In the Neighbourhood

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Chapter 18: The Hot Wife

Keith liked the next part, could feel his legs quiver slightly in anticipation. This was the part where he leaned right into her, and she ran her hands up his chest, up his neck, rested her palms on his cheeks, her eyes wide. Somehow the camera angle had worked out just right, framed them perfectly, a perfect little portrait of her, and him.

“Enough,” Lisa said suddenly. Her shoulders tensed up under his arm.

“What?”

“I just—I don’t need to see any more.”

He looked; she was scowling at the screen. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

He shook her shoulders slightly. “C’mon.”

“No.” She turned her head away. “I’m just tired.”

This was a code that Keith knew well. As far as he had found, this meant drop it immediately.

He pulled his arm out from behind her and got up to hit stop on the VCR. He took his time—the scene was almost over.

Keith was surprised that she didn’t get up and leave; that was the way it usually went when she was like this.

“So—” He could feel the wall between them, the silence she was trying to impose on him, and he faltered. He needed to at least show he was trying, though. “Is everything all right?”

She was weighing her answer, trying to decide exactly how to put it, or whether to just dodge him completely. “It’s nothing,” she said. “Just hormones, probably.”

He pulled her closer and planted a kiss on her forehead. She let him but didn’t really respond.

“It’s okay,” he said. “Don’t worry about it.”

“I guess I’m just not into it tonight.”

“Maybe I should invite Darrell over,” Keith said, before he could stop himself.

He regretted saying it instantly, of course—it had just slipped out. And while the bottom fell out of his stomach when she pushed him away and got up off the couch, deep down he knew he had been in the right.

Her behaviour when Darrell had come by was pretty strange, to say the least. Maybe she didn’t think he’d seen her, flirty and coy and practically pushing her tits up in his face.

And that was in addition to the stuff about the tapes. They must have recorded ten hours of just straight fucking over a couple of weeks; every possible moment, she was taking his hand to lead him to the bedroom, or getting her hands up under his shirt, or rubbing her hips insistently against him in bed.

It was like the whole thing with the tapes had flipped a switch, released something base and animal in her. Now, tonight, the switch had flipped back, and the little innocent comment about Darrell was just proof of that.

“What the hell—” Lisa hissed at him.

“Oh, come on,” Keith said. Just cool down.”

She abruptly turned and left the room. Her footsteps pounded up the stairs, and the bedroom door slammed closed sharply.

Keith considered turning the VCR on and watching the rest of the tape, but with Lisa being all upset he was no longer horny. He switched over to the TV instead and flipped around until he found a football game. Toronto and Vancouver were playing; he didn’t care about either team but at least it was something to watch.

He went into the kitchen to get a beer, but ended up getting the bottle of scotch instead. He took a tumbler and went back to the living room to sit and try not to think.


“Keith.”

His eyes opened slowly. The football game was still on. Dark, though. What time...

“Go to bed,” she ordered. He hated that tone, that schoolmarm voice.

“Watching the game,” he said.

“I’ve been standing here for five minutes, saying your name,” she said. “How much have you had to drink?”

“Just—” It took a lot of effort to talk; his tongue was styrofoam, and his cheeks were thick and numb. “Like two drinks.” A drink wasn’t a specific unit of measure, so she couldn’t say he was lying. And he’d poured—well, two, three tumblers of scotch, at most. Last one was pretty full.

She changed the channel, almost daring him to protest, the way she stabbed at the buttons. Carson was on already—had he been asleep that long? He searched his memory for the football game, but it was a blank.

Lisa flounced into the easy chair and watched grimly. The monologue was on, so it wasn’t even midnight yet. He hadn’t been asleep that long. Her mouth was thin and tight as a thread. She didn’t even like Carson, Keith realized, but he wasn’t about to bring that up.

A commercial came on. Antacid. Keith closed his eyes.

“Aren’t you going to finish the bottle?” Lisa said blandly.

Keith looked; the glass was green, so it was hard to see the line. He closed one eye: better. Halfway down the bottle, maybe. Still a bit hard to tell.

