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Liberty Park; Welcome to the Neighborhood
Topic Started: May 22 2014, 10:07 AM (4,369 Views)
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
The sun was at high in the sky over the Corneria City Metropolitan Area, and the temperature had been blazing at record highs for the season. A couple weeks ago, the weather was wonderful, with temperatures hovering in the low seventies, what with the cool spring winds coming through. But that was just to lull the denizens into a false sense of security. The following week, it rained constantly. Now this week, it was as hot and miserable as hell outside. Mother nature was fickle at times, and a cruel mistress at others.

The air conditioner was on at full blast inside the Volvo XC90—the T6 AWD trim level, in Twilight Bronze Metallic—as it pulled out of the dealership onto Aspen Boulevard in Centurion Lakes. With one hand resting on the steering wheel and with the other holding the service receipt, Amanda glanced back and fourth between the road ahead of her and the sheet of paper. She'd brought the car in for an oil change and a diagnostics test to figure out what the problem was with the Check Engine light was all about. Though it didn't set her back too far, the nearly one hundred-dollar oil change never got any easier, and the steeply-priced labour for simple things like diags were a bit of a pet peeve with her. She just had to pick her fancy foreign cars. But at least the needed repair was free. The check engine code was due to the secondary air injection system having a frayed hose, and that was corrected at no cost since the car still had another five years on the warranty.

She never understood it, but why did the Certified Pre-Owned Volvos have a better factory warranty...?

Tucking the paper into the glove compartment, she tapped her stepson on the shoulder to get him to look at her.

Aaron, who had played hookey to get his braces tightened, and who was in the middle of a Pokemon battle on his Nintendo DS, paused his game and looked at Amanda, giving her his undivided attention.

"Are you hungry?" Amanda said, slow enough for him to read her lips.

The sixteen-year-old Felid/Husky mix nodded.

"What do you want to eat?" she said, again allowing him to read her lips.

Putting his handheld console down, he illustrated a large letter “M”. Amanda was still a bit rusty at Sign Language, but she knew enough to know what that meant.

"Okay."

Pulling into the turning lane to make a left behind a Camry, Amanda pulled out her iPhone from her designer bag and scaled through the contact listing until she found Joe's number...
* * *

Joe was definitely feeling the burn, and he loved it. Today, he'd jogged around Lake Liberty three times, for a total of about seven and a half miles. Drenched in sweat and panting to catch his breath, he stopped at a nearby water fountain to get a drink and wet his face. Being as fit as he was, it didn't take long for him to regain his breath. He looked out across the lake, seeing the Village Pier and Village Center reflect off the water. Looking around, he noticed a public bench, shaded by an old oak tree, and decided to sit and rest. He used to hate running when he first joined the military, but he came to like it after experiencing how refreshing a good work-out leaves you at the end. Taking out his phone, he checked the current time. 1:54 pm. Kiersey should be getting out of school pretty soon. In about ten minutes to be exact.

He was just about to pocket his phone when it began to ring. Knowing exactly who it was by the ringtone he set, he answered.

"Hey, babe. What's up?"

Amanda just wanted to tell him that the car was okay now. It was a minor problem, and since the car was under warranty the, the repair was free.

"Oh. That's good,"

Joe said, getting up and walking the remainder of the way home, which wasn't too far. The conversation consisted of things like Amanda saying how she was going grocery shopping later, and expressing concern about her step father coming tomorrow, who she didn't like. He and her mother had moved into their last house about two years ago when they retired. She'd found him in the guest bathroom lighting a crack pipe. Understandably, she was furious, and hated his existence ever since.

"You know, he's not all bad. Sure, he has a few bad habits, but..."

Joe was the type of person to give second chances, the benefit of the doubt, and understanding. Which was cute and all, but Amanda wasn't trying to hear all of that. As far as she was concerned, the bastard tried her for the life of her. Bringing street drugs around the kids?

"Heh, yeah..." She had him on that one.

They were almost home. They were just stopping by McDonald's for a bite to eat.

"On the subject of food, what are we going to do for dinner this evening?"

Amanda didn't have a clue... Why not put something on the grill? Amanda suggested.

"Well, I thought we'd wait until tomorrow when our folks come to do any grilling."

His wife was about to make another suggestion, but it was her turn to order. She'd figure it out later.

