The next day, Ehlo stepped outside to retrieve the morning paper when he spotted a moving truck across the street. It was parked in front of Matthew and Sam’s old house. Curious, Ehlo lingered and stared, wondering if someone was moving into that house. However, it wasn’t so. He discovered four guys moving furniture and whatnot into the house next over. When they returned, one of the guys waved to Ehlo. Ehlo returned the gesture and waited for that guy to come closer—since he was making his way across the street.

“Hey,” Ehlo said. “What’s with the early move?”

“It’s going to rain later,” The other party returned.

Ehlo nodded. “So, you four moving in together to share costs?”

That guy shook his head. “Only two. The other guys are helping us move.”

“Your friends?”

That guy shook his head again. “Movers.”

Ehlo widened his eyes then. “Seriously? And you’re still standing around socializing? They’re on the hour.”

“I’m Jun.” That guy finally disclosed his name and extended his hand toward Ehlo.

Ehlo shook Jun’s hand before turning toward the commotion across the street again. “So, want a deal?”

Jun had on his puzzled look. “What?”

“I’ll get my friends to help you move and you could cut back on moving cost.”

“You guys charge lower?”

Ehlo had on an amused smile. “Who do you think we are? Robbers? It’s free, man.”

Jun had on an expression of disbelief. “Seriously?”

“Come on, new neighbors or what? Let them go and I’ll go grab the gang.”

“I sure hope you’re not in a real gang.”

“Haha.”

Ehlo’s sarcasm wasn’t lost on Jun yet both guys separated to carry out their own tasks. Fifteen minutes later, Ehlo was back with Jacky, Johnny, and Bryant. They were indeed ready to help Jun and his friend move. They were introduced and also learned of Jun’s friend, Derek. Soon, even Wallace joined them. Wallace had dropped off Yvonne at Janine and Novia’s place, so he was free for a while.

“Thanks for the workout, Huang,” Wallace said sometime later when they were stopping for a break.

“You’re welcome, Huo,” Ehlo returned, his smile devious.

“Should I know what this is about?” Jun asked, looking from Ehlo to Wallace as he was handing out water bottles to them one by one.

“You’ll get used to them,” Jacky said, settling down on a lawn chair Jun had set out earlier.

They were actually taking the break in front of Jun and Derek’s place instead of heading back to the house.

“Why are you guys over here?” Joanne asked as she walked up to them.

Yes, Joanne had arrived and saw them hanging around the area hence walking over to them.

“We’re helping the new neighbors move in,” Ehlo replied. “It’s a good workout.”

“Hey,” Joanne greeted Jun and Derek, flashing on her friendly smile.

Jun and Derek returned her friendly smile with their own sunshine ones.

“So, where are you guys from?”

“The other side of town,” Derek replied. “We decided to move here since it’s more peaceful.”

“Good luck on that,” Ehlo said. “Our place is full of dramas.”

“Oh?” Jun asked, looking at the others for hints. He had discovered that Ehlo wasn’t trustworthy with his words and was a bit of a drama king.

“Don’t listen to him,” Wallace sabotaged. “It’s pretty safe here.”

“And that was why you moved out?” Ehlo returned, not missing a beat of it.

Wallace had on his amused expression. “Haha, Huang, like you’re still here.”

“The real reason?” Jun asked, looking at Jacky, Johnny, and Bryant.

“They got married,” Joanne answered.

“You’ll get used to them,” Jacky repeated his earlier statement.

“Hey, let’s stop by the shop later,” Wallace said, turning to Ehlo. “I want to check on the progress.”

“Jacky ge,” Joanne said then, tugging on his shoulder. “We can go check on Sophia.”

Jacky nodded.

“You don’t mind, right?” Joanne asked, turning to Bryant.

“It’s fine,” Bryant said. “We can reschedule later.”

Joanne smiled, knowing that Bryant would understand.

Ehlo had caught their glances so he turned on his teasing smile again. “You have to cancel your date?”

Joanne turned to Ehlo then with annoyed expression. “It’s not always about that, okay?”

Ehlo shrugged. “Hey, I’m just trying to lighten the mood, okay?”

“If you guys are busy, we can finish moving ourselves,” Jun spoke up then.

“It’s okay,” Johnny said, speaking on all their behalf. “We’re fine.”

“We’re in a cold war right now,” Ehlo jumped in. “So, we’re just waiting to see who strikes first.”

Joanne hit Ehlo’s shoulder then. “It’s not that extreme, okay?”

“Yet.”

“What’s this about?” Derek asked, his eyes traveling from one person to the next. “It’s okay if you guys have to go. Seriously, Jun and I can handle the rest. We’ll catch up later and invite you all to a meal or something for your help.”

“Seriously?”

“I don’t mean to brag,” Jun said then. “But Derek and I could cook up quite a meal.”

“Seriously?”

“What’s with you and repeating that?” Joanne chided.

“Do you want to PK then?” Ehlo asked, looking at Jun—and totally ignoring Joanne’s remark.

“You serious?” Jun asked, feeling quite amused that Ehlo would be that aggressive with wanting to compete just because he declared he and Derek could cook up quite a meal.

Ehlo shook his head and pointed toward Bryant. “No, him.”

Jun wrinkled his face and looked at Bryant. He hadn’t known them for long, but he had a feeling Bryant wasn’t the competitive type. Or were looks deceiving?

