It had been nearly a year since Vince moved to Pleasantville, and the place was living up to its name.
Small, quiet … no troubles.
He enjoyed his night shift at the Minute Mart, his morning coffee and newspaper when he came home.
The routine was hypnotic, dangerous.
When the phone rang on Saturday morning, Vince was just polishing off his second doughnut, about ready for bed.
“Hello?” he said into the receiver.
“Hi, Vince? This is Brenda.”
His mind raced, trying to place the voice. “Uh …”
“Brenda, from the Minute Mart. Well, from Dinky Do-Dos. I deliver the doughnuts to you guys.”
Vince smiled. He remembered Brenda — friendly, petite … long neck. But why was she calling him?
“Sure, sure. How are you, Brenda?”
“Doing great!” she enthused. “So, Vince … I was thinking — and this probably sounds crazy …”
Vince’s stomach churned. He knew what was coming.
“Uh–” he tried to break in.
“I was at the store after work, and I saw this special on steak, and I think you said something about really loving steak one time, and …”
Had he? He looked around the room, starting to panic. His eye caught on the calendar — it was October 2.
“Look, Brenda … I’m not really …”
“… so anyway,” she talked over him. “I was wondering.”
Everyone knew the old stories about how you had to invite his type into your home.
That was true.
What almost no one knew was that, in the last quarter of the year, an unsolicited invite could not be refused.
“Stop! You don’t know what you’re saying!” Vince nearly shouted.
Brenda seemed not to hear him over her own nervous talking.
“Would you like to come over for dinner tonight?”
Vince relaxed. The die was cast. There was nothing he could do.
“Why, I would be delighted.”
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