"Alright. Love you, babe. See you when you get home."

Ending the call, he pocketed his phone and continued walking, until he got to a crosswalk at two lane street which was divided by an ornate grassy median. I was about to wait until that black Mercedes passed, but it eased to a stop and the driver signaled for Joe to cross the street. He waved at the motorist, thanking him for his courtesy.

Liberty Park was an interesting neighborhood, especially in terms of aesthetics. The fact that almost all of the houses had rear-loading garages that you had to access via the back alleys behind the homes made for an unique streetscape. However, he couldn't help but to feel a little claustrophobic, the way the houses were built. While the houses were immaculate in their own right, they were built so close together on the smallest lots he'd ever seen, relative to the general size of the homes themselves. Honestly, the houses weren't super huge, but they took up about sixty to eighty percent of the lots, with about ten feet of grass between the sidewalk and the front porch for the front yards, and whatever there was of a back yard was halfway eaten up by semi-detached 3-car garages and a driveway that was barely long enough to fit most compact sedans, so zero space for a private pool. The brochure said “large lots”. Big fat lie. But also according to the brochure, the place was supposedly designed in a way that the residents would be more inspired to use the parks and community pools that frequented Liberty Park.

Those were his main gripes about the neigborhood.

Though it wasn't all bad. Since the yard was so small, there wasn't much to mow, and they did make the best of it by having a summer kitchen built on the rear terrace and installing a fire pit in what little they had of a back yard. And you could barely tell that it's a cookie cutter neighborhood. The neighbors across the street had the exact same floor plan (just a reversed footprint with few different options and amenities), except their house looked like something out of the Victorian era with light blue siding and a wrap-around porch, while the one Joe and his family lived in looked like a fusion between neo-Mediterranean and something out of the Spanish Renaissance, with the light earth-tone stucco and dark terracotta roofing tiles.

Joe stopped at the cluster mailbox to check the mail. Another interesting feature of the neighborhood. Normally, you'd have your own mailbox right outside at the curb, but in Liberty Park, these cluster boxes were placed strategically on the streets. Supposedly, it easier and more efficient for the mail carrier.

Then he realized he didn't have the key to their box. Drat. Oh well. He'll get the mail later.

A little farther down the street, he reached his humbled abode, Walking up the steps, he approached the door and took out his phone. He scanned his home screen for the Vivint app and work it's magic. With a couple taps of the screen, there was an audible 'click' of the deadbolt releasing, along with an elecrtonic beep and a green light. And so, like magic, the door was unlocked. Okay, not really magic, but home security and automation with smart phone apps that allow home owners to remotely lock and unlock their doors. Anyway, with that said and done, he entered his home, closing the door and locking it behind him.

* * *

It was a good time to live in Corneria City. Building was booming but you could still drive a couple miles to the nearest city park to have a picnic in the pastures. The air quality had improved in the past ten years, as had the unemployment and crime rates. Along South Haven Boulevard, a thoroughfare that connects downtown with a couple of fringe districts, the property values rose proportionately. It was the perfect place; not too far into the suburbs, where you'd have to drive through some long wildlife corridor, and not so close to where you'd have to deal with downtown Corneria City's constant traffic and lack of ample parking. There was an S-curve along the boulevard, that takes you up a small hill--lined with aged oak trees and a mixture of new and old homes, all of which we pristine and well kept—the points you back west towards Westin. The caution sign said to slow down to 25 mph for the curve, but Amanda usually just flies through it at nearly twice the suggested speed. Once you're out of the curve, you get hemmed in by the retaining walls of two gated neighborhoods on either side, chock full of multi-million dollar mini-mansions that were built about two years ago. A mile further, and she'd be at the turn off. Willow Ridge Road.

Merging into the right turning lane, she came to a stop at the intersection, waiting for the pedestrians to cross before she turned onto the road. Immediately, she had to jostle with other motorists to get into the correct lane, seeing as how it immediately merges from four to two lanes as soon as she turned. Along the road, it was definitely an older neighborhood, with older and more modest ranch style homes on either side of the street. She passed another entrance to that gated neighborhood with the started castles.

What's it called again...? Songbird? Windbird?

Windsong. That's what it's called. She'd read the name at the entrance when she passed it.