She was looking now. Keith returned his gaze to the TV. Something about Caspar Weinberger: Keith sniggered a bit, although he hadn’t heard the joke. Just being supportive.

“Those tapes,” Lisa said, sounding pissed off for some reason.

“The—” His tongue had swelled, filling in the top of his mouth, sticking to his front teeth. Hard to talk. And she was trying to catch him, trying to make sure he was drunk. “What tapes?” he said, saying it clearly. No trouble.

“You gave a whole bag of tapes to Darrell,” she said. She was trying to sound exasperated. He hated that. Pissed off? You should just say so. Stupid games.

“Yeah.”

“Get them back.”

This wasn’t serious. Did she—no, not serious.

“The tapes?”

“Yes.”

She sounded definite. She would.

“From...” He searched for the names. “Zsolt, and...”

She launched from the chair. “Just get them back,” she hissed. “I want them destroyed.”

She barely slowed down, just disappeared, padding up the stairs. Muffled noise from the bedroom.

Keith’s glass was almost empty. Might as well finish this, anyway.


Light, and urge, almost painful urge. Keith sat up. No Lisa.

Bathroom. Out from under the covers—door closed. Lisa—

The toilet flushed and the door opened. Keith stood there, in his boxers, nowhere to go.

“You’re up.” Her voice was hard to judge—unfriendly, Keith decided, but not angry or hostile. That meant the fight was probably over. Often, if Lisa was still angry she wouldn’t say anything at all.

“Yeah.”

She stood there, arms crossed, gazing at him, blocking his way.

“I have to pee,” he admitted, hoping she would just let him go. And she did, stepping aside, letting him pass without further comment or judgement.

Keith burst into the bathroom and made it to the toilet just in time. As the pressure disappeared, replaced by utter relief, he started to feel the slight dizziness and queasiness, as well as the dull throb of a headache.

He knew he’d finished the bottle of aspirin in the bathroom a couple of mornings ago; there was one in the kitchen though, half-full. If he could get down there before Lisa, he was safe.

He rubbed some water on his face, and took a long slurp of cold water right from the tap, clearing only a little of the fuzz and much from his tongue and teeth. He rushed downstairs.

Lisa was putting the coffee pot on in the kitchen. Damn it.

He smelled something else, too—a mechanical pop confirmed it: she was making breakfast.

She put two plates in his hands, each with a slice of brown toast on it. “Jam?” she asked.

“Yes please.” He tried to ignore the headache, which had begun to infiltrate the area of his skull behind his right eye. “Paper come yet?” he asked as he placed the plates on the table.

“I didn’t look.”

Keith went to the front door and looked out. Another sunny morning. The paper sat on the path, a good, thick Saturday edition. He opened the door.

A wave of humidity hit him like a bodycheck, ringing solidly against his headache. Hot, moist air assaulted him all over, every pore, every follicle.

He fought the painful sensation in his belly, the nauseating swelling, the rising gorge, as he bent to pick up the paper. Having retrieved it, he stood in the ugly heat for a few moments to let his body recover, not wanting to take the chance of moving too far or too fast.

“What are you doing?” Lisa said loudly, through the screen door.

“Nothing,” Keith said, pulling himself together quickly and turning back to face her. “Warm out today,” he commented.

“So what else is new.” She disappeared.

He followed her back to the kitchen, began pulling the paper apart. News, Comment, and Sports sections for him, Entertainment and Life sections for her. Keith looked over the soccer scores from the week before, but there didn’t seem to be much going on in the soccer world.

“Your toast is cold,” Lisa commented.

“S’okay.” Keith reached for the slice, took a bite, willing his body not to react too strongly as he chewed. “Not really hungry anyway.”

“I was going to see my mother today.”

“Okay.” Another minefield, one that Keith didn’t feel up to making his way through. “You want me to come?”

“No, that’s okay.” This was a good answer, for Keith; if she was pissed off, she would say “I guess not, then,” and leave the table in a huff. Today she had decided to be calm and rational, it seemed. Good news.

