The Faux Landlords Come to Dinner

It’s been several weeks since I last had a run-in with either Penelope or Andrew, but the last encounter is cause enough to stay on edge. Just the other day there was a postcard in my mailbox, sent from two cities over and with a business card taped to the back of it. Further inspection reminded me of the bakery – the one they appear to now own, and from which Penelope brought me a cake.

They have maintained the pattern of no-answers when I try to raise questions, and contact seems difficult. Last time I tried a phone number on the bakery business card, I was told that the number was attached to a law firm.

There’s another postcard in the mail when I come home from work. This one reads that I will be having dinner companions tonight, and with no small amount of reluctance I go back out to collect some more ingredients. Somehow, trying to serve up noodles and vegetables doesn’t quite seem right. Cooking has never been my strongest point, but I manage well enough on the few things I do know.

The doorbell rings as I’m midway through trying to create a sauce from scratch, having forgotten to buy one, and before I’ve even moved from the stove there’s people appearing in my kitchen, cake-box in one hand and wine bottle in the other.

Penelope: Oh, let me do this for you – looks like it’s about to burn. She steps aside though, letting Andrew take over. He deftly swipes the spoon from my hand, and Penelope ushers me out of the kitchen.

Andrew: Do you mind if I just finish up? Only we’re a bit short on time, and this kitchen really is a mess.

Penelope smiles fondly, producing my good wineglasses – where had she got them from? – and doles out three glasses. Again, there’s something of an awkward silence – I don’t know what to say, and she seems to be somehow monitoring Andrew’s kitchen progress.

Andrew: So it’s all underway. Everything is just where it should be, it should be about thirty minutes.

I manage to position myself to be able to watch  the little clock over the mantel, and try to not show disinterest. Their chatter fills the air, flicking in and out of English and another language I don’t recognize. Seventeen minutes pass before a chime sounds from somewhere I can’t place – Penelope notices it too, digging out a smartphone and handing it to Andrew who reads and nods at her.

Andrew: Sorry to dine and dash, but business calls.

Me: You… you actually haven’t dined yet.

Andrew: Oh, of course. Classic error. He disappears into the kitchen, then reappears a minute later with two foil-covered plates and Penelope takes them, slipping them into the box under the dining table.

Penelope: We’ll stop by later in the week. Check in.

They leave.

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