Pulling up to a stop sign, she checked traffic before easing across the intersection, and the scenery changed dramatically. She'd just entered Liberty Park, at one of the newer stages of the neighborhood, with houses in various stages of completion. Some sites were almost complete, where all they had to do was lay down the sod. Others weren't even houses yet, just concrete slabs with shipments of bricks and plywood on top just waiting to be assembled. A couple of houses were complete, occupied and already lived-in by their residents.

There had been an influx of new neighbors lately. Amanda wondered what interesting stories they brought to the community.

* * *

At 2:15 pm, the final bell at Liberty Park High school rang, prompting the students that it was time to go home for the day and do it all over again tomorrow. The hallways, breezeways and courtyard became aflood with students who'd had enough school for the day. A few went to their cars in the student parking lot, some got on their respective school buses, but most were residents of the Liberty Park, so they could just walk home.

Even though she didn't live too far from campus, she still didn't want to walk in the blazing heat today. She regrets not driving to school. On most days, she sees it as a pointless waste of gas, but it would have been better than getting baked by the sun on the walk home.

Then, she lucked out. Hearing a car sound the horn behind her, she turned around to see her mom's SUV pulling up next to her. She needed no invitation to hop in.

"How was school?" Amanda asked her daughter.

"It was okay," Kiersey said simply, more interested in finding her phone than talk to her mom. Not that she was upset or anything, she was just a teenager, interested in teenager things. And one of those things were her phone, which was her gateway to her social life.

By this time, they were already in one of the older phases of the neighborhood, where they lived. They reached their street which was a couple of blocks down. To Amanda's chagrin, she had to navigate around everyone and their mom's parked car. The Property Ownership Association had no ordinances against parking in the already narrow enough streets, but that was still not an excuse to park your full-sized SUV in on the damn street. Unless you were a guest, and/or if there were parallel spaces along the street--in which case, you'd be parking ALONG the street, not IN it--there was no reason why you shouldn't pull your Hummer, Escalate, or Denali XL around back and park it in your three-car garage.

After helming through the tight street around every full-size SUV known to man, she turned into the alley, a small one-way, one-lane street, to gain access to the garage. Pressing the HomeLink button on the sun visor as she got close, she inched up to the garage door as it rose, and pulled into the building completely once it was open, parking between Joe's black Dodge Challenger and Kiersey's blue Wolfsburg Edition VW Jetta. While Kiersey and Aaron went into the house, Amanda collected the leftover trash from when she and Aaron went to McDonald's and took it to the Waste Management trash bin, which was next to the driveway at the edge of the alley. Dumping the trash into the bin, she looked up and down the alley. Not really finding anything out of place, or even anything in particular, she followed her daughter and stepson into he house.

Welcome to the neighborhood!
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
"Joe?" Amanda called as she entered the house through the kitchen door.

"Present," he said as he descended the staircase that led into the Great Room, which was directly next to the kitchen. He came down, freshly showered, wearing a tank top, basketball shorts, and a pair of Nike shower shoes... With socks. Amanda thought that was the dumbest concept to grace modern civilization. Either it was too cold for sandals or to hot for socks. Having the two things together is such a fashion faux pas in her book. But she didn't marry him for his fashion choices.

Still, she looked him from head to toe, zeroing in on his choice in footwear.

"What?" He asked, as if he'd be accused of something.

"Nothing." Amanda said. "Absolutely nothing." Placing her purse on the kitchen island/bar counter, she leafed through a pile of mail. Realizing that it was from yesterday, she asked her husband, "You checked the mail?"

Joe had taken a bottle of of water out of the fridge and guzzled half of it down in like two gulps. Once finished, he cleared his throat and pounded his chest lightly to make himself burp. "Nuh-uh."

Charming.

"Okay, Amanda said, grabbing her keys out of her purse, "well I'm gonna go check the mail, then..."

While Amanda walked towards the front door, Joe finished up the bottle of water and crushed it before pulling out the drawer to the trash compactor to drop it in. The bottle landed on top of the garbage, which was nearly overflowing... He didn't really feel like taking out the trash, but he figured Amanda would ask him to do it later anyway.

Pulling the bag out of the compactor, he tied it up and carried it out the kitchen door to the curb. Dumping the bag into the bin, he stood there for a moment, scratching his head, his thoughts ranging between nothing in particular and wondering what they were going to do for.

...Was someone playing a violin or something?

