Wanda is my dearest friend, but I couldn’t stand another minute of her fumbling around in her purse.
“You’ve been digging in that bag forever. What are you doing? ”
She wouldn’t look at me. “Looking for something, Nancy.”
“It must not be in there.”
“I’m afraid you’re right.”
I took my eyes off the road for a second to look at her. “What do you mean?”
“I can’t find our money.”
“I just gave it to you this morning.”
“I don’t see it.”
“I’ll pull off the road and we’ll find it.”
Wanda and I had saved up for months to go to the women‘s retreat. We agreed she would keep our funds since she was normally more responsible with money.
Seeing a sign that read, “County Park”, I pulled in. “Let’s see.”
I dumped her bag out on the seat. A key chain, pens, tissues and wallet tumbled out. The wallet contained only her driver’s license and a photo of Chuck Norris. I cut my eyes at Wanda. She blushed.
Next we unpacked our suitcases, looked in the trunk, glove compartment, and under the seats, but found nothing.
Wanda wailed. “I’m sorry. Maybe I lost it at a rest stop. What’ll we do?”
We had traveled all day and needed money for lodging, gas and food. We had even skipped lunch, deciding to treat ourselves to a nice dinner that night.
I frowned. “I only have change in my purse. Didn’t bring my credit card. You know how tempted I’d be if I had.”
“I don‘t have one at all, and I’m hungry.”
We sat in silence until Wanda pointed up ahead. “A family reunion.”
A banner strung between two trees announced “Blaine Family Reunion.”
She rolled her window down. “I smell barbecue.” Wanda giggled. ”There must be a hundred people. Let’s crash the reunion and get something to eat. They won’t notice.”
“Oh, they’ll notice. In case you didn’t catch it, we’re white. They’re not.”
“So they’re black. I bet we could persuade them that they have white relatives.”
I couldn’t believe my ears.
“Come on, but walk slow. I want to eavesdrop.”
I followed her, my curiosity getting the best of me.
We caught bits of conversation, "Dori…married now. Can’t make it. Family hasn’t met her husband.”
A thin woman with skin the color of caramel greeted us with a smile. “Hi.”
Wanda smiled back. “Hi. I’m Wanda. This is my sister, Nancy. I’m Dori’s mother-in-law. Dori knew we’d be passing through and asked us to stop and say hello.”
The woman grinned. “I’m Velma, Dori’s second cousin.” She hugged Wanda and grabbed me next. While I gave Wanda a killer look, Velma waved some folks over.
Wanda had a great time exchanging high fives with her “family”. She even accepted a spot in the badminton tournament.
An elderly gentleman approached us and tipped his fedora. “So you’re my granddaughter’s relatives?”
I felt awful and wanted to confess and run, but my con artist friend Wanda had other ideas.
“Sir? I’m just Seth.
He motioned to a table loaded with barbecue and all the trimmings. “Fix yourselves a plate.”
The sting of guilt couldn’t compete with my rumbling stomach, so I got in the food line behind Wanda.
We sat at a picnic table with Velma and Seth. While Wanda exchanged fashion tips with Velma, our offense ate me alive.
I spoke up. “Seth, we‘re not really…”
Wanda kicked me under the table.
I flinched. “We’re not your granddaughter’s relatives.”
Seth nodded. “I know that. Dori calls me every week. Her new husband’s not white.”
“But you’re treating us like family. Even gave us food.”
The old man put his hand on mine. “You are family. We’re all God’s children. You must have a good reason for coming here.”
Wanda looked guilty when she faced Seth. “Please forgive us. We lost our money …”
Seth interrupted her. “Forget it. Velma’s got a cell phone. You can call somebody.”
We used Velma’s phone and were about to leave when Seth stopped us. “It was the smell of that barbecue that brought you over, wasn’t it?”
I raised my eyebrows and smiled. “Yes. It did smell great, and we were starved.”
“It’s a family recipe. If you come to the next reunion, we’ll make it again.”
Wanda practically drooled. “We wouldn’t miss it.”
He waved as Wanda and I, two middle aged white women, walked away, our stomachs and hearts both full.
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