Authors: Raquel Lyon
Boy Next Door
2014 Raquel Lyon
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Table of Contents
Three years. Three years of
partying with dirty fingernails. Three years to get a degree in how to dig a
hole and stick something in it. It doesn’t take a genius to do that, but it
does require a piece of paper to let future employers know that you can. I’m
about to get that piece of paper, so I should be stoked, ready to move up in
the world, or at least stick my size elevens into it. Instead, I’m back where I
started, Pappa’s house. As much as I loved the old place, I never thought I’d
have to call it home.
Dumping my worldly possessions
onto the perfectly varnished slats of the front porch of number twenty-three
Parkside Avenue, I freed up my hands to open the door.
“Pappa! Paps, I made it.” Smokey,
Pappa’s ageing Retriever, bounded towards me, his tail wagging furiously. “Hey,
boy. Where’s the old man, asleep again?” I asked, bending my knees to pet him
and receiving a dog-dribble face in response.
Despite entering his
seventy-sixth year, Ronald Kempton, kept his home perfectly, right down to the
blue and white urn, holding my grandmother’s ashes, sitting pride of place on
the mantelpiece, and looking around the pristinely decorated living room,
filled with antique furniture, brought back many childhood memories, every one
of them sad since my parents had joined Nan in the big unknown. In the corner,
Pappa’s favourite armchair was empty. I wasn’t surprised; afternoon naptime was
I dragged my bags over the porch
and into the hallway. Smokey sniffed them excitedly. He clearly had a thing for
the scent of dirt and fertiliser, although how he could detect any smell other
than Pappa’s pipe tobacco amazed me. The scent hung in the air like thick city
smog, meaning the old man couldn’t be far away.
Smokey followed me as I strode
through to the kitchen and headed for the patio doors. Second only to Pappa’s
love for his armchair was his love of the garden, and I fully expected to find
him there. I wasn’t wrong. The familiar curve of Argyle sweater stooped over an
impressive row of cabbages, pulling out stray weeds.
“You should be kneeling down to
do that. You’ll put your back out again,” I said with a mixture of chastisement
Pappa’s receding hairline rotated
to face me. “Johnny! Hello, son. I wasn’t expecting you until four.”
“It’s ten past, Paps.”
“Is it? Well, well. How time
flies. I’ll just get these last few strays, and then I’ll help you settle in.”
Squatting down next to him, I
said, “Let me give you a hand, and then maybe you’ll be qualified to write me a
reference when I start job hunting.” It was an icebreaker not a serious
“I doubt your grandfather giving
a glowing account of your weed pulling prowess would cut much mustard.” He
chuckled and slapped my back, warm-heartedly. “It’s good to have you home.”
Home. Over the past decade, I
hadn’t spent more than a few hours between these walls, and yet home was what
it was now. Since Dad downed a bunch of painkillers—six months after Mum failed
to wake up from the operating table—Pappa was all the family my brother and I
I threw one last green shoot into
the waiting bucket and assisted Pappa to his feet.
“I hope you like steak,” he said.
“I got us a couple of rumps for tonight. A sort of welcome home celebration.”
“Great. But only a couple? Is Kendrick
eating out?” I asked, as we crossed the lawn towards the house.
“Your guess is as good as mine,
son. Pleases himself, that boy. I never know whether he’s in or out.” Pappa
stopped to tip the weeds into the garden bin. “Maybe I’m too old for this
parenting lark, or perhaps I was blessed with a well-behaved daughter, but
Kendrick trawls in at all hours of the night with no explanation as to where
“Teenagers tend to do that,
“Yes, I appreciate that. I may be
ready for my wooden overcoat, but I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be
young. Still, I worry about what he gets up to, and I suspect he’s missing
college too. I was hoping you could have a word.” He shook the bucket empty and
discarded it next to the shed. “Steer him in the right direction, you know. He
looks up to you.”
I waited patiently for him to
finish tidying up. “Sure thing.”
Over the fence, the sound of
someone else putting out the trash caught my curiosity, and I strained my neck
to peer through a gap in the lilac bush. The blonde-haired woman turned to return
to her house before I managed to see her face, but my eyes followed her tight,
little ass all the way to the doorstep, and I felt a familiar stirring in my
jeans. A great ass got to me every time.
Pappa noticed my scrutiny. “I
don’t think you’ve ever met Cora, have you? She moved here a few years ago. Lovely
woman. Single too. If only I were thirty years younger.” He chuckled. “Her
daughters are a chip off the old block, too. They must be about your age, now.
You could do worse,” he said, entering the kitchen.
“Yeah?” I’d spent the past few
months concentrating on getting through my exams, relying on the old one-handed
mambo to keep me company at night, so if any half-sexy momma could get my
juices flowing, I figured it was time to get back out there and find myself a
girl. It couldn’t hurt to check out the daughters. “Good to know.”
Pappa cooked a mean steak, and
with a fully satisfied stomach, I set about unpacking.