Looking up and down the alley, he looked for the source of the faint music, and then he happened to look up. Surely enough, one of their neighbors in the house directly behind his was sitting on their chimney. Playing the instrument in question.

"...What the hell?" He said to himself.


 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
Reaching the cluster mailbox a few houses down from her own, Amanda opened her respective box and pulled out a few bills and a couple magazine subscriptions. She stood in front of the mailbox, leafing through her collection of mail. Then her ears perked up at a strange noise.

Her line of sight happened to scroll upward towards the house she was standing directly across the street from. And like something out of an 80's sci-fi movie, three individuals were beamed into existance on the front lawn of some Neo-Colonial.

They began some kind of verbal exchange, but Amanda had no idea what they were talking about; she was too busy trying to figure out what movie set these guys stepped off of. One looked like an extra from some Halo flick, another one wearing some robe looking like Return of the Jedi or something--in this heat no less. The third one, Amanda couldn't pin point.

In her wide-eyed stupor, Amanda had dropped her collection of mail as the three individuals entered the structure.

Deciding to go into denial and saying that she saw nothing out of the ordinary, she picked up her mail and went back down the street to her home, never to comment on the subject ever again.
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
The world will literally stop if they don't figure out what they will do for dinner this evening. Or they could order Chinese. Or a pizza. Or eat out... No, they ate out a couple days ago, and they are all pizzaed and Chinesed out.

What to do...?

See how hard the first world has it? While civilizations are starving and while wars are going on worlds away, they can't get their crap together and figure out if they're going to do Italian Fusion or Southwestern this evening. Isn't it shameful?

"I'm going to the grocery store," Amanda said as she grabbed her purse and keys. The fridge and cabinets were looking a little bare. Time to stock up.

"I'll go too," Joe said, hopping off the couch and following her to the back door.

Joe decided to drive. Climbing into the family SUV, he spun the key and brought the Volvo to life. While the garage door rose, he fumbled with the seat belt and put it on before pulling the gear lever into reverse and backing out of the garage and driveway. Putting it in gear, he pulled down the alley.

"--Hey, there was this weird lady on her chimney playing a violin or something," Joe said, craning his head to look in the mirrors and glancing out the side and back windows to see if he could catch a glimpse of her. The garage apartment of the weird lady's next door neighbor was blocking the view, so he couldn't see if she was still there.

"Wait, huh??" Amanda looked at him, confusion raising an eyebrow. What he said sounded like something straight out of a cartoon.

"Yeah!" Joe said, reaching a the stop sign at the end of the alley before they were spit out on the street."She was just sitting up there, violin-ing away like no one's business."

"...Huh. Is that right?" Well, if he thinks that was weird, then he should have seen aliens beam their new neighbors down in their front yard. "You know, while I was checking the mail, I--..."

"You what?"

"Uh, nevermind."

Joe, reached another stop sign. He flicked on the left turn signal and checked traffic before merging onto the boulevard that stretched through the entire neighborhood and bordered half of Lake Lierty. It would be about a mile before they reached the Village Center...


(OOC: I think a little visual aid is in order. Check out this video tour of Baldwin Park in Orlando, Florida. It's the neighborhood on which Liberty Park in Corneria City is based.)
Edited by Proton Inspira, May 23 2014, 10:00 AM.
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
Meanwhile in the safe neighborhood of Liberty Park, where high property values are kept intact by the stickling Liberty Park Association of Property Ownership, the familiar bronze Swedish luxury SUV pulls into a parking space at the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market in the Liberty Park's Village Center. Shifting into park and hopping out of the vehicle, Joe and his wife made their way to the entrance of the grocery store.

Amanda looked towards the sky to see some foreboding clouds. It looked like it was going to rain again soon.
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
Kiersey was in the family room lounging on the sectional sofa, surfing the cable for something to watch. She happened upon a news report of some truck accident, where someone shot out the tires and caused it to flip over...

There was a knock at the door.

Not wanting to move, she yelled, "Maaaaaa! Someone's at the door!"

Then, she remembered that her parents had left to do grocery shopping. Tossing the cable remote onto the leather ottoman/coffee table thing, Kiersey hopped off the couch and made her way through the house to the front door. Looking through the peephole, she saw some guy holding a bunch of boxes. Was it FedEx or something?

