Sad Neighbour: A Story


I hadn't seen Mrs. Zimmer in 10 years and I wondered how she'd changed, I wondered if her melancholy had stayed away and I wondered how hard she'd take her husband's death. I had part of my answer the moment my eyes adjusted to the light in the room. She was sitting on a sofa beside a younger woman who was clearly her daughter. Mrs. Zimmer looked regal in black and resolute as she smiled at the people gathered around her. I stood there looking at her for maybe a minute before she saw me. I didn't move, didn't really know what to do as she walked across the room. She stopped in front of me, smiled and when she came into my arms I hugged her, conscious of all the eyes on us. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Zimmer."

She let go of me and stepped back, "I know you are, Bradley. Thank you." Then she stepped towards me again, kissed me on the cheek and said, "Come and see me in a week or so. Will you?"

"I will."

I waited two weeks before I phoned her. She asked me to dinner the next night, or as she put it, "A little walk and some supper."

We walked for a few minutes in silence, "It's like old time, ah?"

I nudged her playfully with my hip, "It's amazing how comfortable I feel being back here with you. How are you? How are you coping?"

"Good days, bad days. I'll be fine eventually, but it'll take a little time. I'll miss him." Then she nudged into me, "Thanks to you."

We fell quiet again, I think she was lost in a memory, so I searched mine for other times we had walked on this trail and it wasn't hard. I had often thought about our walks together, they were some of the best memories I had.

"You're in advertising."

"Yes," I was surprised she knew.

"And your parents are still well, you aren't and haven't been married, you like to spend time in the Rockies, you play a lot of sports, you sometimes study philosophy at night school and you once took tango lessons." I guess my surprise showed because she smiled and said, "I try to time my visits to the hairdresser with Valerie Jenkins." Mrs. Jenkins was a neighbour and friend of my mothers.

I laughed but I was really pleased she still had an interest in me and I told her so.

"Do you think I'd ever forget my one White Knight? Not a chance, Bradley, not a chance." As we walked back to her house in silence I hoped she was enjoying my company as much as I was enjoying hers.

Susan was stirring a pot on the stove when we entered the kitchen. Mrs. Zimmer made the introductions, put a can of beer in my hand and told me to go sit in the living room, supper would be ready in a few minutes.

Five minutes later she called and when I followed the voice into the dining room, she put a bottle of wine and an opener in my hands and sat down. Susan, in oven mitts, placed two serving dishes on the table and returned to the kitchen. I filled the three wine glasses and waited for Susan's return. Within a minute we were all seated and Mrs. Zimmer used the moment to raise her glass, "To old friends … and new." I threw a quick glance at her while I drank and noted her smile.

I've never been good at small talk, either giving or receiving. I like to try and get into people's heads but this wasn't the time or the place so I over-chewed my food and intently followed the conversation which was, basically, Mrs. Zimmer proudly giving a promo of her daughter. I remembered Susan was about 2 years older then me, which meant that by 31 the woman had accomplished a lot: undergrad in History; law degree; state prosecutors office (Illinois); recently appoint asst. chief prosecutor here and a bunch of other things that would look great on a CV. It all struck me as being really impressive but really soulless, too. She didn't sound like a chip off the old block at all so I filled in a momentary silence by asking, "What do you like to do in your spare time?"

She didn't look us from her plate when she said, "What's that?"

"Sorry, I'd hoped we'd have a little more fun," Mrs. Zimmer whispered the words as I was leaving, then she added with what looked like a wink, "I think it's time for the White Knight to ride again."

The door was closed before I laughed and I'm glad it was because I wasn't at all sure if my laugh was an appropriate response. I wasn't at all sure what she meant, and my full concentration on the cryptic statement during the 20 minute ride home helped not at all. But the telephone did. It was ringing when I unlocked my apartment door.

She was laughing when I put the receiver to my ear. "I had to call, Bradley. What you must be thinking."

"I don't know what to think."

"The White Knight is for her, not me." She laughed again, "not that I wouldn't like to see him again — if he gets spurned by the fair maiden."

