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It was hot.
Ray was mowing the grass, mostly for lack of anything better to do. He was alone at the house. The wife was at school, their daughter was at her aunt’s for a sleepover, and he was doing yard work to keep busy. He looked around from time to time, vaguely watching for people around, maybe cars going by, but there wasn’t much activity. The heat was making everyone and everything sluggish. He took his shirt off and dropped it in the yard.
He’d tried to avoid most of the direct sunlight, but there wasn’t much choice on the last part of the lawn, which had no trees. Their plain, older frame house was set facing East, planted between two other similar houses; there was a proper-seeming distance separating the places, with no fences. The South house was a single-family place, occupied by an elderly couple, and the North place was a house much like theirs but divided into two apartments, one up, one down. The lower occupant was some youngish manager type who was never home, and the upper had a young woman in it, Renee, an attractive blond with a great body who had come over for backyard cookouts a few times. Ray helped shovel her car out in winter, and they were on neighborly terms. Mowing, he kept an eye out for her in hope of a quick glance. She was nice to look at.
He got lucky. He was just turning around to make another pass when Renee walked out of her front door in a bikini, and pushing the mower towards her he got a good, long study.
The bikini was a black thing, with a tight hip-hugging bottom with large floppy ties on the sides; the top wrapped around under the bust, with wide tapered straps that went straight up from the sides and tied around the back of the neck. Her hair was up in a ponytail directly at the top of her head, and she’d put several clip kind of things in it to hold it up. She wasn’t wearing makeup, but had her usual jewelry: gold ankle bracelets on both legs, a collection of necklaces of various lengths, one of which, a dangling cross, always swung between her very nicely formed breasts; tiny diamond nose stud, several ear piercings and always, always huge loop earrings. He didn’t recall seeing her in a two-piece before, and noticed she had a navel ring. He also saw for the first time a colorful tattoo of flowers on the small of her back.
He stopped mowing, shut the machine off, and walked to the porch for the cooler of water he’d placed out. He lingered over a cold drink from a purple plastic cup, watching Renee out of the corner of his eye. She went out to the back parking area off their alley, to her inexpensive car, some Korean make, the perfect single girl secretary ride, which she’d outfitted inside with foofy seat covers and various amusing bling. She opened a door and bent over to reach inside. She looked great. Blond, trim enough, medium height, with solid but well-formed legs; she kept herself together well. Actually, he had to admit, she did sometimes carry some extra pounds, and was prone to showing signs of a double chin and thick upper arms, but she was always well dressed and carried herself unusually well. She was pretty. Very pretty. And really, really nice.
He didn’t run into her as much as in the past, since his job went to direct deposit: she worked at the bank branch nearest the neighborhood. A teller, he thought, but he’d seen her over in personal banking areas a time or two. Every time he talked to her she was smiling, sweet, and friendly, and because the bank was a professional attire type place she was always outfitted in stylish clothing: skirts and bahis firmaları wool pants and such. She smelled good, too.
He finished the cup of water, shook his head, and wondered why it was the nice girls always seemed to collect dirtbags. She’d gone through at least three truly junky guys in the last two years. One of them had been hauled off by the police after drunkenly slugging her in the front yard, another had run off with some other woman, and the current one, some cocked ballcap slouch-pants who talked like Eminem, had an import tuner he wiped off whenever anyone touched it and was likely on his way to other things, like maybe jail. He called himself “Rocket.”
Who called themselves “Rocket?”
He watched Renee while he returned to the mower. She headed back towards her house, and as she got closer he studied her face. She had a round face, with thin lips she usually accented with bright lipstick, and wide-set eyes, blue, he thought, and high cheekbones. A small chin. Acne a lot of the time, a problem she tried to cover with various stuff, foundations he guessed. Her body was tanned. She went to salons and was tan with light blond hair even in the deep winter. She was pretty, and had a fabulous, round ass the bikini did wonderful things for.
She smiled and waved at him, a wave from the elbow, out from her body, a little flip of the hand that managed to be sort of girlish and sexy at the same time. The smile was dazzling in the sunlight, and he realized she’d bleached her teeth since he’d seen her last. Funny.