"Who is it?" she said from her side of the door.
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
Kiersey, released the deadbolt and opened the door.

"New neighbor, huh? Welcome to the neighborhood."
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
Kiersey opens the door to allow to allow the new neighbor inside. "Come on in," the teen said, taking a couple boxes off his hands and motioning the guy to follow her into the house.
Edited by Proton Inspira, May 25 2014, 02:04 PM.
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
"Carrot cake, eh? My favorite!"

Kiersey led him through the foyer which featured a curved staircase with wrought-iron banisters and a crystal chandelier. The flooring, as with much of the first level, was a dark-washed wood, and the walls were a light earth tone with a matte finish.

Through the archway, they were greeted by the family room and adjacent open cuisine. The family room was furnished with a pristine white sectional sofa with a leather ottoman/coffee table thing, both of which Amanda selected from WestElm. Antique-looking lamps sat upon black Parsons endtables at either end of the sofa, and a brown La-Z-Boy recliner sat on the closer end of the room angled towards the flatscreen television that hung over the fireplace.

The cuisine was outfitted with cherrywood cabinetry, granite counter tops, and a ceramic tile backsplash. Brushed aluminum Kenmore Elite appliances had the run of the place, while scarcely used counter top appliances at looking more like a part of the decor rather than actual usage items. Kiersey couldn't remember the last time the food processor was used, though the Keurig coffee brewing system underwent regular use.

Placing the boxes atop the kitchen bar, Kiersey was about to make a formal introduction, when she stopped. She heard faint music. Curious, she went to the back door past the breakfast nook and opened it to peer outside.

"...Is someone playing a violin?"
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
"Oh." Kiersey said, not sure what to say about her... Weird new neighbor. There has been some interesting people popping up lately. Turning around to face Drummer, she introduced herself. "I'm Kiersey," she did an impromptu curtsey, "nice to see some new faces around here."

***

Amanda picked up a lemon pepper rotisserie chicken and placed it in the shopping cart. If she picked up a thing of dinner rolls and two sides, they'd be half off. That would solve tonight's dinner dilemma.

"Sweetheart, can you go pick up some compactor bags?" Amanda said to her husband.

"I'm on it," Joe said, leaving to carry out the request.
Edited by Proton Inspira, May 25 2014, 06:10 PM.
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
Kiersey laughed. She liked this guy. "So, you got the house behind ours, huh? We actually almost bought that one when my parents were househunting about a month ago. It was the same floor plan as this one, but my mom liked how this one looked better."
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
After finishing his homework, Aaron descended the stairs and went into the kitchen. He stopped, finding an unfamiliar person in his home. Kiersey was talking to the stranger, then stopped to notice her younger brother enter the room.

"Hey, Aaron. This is Drummer, our new neighbor," Kiersey said, doing these weird and complex hand gestures as she vocalized.

Aaron also did the hand gestures, opting to mouth his words, as he asked a question to his sister.

"They're grocery shopping," she spoke as she signed to him.
Edited by Proton Inspira, May 25 2014, 10:17 PM.
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
"I was just telling Aaron that our parents are out getting groceries. They should be back soon."

Aaron studied Drummer as he separated the cakes, leaving one for the Ciriano household and stacking the rest to be distributed to other neighbors.

"Aaron." Kiersey waved at her brother to get his attention. When he made eye contact with her, she signed to him, "Want a slice? It's carrot cake."

They younger teen nodded. Then he signed something to his sister.

"Yeah, he brought it." She was decidedly too lazy to sign what she was saying at this point. He could read lips just fine.

Taking a plate and a ceramic kitchen knife out of the dishwasher, Aaron walked around the bar to the boxed cake and opened it to cut himself a slice. "Thank you," he said quietly, sign language-ing to Drummer, before taking his slice of cake with him to the family room.

"Oh, if you haven't caught on yet, he's deaf. Well, mostly anyway. He can hear a little."
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
"Oh yes, of course," Kiersey said, walking ahead of Drummer to the front door. She unlocked it and opened it for him. "So, we'll see you around?"
 
Proton Inspira
CDF Lance Corporal
Kiersey watched as Drummer made his way across the street to another home before closing the door and locking it. She went to the kitchen to cut herself a slice of cake, then joined Aaron in front of the TV.

Edited by Proton Inspira, May 26 2014, 08:20 AM.
 
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