“We got a note from Ray,” she said.
“What’s up?” he asked.
“He wants to have us to dinner.”
“Did he say why?”
“No, it’s just an invitation to dinner. Friday at six.” She handed him the calligraphy covered cream note card.
“I wonder who else got these.”
“Think it’s a trap?”
“I think there’s been a profusion of ducks and fairies in the neighborhood lately.”
“So a trap.”
In less than a week, Edna had added fairy statues to her wildflower garden. Most of them were small. Except for the one out front that looked like she was walking under the trees with a bird resting on her shoulder.
Mrs. Fischer from 2210 and her next door neighbor Mrs. Hardcourt from 2212 loved the fairies. So they went down to look at Beacons. Mrs. Fischer came back with a trio of stone Schnauzers. Mrs. Hardcourt came back with five ducks in rain hats and boots. Yet the highlight of their trip was what they found for May.
So it was the very next morning that Ray went out to his garage only to glance over at his mother’s tiny lawn and see three pigs dressed like humans playing hide and go seek.
It completely ruined his morning.
It took a day or two of measuring, but they finally got Sherman in place. Now he stood in the front yard guarding the entrance to the drive way facing out to the street.
As they stood back to admire their handy work, Edna walked by on her daily constitutional. “I love it! Will he have a twin?” she stopped to ask.
“I think one sea monster is enough for any yard,” he said.
“Where did you get him?” Edna asked.
“There’s a place called Beacons, out by the highway,” she said.
“Do you know if they do fairies? I’ve always thought a cottage garden should have fairies,” said Edna.
“Fairies, gnomes, bird washing stations, huge baskets, they pretty much do it all,” he said.
“Bird washing stations?” she asked.
“You know, shallow bowl on a pedestal,” he said.
“Bird baths?” said Edna.
“Exactly,” he said.
“He’s here. He’s here. I’ve named him Sherman,” she said.
“Sherman?” he asked.
“He’s totally a Sherman. Just look at the expression on his face.”
“Okay. I see Sherman. Front yard or back?”
“I ordered him for the front yard.”
“Okay. Front it is.”
“You’re not really worried about Ray?”
“I think this may be seen as us taking sides.”
“If that means we’re on the side of being able to do what we want in our yard, isn’t that the side we’re on?”
“Honey, it’s a seven foot long concrete sea monster. I don’t think Ray recognizes whimsey as a legitimate thing.”
“That is not our problem.”
The next day Ray came home to find a gushing thank you note from Coralie attached to a gallon of paint. The label on the paint said “Harlequin Lime”.
Next to the gallon of paint was a Mexican tile with an effusive thank you note from Mr. and Mrs. Fisher.
On top of the gallon and the tile was a lovely vase of flowering bush cuttings. The rhapsodic thank you note said they were cuttings for him to transplant.
Ray was not fooled. He knew that Lonicera X bella was an invasive species. There would be no Bush Honeysuckle in his yard.
Ray started to fume.
“Coralie is looking for ideas. She wants to send something to Ray as a thank you for the tart he sent,” she said.
“Why not just send a note?” he asked.
“It is not that sort of thank you hon,” she said as she looked up from her computer screen.
“She should just let it go. They all should. It was a weak gesture.”
“I’m not arguing.”
“Are you suggesting that she just drop it?”
“She doesn’t want to let him get away with it.”
“This does not bode well.”
“What would you do?”
“I’d let it go.”
“What would you do if you weren’t going to let it go?”
“I’d send him an over the top thank you note with some paint swatches.”
“That’s not bad.”
“It’s not bad. It’s horrible.”
The meeting ended with a disgruntled sigh of dispersal. A couple people did stay around to help take down chairs. However, Ray never did see anyone eat any of the lovely snack spread he had specially laid out. Which was confusing as most of the snacks were gone when he went to take in the leftovers and the table.
Over the next few days Ray would find the remains of the snack table strategically dispersed over his yard and certain portions of the house. Butternut squash and goat cheese dip used as finger paint on the wall of the downstairs bathroom. Antipasto Salad Kabobs used as lawn darts among the roses out front. Fig, blue cheese and prosciutto bites stuffed into planters and sitting on ledges.
The thing that finally sent him over the edge was a sweet potato and kale ball with one small bite taken out of it before it was placed where the head of his Winged Victory sculpture could have been.
Naturally he blamed absolutely the wrong people.
Which is why Coralie Sparks from 2202, Mr. and Mrs. Fischer from 2210, and Edna Blackwell from 2201 each came home later that week to a boxed beet, gorgonzola, and walnut tart. Attached to the tarts were 25% off coupons to a house painter, a contractor, and a landscaper respectively.