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The Neighbors

(You can listen to this story in S2E33 of the podcast.)

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte moped as she washed her face in the bathroom mirror. She’d been living with her grandparents for three months, her parents choosing to live in Ghana as missionaries just as she entered her junior year. Her choices were live out of country in a rural village with her pious parents or live in a country town with her grandparents. She’d chosen the latter, though she considered neither a good choice that would allow her to live the life she wanted to live.

Out in the living room, her grandfather Clarence sat expectantly on the edge of his recliner.

“All of this hoopla has got my navel buzzing like a bee hive,” he said, eyes alit with glee. “Don’t know when the last time we’ve had this much excitement ‘round here.”

“What hoopla,” she asked, warry of getting too excited too soon. Excitement for her grandparents could mean a new gas station was coming to town.

Before her grandfather could answer, the back porch screen door screeched open and walloped shut.

“That’s her!” her grandmother bellowed. “I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!”

“That’s her?” her grandfather answered like a parrot, just saying the same thing with a different inflection.

“Who’s her?” Charlotte asked, folding her hands across her chest, but her grandparents didn’t seem to hear her, teetering like school children as they exchanged hunches and loud whispers.

“Lindy Luna in the flesh,” her grandmother said.

“Same girl who poses in nudey magazines,” responded her grandfather.

“I can’t believe the Johnson’s sold their house to a porn star,” her grandmother said forlornly.

At this, Charlotte clucked her tongue in shock. She couldn’t believe her grandfather said “nudey” in front of her, nor could she believe a porn star would be living next door in this podunk town.

Charlotte took a seat on the worn leather sofa and searched for the woman’s name on her phone. The internet moved glacially per usual. Meanwhile, her grandparents debated what could be done about their shameless new neighbor.

According to Charlotte’s search results, the girl in question was just some small-town chick turned internet star with a few hundred thousand followers and a new zip code in LA. Lindy Luna a.k.a. Lucinda McDonald was simply moving her mom into a new house before heading back to Cali to live her dream life as a model. Nude shoots were just part of her portfolio.

“She’s not a porn star, and she’s not moving next door,” Charlotte announced more than a little self-satisfied. She’d always been a good researcher. She was sharp. Had an eye for details. Had liked to synthesize and disseminate information since she was a babe.

Yet, her grandmother walked over to where Charlotte sat with a pitying look in her eyes.

“She shows her tits and romp on camera, sweetheart. Pornos are bound to be next.”

Charlotte cringed, shocked once more, but this time by her grandmother’s crass tongue. Tits and pornos really shouldn’t be something grandparents said openly, she thought.

“You said she’s not moving in?” her grandfather said in a voice that seemed a tiny bit disappointed.

“No, just her mother,” Charlotte said. “Lindy Luna is going back to Cali on Monday,” she added. Details she picked up from the woman’s social media posts.

Surely, Lindy Luna didn’t want to be in this boring town any more than Charlotte. For sure, Lindy Luna would be gone as soon as the sun rose Monday morning. Undoubtedly, Lindy Luna had escaped her own small-town; capitalizing on her looks and a camera. Charlotte thought back to her option of leaving her grandparents’ small town. Rural life in Ghana. Home school. A pious peasant lifestyle. Across the room, her grandparents were settling in to watch reruns of The Three Stooges. Lindy Luna had ranted online about firing her agent last week. That she needed a new team. That she was hiring. And then a plan began to hatch in Charlotte’s mind. She stood from the couch, making a move to the front door.

“Where you going sweetheart?” her grandmother asked.

“Just next door,” she replied. “I should probably meet our new neighbors.”


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