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Authors: Ray Garton

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BOOK: The New Neighbor
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"Jesus Christ," he grumbled, starting the car after he fastened his pants, "did you have to throw
up
?"

She took a handkerchief from her purse and wiped her mouth, stomach still lurching, then whispered, "I'm sorry. I ... won't ... do it ... again."
 

Michael and Karen went steady for nearly four months and, during that time, Karen
was
the envy of every girl on campus. And, although they made many trips back to the bluffs, she never vomited again. She came close several times, but would not let herself. Neither did she enjoy the things they did up there. There were a few moments of pleasure when Michael touched her in just the right place and in just the right way, but they were always accidental and all too brief. She kept returning to the bluffs with Michael only because she rather enjoyed going steady with him.

That was when she began to believe her mother was right.
 

There had been other men since Michael, but not many, and none of them had lasted long. They soon grew tired of her indifference in bed, tired of her unwillingness to go along with their every sexual whim.
 

George was different. He was far gentler than any of the others, more giving, as concerned about her pleasure as his own. After their third time together, he'd become serious and said, "Tell me honestly, Karen – am I doing anything wrong? Are you ... do you enjoy being with me?"
 

"Yes," she whispered, cuddling next to him. "Why?"
 

"Well, you just don't ...
seem
to, sometimes."
 

"I'm sorry. It's not that I don't enjoy it. I just don't ... show it much I guess."
 

He didn't seem entirely convinced.
 

Karen said, "I've never enjoyed making love this much. Never."
 

It wasn't a lie. Making love with George was better than it had ever been with any other man. But then ... that wasn't saying much. She felt no great need to make love, and when they did, she did not feel the bursts of ecstasy she'd always read and heard she was
supposed
to feel; there were no explosions of light in her head, no screaming orgasms

It had nothing to do with George, of course. She wasn't sure
what
the problem was exactly. But part of it was the
penis
. Veined and lumpy, with that smell – like the smell of an old root cellar that hadn't been aired out for a long time – and they all had that sneering, slobbering slit at the tip, all trembled impatiently, selfish, stiff with anger, far more capable of taking pleasure than giving it. And at the end of it all, at the completion of their frantic drive for release, they all did what Karen had done that first time with Michael, something for which she'd always hated herself just a little – they
vomited
.
 

Forty-five minutes had clicked by on the digital clock by the time Karen realized her mind was wandering and she should get to sleep.
 

She wanted to roll over, snuggle up to George, but something kept her from it. Something that would not go away. Something that made her think:
 

What was it about

 

* * * *

 


Lorelle Dupree
, George thought, lying awake beside Karen. He'd been going over their meeting at the door again and again, reliving it, listening to her voice.
Feeling
it. Thinking about the memory it had revived – the secret, velvety memory he'd kept tucked away like a cherished gift from a long-lost friend.

He examined that memory again, holding it this way and that, and realized that it was different. Something had changed, something he could not seem to change
back
.
 

Now, when he remembered lying in bed, overwhelmed by the sensations ricocheting through his body, it was not his late wife who pressed the vibrator to his cock, it was –
 

 

* * * *

 

"—Lorelle Dupree," Robby breathed in the dark of his bedroom.
 

His erection would not go away, no matter how hard he tried to distract or relieve himself.
 

Neither would the physical echo of Lorelle Dupree's finger on his throat and her hand on his chest, just over his pounding heart.
 

He lay there for most of the night, staring at his ceiling and occasionally saying her name, before finally falling asleep.
 

 

 

 

Chapter 3
 

Anxiety
 

 

Robby walked home from school the next day; he was tired from lack of sleep and thought the exercise and late-October cold would help revive him. As he turned off of Mistletoe Lane and onto his own street, he saw Jessie – the Garrys’ big golden retriever – bounding toward him, her pink tongue dangling from her yellow-toothed grin. Sebastian, the Weyland's calico cat, was licking his paws contentedly beside the road, and panicked, darting out of Jessie's way an instant before being trampled by the dog's mitt-like paws.
 