“He’s joking,” Bryant said then, smiling.

“He always wants to cause trouble for others,” Joanne followed, sending Ehlo an annoyed look.

“Hey, you didn’t like him that much in the first place anyway,” Ehlo reminded Joanne.

“That was because you were picking on me.”

It was Ehlo’s turn to display the amused look. “Oh?”

“You’re Bryant Chang!” Derek exclaimed all of a sudden.

Ehlo clapped then. “Congrats, you figured it out.”

“I watch your show,” Derek confessed.

“Is this teatime? Or signature signing session?”

“You’re mean,” Joanne chided once again.

“Hey, my wife’s not here, why should I behave?”

“Why are you guys over here?” Angela’s voice asked at that time.

They all turned to see Angela walking over to them.

“Ooohh,” Joanne mocked, turning to Ehlo with a devious smile. “Speaking of the devil.”

Ehlo had on his annoyed look. “Haha.”

“Hey,” Wallace said, nodding. “How are things on your front?”

“Terrible,” Angela replied. “Or should I say beyond miserable?”

“That bad?” Ehlo jumped in, having slid a hand around Angela’s shoulders already.

“New neighbors?” Angela asked, turning to the two strangers.

So, they stopped the side conversations to introduce Angela to the two. Then Andy and Achel showed up as well so the introduction extended to those two also. Yet the others soon realized that Angela had called the other two to help her with picking some items up before she had to head back to Johnny and Bianca’s house to accompany Sonia once again.

“Seriously,” Ehlo protested when they were all back to moving tasks already. “And people kept saying I’m a drama king. Look who’s being drama queen now.”

“Well, it is a traumatizing situation to her,” Jacky inputted, not wanting others to stomp on Sonia so much.

“Huh, spoken like a true ex,” Ehlo mocked. “So, you’re saying that you’re on Team Sonia? Oh, what am I saying? We all know you and your moping over her for years now. So, you finally have a chance to jump back in, of course, you’re going to take it. Our Sophia is just a replacement to you.”

“Huang Yu Rong!” Angela scolded as she stepped outside to join them.

Yes, Jun and Derek had returned to the house, carrying some more items along with the others. That was why Ehlo would even throw some more bitter words out there regarding Sonia.

“What?” Ehlo asked. “I thought you’re on our side.”

Angela gave him a look. “Of course, I’m on your side. But do you think it’s best to talk about it now?”

“They’re inside.”

“They’re not deaf.”

Ehlo sighed out. “Okay, we’ll talk later.”

So, they spent about an hour more helping Jun and Derek move, considering how the guys had to transport items between their old place and the new one. While they were waiting for Jun and Derek to return on the last trip, Angela left with Andy and Achel to go back to Bianca and Sonia.

“So, what now?” Ehlo asked, turning to the others.

“Nic just called,” Wallace said. “He said he’s coming over. But I told him to meet us at the shop.”

“You guys can go,” Jacky said. “We’re going to finish in a bit and then head over to check on Jing Jing.”

“Are you coming with us?” Joanne asked, turning to Bryant.

Bryant was checking his phone, yet he soon turned to Joanne. “I just got a message from my manager. He said we have to do some more filming. The rain got to one of the reels, so we have to do it over.”

“Seriously, how unprofessional is that?” Ehlo mocked. “How could they be so careless? They should know about rainy seasons and take precautions by now.”

“It doesn’t matter now,” Bryant said, sighing out. “I guess I won’t be seeing much of everyone for the next few days. The airing is next week for that special segment, so we really have to make up for it all.”

“Go,” Jacky said, seeing the urgency on Bryant’s face.

Bryant nodded and bid them goodbye before heading back to the house to get ready. Joanne looked after him, feeling gloomier than ever.

“It’s like a plague spreading,” Ehlo commented. “Someone’s back and here we are. Our lives turning upside down once again.”

“Are you serious?” Johnny asked, knowing Ehlo’s dramatic nature. “You can’t blame that on Sonia.”

“Who should I blame it on then? Me?”

Johnny didn’t get a chance to say anything more since Jun and Derek were back with the truck once again. They continued for another half an hour before finishing up and resting for one last time at the residence.

“We’re done here,” Wallace said. “Good luck with the rest.”

“We should be thanking you,” Derek said. “Well, whenever you’re free, give us a call and then we’ll whip something up and invite you guys over.”

They all agreed and headed back home. The guys took a brief shower before heading out again. Joanne was sitting around watching TV and waiting for them. Ehlo and Wallace ended up in Wallace’s car since they were both heading to the shop. As for the other three, they got into Jacky’s car and headed toward Janine and Novia’s place. Their stay was brief, at least for Jacky and Johnny because Johnny had to go to another photoshoot, so Jacky took him, leaving Joanne behind. Jacky would be back to pick up Joanne later. Joanne had hauled a Taxi earlier so that was why she was without a vehicle now.

“Well, good news,” Joanne said all of a sudden when the others were helping Novia prepare egg rolls. “Two guys just moved in across the street from the gang. We helped them move earlier, sort of.”

“Oh?” Sophia asked.

Joanne nodded. “It’s the only good thing happening lately.

Joanne had no idea that Ehlo was uttering the exact same phrase to Nic and Cynthia at the shop at that very moment.

© Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Posted: Thursday, September 17th, 2020

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