holly drawled in her best backwoods accent. I laughed.

Margret vroomed down the wet street on her gas powdered scooter waving like a crazed monkey, weaving to avoid the puddles from the melting snow. Running up to the shiny couple, she hugged them squealing. Margret wanted the whole street to see she greeted the new people first. The kids brave enough to be on bikes and scooters, stopped to stare at the sparkly car. Margret,in her turquoise medium weight coat and matching boots, waved over to Holly and me.

Holly smiled and waved back. She turned to me and joked, “I dare you.”And, we laughed. Standing up, we brushed the animal hair off of our clothes. Holly looked ready to meet new people, elegant even in casual clothes - tan cords, navy, rough knit sweater and navy turtleneck. I was in my standard black and gray – black cords with a dark gray cowl neck sweater.

I looked toward my house and saw John washing the winter grim off our vehicles. Our boys, fresh off of a rare March bike ride, started to help. Like a psychic link, John looked up smiled at me. I pointed at the scene and waved mimicking Margret. John laughed back.

Holly put Princess in the house and we crossed the road to greet the new people. Whitney, Jordan, and Gretchen came down to see the commotion too.(Margret had probably sent them a text before riding down.)

“Oh, look! Look the new lovely neighbors are here. Aren’t they adorable!” Margret was jumpy with all of the attention. She turned to the group. “This is Sahara and Kyle Greentree. They moved here from Boston.”

We went around the circle that had formed and introduced ourselves. I reached my hand forward to shake, “Welcome. I am Tabitha Wolf.”

“You are all so simple and quaint. Call me Sahara, like the dessert in Asia. Kyle and I love your little town. It is just the place for us to unwind. Busy old Boston just tired me out last season. So, we picked here for a break.” Sahara voice was shill and and grating . Maybe she was trying to sound cutie and girlie, but missed the mark. . Interesting, there was no Boston drawl or inflection in her speech. (Did she say the dessert in Asia?) My writer's mind went to work on this new person. Sahara Greentree was dressed for a much warmer day. Her orange and tan flowered, filmy blouse left her slim arms covered in goose bumps. The amethyst fringed skirt and matching fringed boots fought for attention Her clothes are designer but not top designer. Her plastic green eyes( I could see the ring of the contacts) flitted around the circle sizing up the crowd.

Kyle Greentree was smiling at the admiring women. He was about 6’3” and built like a cartoon character of a surf boarder All he needed was a cartoon speech bubble above his head that said “I am so buff!” I labeled his attire “Pretend biker gear”. Black leather jacket, sleeveless black shirt, dark jeans and black squared off boots The black plastic frame sunglasses ruined the look for me. More 80's rock star than biker.

“Oh, you picked the best place. Our little subdivision is the center of peace and calm. We have a great shopping plaza 10 minutes from here..” Margret made a great ambassador for Garden View Township.

Sahara interrupted and smiled a little too hard. “The shopping is OK here. But we will manage, I guess.” Sahara embellished her statement with a shake of her manicured hand.

As Margret was buzzing about the benefits of our picturesque township, the crowd began to drift apart . As I turned to leave, Jordan brought up Brew Parkers 'group.

“That sounds perfect! But I have to check my schedule. I am a designer and I may have a client” Sahara announced The greetings turned to questions about her being a designer. I was done with this part of the circus and turned Holly.

“I’m heading home to finish dinner. I’ll call you later.” I hugged Holly and turned Charger towards home. I waved to Jerry as he washed his silver sedan.

“Hi, Tabitha. I guess I am not the new guy anymore.” He laughed and nodded toward the commotion in the street.

“You're right.” I smiled “How are the renovations coming?”

“Slow. We are waiting on tile.” Jerry shook his head. “I really want to get rid of the big bin.”

Charger barked at him as if to answer and we both laughed. “I guess Charger agrees.” I walked up to my hard working husband and kissed him. “Thank you! The shuttle craft looks great.” We call our cars the “shuttle crafts” because we like sci-fi stuff.

“You're welcome. How are the new people?” John inquired, reaching down to keep Charger from drinking the soapy water.

“Pretty and vapid are my first impressions.” I whispered. Reverend and Mrs. Woods were in the driveway loading the kids in their mini-van. I waved hello. Mrs. Wood stiffly waved in return and then, with more enthusiasm, waved and smiled at John. Funny, she never had time to talk to me, but she ALWAYS had time to talk with John. Flirt! And her husband is a man of God! Laughing to myself, I went in to finish stuffing my peppers.

Two days later, a loud delivery truck rumbled continuously somewhere close. I was busy completing my chapter and did not stop to investigate. At 3, I left with Charger so we could walk to the school to get the guys.( There was no snow and it was 50 degrees in March. Awesome.) Charger and I walked east towards the school. The noisy truck was there next to the Greentree house at the corner of Brew Park Avenue and Earl Grey.. It was a large crane truck guiding a two story stained glass window! Not something I had ever seen, especially in Brew Park. Most homes here were traditionally styled. This was a two story piece of modern art! The window was rainbow colors in an abstract patterned. If it was trying to BE something, I wasted on me. They had cut a huge hole in perfectly fine house to insert monster window. Interesting.