"Hey, Jess!" Robby called halfheartedly as Jessie danced around him. He heard a door thump shut and looked across the street to see Mrs. LaBianco waddling down her front steps toward her car, jangling her keys as she waved at him and said hello. He waved back and smiled, feeling a twinge of pity for the woman. Just a few years ago, she was a very sweet, attractive middle-aged woman, thin and shapely, with only a few streaks of gray in her dark hair to give away her years. Then she began to balloon, putting on a tremendous amount of weight in a very short time, until she'd become the hulking woman who now wore only muumuus and kept her thinning hair in a sloppy bun in the back. She was still sweet, but now she was pathetic, too.
 

Two small children – a boy and girl – shot out of Sheri MacNeil's driveway on tricycles, giggling and making high-pitched squealing tire sounds. The boy, Sheri MacNeil's son Christopher, grinned at Robby and shouted, "We're
racing
!" A year-and-a-half ago Sheri's husband had left her to raise four-year-old Christopher on her own, and the neighborhood had sort of taken her under its wing. The neighborhood children spent a good deal of time at Sheri's house playing with Christopher and she seemed to enjoy watching over them. As he passed her house, Robby saw Sheri through her kitchen window and waved as he walked on toward his house.

Beyond his own house, and on the opposite side of the street, Robby saw Paul Weyland, short and bullet-shaped with his rust-colored hair in a crew cut. He was opening his garage when he spotted Robby. He waved with a meaty hand, but no smile disturbed his stern, rocky features. Robby had spoken to Weyland's daughters, Caryl and Stephanie, only a couple of times. They were pleasant, pretty girls, but, like their mother – whom Robby seldom saw without Mr. Weyland – their shyness and timidity gave the impression that they were constantly afraid their father would appear at any second and start shouting at them. Paul Weyland left no doubt that he was the head of his household.

The Pritchards lived on the north end of Deerfield Avenue, which came to a dead end at a small patch of wooded land. On the other side of that was Highway 44. It was a small, friendly-looking neighborhood, but it wasn't as friendly as it used to be. When Robby was a boy, there were no strangers on Deerfield. Everyone on the street knew everyone else; they watched out for one another's children and pets and if a family went on vacation, they knew their house and belongings were in good hands. Every spring, everyone cleaned out their garages and closets and held a neighborhood rummage sale. But, over the years, people moved out and new people moved in and kept to themselves, and the sense of community bled out of the neighborhood. Now, there were people on the street with whom Robby hadn't had so much as a conversation. People just didn't seem very friendly anymore.
 

Except for Lorelle Dupree. She seemed very friendly.
 

Dylan could talk about nothing else on the school bus that morning. On his way to the end of the street, he'd spotted Lorelle through her front window – she had no curtains yet – wearing a short kimono that Dylan had claimed was open in front.

"I saw her tits!" he'd hissed. "I
saw
'em! They were ... they were ... well, I think god made 'em
personally
. You know, like with his own
hands
. None of that assembly line creation with
her
, uh-
uh
. You think she likes younger men?"
 

Normally, Robby would have told Dylan about his encounter with Lorelle the night before. Talking about girls was their favorite pastime, although, much to his chagrin, Robby, unlike most of his peers, had precious little experience with them, and Dylan, a snaggle-toothed boy with glasses that slid down his nose and a soft roundness to his face that suggested a possible weight problem later in life, had even less. Somehow, though, he didn't feel right talking about it. Now, in the light of day, he knew that nothing had happened at Lorelle's outside of his imagination. So he'd gotten a look down her shirt and she'd touched him a couple of times in a friendly way – big deal. But there was something private about his visit with Lorelle, something almost sacred, made even more so by how he'd felt at the time and what he'd done when he got home. So he said nothing on the bus. But for the rest of the day, he found himself thinking about what Dylan had said, about what he had seen. And Robby found himself feeling envious.

There was a moving van parked in front of her house and two hefty men in green jumpsuits were carrying a sofa across the front lawn, but Lorelle was nowhere in sight.
 

