Another addition to the short stories written at the behest of the Tele-Friends podcast. (This one, along with all the stories in the fourth year of the project, includes characters culled from the public domain, believe it or not.) Check out the audio version on the podcast or below.
“Honey, did you see the balloons on Dennis’s house this morning?”
“Who’s Dennis?” Thurston called from the garage.
“He’s only lived in that giant house for the last six months,” Virginia called back, peering out the kitchen window at the tanned parade leading up the cul-de-sac.
“That… actor? We’re calling him Dennis now?”
“Must be his daughter’s birthday. We should stop by.”
“We’ve should’ve taken them something to welcome them to the neighborhood sooner.”
An hour later Virginia felt entirely underdressed, though it had nothing to do with her nicest summer ensemble. The quality of the people around their neighbor’s pool had been ensured by the best treadmills and scalpels in California. Thurston swallowed, patting his wife’s shoulder gently. “We should’ve come sooner.” She might have taken exception, had the host not distracted her by shouting, “Cannonball!” from a second story window and launching himself into the pool.
Every bit the harlequin novel cover model, he emerged, making Thurston notice that all he wore besides shower shoes were a pair of sweatpants, while Virginia was more transfixed by the way the water clung, creating contours she had never seen before. “You like these?” he smiled, flicking the bowtie affixed where a button should be. “They’re my fancy sweatpants.”
Between throat clears, Thurston announced: “We brought cookies.”
“Awesome! Put them by Cindy’s cake!”
Dennis pointed out a tower of frosting larger than several nearby children topped with a likeness of his daughter riding a sparks-breathing T. rex, making Virginia coo, “Oh! You’re bleeding!”
Dennis inspected his arm, unimpressed. “Could’ve been the slip-n-slide.”
“Or jumping out of windows,” Thurston suggested.
“Gotta keep things interesting. For her, you know?” their host grinned, flipping his Fabio hair. “Five minutes of silence is too long. I mean, you’re only gonna get all this once, right? Be grateful for what you’ve got.”
And with that pronouncement, their host scooped up a girl with hair exactly like his, slid the length of the slip-n-slide, and overshot the end, plowing into the cake table. Covered in frosting and a dinosaur, most girls would have cried. This one laughed and laughed and laughed.