After dinner, John returned from walking Charger. and entered the kitchen laughing. “What did they do to that house? What is that monstrosity?” He reached in the refrigerator for the milk. “ It will not help property values.” John, ever the pragmatist

The next night,I walked over to return Holly's baking dish from her ziti with sausage she shared with us.. The neighborhood was out en mass starring at the Greentree's new window. Margret was leading the cheer on the mild March evening.

“Oh it is so perfect! I saw something like it in a magazine just last month. So chic. Don’t you love it!” Margret turned to Jordan who nodded. The rest of the group looked stunned. Holly walked out to meet me. She smiled and shook her head. The Greentrees posed and smiled with their arm around each other. Cellphones were recording the scene.

“It is my design.” Sahara boasted. “I was inspired by the trauma of the move.” She waved a hands drawing attention to the glass expression.

“This is an interesting development.” Holly whispered at me. “What the heck is that supposed to be?”

“You have had an art background as well as chemistry and you don’t see what this is supposed to be?” I laughed to Holly.

I turned and walked back towards my traditional style home - dark gray ranch with black shutters. Reverend and Mrs. Wood were walking their horde of children down to see what everyone was watching. I saw the drapes of Jerry's house twitch.

The following Wednesday was our Brew Parers meeting. Jordan was hosting. The topic was Media’s Influence on the Youth of Today. Holly and I expected this to be a lively discussion. We knew in advance that two people hated popular culture and two people loved popular culture. We had agreed on a movie theater theme for the food. Holly was bringing gourmet popcorn and homemade cake suckers she found on line. I made chocolate covered raisins and mocha cupcakes.

Sahara showed up in an orange and purple, floor length gown with the orange high heals and purple jewels.

“Oh, I thought it was a movie themed meeting. No red carpet? Oops.” Sahara liked being the center of attention and the rest of the girls in the group gave it to her. Even Margret cowed to her. Holly and I both made appropriate comments and then found good seats.

The meeting did not disappoint, at first. The discussions were lively and the food good. Half way through the debate on positive role models for girls in the media, everything turned. Sahara turned the conversations talking about the better media in Boston, the better museums in Boston, the better food in Boston and better weather in Boston. What an education we received! (Sarcasm). She was new, so you expect the conversation to come around to her and where she came from. What rubbed me a wrong was Sahara did not answer Holly's specific questions on her life in Boston. She acted like she did not hear them or turned away to talk to someone else. Hum. When we got up to get more food, Holly asked Sahara about where she purchased her earrings. Sahara looked her up and down, smirked and said, “Some with your...facial shape, shouldn’t wear them.” My jaw hit the buff colored tiled floor.

Holly didn't even blink. She smiled and said, “Thank you for the advice.”

At 10pm, Holly and I got up to leave. We had early mornings activities. Holly was the Dean of Chemistry at the local university. She was the definition of busy working mother and wife. I was scheduled to volunteered at the school. Gretchen offered to host the next meeting and would email us the details.

“Sahara didn't mention that manners were not used in Boston.” I rubbed my hands together to keep them warm as we stood outside in my driveway. Jordan' s house was across the street from mine. ”That was a really bitchy thing to say.”

“She doesn't know how to talk about anything other than fashion or about herself. Sahara did not answer anyone's specific questions about Boston. Maybe she does not want us to know where she lived. Maybe, it is not as glamorous as they want us to think.” Holly always tried to find good in people.

The rest of the spring went fast with sports and school events. The Brew Parker meetings topics changed to the latest summer diets for April and dos and don’t s for self tanning in May. Sahara's presence was choking! The girls became her lemmings. They were all excited to gossip about looks,clothes, and people in the neighborhood. It was high school all over. Holly and I went to be polite, but left a little earlier each time. The Brew Parkers were started as a discussion group, not a gossip circle.

I stomped in the house after the May meeting. John looked up from my latest chapter. (He is a great critic. If it stinks, he'll tell me.) “The meeting was that bad?” He smiled.

“I learned how to wash my hands after applying self-tanner and the proper way to explain the latest style you want to your manicurist.” I leaned over the sofa and gave him a “not in front of the kids “ kiss. “Thanks. I needed that. That group is getting very, very lame.”

“Yes. But you still need to get out and socialize.” John sat up and put the pages on the black leather ottoman.

“What am I the dog!” I patted Charger on the head. He was sound a sleep. Not much woke him up. “I see plenty of people everyday. More, when I do book tours. I know how to be “social”.And, Sahara was so rude to Holly! Again! That is uncalled for! She does it every time! Holly and I refer to her as “The Beauty” at the end of the block when we text each other. Sahara would not get the sarcasm.”

“You are protective of Holly because she is your best friend.” He smiled. He had a great mouth. It was one of the first things I noticed about him when we met. ” I know. But...think of it as research for your books.”

“Good point. Suffering for my art.” I smiled. I would make Sahara pay by giving her a gruesome death in my next book.

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