My room was the smallest one in
the house—a case of last one in gets the cupboard, I reckoned—but I didn’t
mind. It had once belonged to my mother, and I could almost feel her essence
lingering in the faded wallpaper, as if she were somehow looking out for me. As
far back as I could remember, the room had remained unaltered. In fact, I’d
been born on the very bed still squished under the window, as it had been for
the last twenty-two years. Even the purple candlewick bedspread had survived
the decades, and there was barely enough floor space to dump my bags on the
moth-eaten carpet, due to the oppressive dark wooden wardrobe dominating the
remaining space. If I did manage to bag myself a woman, no way would I be bringing
her back here. A shag palace it wasn’t. A girl would have to be one card short
of a full deck to find my new digs a turn on. The sooner I could set myself up
with a set of wheels the better.
After stuffing the last of my T-shirts
into a drawer in the base of the mahogany mountain, I tossed my holdall onto
its top, as footsteps clumped up the stairs.
The door flew open.
“Hey, Bro. Welcome to God’s
waiting room.” My brother leaned against the doorjamb, a cigarette dangling
from the corner of his mouth.
“Since when did you start
“You haven’t seen me for nearly a
year, and I get a fucking lecture for a hello?”
Dressed all in black in a cut-off
T-shirt and ripped jeans, Kendrick had certainly altered in that time. When I’d
returned to uni, last year, he’d been into computer games, cars, and very
little else, with ambitions of becoming a mechanic, and it had always been my plan
to buy a plot of land, where he could run his garage business alongside my
“Pappa hinted you’d gone off the
rails. I can see what he means.”
“He doesn’t get me.”
“He’s cool for an old guy.”
“Yeah, real old. Kinda kills the
street cred dossing with a wrinkly. Town’s okay, though. I can fill you in on
some decent hangouts. Fancy shooting some pool tonight?”
“I had planned to get my head
down soon. Bit knackered after that long journey.”
“Didn’t you kip on the train?”
“Well, yeah, but …”
“You’re good then. You can sleep some
more when you’re dead.”
It was pointless trying to reason
with my brother. When he made his mind up, he was as stubborn as they came, and
I had no energy to start off our reconciliation with an argument, so resigned
to getting my ass whipped at pool, I grabbed my wallet and keys and shoved them
into the pocket of my jeans, on the way out. With a bit of luck, Kendrick would
tire of beating me after a couple of rounds, and I’d be able to slip away early.
As we exited the front door, a
woman jogged along the pavement. Kendrick’s eyes followed her and he let out a
wolf whistle. The woman’s blonde ponytail swished rhythmically above her
figure-hugging outfit: black with pink sections at the side to give the
appearance of a smaller waist. Not that she needed any assistance in that area.
She had a damn fine figure, and there was something familiar about the line of her
Lycra covered ass. Without breaking her stride or casting a sideways glance,
she continued up the neighbouring driveway.
Kendrick angled his head and
watched her all the way into the house. “Fucking smoking, man, that one. I
swear if I ever get the itch to tap a MILF, she’s top of my list. Pert ass and
tits that still point in the right direction, mm-mm.”
“Was that Cora?” I asked,
thinking her front was as sweet as her rear.
“I didn’t know you knew her?”
“I don’t. She was in her back
yard, earlier. Paps mentioned her name,” I commented casually, as we walked off
in the opposite direction, and I snuck a backward glance on the off chance
“He would. I think the old dog
has a soft spot for her. Lecherous old bastard.” He lit another cigarette and
snapped his Zippo shut. “I bet he mentioned the daughters, too, didn’t he?”
I nodded. “Ah-huh. I think he was
playing matchmaker. What do you reckon? Worth the bother?”
“Nah, dude. Fucking hot, granted,
“You mean you struck out.” I
thumped his shoulder playfully. Despite his talk, I doubted that, at seventeen,
my brother had the right skills to pull the babes.
Kendrick’s arm wrapped around my
neck and he pretended to punch my head in return. “Me strike out? Never. This
town’s ripe with easy tail. One look at those two and you can tell, high
maintenance, the pair of them. Why bother with the hassle?” He let me go and
resumed walking. “Besides, I think they’re both hooked up.”
That’d be right. “You got a girl,
“I like to keep my options open.”
I stuck my hands in my pockets,
and we rounded a corner onto the main street. “I’ll take that as a no.”
“I do all right.” He winked.
“What about you? Get much action in the old geek shack?”
“I did all right,” I answered,
mirroring his brush-off.
The last time I’d walked down Tirdle
Road, I was holding my mum’s hand, with Nanna pushing Kendrick in his pram, on
our way to the park. Of course, that was before Mum became ill. After that, a
visit to our grandparent’s house resulted in nothing more than kicking a ball
around the back garden or a game of Scrabble, if it rained. But the street was
much as I remembered it, filled with dark buildings housing too many fast-food
takeaways and taxicab offices. Nothing changed.
After a few more steps, Kendrick
stopped. “We’re here,” he said.
Nestled in a red brick wall, a
black door faded into the shadows. Above it the neon sign glowed with the words
My eyebrows rose at the name.
“You sure this is the right place?”
“You think I got lost in the two
hundred yards we just walked? I come here all the time.”
“Sounds like a gay club.”