“Insecure,” he thought. “She’s insecure.”
She went back in the house, and just before he fired up the lawn mower again he heard her sandals banging on the wooden steps leading to the upper apartment. He cleared his mind and went back to work, sweating in the sun. It was hot as a gun barrel and his bare shoulders burned. Mentally he wandered and idly compared himself to her physically. He wasn’t too bad for a guy in his thirties, not too fat or too skinny, not horrible looking, and hey, he trimmed his nose hair. Renee was what? Twenty-four? Something like that. She was young. He laughed. He thought, “And hot.”
The mower blared, and his mind wandered away to other places. He was lost enough in the yard work to not notice that she’d come back outside, laid a blanket out in the yard to sunbathe, and undone the top to expose her back. She had huge Bug Eyed Monster sunglasses on that managed to make her look ridiculous, and was reading some trashy novel with a pink cover. The bottom of the suit was yanked up the crack of her ass to expose the cheeks, and when he caught sight of all that he stopped cold in the row.
“Holy shit,” he thought, then came back to himself and continued on.
In about another half an hour the yard was mowed. He should weed whack, but, he thought, “Screw it.” Some other time. He pushed the mower to the garage door and parked it just outside to let it cool off. He’d clean it off in a while. Right now, it was miller time. He stole a glance at Renee, who had ear buds in and was bopping sideways to some dance tune, propped on her elbows to read her book, and even from the distance he could see her small, tight little breasts swaying and jiggling in a delightful manner. “Whuh!” he said out loud, and went inside to grab a beer.
He got his laptop, a bottle of decent enough beer, and went out on the porch to check e-mail and surf a little. Unfortunately, the porch on his house was on the opposite side from Renee’s residence, so he couldn’t watch her lovely body while kaçak iddaa relaxing. “Oh well,” he shrugged, and got comfortable. Time passed.
The next thing he knew the sun was well over, and was approaching his spot on the porch. It was too hot to sit like that, he thought, and closed the computer. He had opened the door to maybe get another beer before cleaning the lawnmower, one foot inside, when he heard a voice.
“Got another one of those?”
It was Renee. She’d walked over to his house and was standing at the bottom of the stairs, smiling and beautiful despite the ludicrous sunglasses. She waved her hand at him, a little flip, and laughed.
He paused for a second, a split second, and responded, “Absolutely.”
He went in to the refrigerator and took out two bottles, opened both, and returned to the porch. She’d come up the stairs and was waiting for him, back turned to the door. The top was back on, of course, but she hadn’t adjusted the bottom piece, and the back was still yanked up between her ass cheeks. The effect was very pleasant, and while she was looking away he took a generous eyeful of her round, tight ass cheeks. The sun caught blonde hairs on her arms and the soft fuzz on other parts of her, and the effect was of her body glowing. She was lovely.
Renee turned and took a bottle, immediately taking a sip and smiling. “Thank you!” she said, and stood silently.
Ray wasn’t sure what to respond with, and didn’t want to spout some pathetic subject like “It’s hot out, huh?” or something equally inane; but she did it first.
“Hot out, isn’t it?”
He nodded, swigging his own beer. He was racking his brain for something to say when the door on the adjoining house, on the opposite side from Renee’s place, opened. The old lady who lived there tottered out, looked around, and waved at him, trembling out a “Hello.”
He waved back and said, “Hi, Mrs. Lambino,” and took another swig.
Renee looked at the old lady, who was striding, shakily but determinedly, to a small garden in the back yard. “How old is she?”
He answered, “96. That’s the Lambinos.” He paused. “They’ve been married for seventy-three years.”
His hot neighbor swung around, open-mouthed. “Seventy-what!?”
He laughed. “Yeah, I know. They had their seventieth anniversary right before we moved in. Hard to believe, huh?”
Renee stared at the lady with stunned astonishment. “Well- I mean- how do people do that?”
Ray shook his head. “I’m not sure.” He chuckled. “But I know when the newspaper came by and did a story on them, and asked how they did it, Harold, the old man, had his hearing aids turned off, and he was like, ‘WHAT!? HUH?’ and Mrs. Lambino just said, ‘I got my hobbies and that helps!'” He laughed again.
