Monday, November 21, 2016

Episode Six: Stew On This

All of the children were seated around the table, enjoying bowls of venison stew and cornbread, when Jordan and Ruger arrived back at the house. Jordan washed up while Sierra moved to the kitchen to get Jordan's lunch out of the Crock-Pot. He leaned over and gave her a peck on the cheek and whispered, "I saw Bob Smith heading out of the neighborhood in his PreeWuss on my way home. I assume those are his and Susie's kids with us now?"

"Jordan, chill about the car," Sierra said softly. "I know you might think it's a political thing, but you should really stop and think about

the fact that no matter what we call it, there are problems out there in the environment and we all need to do our part. Not everyone understands the benefits of diesel rigs like ours, and not everyone can afford a Tesla. Not everyone can live in communities like ours, surrounded by a biodynamic farm, and agreeing to only use organic gardening methods and plant pollinator-friendly flower gardens!  I happen to think the Prius is an excellent option for people who are trying to make a difference. I mean, did you ever notice that the Smiths have solar panels? If they are smart with their utility usage, I bet they can charge that car for free. In fact, I recently read that Toyota offers a model that has solar panels built onto the car roof for the European and Japanese markets. How awesome is THAT, babe? So lay off about the car. Besides, you've said yourself, Toyota makes some darn fine cars."

With a chagrined look, Jordan apologized. "You're right, babe. I did notice the solar panels, but I never thought about it that way. Bob's just so ... so... ugh. He brings out something in me. Susie was okay; we chatted a few times over at the gym and she seemed pretty on the ball. But some of the things she said about Bob just really make me wonder what she saw in the guy. I mean, I was telling her one time about you and Granny baking and we got on the topic of muffins, and then Bob came in and got all huffy. I don't think I've ever seen a dude get so pissed off about a guy talking to his wife, let alone about MUFFINS. It was like watching the girls get all snarky because of somebody's outfit - all high-pitched and whiny and - just - UGH. I mean, I get it, it takes all kinds, and that's what Liberty Heights is about; all of us drawing together because of the things we have in common, working together to build a great community. It's almost like he doesn't even want to be here, even with all the resources we all bring to the table."

Sierra sighed. "I wish I'd had the opportunity to get to know Susie better. It sounds like maybe Bob was jealous. Susie had a certain look to her that a lot of men go for, and Bob looks maybe he could stand to work off a few muffins himself. If I didn't know better, I'd be worried too. Oh well. I guess all we can do is help the Smiths' kids as much as possible. I didn't realize they are a blended family, and it looks like Bob and Luke go toe to toe attitude-wise. They will all need our support; I'm sure you can help Bob out a lot by being a good example of a good dad. And maybe not picking on his car?"

With a chuckle, Jordan picked up his bowl and agreed. "No more picking on the car. Save the bees, be nice to the Prii. Got it, babe."

He started to head out of the kitchen, then turned back, an odd look on his face.

"Wait a sec," he said. "Did one of the kids tell you Bob's not their father?"

Sierra nodded. "Luke said, and I quote, 'He's NOT my dad.'"

"That's just really weird. When Deputy Jones arrived this morning, he took Bob's statement first. I heard him ask if anyone else was there, and Bob said there were kids still asleep in the house. He and Susie had started a walking program, and were switching off so one of them would be home. Jones asked how old the kids were and Bob's relationship to them. He said he was their father. I guess I look at it differently, but if he's their step-dad, wouldn't he say so? Weird."

Sierra arched an eyebrow as Jordan walked out to join the kids for lunch. Reaching for her notebook, which she forgot on the kitchen counter during breakfast, she flipped to her warehouse store list and wrote:

  • Black beans - dry 
  • Veggie trays for community potluck
  • Printer paper

Turning to the back of her notebook, Sierra started a new list, titled SUSPECTS. It read:

  • Deputy Jones - conveniently a mile away
  • Bob Smith - husband - jealous?
  • Luke Smith - rebelling against parents?
  • Russian spy? Susie's handler?

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