J. Mitch Hopper
"Hey! Neighbor! How ya doin'? Lordy me I could smell them ribs clear inside! Enough to make a man commit murder!" Before I could even get up, he grabbed my hand and started pumping for oil. "Name's Luke... just Luke!" He whistled a little when he spoke.
"Ah... pleased to meet you," I said. "I'm Mitch, and this is my wife, Ruth." I gestured over to my mate but Luke had already cut me loose and leaped over to her.
He grabbed her by the waist, spun her around and chimed, "Hoo-we, purty little thing ain't'cha? How'd you keep the big dogs from snatchin' her right up? Why she's as soft as a little pup-dog!" Before I could even react, he was already coming back over to me. Ruth was holding the spatula in a defense posture.
Luke was a sight. He was wearing the loudest Hawaiian shirt I had ever seen and brand new, starched Levi's. A cigarette was inserted behind his left ear and his mouth was missing at least one tooth -- right up front. I guess that accounted for the whistle. He wore typical Nike look-alike running shoes, although they were two similar, but different brands. One was just a bit larger than the other. Right over his heart was a fresh pork chop stain in the shape of Ruth's spatula.
"Well, my, my, my! Just in time for dinner, huh? I mean... if we're invited." Luke had plopped down in the chair next to me and grabbed one of the beers out of the ice.
"Uh... well, sure. Ruth, we have enough for company, don't we?" I asked.
Ruth didn't even have enough time to respond. I can only assume her friendly disposition was going to make her say yes anyway in spite of her good sense.
"Marla Mae! Git yerself over here! Been invited to dinner!" Luke shouted right through me toward the house next door.
Reality was sinking in with the speed of light. It was possible that this was the mover, or he could be here to turn on the gas. Maybe he was the new tenant's friend or cousin. Oh, please - any of those possibilities - please!
I turned toward the house as a young woman came through the gate by the back door. At least she didn't vault the fence. From a distance, she was quite pretty. She was wearing a one-piece, pull-over dress; green with yellow flowers and she was walking in pink, spike-heel shoes. Her hand held a plastic platter with a large, meat-like object on it. As she got closer, the view changed slightly. The dress was in serious need of laundering. Obviously it used to be blue with white flowers. She was well endowed and obviously bra-less. As she passed me, she brushed her hand across my ear and I smelled a faint odor of Right Guard and lighter fluid.