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Jack Bates

September 2, 2015
The Hard Screw
            My neighbor.
            She of the bony hips. Sparkling green eyes beneath narrowed lids. Thin lips inviting behaviors I might not otherwise exhibit. She does tai chi on her backyard deck. Yoga pants. Sports bra. Both reveal desires.
            I want her.
            Summer afternoon. Senior year of college.
            Rope hammock poolside. The book I read doesn’t hold my interest. She does. Sitting on her deck in her two piece peeking out of her wrap. Her having a brown bottle beer. Thin lips smiling around the neck. She holds the bottle up inviting me to join her.
            I would if I could, I want to tell her. I raise my book to stare at strings of words. Run my eyes over sentence garlands until my arm aches from holding it in one position. I lower it to sneak a peek.
            Her top is off. The sun falls on her like the lover I want to be to her. Covering her. Warming her skin. Our skin. Touching. Rubbing.
I can’t help myself.
            I slide a hand beneath my swim trunks. The hammock sways.
            She watches. Pinches her nipples. Shudders.
            Her husband grills chicken. She comes out with martinis. She’s dressed now. White summer dress that covers her legs. Flows in the evening breeze.
            “Hey, kid,” the husband yells to me. “You have to do that now?”
            I shut off the weed-whacker. Tiny grass clippings cover my ankles. Sweat covers my brow. The husband turns his back to me to flip his chicken breasts. His wife stares straight ahead then turns to me. I want to know what she’s thinking. She senses this. Looks back at her husband. He snaps metal tongs around the cooked meat and moves the meal to a plate. They go inside.
            A girl I met at school last term visits. She’s brought some wine. I have a taste. She has the bottle. We laugh about our Profs. The laughs settle. In the quiet of the night she presses her wine soaked mouth against mine. It’s warm and sweet. I close my eyes and I’m kissing my neighbor.
            “There’s something I want to do for you,” the girl from class says.
            I let her open my pants. She kisses me as if asking for permission as she holds me in her hand. I lean my head back on the chaise lounge cushion as her mouth slides over me. It feels wonderful.
            But it’s not her. It’s my neighbor and I let her drink from me.
            A sliding door whisks open. I lift my head.
            My neighbor stands on her deck having a cigarette. She watches us. Opens her robe. Touches herself in the shadowy area between her legs.
            “The fuck?” her husband yells from inside the house. She flicks away the cigarette Closes her robe. The door slides shut. Hushed voices through a screen. A frightened yelp.
            The girl from class stops, looks up. “What was that?”
            I guide her back down onto me.
            “Where are your parents?” she asks afterwards.
            I tell her they’re retired and in Florida for the summer. She coos.
            The girl from class finally leaves. I go out to the pool for a morning swim. At the end of the third lap my neighbor stands at the fence. White tank top, yellow short shorts, sunglasses.
            “We need to talk,” she says.
            I climb out of the pool. Grab my towel. Pat it over my hair. Drape it around my neck. We meet at the fence. Neither of us speaks. She grabs the towel and pulls me to her mouth.
            Coffee. Cigarette. Lip gloss.
            My hand cups her breast. No bra. She gasps when my thumb brushes over the tip.
            I raise a hand to lift away her sunglasses. Her hand stops me but not before I see the bruise that wasn’t there yesterday.
            “He hit me,” she says. Voice hitches. “Last night. He saw me. Out here. My robe…”
            I put a hand behind her head. Pull her face to me. Kiss her. I want the fence to be gone. I want nothing more between us. For two years I’ve watched her loveless marriage destroy her. I want her to feel all the compassion I have for her, all the lust I’ve hidden since she first moved in next door. I reach over the fence, wrap an arm around her. She steps back.
            I see my reflection in her sunglasses. Hesitating. On the fence.
            I brace and push myself over into her yard. She rushes to me. Our hands and arms are all over one another. She pulls down my swim trunks, playfully kisses at my bobbing cock as I step out of the wet suit. She laughs and throws the trunks back into my yard. I don’t care that I’m naked in hers. I press my dick against her. Rip open her tank top. Her nipples stand as erect as I do.
            “Not out here,” she says. Giggles. Takes my hand. Leads me up the three steps of her deck. Takes me in. Takes me into her bedroom. Takes me into her bedroom where her husband lies dead. Where he husband lies dead, a bloody pillow over his face.
            I turn around.
            She’s there.
            Gun in her hand.
            Shirt ripped open.
            Blackened eye.
            Cold, calculating stare.
            And that’s when I know how hard she’s screwed me.



Jack Bates writes noir and crime fiction, and is an award winning screenplay writer. He has twice been nominated for a Derringer Short Mystery Fiction award.



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