“A funny thing happened on the way to our weekly chat,” Aaron quipped and then flashed a sly grin.
It was the first Sunday of October and it was a bit chilly. The best friends were seated on their favorite bench next to the river and doing their best to ignore fall’s windy attempts to distract them.
“Please share,” Holly egged him on and then took a long sip of her coffee.
“I was enjoying my usual post-run routine,” he began and then paused to enjoy some of his Snapple. He had also stopped because he had a gut feeling that she wanted to show off how well she knew him, and he always enjoyed giving her those little victories.
“You sat on your porch with your feet up on the railing and scrolled through social media on your phone,” she finished his thought for him. Just like he thought she would.
“Correct. You know me so well.”
She smiled and that made him happy. He’d never admit it on the record, but Aaron enjoyed seeing his best friend in a good mood.
“As I think I’ve mentioned, my neighbor across the street is having a new roof put on her house. Her father is doing most of the work, but she sometimes gets up there with him to assist.”
He rolled his eyes and took another drink of his Snapple. “My fear of falling from great heights, but not dying and instead spending the rest of my life seriously injured and unable to lead a normal life is only trumped in this circumstance by my hatred of doing any form of manual labor that I can avoid.”
“Of course it is,” she agreed and tipped her coffee in his general direction.
“Anyway, I was slogging through Twitter while the two of them were up on her roof,” he continued. “I was going to make some sort of witty comment about how my neighbor was a harsh boss because she wouldn’t even give her dad Sunday off, but I kept it to myself.”
“Their loss,” Holly quipped.
He nodded in agreement. “After a bit, I heard her asking Siri to call her Mom’s cell phone. That happened a couple of times and there’s was the hint of stress in her voice, so I glanced up just to make sure her father wasn’t dangling off the side of the roof or anything.”
“I take it he was not?”
Aaron shook his head. “However, she did suddenly call out my name, so I yelled back to her like we were a couple of fish mongers. For the record, that’s what my stepmother would call us when we were kids and we embarrassed her uptight sensibilities by yelling to someone across the street.”
“We really need to discuss your childhood in detail at some point,” Holly suggested.
Aaron shook his head and chugged the rest of his beverage like the mere thought of his childhood had driven him to drink. Even if it was only iced tea.
“Please continue,” she urged and then downed a gulp of her coffee.
“She said she knew it would sound like a weird request, but could I go into her house, walk upstairs, and open the window so that they would no longer be locked out of the house and trapped on the roof.”
Holly raised an eyebrow. “You and your surprise twists! I did not see that coming.”
“Neither did I,” he agreed. “All these years of living across the street from her and I’d only been in her house a handful of times. Even then, it was only in the front room. Now I had to navigate through the building and figure out the way to that room.”
“You have a college degree,” she reminded him. “I’m positive you could navigate the great maze, find the staircase, realize that you need to go up, and then follow the voices.”
“You have more faith in me than I do,” he replied. “I told her it sounded like a trap. That’s how it always works in the movies. You get some sucker to agree to enter the house and leave his fingerprints and DNA everywhere, and then you frame him for a crime after the fact.”
Aaron shot him a troubled luck. “Leave your DNA everywhere? What exactly were you planning to do once you got inside the house?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I tend to panic when I face unexpected situations.”
“You are so weird,” she stated the obvious. “Please tell me those poor people aren’t still trapped on the roof because you didn’t want to be framed for murder.”
“Don’t worry,” he assured her. “They are safe and sound. I want back with a vacuum when I was done to clean up any particulates I might have left behind.”
Holly shook her head. “Part of me believes you actually did that, but then I remembered that you don’t own a vacuum.”
“That’s very shortsighted of me, don’t you think?”
Holly sighed, took a long sip of her coffee, and turned her attention to the river.