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We were sitting outside on my friend’s deck just hanging out. We had just finished dinner when Kim said, “Did I ever tell you,” she started to clear the dishes, “the story about my Uncle Nate’s gardener?”

We all shook our heads.

“Uncle Nate had a man, Pete, who worked for him for many years. They had a small yard and my uncle wasn’t home much. He traveled for work often.”

We were all listening, wondering where the story of Pete and his uncle were going.

“One day, my uncle went down to the basement looking for something. He opened the door to a room and to his complete surprise he saw a man in there. It was Pete the gardener sprawled out on the couch, drinking a can of beer, and watching the Chicago Cubs. ‘What are you doing here?’ my uncle demanded. ‘How did you get in here?’

“You’d have to know my eccentric uncle. He smokes a cigar always with a cigar holder and wears a brown fedora, except when showering. He was surprised, not scared, to find Pete and he wanted some answers.

“‘I needed a place to stay,’ Pete told him. ‘Sorry about that. I just used my cultivator to get the window open and came in. I’ve been here for a few days.’

As Pete gathered up his things, Uncle Nate smoked his cigar. He was nonchalant, yet perturbed.

By now all six of us were laughing that someone could be living in your house without you even knowing it.

I pictured Pete exiting out the same small window that he had entered.

“You know” Kim said smiling, “Uncle Nate told me that he had an alarm system installed that week.”

I think we all checked our basements that night.