In the Neighbourhood

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Chapter 10: Slap and Tickle

Keith’s cheek, his ear, his whole head rang from the blow. It was more than the physical sensation—his mind was dizzied and reeling too—had that just happened? Had she really just hit him? That hard?

It was a few moments before it registered with him that she was still hitting him, pounding his chest and shoulders with her firsts. And she was wailing, tears soaking her cheeks, her face twisted with fury.

“It’s okay—” he said, trying to seize her wrists.

“No—no—” She wrenched herself free, and continued her unintelligible howling. Keith decided to let the storm blow itself out; it always did.

Sure enough, Lisa stopped to cough and sputter, and she was forced to rest her palms against him while she got her breath. When she was a little more composed, she pummelled him again, weakly, her balled-up hands bouncing off him, barely registering.

“Who,” she demanded, panting.

“Who what?”

“Who did you give it to!” she erupted. “Are you an idiot? Who has it?” She clutched his shirt and shook him again, without effect. He considered: what would cause the least damage, at this point? What would upset her the least?

“Darrell,” he said at last. “He promised he’d be discreet—”

“Promised!”

“—just wanted to see what—”

“Can’t even trust—”

“—I’ll get it back—”

“Enough!” she screamed. Keith gladly stopped his babbling; he wasn’t sure what he was saying anyhow.

She was still in his lap, but towered over him. Big, dry sobs were still racking her, and she needed huge, shuddering breaths. “Can never show my face,” she said, stopping to gulp some air.

“Of course you can.” She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head violently. “No—think of it—” He wanted to use her silence, to try to salvage something, anything. “When you saw Stan and Marie, did you think oh, what horrible people? That you could never respect them again?”

“I’m gonna be sick,” she announced.

“Listen, listen. We all fu—have sex. We all know it. This is just—it’s not like we do anything weird. If anyone is surprised—”

“I didn’t ask for this!” she yelled from amid a fresh set of tears. “You didn’t ask me. You taped me. That’s—” She was crying too hard to carry on.

“Okay, okay—”

“It’s not okay!” she bubbled between sobs.

“I’m sorry,” he said firmly. “I know I should have asked you first. I got carried away. But I thought if you knew that people liked it, wanted to see more, you would—”

She was no longer crying, just scowling. “You really thought that.”

“Well...” She was right; it sounded absolutely stupid once he said it.

“I was willing to give it a try, even,” she said. She had stopped crying completely, just the odd hiccup interrupting her now. “I was going to see what it felt like. It was exciting, even. And now—you took that away.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You’ve humiliated me. And these—they’re our neighbours. We’ll be here—how long? And they’ll always—” She stopped, threw her hands up with a sigh.

“Hang on. Here.” He guided her gently off him, sat her beside him on the couch.

“I don’t want—”

“Sh, sh.” He got up, reached into the cabinet beside the TV and pulled out a tape.

“It this it?”

He pressed eject, listened to the grinding VCR as it prepared to spit out the tape. And it refused to take the new tape at first. Why was this taking so long?

“What is this?”

“Just a sec,” Keith said over his shoulder. The VCR had been grinding and clicking for an age; was it really always this slow?

Then, there she was. Sherrie lay back on her bed, propped up by a pile of pillows; the back of Darrell’s head was just visible at the bottom of the screen, between her thighs, bobbing slowly as he worked.

Keith was glad he hadn’t rewound the tape, had just left it where he’d finished. This was exactly what he wanted Lisa to see. First Sherrie was pinching her nipples hard, so hard that Keith winced slightly. Then she was grabbing the backs of her knees, pulling her legs up and far apart. Then her hands were on the back of Darrell’s head, pulling him insistently to her. And the entire time, she gasped her running commentary: “Yes—ooh—yes, come on—yes—”

Keith tore his gaze from the screen and looked at Lisa. Her eyes were wide, her mouth open, her tongue protruding slightly from between her teeth. Her eyes flicked over to meet his for a brief second but then returned to the TV. Her hips moved, squirming slightly into the couch.

Sherrie seemed to be climaxing before; now Keith realised he’d been wrong about that. “YES!” she exploded, louder than Keith thought was possible on their old TV. Sherrie’s hands pounded the bedspread beside her body, and her head thrashed from side to side. “YES—YES—YES—” Her voice had become a high-pitched bark, escaping her without control, without, it seemed, her even noticing.

After a while, a long while, Sherrie’s voice died out and became a whimper. Tears had begun to streak her cheeks at some point, but she was clearly smiling.

There was a long, satisfied sigh; it was a moment before Keith realized it had come not from Sherrie, but from Lisa.

Her hand was on his thigh, gripping him tightly. He put his own hand on her shoulder. “See, that’s—”

She clutched him tighter still. “Go get the camera,” she whispered, her eyes still on the screen.

“Quick,” she added, when Keith took too long to get moving.

He dashed up the stairs three at a time. When he returned, Lisa was stretched out, her head and bare shoulders against the arm of the couch. One foot rested on the floor, and the other was up on the cushions. She was waiting for him. Ready for him.


Keith had been up for an hour when she came down the stairs.

“Coffee?” he asked.

“Thanks,” she croaked.

He poured another mugful, added milk and sugar, stirred. That was another thing, he thought: milk, never cream. They both hated cream in their coffee.

They sat across from each other, slowly sipping. The paper, still unfolded, sat untouched between them.

“You okay?” he asked.

“What?—sorry. Yes. Yes, I’m fine.” Her eyes refocused, on him instead of whatever it was she’d been staring at, some great distance away. “I’m fine. That was... really...” She drifted off again.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you—” he started, but she looked quickly at him, and he stopped.

“Yes,” she said at last. “That was intense. Probably—no, definitely. Definitely the best ever.” Keith smiled, swelling with pride.

“But that’s not—I’m still very upset. About you taping me.”

Keith’s heart sank back down. “I’m sorry—I—”

She stopped him with a look. “It was a huge betrayal of my trust. You don’t—you just can’t do something like that.”

“Okay.”

“Not to me.”

“Okay.”

He took a big gulp of his coffee, which now seemed unpleasantly cold.

“I mean it,” she added.

“I know. I’m really sorry.”

To Keith’s surprise, that seemed to be enough for her. “So you have tapes from... everyone? Everyone involved?”

“Stan and Marie, Zsolt and Elena, and Darrell and Sherrie,” Keith counted off on his fingers.

“I haven’t seen much of the one of Stan. Or Sherrie, come to think of it. And I didn’t even know you had one of Zsolt.”

“Oh yeah—it’s—do you want me to put it on?”

Lisa smiled faintly. “Too much to do today. Tonight. But we need—”

She was blushing, looking down into her coffee. “What?” Keith pressed her.

“I—” She looked up, smiling apologetically. “I was thinking we’ll need a tripod.”

He swallowed the last of his coffee and got up. “I’d better get dressed,” he said, kissed her, and headed up to the bedroom.

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