I gazed around the room one more time. My guests would arrive shortly and everything needed to be in place. I found myself worried that Mrs. Wembly might not approve of my furnishings. Oh, well. It was the same furniture and pictures I’d had for ages. Mrs. Wembly could just deal with it.

Mrs. Agatha Wembly, my new neighbor – or rather, I was her new neighbor – had informed me that she would be hosting a “get to know you” party at my house. When I’d gaped at her, she assured me that was the way it was done in Hazy Falls. At least I wasn’t expected to do anything other than provide a clean house.

The sun was just setting when the doorbell rang. Mrs. Wembly stood on the front porch carrying a large crock pot and a huge bag bulging with what looked to be more containers of food.

“If you could just grab the bag, sweetie,” she said, balancing the crockpot on one hand and holding out the bag.

“Of course.” I quickly grabbed the bag, not wanting her to drop the crockpot. She bustled into the house and went straight through to the kitchen. I followed along feeling slightly lost. It was just two days ago that Mrs. Wembly had mentioned the party and now here we were… an hour before my… our guests were expected to arrive.

Mrs. Wembly put the crockpot on the kitchen counter, plugged it in and then reached for the big shopping bag I was holding. I quickly handed it over and she began pulling out plates of cookies and containers of things I couldn’t quite identify.

“Chili,” she said with a wave at the crockpot, “and fixin’s.” She pointed at the containers. “Cookies for dessert.”

“Oh. I didn’t realize this was a whole meal,” I said, staring at all the food.

“Of course, dear. But it’s not a full sit down meal, don’t worry. Folks will pop in and out for the next few hours and we want them to have something to eat.” Mrs. Wembly smiled and reached into the bag again, this time pulling out paper plates, bowls, and plasticware. “Now, did you set up a table in the front room like I suggested?” she asked.

“Yes, I did, Mrs. Wembly. I even managed to find a table cloth in one of my boxes,” I said.

“Oh, please, call me Agatha, dear. Your grandmother was my babysitter, and that makes us practically family as far as I’m concerned,” she replied with a wide smile.

“Of course, Agatha,” I said.

A few minutes later we were all set up and Agatha said that she expected the first guests to arrive any minute.

“The Hodgson brothers always come to these events, but they like to do it early so there aren’t as many people around, you know. They are a bit introverted. But very, very nice and will always help out when needed,” Agatha said.

As if on cue, the doorbell rang. I went to open the front door and found two men, clearly identical twins, standing on my front porch. They appeared to be in their mid-fifties and each of them held a gift-wrapped box.

“Hi. I’m Daphne Fox. Please, come in,” I said with what I hoped was a welcoming smile.

The one on my left nodded. “Pleased to meet you, Miss Fox. I’m Bobby and this is my brother Hugo. Don’t worry about telling us apart. Nobody can. You can just call us Hodgson.” Bobby said this all in one breath and shyly held out a hand.

“Well, welcome Bobby and Hugo. Thank you for coming,” I said, shaking hands with both of them.

“Ah, boys, so glad you could make it,” Agatha said, smiling widely. “Oh, and what did you bring?”

Both men held out their gifts to me. “Thought you might be able to use these,” Hugo said. “Open mine first.”

I placed the other box on a shelf and started to open the one Hugo had indicated. I pulled out what looked like putty. Turning it over in my hands, I gave Hugo and inquiring look.

“C4. It’s real good against gremlin infestations,” he said, nodding vigorously. My eyes widened. Explosives? As a housewarming gift?

Bobby held out his box. “And this is everything else you’ll need to go with it. Plus a little something extra.”

I was almost afraid to open Bobby’s box. Sure enough there were a couple of detonator caps and other things. Tucked neatly into the side of the box were two bars of high-end dark chocolate.

“Oh, that’s my favorite kind of chocolate! Thank you! And, thanks for the C4… I don’t know if I’ll need it, but it seems useful.” I really didn’t know what else to say.

“Oh, you’ll probably need it. Them gremlins is hard to get rid of otherwise,” Bobby said, nodding sagely.

“Um, okay. Thanks again.” I stepped aside and let them head over to the chili and fixin’s.

Agatha looked over my shoulder. “It’s so thoughtful of them to get the C4. It really will come in handy,” she said, quietly.

I was about to ask her why she thought I’d need help against gremlins, when my doorbell rang again.

A whole crowd of people stood on the porch. A chorus of “Hi!” rang out.

“Um, hi! Welcome. Come in,” I said. It looked like the whole town was here.

The crowd filed past, each person dropping a gift into my hands. I was starting to get overwhelmed when Agatha appeared at my side carrying a card table.

“Y’all can just put the gifts here,” she called to the crowd. “Make it easy on the poor girl!”

There was general laughter and a shuffling of feet as everybody lined up to deposit their gifts on the card table.

“Right then. Let’s get this party started!” Agatha called as the last person through the door balanced their gift on the top of the heap. She turned and patted me on the arm.

“It’s a lovely party, dear,” she said, smiling up at me. “Looks like everybody in town is happy you’re here. Let’s go get some of that chili before it’s all gone, shall we?”

She pulled gently on my arm and we made our way over to the laden table sitting in front of the living room windows.


This week’s MOTE prompt challenge came from nother Mike: The visitors brought gifts, explosives, and chocolate! This snippet just sort of unrolled itself as I typed. My prompt went to Leigh Kimmel. If you mosey on over to More Odds Than Ends, you can see what everybody has done for these challenges. If you feel like joining in, it’s easy and fun!

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