The Bog (part three)
“Well, okay. You mean Thanksgiving.”
“Bring Alex, if she’s home.”
“She won’t be. Jeff’s Mom could be. Visiting.”
Jeff had a brother and sister. His mother had four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren. The little ones lived with Jeff’s niece in Las Vegas…but all this was “close” to Rachel’s mother-in-law, who flew up from Scottsdale. Laurel knew this from Rachel’s stories; outside Jeff, she had never met any of the family.
“She stays with us, and then she goes out, up to Bren’s house and so forth. I’d have to ask her.”
Bren…Laurel wasn’t sure who this was. To read Rachel’s voice, she felt ticked at having to ask. Because the invitation itself was upending, or because, as Laurel’s sister recounted it, Jeff’s mother arrived, to set up camp in the guest room, and made declarations: “I’m bringing my own bed” (she did…it inflated); “I need the car Saturday”.
“Email me when she gets there. It’s my job to invite her.”
“Well, that’s true.”
“I don’t care if she says no.”
“You and me.”
Laurel was about to say, “We should try to get some sleep.” She was now hosting a dinner. She ought to run a plan through her mind.
A noise that had been coming on them in stealth grew insistent enough to have a definite character. The character was of plodding feet.
“Oh, it’s not a bear!” Rachel said.
They heard him shuffle, halt, cough.
“It’s Laurel!” Hostessy already.
“Ladies! It’s Dana!” he called back. “Dana Jenkins.”
“Not that creepy guy,” Rachel said, low, not out of earshot. But then, she meant Duffet.
“Dana, are you alone?”
“Yes, ma’am. I wonder if you remember me?”
She hadn’t seen Dana since high school, many years past, and couldn’t recall his picture turning up on the Boggies’ website, or the local paper’s. He was probably fat and grey; he had probably seen her picture, since Duffet had included hers in the fanned array of team photos on the home page. She hadn’t liked Dana, and didn’t like in general when people who’d treated you as a punchline, came up decades later with no acknowledgement…as though an old, shared experience made everyone pals.
But then again…
“Why are you ‘ma’am-ing’ me, Dana?”
(2017, Stephanie Foster)