Robby stopped at the mailbox to check the mail – his mother usually forgot to do it when she got home from work – then headed up the front walk with a handful of sweepstakes offers and sales flyers.
 

"Robby!"

He stopped, waited a beat before turning, and saw Lorelle waving at him from her front porch. She wore a black sweatshirt with a baggy pouch in front and an old pair of jeans with a hole over her left thigh, revealing bare flesh, her hair in a pony tail.
 

"Are you going to give me a hand this afternoon?" she asked.

"Urn, well ...”

"My power's on and I bought steaks for dinner. How about it?"
 

"Well, um ..." He had a lot of homework –


You've blown off your homework for a lot less
, he thought –

– and he knew being alone with her would make him a nervous wreck, even though he knew nothing would happen. Maybe he could take Dylan along –


You
want
to be alone with her and you
know
it
.

"Yeah," he finally called to her as the mail slipped from his hand and scattered on the walk, "I'll be over in about ... an hour, or so." He gathered the mail, then turned toward the house.

Jen peered out her bedroom window at him, her face a vague, gauzy mask behind the screen.
 

A fat, smoke-colored cloud glided by overhead, blocking the sunlight for a long moment.
 

Robby started for the front door and forced himself not to look back at the sound of Lorelle's voice.
 

"I'll see you then," she called as he went inside.

 

* * * *

 

Peering down the hall from her bedroom door, Jen watched Robby come inside. With his head sagging forward and hands shoved deep into the pockets of his down jacket, he looked thoughtful and troubled, maybe even a little sad. He turned to come down the hall and Jen pulled back so he couldn't see her, then closed her door softly.
 

Robby's room was next to hers and she listened to him close the door, take off his jacket, then flop onto his squeaky bed with a sigh.
 

Jen returned to her desk and picked up her pen. She was writing a letter to Diana Strait, her best friend. Diana had moved to Seattle seven months ago and they wrote one another regularly.
 

Things had not been quite the same since Diana had gone. Now she spent time with the twins down the street. And she saw Diana’s friends, although somehow, they seemed to
remain
Diana's friends even in her absence.

Jen and Diana had become acquainted by accident one day two years ago when they'd both been put on detention together – Jen for not dressing for PE and Diana for mouthing off to a teacher – and had become friends instantly. Jen automatically became a member of the clique of half a dozen or so girls that Diana moved in, a group popular enough to raise Jen's standing in the eyes of her peers – and a group that never would have accepted her without Diana's insistence. All of the girls in Diana's clique were very studious and got good grades. Jen got fairly good grades, too, but not in the same way. For Jen, a B was a struggle, an A was an all-out war she had to fight with the books and tests. For that reason, she was unable to go out with the girls every day after school, or get together for a group date in the evening – what Diana called a "date orgy" – with half a dozen guys. Jen was, as Diana's friends so often pointed out, no fun, but Diana was always happy to help her with her homework so Jen didn't have to stay home
all
the time.
 

She never got to know any of those girls as well as Diana, and when Diana moved, her friends allotted Jen greetings in the hall and the occasional lunch, but little more.

So Jen was left with the twins and a good deal more undisturbed time in which to do her homework. But for Jen, that homework – like making friends – was miserably hard. Sometimes she could break a sweat hunched over her books, especially if there was a test the next day. She was not lacking intelligence or study skills, but she suffered from what she had decided was some kind of phobia. Just as some people panicked or became hysterical when they saw spiders or snakes or looked down from high places, Jen froze up at an open schoolbook, a blank notebook page or the beginning of a test. She could write a letter comfortably and with no problem because she knew it didn't have to be perfect, but numbers made her gut clench with fear and the prospect of stringing words together into a coherent sentence – and
spelling
them
correctly
– when writing a paper numbed her into a cold paralysis. She fought it diligently and managed to get fair grades, but it took a couple of hours or so to do an assignment that would take up only thirty minutes for other students – a student like Robby.
 

BOOK: The New Neighbor
5.58Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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