Joseph didn't know how long he sat staring at his computer screen, the screensaver having kicked in a while ago, his mind running in continuous loops regarding the "conversation" he'd just had with the user known only as "CotM". However, the next thing he knows, he's hearing voices (not in his head though).
He quite clearly hears one of the voices saying, "Just go on up and say hi. He doesn't seem to have a door to knock on."
Blinking out of his mental turmoil, he turned his head towards the voices to find that he has some more visitors.
Joseph: Umm ... hi there. May I help you?
Man: Well, no, not as such, but maybe we can help you! Hi there! My name's Gilbert Jacquet and I'm one of your neighbors. This lady in the pink is Mrs. Wanda Tinker. She lives just up the road a ways. And this lovely lady in blue is Mrs. Lisa Ramirez ... also an inhabitant of this recently vacated town.
Joseph: Hello, I'm Joseph ... Joseph Schmoepova. Newly moved here.
Gilbert: I guess we're what'cha call "The Welcome Wagon". We welcome all new folks to the area so that they settle in faster. We find it makes a move transition easier. Besides, it's a nice way to meet folks. You seem like a pretty nice fellow though.
Joseph: Oh ... thanks!
In the background ...
Wanda: Isn't Gilbert just so hot? Such a TAKE CHARGE kinda guy.
Lisa: I know, right!
Lisa: He's the kind of guy that appears maybe once in a blue moon.
Wanda: You'll get no argument from me. Just don't tell my husband. I'm sure your husband would have kittens if he heard us discussing another man like this.
Gilbert: So ... what do you think of some of our ladies, eh? Nice, right?
Joseph (noncommittally): Mmm ...
Gilbert: You don't mind if I take a look at your property, do you? I've always wondered what it would be like to live on the beach.
Joseph: No, go right ahead. I, obviously, have nothing to hide.
Gilbert: Great! Why don't you be a gentlemen and go over there and get to know the ladies. I'm sure they'd like to get know a stud like you a bit better. Women around here are like vultures when it comes to men. You're fresh meat to them. Just wait and see.
Joseph briefly watches as Gilbert wanders off down to the beach before returning his attention to his others guests. Lisa Ramirez has already made herself at home. Wanda appears to be waiting for him so he figures he might as well start with her.
Wanda: I don't mean to frighten you or anything, but you really ought to get some walls and a door with a lock. This neighborhood, while not bustling like it used to before that weird plague, still has the criminal element. Protect what little valuables you have.
Joseph: Are you serious?!
Wanda: VERY serious.
Joseph: Wow ... guess I'm going to need to find some employment so I can start getting my house in order.
Joseph: Should I buy some handscuffs?
Wanda: Hmmm ... depends on what you plan to do with them.
Just as Joseph was starting to get into the 'handcuff' conversation with Wanda Tinker, another visitor arrived, one he'd been expecting for about twenty minutes.
Delivery Guy: Hey, man. That'll be §30.
Joseph: That's not a bad price for eight boxes.
Wanda (snorting): Yeah, if you LIKE Chinese food. If you don't mind, I'm going to go down to the beach with the others.
Joseph: Sure, go right ahead. I'm going to have something to eat. I'm STARVING! Feel free to join me and tell the others there's plenty if they'd like some.
Wanda gave him a backward wave as she wandered down to the beach. With a shrug, he turned and climbed the stairs up to his house.
Contrary to what Wanda Tinker implied, the Chinese food was quite tasty to Joseph. Of course, he couldn't recall what he last ate, or when he last ate. All he knew for certain was that he was hungry, and this food was really hitting the spot. Maybe it was the MSG.
He could hear his visitors down on the beach, seemingly enjoying themselves, but he really wasn't in any kind of mood to properly entertain them. He was still a bit dazed about what he'd just learned from "CotM". Considering he had no memory of the things the individual hinted at, it was really hard for him to wrap his mind around everything that was revealed. A Mind Altering/Erasing device?! What a CONCEPT!
He was just starting to think about how one could possibly create such a device when his thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of Lisa Ramirez who grabbed herself a box of Chinese food and made herself comfortable at his dining room table. He was just digging his chopsticks back into the box when he heard Lisa Ramirez ask quite clearly:
Lisa: So ... Wanda was telling me you wanted to buy handcuffs. I would never have guessed you were into that sort of thing, dressed the way you are. I guess one should never judge a book by its cover.
Joseph (coughing): ExCUSE me?! I wasn't thinking of anything like that! I just wondered if I should buy handcuffs to restrain any burglars who might try to break in ... until the police arrive and take over. I am not ... that is to say ...!
Lisa (laughing): Hey, hey! I was only joking. Calm down! Heh. Don't have a coronary. I didn't know you were that uptight.
Joseph: I'm not the type to kiss and tell, Mrs. Ramirez ... even if I were into such things.
That conversation pretty much killed it for Joseph. He hadn't really been in an entertaining mood in the first place. Having a lot on his mind also made him a poor host. He didn't mind meeting new people, he just ... needed time to get his head back on straight. Shortly after Lisa finished her food, he gathered them all together, thanked them for coming over and for their advice, and told them that he needed to go into town to see if he could find any more furnishings for his place. This little white lie quite effectively got them off of his lot so he could be alone.
He didn't stay alone for long though. A stray wandered onto his lot and up onto his foundation. He was a big dog, but a gentle dog. Joseph liked him and wondered if he needed a home.
It was while he was playing fetch with the dog that he saw a very beautiful woman walking past. She was so beautiful, in fact, that he found himself forgetting his earlier troubles. He was eager to speak with her.
Shooing the dog away, he approached her.
Joseph: Umm ... hi. Do you ... uhh ... come here ... often?
If he could smack his forehead for the lameness of that statement, he would have. It would have to wait until this beautiful woman left though.
Woman (yawning ... and in a bored tone): No, not really.
Joseph, with a flash of insight that came out of nowhere, began talking to her about the internet.
Joseph: I find it really interesting how complicated smiley faces have gotten since internet chatting first took off.
Woman (excitedly): Really?! So do I! I mean, can you imagine trying to chat with someone without smiley faces? How are we to know what kind of mood they're in? It would be like ... UNIMAGINABLE!
The two of them chatted excitedly about computers and the internet for quite some time before the woman, who's name was Holly Chin, said she had to leave. Before Joseph could even get out a "come again soon" ...
... she had her lips locked with his. When she slowly pulled away from him, a small smile curving her lips, Joseph could only stare at her, dazed. Then she waved and wandered down the sidewalk and out of sight.
He barely had time to ruminate on this latest mental jigsaw puzzle when his phone started ringing. He hadn't even been aware that he had a phone ... or a phone number! Upon answering, he was greeted by a woman who said she lived in town and had heard that he'd just moved in. Considering he was so new to the area, she wondered if he'd like to meet her downtown so she could show him the best places to eat and dance.
His first instinct was to turn her down. After all, who was she? A perfect stranger! And how had she gotten a hold of his phone number. HE didn't even know what it was! But when he recalled the kiss he'd unexpectedly received, a thought occurred to him. If this was his home, he would eventually want to meet someone, settle down with that person. What better way to meet someone than to go out on the town?
Joseph: Sure. I'd love to meet you downtown ... 7:00 PM? Sounds great! See you then.
Well, if he was going out, he would need a shower. He had no idea when he'd last had one ... since he couldn't remember past today ... so it was probably a good idea to freshen up a bit.
The shower, the water nice and hot, relaxed muscles he hadn't realized were tense. And as he began to relax, he decided that this new life of his was going to be a great life. He would make sure of it.