It sounded to me as if Mrs. Zimmer had downed a few stingers in my absence. I wasn't following her and the dead air over the phone line may have made that point because she quickly explained herself. "I asked you to dinner because I wanted you to meet Susan, and as importantly, I wanted Susan to meet you. I can't tell you how much I wanted you two to ‘hit it off' as we used to say, I think you say ‘get it on' now." Then she hurriedly added, "And I wanted to see you again myself, of course, don't think for a second I didn't. You're my favourite person on this entire planet, Bradley, well, second to Susan.' There was another long pause, "I wanted to get you together."

"I had fun, Mrs. Zimmer and I'm glad I met Susan."


"No, honest," I lied.

"Then you asked to see her again?"

"No, I, ah, didn't get the chance."

"So, you plan to?"

"Yes, of course, I'd sure like to."

"Not as much as I'd like you to, Bradley. She needs a White Knight now about as badly as I did."

I was about to say something, I have no idea what but she cut me off, "Please, Bradley, work your magic on her. The girl is lost."

"Goodnight, Mrs. Zimmer and thank you for dinner."

Susan and I had a drink after work a few days later. Our time together lasted little more then half an hour and a day later the only thing I could remember about it was the one prolonged thought that looped through my brain during the interminable session: ‘How could a woman be this gorgeous and this boring?' She talked about nothing but her work.

But, remembering Mrs. Zimmer's plea, I gave it another shot a week or so later. This time I was rewarded with a headache, so on the way out of the place I asked the bartender for an aspirin, which I quickly downed with the warm dregs of my beer, and when she looked like she needed an explanation, I told her I'd picked it up playing volleyball earlier in the day after work. Somehow, my head hurt too much for me to remember, that interested her, she said she had played a lot of volleyball in college. I invited her to play on my mixed team the following week.

I was surprised when she showed up; I was surprised that she was so good and I was shocked that when it was all over and I good naturedly slapped her on her sweaty shoulder, I got a sexual jolt. But even at that I was glad I wasn't sitting next to her in the bar afterwards and, though torn by my emotions, I was glad when everyone asked her to join the team.

It's bad form, I know, but I'd had a few drinks before I went to Mrs. Zimmer's for dinner a couple of weeks later. But I was glad I did because when I sat down at the dinning room table I felt the same chill on my right. Mrs. Zimmer on my left, however, was in great spirits. I'd guessed she's had a couple, too. She peppered me with questions and, lubricated as I was, I cheerfully answered them and tossed a few back at her, light stuff, fun stuff and we laughed a lot and poured each other wine.

Her voice surprised me, I had all but forgotten Susan was there. "What's the White Knight thing all about?"

The question was directed at neither of us so much as just plopped on the table and, for me, it sucked all the fun right out of the evening. But not for Mrs. Zimmer. She gave me an obviously coy and sexy look and said, "Bradley rode into my life at the exact moment I needed him."

"When was that?"

"About ten year ago?" Mrs. Zimmer asked the question to me and I nodded my head.

"What do you mean ‘rode into my life?'"

"I'd hit a rough patch, as I'm sure you remember." She noticed that her daughter appeared confused so she elaborated, "Even before you left for college I was unhappy, your dad and I had grown apart, you and I had, too," at that Susan nodded her head. "I was deep in the doldrums for the longest time and couldn't find my way out. Bradley showed me the way."


"He took an interest in me, he cared about me. We walked and talked and …" Mrs. Zimmer searched for a word but gave it up and started to laugh and when she reached over and gripped my hand I found her laughter contagious and I started in, too and pretty soon, boozed up as we were, we were laughing uncontrollably, tears were running down both our cheeks. It was the ultimate insider joke; Susan was frozen out, forgotten — until the words, "WHAT are you laughing about?"

It was a sobering question and it stopped us in our tracks. I wasn't about to touch it, but Mrs. Zimmer did, she answered it honestly and defiantly. "I was lost, I was in need, Bradley helped me come alive again, emotionally, sexually, …"

And that was the last we saw of Susan. She threw her napkin on the table and bolted, leaving us looking at our plates, at food we had barely touched.

It happened two weeks later. It was a matter of rotten timing. I had just ordered another beer when everyone from the volleyball team finished theirs and left, everyone but Susan. I had noticed she had been drinking more then usual and even though she had half a beer left, she waved at the waiter for another. "Why haven't you asked me back to your place?"

