Yoharie: Kate Hibbler and Mat Busby
Kate Hibbler and Mat Busby
At one time, it had been the Witticombes, and Cathlyn Burris. Then, awful Trevor; lately, the Yoharies. The Yoharies were different…
“Like every kind of different.”
The annexation was from 1987; the ring of houses around the subdivision’s cul-de-sac once showcases, one for each configuration the builder offered: garage left, garage right, detached garage with mother-in-law apartment, porte-cochère, circular drive, basketball court. One style, touted affordable, was a ranch; one a bungalow. They were beige sided with brown roofs, except for Trevor’s. His idea of dark gunmetal had needed vetoing by the neighborhood association.
And so he’d gone with white, roof green…so acceptable. So (getting away with it) I have to be my own little prima donna self. Even Kate, who didn’t go to meetings because Jeremiah did, could see from hearing him tell it, that Trevor had been forcing the debate. Wasting everyone’s time for his stupid politics.
“Now you’re all having this big discussion, what shade of grey’s too close to black.”
He’d actually said it.
“Well, because, for one thing…” They were looking through Mat’s bay window at the house across the street. It had been a year ago, when the house had sat already unsold for ten months.
“…the whole neighborhood’s old now. That roof had to be replaced. The Karshes couldn’t ask as much as they should’ve.”
Once the median age of the neighborhood flipped, and couples like the Karshes started to downsize…and then, factoring that the economy was changing…
Mat used these words, gestured ineffability, and between the two of them this nutshelled concept—the economy, changing—answered all it was required to.
Dr. Petersen, gone after closing his eye clinic, suddenly, had never been a man you could get to know. Everyone who’d caught him raking, or digging his grumpy fall mums, who’d jogged up to ask him something—would he buy candy to fund the Bombadiers’ Regional Tourney trip; would he sign to protest the trash schedule being staggered with the yard waste—had seemed to catch him on a deadline.
“No, I can’t make time.”
“Just your phone number…”
“I’m not interested, Mrs. Hibbler. Thanks.”
Todwillow’s report: “Nothing goes on in that house. Now and again he gets a call from a patient. Always goes to the answering machine, at his office. Then, I don’t know what, he sits and watches TV. I can pick up the TV.”
He’d kept his mic on Petersen’s house during that period of vacancy, just to see if anyone got in there. In July, a woman came, got out of her car sorting keys; later a van pulled into the drive, a lift whirred down from its open side door, and a man in a wheelchair zimmed out, a second quiet electric motor. Kelly Stomitz, from Stomitz-Burnley, a realtor they all knew, had gone flanking him at a shuffling pace, his wife on the other side.
They’d opened the garage. They’d stalled for a moment first, pointing and discussing. Wheelchair ramp up to the front door. Easy to translate without Todwillow.
“So what’s wrong with her?” Mat, after noting to Kate the guy was probably an amputee from diabetes.
“I’ve got to do something about her hair,” Kate answered him. “I don’t know why she bleaches it and then…” She slued a hand. “Just nothing.”
Quiet had descended, and this was expected. Closing. Then a truck, the type of worker’s truck with tool cabinets on the sides, early every morning. Mat expected this too, and blasted his horn when he pulled out of his drive, took a beat, waved his hand. The workers waved back.
By that time Todwillow had brought intelligence. Yes, a ramp. Knocking out a wall. Putting in a downstairs apartment, a new sunporch. Baker’s—you know, out by the county garage, over on route 203—got the job.
(2018, Stephanie Foster)