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I padded up the stairs and ran to the front door. Alma Beeler's smiling face looked at me through the screen. She was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and walking shoes.
"Oh, hi Alma. How are you?"
"I'm fine, Chris ... I was just out for a walk and saw your door was open ... I thought I'd stop by and say hello to Cheryl."
"She's not here ... she had to stay late at work ... some sort of a conference ... come on in, anyway." I swung the door open."
"That's okay ... I don't want to take up your time. I haven't seen Cheryl, and now that we're getting out and about, I thought she might want to join me in a walk."
I held the door open with one hand. "I'm sure she'll be sorry she missed you. How far do you go?"
"Oh, about two miles."
"That's pretty good. Can I get you something to drink ... water?"
"No thanks, I'm all set." She pushed out her hip and I noticed the nylon holstered water bottle.
"So I see."
Alma stood there looking at me. Finally, she said, "What time do you think Cheryl will be home?"
"I'm not sure ... probably around seven or so."
"Oh ... well ... maybe I'll catch up with her some other time."
"Yes, I'm sure you will."
She looked around for a second, then said, "Have you seen your Uncle lately?"
"Billy? Yes, I just got back from taking him grocery shopping."
"Well, that was nice of you ... how is he doing?"
"Fine. He's going to the hockey game tonight."
"How exciting ... I didn't know there was one."
I wasn't sure how she could have missed it. The local news sources had been covering the Red Wings non-stop since they defeated the Ducks to make it to the second round of the conference playoffs. "Yep, they're playing Chicago tonight ... his neighbor seems to have tickets to all the big sporting events, and I guess he had an extra one, so he invited Billy."
"But he didn't have one for you, eh?"
"That's too bad."
She stood for a few seconds, then said, "Is your Uncle going to Eb and Becky's wedding?"
There it was. "I don't know, Alma ... he never mentioned it to me."
"Really? Well, I was just wondering ..."
"It's a ways off ... I'm sure you'll talk to him before September."
"I'm not so sure ... I haven't heard from him since Easter ... I've been wondering what he was up to."
"You know Billy ... bowling is winding down and the golf leagues are starting ... he's always got something going."
"Yes, he's a busy guy."
"Do you want me to send Cheryl down when she gets home?"
"Oh ... no ... I'll give her a call later ... maybe we can hook up on the weekend."
"I'm sure." I swatted at a fly buzzing through the
"Well, I don't want you to have a house full of bugs ... I better get going."
"Okay ... have fun on your walk."
"Thanks." She turned to leave.
I let the door shut and watched her go down the steps to the sidewalk. She stopped in her tracks and turned toward me.
"Oh listen ... will you let your Uncle know I have a new recipe for chicken cacciatore that I'd love to try out with him?"