Roger glanced furtively toward the fence at the back of their two-storey home. The house had been constructed on a steep allotment which had been levelled at the bottom end creating a cliff strengthened against slippage by a slanting stone retaining wall. The house had been constructed with top storey, being the main living area of the home, neatly tucked into the top of the wall so a main entrance fronted the street above. There was ample space there for visitor parking.
But the family used a back entrance from the street below where each parked their vehicles in the spacious open cemented area protected by the upper level providing a weatherproof cover. It was from that lower entrance through basement rooms the family ascended a winding staircase to their living areas above. It was all very private and convenient and Roger enjoyed the back outlook from both levels over expansive gardens with town visible in the distance.
There was however one uncomfortable issue Roger didn’t quite know how to deal with. It was the girl next door. Oh, there was nothing wrong with the girl. To tell the truth Anna was very beautiful and Roger’s Mom and Anna’s Mom were close friends often to be seen down by the fence discussing latest news in town.
And that’s where Roger’s Mom was at that very moment talking with Mrs Libby Conley accompanied by Anna looking hopefully in the direction of their family cars where she knew Roger would be checking out the motor and giving it a little tender loving care. Roger loved his car, it was his first. His Dad had loaned him the money to buy hoping to interest his son in learning to repair vehicles. It had been his father’s passion buying and selling cars as a hobby after reconditioning a motor and giving a paint job. It had been a profitable hobby. So, he’d bought his son a solid vehicle in very good body shape but in serious need of motor reconditioning. He’d proudly made it back from the capital city with a blue smoke contrail following him while his father smiled appreciatively thinking of hours to be spent with his son working on that motor. To his Dad’s disappointment that had not occurred yet.
Roger had been trying to impress the new girl Naomi at the office. She’d swept into the office a few months earlier to earn jealous looks from the rest of the women working there and the vote of approval from the men. Roger was fresh out of national army service training and imagined that should give him permission to move to the head of the queue. To his surprise this city bred girl let it be known gently she was going to take a very good look at what was offering before making any commitment to a relationship and began sorting through the town hopefuls methodically. Roger found himself slowly working his way up the ladder but the competition was fierce making the chase more earnest. After a few months the competition had been reduced to two. Roger had one advantage, he worked with Naomi, so nothing was too much trouble for him if Naomi needed any assistance.
It seemed Roger’s rival Geoff was beginning to have the advantage. He owned a super cool car and showed bad manners turning up at the end of the work day to inquire if Naomi would care to be driven home. Naomi had taken a thoughtful glance at Geoff’s cool car, and checked it against the mental image of Roger’s smoking relic of another era in the parking lot of the business where they worked. There was no contest. The cool car had a magnetic personality and she rode home evenings in comfort. However, for some reason Naomi still apportioned time to both Roger and Geoff when it came to one of the community dances or movies. The rivalry was intense, Naomi was enjoying the attention.
During all this excitement Mrs Conley in casual conversation with Roger’s Mom happened to mention her daughter’s problem. She’d lined up her cousin to take her to a movie and after buying tickets found cousin Claire had come down with a bad case of the flu. Now what would she do with that spare ticket? It was a loaded question which was really a suggestion in disguise. However, women are experts reading hidden messages and Roger’s Mom wanting to help a good friend committed Roger to taking care of the problem.
So, Roger responding to his Mom’s call from the back fence had poked his head out one of the upper level windows where he’d gone for a cool drink and noted urgent waving for him to join the women at the back fence. Darting to the lower level he wondered what the urgent summons was all about.
“You don’t mind taking Anna to the movies tonight do you Roger? Her cousin was supposed to take her but has come down with the flu and she has a spare ticket to use?”
Both women studied his face carefully. Roger turned this unexpected request over in his mind. It was not his turn to take Naomi out that evening so there was no problem there. However, something in the back of his mind told him this could get him into big trouble. He turned back to face his Mom and Mrs Conley and read in the eyes of both this was not a request, this was a strong suggestion. He nodded his head.
His Mom looked pleased and excused herself after inquiring what time Libby would like Roger to call on Anna. Then she put her arm around her son to strengthen his resolve and led him upstairs to shower and eat before attending the fateful event.
As it turned out Anna was fun company and they had a wonderful time. Roger delivered Anna back home on time as instructed to a waiting Mr. Conley who looked suspiciously for signs of anything inappropriate having been done and quizzed them about the movie before relaxing and nodding with approval as he showed Roger the door. Roger’s heart was racing still. Anna had moved over on the conclusion of the movie to plant a kiss on Roger’s cheek and thank him for a wonderful evening. She confessed she’s lied to her mother about her cousin being sick and let him know that she was open to further dates. Her cousin had been party to the plan hoping Anna would be successful in communicating her interest to her next-door neighbour.
Next day at work Naomi entered the office with face like a thundercloud. During the day she went out of her way to communicate she was not happy with Roger much to his puzzlement. Eventually when they happened to be in the staff room together for a snack Roger decided to deal with the bad vibrations. He inquired about her health. Was she OK, had she received bad news, could he help?
A torrent of abuse broke forth. She’d been at the same movie with Geoff but in a section of the theatre where Roger couldn’t see her. What was Roger doing there with that girl? Who was she? What game was he playing?
Suddenly Roger caught the significance of the outburst. Naomi was jealous! He smiled inwardly at his good fortune.
Calmly Roger responded. “What were you doing there with Geoff?” He felt smug as he turned and left the staff room to return to his desk.
That afternoon when Geoff arrived to take Naomi home Roger observed it all out of the corner of his eye. There was a whispered conversation and Geoff departed looking crestfallen.
He worked overtime to see what would happen and so did Naomi. Eventually he got up to leave work for the day and so did Naomi. “Could you drop me off home this evening Roger?” Geoff’s calls slowly tapered off after that evening conversation.
So, we return to the beginning of the story when Roger was working on his car and his Mom was in earnest conversation with her friend Libby Conley. What would happen if the two women decided to hijack him again in the interests of Anna Conley? That would be the end of the fast-developing relationship with Naomi.
Roger sighed with relief when he saw his Mom returning from her conversation. She paused to observe her son as he pretended to be at work on his car.
“Libby was just apologizing for Anna’s behaviour when she asked you to take her to the movie. Apparently, Anna had worked with her cousin to fool all of us because she wanted to go out with you. Both are in trouble. Mr Conley is quite cross with Anna so I don’t think she’ll be bothering you again. Just think, my son is breaking hearts already!”
Roger blushed while his Mom went off laughing.
And Roger would be forever thankful to Anna. Because of her there’d been a turn-around in Naomi’s choice of a future mate. The romance blossomed and ended up as one of those happily ever after stories.
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