Her elbow was on the table and her chin was resting in her hand. Her eyes, though heavy-lidded, were searching into mine; it took me a moment to recognize curiosity in them. I had never seen curiosity on her face before, didn't think she was ever confounded by it. I smiled and shrugged my shoulders helplessly — I couldn't tell her that it had never occurred to me.

"I'd like to see how my mother's White Knight lives." She stood up and tugged at my arm, "Come on, let's go."

We took my car and were there in a few minutes. It's the third floor of an old mansion: solid, bright, big rooms, high ceilings and remarkable wood. I've been in it for four years and love the place. Though she did an obligatory twirl in the living room, I didn't think she really noticed it. "Can I have a beer?"

She was sitting on the couch when I put the glass down on the coffee table and when I sat down beside her she got up on her knees threw her arms around my neck and forced her lips onto mine as if she wanted to bruise them. The rest happened so fast I felt I was being attacked. I watched — I was going to say helplessly, but that isn't true, more in fascination — as she fumbled with my belt and my zipper, as she pulled my pants and underwear off, then she stood up, stripped off her own pants and panties, took my prick and forced it into her, forced it so hard that pain retarded a full erection, then she squirmed on it for about a minute before letting out a long, plaintive moan, soaking my lap and the couch with a torrent of fluid. She then collapsed on me and I though she may have passed out but she was breathing too hard for that and after a couple of minutes she got off me, put her panties and pants back on and sat down. I hadn't moved when she turned to me and said, "I guess I've got to be going."

She was in no shape to drive, so I took her home. At the only stop light I looked over at her. Her mouth was slightly open and she was snoring.

Susan wasn't at volleyball for the next two weeks, I'd figured she's given up on that and me. Then she appeared at my door one night at about 11 o'clock. She looked awful — tired, haggard and lost. "Can I come in?"

She sat on the couch, sat forward with her head down, her arms on her knees and she was wringing her hands. "You haven't called me."



"I don't think we're happy together." She said nothing and continued to lean on her knees and stare at the same point on the coffee table. I searched for something to say, "I think you're way more into your career then I am."

She didn't move when she said, "I quit my job two days ago."

That stunned me, her job seemed to be her life.

When she turned to me there appeared to be a little hope in her eyes. "Does that make a difference?"

"We aren't the same kind of people, Susan, we …"

"It was the last time, wasn't it?"

"That didn't help."

She turned on the couch, bringing a leg up, facing me. "You can."

"I can?"

"You can help me, like you helped mum."

"Your mother helped herself, Susan, I was just there."

Susan smiled at this, the first friendly, open smile I had ever seen on her face. "Yes, you were there, mum told me about it, she told me what happened, she told me what it meant to her, she told me what you mean to her."

She leaned into me and rested her head on my shoulder. We didn't talked for the longest time. Then I heard my voice say, "Come here tomorrow. At 7. But you have to agree to stay 24 hours, I don't want you running away at the first sign of trouble."

She kissed me on the cheek, got up and left.

When I made supper the next night, I didn't know if I was making a meal for two or a meal and some left overs; I had no idea if she was going to come and I hadn't really worked out whether I wanted her to. On the one hand I did: she was gorgeous, built, lost — I find that, as you know by now, really alluring — and there was that promise I made to her mother. On the other hand, while I saw a lot of promise in her — she was after all her mother's daughter — she seemed rigid and humourless; she seemed like too much work for too little reward. The knock on the door settled the issue.

She kissed me lightly on the lips as I closed the door then she kissed me on the cheek. "The one is from me, the other is from mum." Then she added, "She said she wishes you luck."

When I smiled, I think I was smiling more at the mother then the daughter, "I hope we don't need any."

She took off her jacket and placed a big purse on the floor beside the couch. "I brought a tooth brush."

"And some resolve?"

She didn't answer me, she just put her arms around my neck and held me and as I held her, squeezed her to me, I felt a little hope.

I put the wine down in front of us, in about the same place the beer had been the first time she was here. "Do you know how many flower shops my mother owns?" She was leaning on her knees like last night, I could tell she was nervous.

"No." I didn't know where she was going with this.