But not for long. “I wanted to talk to you about last night,” she said.

He folded the paper and put it carefully on the table. The corners of her mouth were turned down, and tears were welling up in her eyes.

“Okay,” he said calmly.

“I didn’t mean to—no, wait.” She put her face in her hands. “Oh, god.”

Such drama. “It’s okay.”

She took a deep breath and rubbed her eyes vigorously with her palms. “I’m all right.” Another deep, exaggerated breath. “There’s nothing between me and Darrell.”

“You—you what?” He had been a little drunk last night, but not that drunk—had she told him something, and he’d forgotten? His memory wasn’t at its best, late at night.

She was still on the verge of crying. Not quite there yet. “You said I wanted to have Darrell over. And—”

There it was; the tears were starting to flow now. Thankfully Keith remembered what she was talking about. “No, don’t—I was just kidding around. I wasn’t implying anything.”

“You said—”

“Sh, sh.” He reached his hands across the table, caught one of hers. “You’re taking it all way too seriously. I never for a second thought there was anything—like that. At all. He squeezed her hand. “I trust you.”

“Why did you say that, then?”

This was really tricky. Pass it off as something random, letting her blame him completely for being insensitive? Or turn it back on her and deflect the blame off himself? Once her anger started ricocheting around the kitchen, things got unpredictable.

He was too tired to play it the easier way, to expend the energy needed for a passable show of concern and sincerity. It wasn’t easy, with his head throbbing angrily. Okay, maybe he’d been more than a little drunk. “Well, you have to admit,” he said, letting her hand go and sitting back in his chair. “You were acting pretty weird around Darrell when he was here.”

She took a breath as if she was going to say something sharp in response, but bit it back. She looked down at her hands.

“It’s okay,” Keith added. “It’s not that I thought—well, I didn’t think about it at all. It was just a bit weird, I guess. No big deal.” He had been talking a lot, so he stopped.

She played with her fingers intently. “I’m not sure,” she said slowly.

“Not sure of what?”

“I don’t even know.” Her fingers twisted together, apart, back together. “It’s kind of... you know when you meet an old lover, someone you always... no, it’s more like meeting up with your current lover, but with your parents there too. Like in high school again. All you can think about is the sex you’ve had, maybe that day, and you’re just about to burst because you want it again, but...”

She was blushing, playing with her hands, not exactly animated but clearly something was on her mind.

“No,” Keith said evenly. “I have no idea what that’s like.”

She looked up at last. “It’s not—exactly what I meant.”

“I’m sure it wasn’t.”

“No.” She put her hand on his. “Don’t read so much into it. He’s seen me naked—seen me having sex. With you. It brings up some feelings that are a little... strange. Unexpected.”

He could see what she meant but felt like he shouldn’t let her off too easily. “Okay,” he said, sounding unconvinced.

“Really,” she insisted, squeezing his hand. “It’s nothing to do with him. It’s just this weird thing.”

“I get it. It’s fine.” Inside, it occurred to him: high school? She was parading her sexual partners in front of her parents in high school?

She got up abruptly, circled the table, stood behind him. “It’s kind of the same thing as making the tapes,” she said quietly, resting her hands on Keith’s neck. “I feel... sexy. Excited.” She ran her hands up the back of his neck, down the line of his shoulders. “Remember that night? After he was here?”

Keith remembered; it was one of their best tapes ever. He turned in his chair, pulled her hips towards him, buried his face in her stomach. She lowered her body slightly, resting his face between her breasts, hands running through the hair on the back of his neck.

He gripped the backs of her thighs with his fingers, and she squealed and jumped back. “That tickles,” she said, as if it weren’t obvious.

Keith stood and approached her. She clasped him, and he kissed her.

She coughed.

“Ew,” she said. “Your breath.” She let him go.

He could taste it himself, the alcohol, rough and putrid under the coffee and toast. Still, she didn’t need to be a jerk about it.

“I’d better get going,” she said lightly, and kissed him on the forehead.

“Okay,” he said sullenly.

“There’s more coffee,” she pointed out, and left him alone.

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