The first sign of a problem came in the form of a brightly colored flyer stuck in their mailbox.
“Did you see this,” he asked?
“About the neighborhood social. Yes,” she said.
“What do you think? Could be fun. We could meet more of the neighbors.”
“I think we should go, and develop a very nasty illness when it turns into a sales meeting for diet pills.”
“Or extra special smelly candles, or novelty cup holders. Whatever it is.”
“Really? People do that?”
“Yes, they do. All the time.”
“Well, if you don’t want to.”
“Oh no. I think we should go. I’m just saying you should brush up on your ebola symptoms first.”
But little did they know the bright purple flyer was the harbinger of so much more.
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Ray Kirkpatrick from across the street and three houses down had been on a business trip for two weeks. He was tired. It was late as he pulled on to the street. When the headlights of his car lit up the house on the corner he stopped short, and got out.
“Oh hell no,” he said to himself before getting in to drive down to his own home.
His mother heard his car pulling in, and stepped out onto the porch of her little house to greet him. “Hello darling! Welcome home.”
“Mother, it’s good to see you.”
“What’s wrong? You’re eyes are sort of bugging out.”
“Have you seen what they’ve done to the house down on the corner?”
“Isn’t it fantastic.”
“It’s an eye sore,” he said as he dropped a kiss on her cheek.
He turned toward the big house he lived in at the head of their shared drive. “It’s ridiculous.”
“If the wind changes your face is going to stick that way,” she called after him cheerfully.
“Maybe it’s a connect the dots puzzle,” he said.
“On a house,” she asked?
“The center of flowers.”
“Maybe it’s part of a star scape.”
They’d been playing this game for two days when they were out working out in the front yard. Down on the corner the neighbor pulled in with a mini van full of groceries.
“I’ll be back,” she said.
When she came back she kissed him. “They’re starting the darkest shade of purple tomorrow. It’s going to be leopard print.”
“Noooo,” he said.
“Did you notice they’re painting the Victorian down on the corner,” she asked.
“Yup,” he said.
“I thought it looked nice yesterday.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“Have you seen it today?”
They stepped out into the back yard.
“What are the darker purple blobs,” he asked.
“I don’t know. But it certainly isn’t how you normally paint a Victorian.”
They got it done. The floor was done. It looked nice. But….
She stared at it for fifteen minutes the next day, and couldn’t figure out what was bothering her.
The day after that he found her standing in the hall looking at the tile work again. “Hon?”
Two days after that he came home and she was all smiles.
“I figured out was bothering about the half bath.”
“There is a mistake in the tile pattern. We have a tile turned the wrong way.”
He sighed the sigh of a man who knows he’s about to retile a half bath.
“No, no. It’s fine. It’s no big deal. You can’t see it from the back of a galloping horse,” she said.
“It’s been eating at you for four days. I’d rather just fix it.”
“The thing that was eating at me was that I couldn’t figure out why the tile seemed off to me. I was too close to it. But now that I figured it out I’m great.”
“So which tile is it?”
“Yeah, like I’m going to tell you that,” she said with a chuckle.