Welcome Home

‘Jacob, look at this one,’ Quinn said, pointing at her computer screen. Jacob went over to stand behind Quinn. He looked at the screen for a few minutes.
‘It’s a nice one,’ he said. ‘And it’s got the room we need, too, especially with the baby coming in the spring.’
‘That’s what I was thinking. We could turn that room’ – she pointed to the smallest of the three bedrooms – ‘into a workspace and use the other two for us and the baby.’
‘I can see it,’ Jacob agreed. ‘And it’s got two full bathrooms, too.’
‘It doesn’t have much of a yard,’ Quinn pointed out, ‘But when –’
‘– are we going to have time to do a lot of yard work?’
‘Exactly! I say we put it on the list. What do you think?’
‘Oh, yeah.’

The house was just what Quinn and Jacob had hoped it would be. It wasn’t fancy or very large. The living room was small and drab, and the bathrooms needed a coat of paint. But it was a major step up from the low-rent apartment they’d been in while they were saving their money. And it was on a quiet street about a mile and a half from a local shopping plaza. It would be easy to get groceries and go to the pharmacy. There was a pizza place in the same plaza, too. After one walk-through, they were sold on the place. A month later, they moved in.

Spencer sat on his front porch, watching the couple next door get out of their car. It looked like they’d been shopping. They looked like nice people, and that was good. That meant they’d be nicer than the people who lived there before. The lady noticed him and smiled. He smiled back. ‘Hi,’ she called. He waved at her. Then she and the man went inside. Later he saw them again. This time, the lady was digging in the garden. Spencer’s mother had told him to stay in their yard, but he couldn’t resist going over there. Besides, it was just next door. He hopped down the porch steps and walked across to the other house.
‘Hi,’ he said. The lady looked up at him.
‘Hi, there,’ she smiled at him. ‘I’m Quinn. What’s your name?’
‘Spencer.’ Then after a minute or two, ‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m digging holes in the ground to plant some flowers.’
‘The people who lived here before dug holes, too.’
‘Did they plant flowers?’
‘Spencer!” a voice called from the house next door.
‘That’s my mom,’ Spencer explained. ‘I gotta go.’ He was gone a second later.

Two days later Spencer was back. This time, he’d seen the man getting a big shovel out of his garage. He knew he was supposed to stay in his yard, but he was curious. When the man saw him, he smiled and said ‘Hello, there.’
‘I’ll bet you’re Spencer, right?’
‘I’m Jacob.’
Spencer pointed to the shovel. ‘What’s that for?’
‘I’m going to dig a big hole and plant a new tree.’
‘The other people dug a big hole, too. But they didn’t plant a tree.’
A woman rushed across from the house next door. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said to Jacob. ‘Is he getting in your way?’
‘Not at all. I’m Jacob, by the way.’ He stuck out his hand. She took it. ‘I’m Elena, and that’s Spencer. I hope he hasn’t been bothering you.’
‘Mom! I’m not doing anything!’
‘It’s OK,’ Jacob reassured Elena. ‘He’s welcome to stop over if he wants.’
‘Well, right now, he’s supposed to be cleaning his room. Come on, Spencer.’
Spencer made a face and trudged after his mother.

Jacob and Quinn talked about Spencer that evening. ‘He’s a sweet kid,’ Quinn said as she chopped up vegetables for a salad.
‘He is,’ Jacob agreed. He was trimming the steaks to get them ready for the grill.
‘I think he’s obsessed with holes,’ Quinn laughed a little as she thought about it.
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, he told me the people who used to live here dug holes. And you told me he said something similar to you.’
‘Yeah, he did. Oh, well, with some kids it’s Pokémon. With other kids it’s holes, I guess.’
‘It’s weird, though. There wasn’t much in the yard when we moved in. So why would there be holes?’
‘Who knows with kids?’

The next afternoon, Quinn was at her computer getting ready to pay the monthly bills when she heard a knock at the door. She looked through the peephole and saw Elena and Spencer. ‘Hi, there,’ she said as she opened the door. ‘Come on in.’
‘Thanks,’ Elena said. ‘We can’t stay long, though.’
‘Would you like some lemonade?’
Spencer nodded and grinned. ‘I like lemonade,’ he said. ‘We brought this for you.’ He held out a package.
‘Thank you!’ Quinn smiled at both of her visitors. She opened the package. ‘Oooh, a pie! I like pie.’
‘So do I. My mom made this one. It’s apple pie.’

Quinn settled her guests in the living room and carried the pie to the kitchen where she cut it and poured lemonade for everyone. As they were eating, she thanked Elena for the pie again, and then asked, ‘Have you lived here long?’
‘About six years. That’s right. Spencer was almost a year old when we moved here.’
‘It seems like a nice place.’
‘It is.’
‘Yeah, except for those people,’ Spencer piped up.
‘What people?’ Quinn couldn’t help asking.
‘The people who used to live here. They were mean.’
Quinn looked over at Elena. ‘It wasn’t a big deal. They kept to themselves, that’s all.’
‘They told me to shut up once,’ Spencer nodded his head for emphasis.
‘That wasn’t nice,’ Quinn said carefully.
‘No. I wanted to say hi to them, so I went over there. I said hi and they said to shut up.’

Quinn could see Elena was getting a little uncomfortable, so she switched the subject. ‘What do you do?’ she asked Elena. They talked for a minute about Elena’s job as a human resources manager. But Spencer wouldn’t be distracted. ‘I saw them that night,’ he insisted.
‘Saw who?’ his mother asked.
‘The people who lived here. I was in bed. I wasn’t sleepy, so I was looking out the window and I saw them. They were digging in the yard.’
All of a sudden something clicked in Quinn’s mind. As soon as she politely could, she saw her guests out. When they were safely in their own home, she started walking around the yard. It was hard to tell if any of it looked different. Maybe she was being irrational.

That night she told Jacob about it. ‘I didn’t see anything weird, though,’ she finished.
‘I’ll take a look tomorrow,’ Jacob promised her.
‘It’s just creepy, that’s all.’
‘Yeah, it is.’

Jacob walked around the yard the next day. He didn’t find anything strange, either. Just some weeds that grew more thickly on one part of the yard than the rest. Could it be? No, he was being ridiculous. Whoever those people were, they would not have buried a body in the yard. He shook his head and went in to reassure Quinn.

Davey looked on from his car as the man he’d been watching went into the house. If they found Ted’s body, it would all be over. He was going to have to take care of this, and soon. If only Ted hadn’t tried to get greedy.

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