"Neither do I but a lot. She built up a whole chain of them in all kinds of cities. She did it all by herself, with a lot of hard work. That's what landed her in her doldrums, as she calls it. She lost all the balance in her life. She's fun, that's really what she's about. All that work and no play …" She trailed off into her own thoughts. "That's what was happening to me. All work." When she leaned into me I put my arm around her and we sat like that, silently, for a long time, then she looked up at me, "Give me a chance, Brad."

I took my arm from around her neck and sat up. "Are you here for 24 hours."

She pointed to her bag, "I brought some clothes, too."

"Excuse me for a moment." I went to the kitchen, turned off all the dials on the stove, returned with the wine bottle and as I sat back down and pulled her into me I told her I wasn't hungry.

She settled into me again, this time closer. "I am." And she looked up at me with that new-found radiant smile of hers and that was the start of it.

Her moan began the moment I kissed her. It started almost like a whimper and got louder and more guttural and she got up on her knees, like she did before, and she squeezed my neck so hard it hurt. This time I had no intention of being her victim. I pulled her around so she was sitting on my lap and when I looked at her it was clear she was in urgent need and when I put my hand between her legs, she pressed at my fingers and forced her face into my neck and I could feel her scream in every vessel in my body.

It took a long time for her body to go limp, it seemed to spasm for awhile, but she was finally still and when I removed my hand from her jeans her word was childlike, "Sorry."

I hugged her in encouragement, "I'm not, you were beautiful."

She was quiet for a few moments, then she started laughing.

"What's so funny?" I didn't get it.

"I'm a Bradley."

I turned her a little so I could read her face. I didn't know what she meant.

She smiled at me with real laughter in her eyes. "Mum told me. When you were together. She thought it was so funny. You had to explode every few minutes. You couldn't help yourself." Then she hesitated waiting for me to make the connection. I didn't. "I'm a Bradley, I can't help myself either." When I finally got it I joined her laughter and for the first time felt connected to her.

We talked for a bit. She told me about her talk with her mother, how her mother told her everything, how she told it so matter of factly, as if there wasn't a shred of guilt involved. Susan told me it took her a few days but that she finally thought she understood: she understood that her mum wasn't so much cheating on her marriage as trying to save it, and save herself in the process. "It's a beautiful story, Brad. I loved mum's courage, if I can call it that …" and she turned into me and pressed her face into my chest so I almost didn't hear her words, "… and I love you for it."

The words got to me. I started to stroke her hair with one hand as I rubbed her arm with the other. Then I went under her arm and rubbed against her side and when I brought my hand up to touch the side of her breast she started to squirm. "Oh God, Brad." And when she laughed, I quickly got up, and she helped me pulled down her pants and panties and I kneeled on the floor, brought my mouth to hers and when my finger found her pussy her hand came on top of mine and she forced me into her as she groaned into my throat.

Afterwards, I tried to removed my hand, but she wouldn't let me. She caressed the back of it, really lightly, reassuringly. "Did you ever get enough, Brad?"


"When you were with mum, did you ever get enough, were you ever satisfied?"

"No. It took me a long time to get over your mother. Not sexually, I don't mean sexually, I don't think of your mother sexually. We were connected your mother and I, or at least I thought we were. That woman taught me how to love, how to care. I think she did more for me then I ever did for her. I love her for what she did for me, I always will."

I kissed her, as I thought about the mother and she kissed me back with more passion then I knew existed. Then she began tearing at my buttons and I helped her and struggled out of my shirt and she pressed her face to my chest, which was hot with sweat and I held her for a moment, then I pulled her to her feet and as I headed towards the bedroom she passed me, she was running and laughing and her spectacular ass shone white below her black sweater.

She was taking off that sweater when I joined her by the bed and then she reached behind her to take off her bra but I stopped her. "Those are a couple of presents I'd like to open."

I didn't have a chance to blush at the line. She was on her knees in front of me and she had by belt undone and when she pulled down my pants with my underwear my hard-on sprang out like a jack-in-the-box and she sat back on her heels transfixed. "I've never really looked at one before." She leaned forward, held it gently with both hands, curious, turning it to inspect it, then she cupped by balls with one hand and brought her lips down to it, kissing it, licking it, then she put it in her mouth and sucked on it.

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