1. Who do you think you are? Sherlock Holmes?

2. She turned to her sister. “Of course you can’t keep it.”

NOTE: This was a 15-minute writing period.


They’d been looking for a new place to live ever since they got married. They were both in their seventies, my sister Barbara and her new husband Kenneth Dahl. With two marriages apiece already behind them, they decided that they needed a truly fresh start. Her house was too big, anyway, and his was too small, and both of them thought the lifestyle a few hundred miles to the north would suit them better.

There are some beautiful stretches of country here in California, along the coast and through the wine country, with towns like Napa, Modesto, and Turlock all along the way. What the newlyweds wanted, really, was an escape from the plastic, artificial world of L.A., so they went for long drives and day trips hunting for the perfect place to settle.

“I saw a tract of new homes on the internet,” Barb told him. “It’s kind of out in the country but they are close enough to doctors and shopping and stuff. And the houses have all the amenities. Wait a minute, I’ll pull it up.” She fiddled with her tablet and in a few seconds the screen was filled with a photo of a magnificent place. All Ken could see was the price listed discreetly at the bottom.

I was there at the time and I could swear his face turned so pale that I was concerned. I turned to my sister and said, “You can look, but of course you can’t keep it.”

Ken relaxed a bit, but Barbie’s face clouded. She stared at him for a moment and said, “It’s just what we talked about. You promised me if I’d be Mrs. Barbie Dahl you’d give me anything I wanted. I want this place, not that junk we saw for a little less money.”

Ken put his arm around her shoulder.

“I know this is nice, babe, but the houses where you’re searching are in the San Francisco suburbs, which is WAY out of our budget. Where do you think you are, Turlock Homes?”


(I know, but I couldn’t resist.)