Renee shook her head. “Holy shit!”
He waited a tick, then asked, “How about you? Still getting on with that Sputnik guy?”
Renee looked at him curiously, then said, “Sputnik? Oh, you mean Rocket?” She made a nasty face that managed to be cute. “I told him not to come near me any more. He banged some other girl, then when I told him to fuck off he came to my job and made a scene. He almost got me fired.”
He waited, making sure to say something supportive without trashing the other guy. “Wow. Well, maybe he’ll learn eventually.”
Renee huffed. “That’ll be the day. He’s an idiot.” She took a big slug from the bottle, watching the neighbor lady pluck at flower buds with her fingers. “Seventy-three years. Holy hell.” She swayed a little on the balls of her feet, kaçak bahis and her body undulated nicely, hips swinging out.
She said, quietly, “I’m kind of coming to the conclusion that I get in relationships because I think I’m supposed to.” She swayed a little more, looking like she was playing a dance tune in her head. “My family and my mom are always like, ‘Who are you seeing? When are you getting engaged? Are you bringing a boy home for a holiday?'” She made a face.
Renee said, “It’s like it’s so drummed into me that you’re always in some kind of, you know, ‘relationship’ that I just do it because that’s what I got taught. You know?”
Ray smiled sardonically. “I got married because I thought I was supposed to. It’s not really a good reason to get married.”
She turned to him, a question on her face, then looked serious. “How do you and your wife stay together?”
He answered instantly: “The kid. Our daughter. Well, that and financial things. And apathy. Lot of apathy.”
Renee burst out laughing, a loud, uproarious laugh: “HA! HA! HA! HA! Apathy!”
He felt suddenly defensive, but shook it off. “Yeah, I think the longest we went without doing it, you know, was maybe more than a year. The romance thing fades, but you know, you get used to each other, and get in, I don’t know, a rut. Like that.”
Renee looked away, swayed a little, and blew across the very top of her bottle, making a low droning sound. She played a short tune of sorts, then took a drink.
She said, “I think, I think, maybe I get with these dumb asses because I really don’t want to be with anyone. Like, permanently. For now.” She looked back at Ray. “I’m really starting to think I, like, sabotage myself so I don’t have to get all tangled up in a, a…” She lowered her voice to a fake anchorman type address and said, “Re-layyy-shun-sheeip.”
Ray laughed, and his lovely neighbor stared at him, then finally gave up and laughed with him.
She said, “Yeah, I know. I feel like I have to be in some, you know, thing, but I really don’t want to be so I pick losers so it won’t last.” She swayed some more and drank again. “Stupid, huh?”
Ray said, “I don’t know. It seems like you’re really thinking about what you do, and that seems really smart to me.” He meant it.
She put on a serious face. “Can I ask you something?”
“Have you, I mean did you, ever cheat on your wife?”
He hesitated. She stopped and put her hand up. “I’m sorry, that’s totally not cool. I’m sorry.”
Ray thought for a minute, then said, “No, no, it’s a good question. The answer is ‘No’. But I’m not sure why, really. I figure, kind of, a bird in the hand, you know? I think I’m probably just scared. Maybe. I don’t know.” He waited, then decided to tell her: “She, on the other hand, has done… stuff. Outside our marriage.”
Renee froze solid and stared. “What? She cheated on you, and you’re still together?”
“Well, yeah. She told me, said she didn’t want to be a liar.” He shrugged. “I was pretty pissed off. Well, actually, homicidal. But after a while I looked around, and thought, well, how many relationships have that stuff go on without the other one knowing?” He finished his beer. “I knew a nurse who worked in a birthing center once who told me that, like, 20 percent of kids are illegitimate. There’s tons of guys raising kids that aren’t theirs without even knowing it. So cheating or whatever probably isn’t real uncommon.” He shrugged and turned to fetch another beer. “I told her if she did it again to not ever tell me about it. And to make absolutely sure I never, ever meet the guy. Ever. You want another one?” He flip-flopped his empty bottle in his fingers.
She put on a thoughtful expression. “Yes.”
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