Colored lights, music and laughter emanated from the small Cape Cod. Though it was only 7:30, dusk had cast dark shadows on the yews and rose bush near the front door. The asphalt covering the dingy grey driveway and the rusting Impala sitting there added some gloom. By most standards it was the typical neighborhood ‘dream house’.
Jenny opened the front door and greeted Cass and Pete Robertson and their two girls. The fact that they usually used the back door, as next door neighbors, attested to the festivity of the party. .Jenny also added to the party atmosphere by having her dark hair in a fashionable upsweep and wearing more makeup than usual. The excitement of the occasion had put more color into her cheeks and was further emphasized by her shimmering green caftan.
She kissed and hugged ten year old Beth and swung Lisa in her arms and whispered something in her ear, delighted to hear her childish giggle. “Aunt Carol brought her portable t v so you kids can watch in the kitchen where all the snacks are going to be.” She explained to Cass and Pete, ”I’m not expecting any problems with our t v, but it’s nice to have a backup. Who knows, we could be watching with the kids. Cass, you look great. New dress?”
“Naw, just some old rag I had hanging around.” Her bubbling hearty laugh overpowered the conversation in the living room. She looked around, “Where’s Trish?”
“She’s catching the show with some friends,” Jenny wrinkled her nose and made no further comment.
“She’ll be sorry,” Cass boasted, “I made my crab puffs,” she handed Jenny a Pyrex dish covered in foil, lifting a corner and passing it near Jenny’s nose.
“Thank you, thank you,” Jenny bowed. “Wait till you taste the cocktails.” She wiggled and the green caftan shimmered.
“You two make me a little crazy,” Pete laughed and shook his head. He stood uncertainly at the doorway, never seeming to fit in.
“The guys are having a beer in the dining room till the show starts, and then we’ll just fall all over each other in here.” Jenny pointed to where Jim was handing out drinks.
Pete skirted the women and joined the men in the semi darkness. He made no attempt to interrupt the conversation in progress. He picked up a beer can off the table, studied the label and sat in the corner by a small hutch, and tried to get interested in the moment. Pete was not a talker, or a good mixer, He came to these gatherings at Cass’s insistence. It was obvious to the other men that he considered himself a mental superior to most of them. If he didn’t exceed them in looks or in the muscle department, he was taller and relatively sure of his intelligence. Though Pete didn’t fit in well into their lives, he did share an irrefutable lifestyle, since the houses were similar, and the layouts were basically the same: kitchen in the same back corner, two upstairs bedrooms with dormer windows looking out to the placid street where the community children rode bikes, or kicked their sponge footballs. The houses were easily vacated if the family income improved, or the company transfer uprooted them. It was suburbia, easy to enter and not easy to leave.