I have no idea how long the townhouse next door had been empty before someone noticed that the two women living there were gone. I did see the story in the local paper of the two women who drowned on Lake Stanley when their rowboat capsized and thought of it as both sad and a little weird, as no one was supposed to be out in a rowboat on Lake Stanley after dark. Also it happened in early March rather than the summer, and they were reported to be dressed in street clothes. That too was weird—the wrong season to be rowing on the lake and the wrong clothes to be wearing to do it. I didn’t connect that report with my neighbors until the workmen showed up next door, though.
I’m not an unfriendly man, although I was going through a bad patch myself at the time. This small townhouse in a reclaimed, once slum area, of the old town hadn’t belonged to me when I moved in. It belonged to a professor, Tim. I had been hired as his graduate assistant and had started working in his office at the local university. He was steeped in his research, which spilled over into his private time and which, therefore, spilled over into mine as well. It expanded out from working at the university office to working at his home, my duties gradually broadening to include the domestic and personal. One thing led to another, and, for convenience at first, I was spending nights at his house. And then, again for his convenience, I suppose, I was sleeping in his bed.
When he died suddenly of a flu advancing into pneumonia, I found that he’d left the townhouse to me, as well as everything else he owned. And at his unexpected absence from the university, associate and assistant professors were moved up the chain, and I was brought in at the bottom of the chain as an adjunct professor.
It all happened so naturally and quietly that it seemed to have happened without my full participation. I’d been quite fond of Tim, and I’ll admit that his taciturnity rubbed off on me. I too became a bit morose and withdrew into a routine that didn’t involve much beyond classes at the university and continued research at home—and doing whatever Tim asked me to do.
The women next door were set in a routine too—for how long before I moved in with Tim, I have no idea. Only one of them ever seemed to leave the townhouse. She was the older of the two and must have been a professional, as she’d leave at 8:15 every morning, almost on the dot, in a tailored, but somewhat severe business suit, and with a briefcase in her hand. There was a bus stop up in the next block, on a busier street than we lived in, that regularly serviced the downtown area. I guess I always assumed she took the bus, but in the news report, they said there was a sedan belonging to one of the women found at the lake right where they would have taken the row boat, so maybe she drove and had the car garaged someplace nearby. She always reappeared by 6:00 p.m., often with a grocery bag as well as the briefcase, and she’d march right up to her door and then look furtively up and down the street before entering the townhouse. I found that odd enough that I marked it in my mind. I wouldn’t see her again then until the next morning—assuming I was looking out on the street the next morning.
My routines and isolation were such, though, that I found I did look for her to follow her routines as well. Observing her almost-on-the-dot departures and arrivals became as much a routine with me as winding Tim’s old grandfather clock. That being the case, I did mark when her routine stopped, but I just subtracted those observations from my own daily routine after a few days of change.
Our townhouses were small and bunched together close to the street, with no alley behind, so there really wasn’t much of a place to put a car. The woman’s townhouse didn’t even have a parking pad. There was one for two cars, taking up nearly the whole front yard, for Tim’s townhouse, but he never used it for his car. Tim had his car, a fancy Lexus coup he didn’t want to leave out in the open, garaged over on the main street. It wasn’t a longer walk from the house to where he garaged the car than our subsequent walk from the parking garage to our academic building at the university was. These walks were just about the only regular exercise we got—well, other than what happened in bed, our most active part of the day. Still, we both kept in shape.
We’d used the Lexus almost exclusively to get to and from the university, and I inherited it too. Tim didn’t have any family—other than me, and I wasn’t really family in any legal sense. I did wait around from some long, lost relative to show up and make a claim, which I would not have contested, but none did. This all happened before same sex marriage had passed in our state, so my claim seemed tenuous.
The older woman, Inger, although I didn’t know her name until after she’d died, was maybe in her early fifties and was a big-boned Germanic blonde. She wasn’t exactly unfriendly, although no one on this block of townhouses got into anyone else’s Beylikdüzü escort business much, but she wasn’t inviting either. She often seemed to have a weary and pursed-lipped look about her when she came home, and, as I noted before, she had a habit of furtively looking about her before opening her door and entering her house. I found that fascinating and all a bit Alfred Hitchcock in the atmosphere it created.
The other woman was somewhat younger in appearance and was of some Southeast Asian extraction. She was a scared little bunny, sometimes coming a step out of the house either in front or back, but never more than a foot away from an open door in front, through which she’d scamper back into the house at the slightest sound or movement on the block. She did hang their laundry out to dry on a line in their postage-stamp-sized back garden, which I found a bit “last century,” but it accorded me an opportunity to observe what she looked like. She was very attractive, but always looked a bit sad—and she too had a tendency to look around with apprehension before settling down to her laundry chore. All mysterious enough to provide me a mental break from my research to pursue flights of fancy about their life.
I didn’t learn her name until after they were gone either, and then, first, from the newspaper article without realizing that it was my neighbor. Her name was Lek, and she was from Thailand.
I often wondered how the two women could be so reclusive and what they did in the townhouse, just the two of them. But then I’d think about Tim and me living in here next door to them and how so steeped in his research Tim could be that we could go for days on end not leaving the house when university classes weren’t in session. And I thought about some of what we were doing in here alone, and I decided not to think that much about the women next door.
I didn’t think about the women next door so much—the interest in observing them having waned quickly once they’d broken their routine and never appeared—that it was maybe a month after I’d read the article in the newspaper without connecting their absence to the article, when I heard a racket start up on the other side of the wall and my own doorbell was ringing.
I opened the door to find a muscular and florid man maybe in his early forties, robust looking in white coveralls with no shirt under them that left his arms bare, showing bulging guns and several tattoos peeking out of the edges of the coveralls. There were construction boots on his feet and his head was topped off with a white painter’s cap.
I shrank away from him a bit. Before there had been staid academic Tim, there’d been a brief period in my life when I had gladly lain under such men. I’d had a fetish for muscular construction workers and construction boots. I found when I opened the door that old instinctive arousals didn’t die easily.
“Excuse me, sorry to bother you,” he said. “But I’m from Falwell Construction. My name’s Andy, and I’m the supervisor of the crew renovating the house next door.”
“Construction crew? Renovating the house next door? But there are women living next door. And I hadn’t heard about any construction.”
I trust I didn’t sound either belligerent or annoyed. I certainly didn’t intend to, but I had just come downstairs—I wasn’t a morning person—and only now realized that there had been some strange noises coming from next door since well before I got up. I hadn’t had a cup of coffee yet, and so I wasn’t really in control of what I was thinking or saying yet.
I briefly panicked with the question of whether I’d even dressed before answering the door—whether I was still just in my sleeping pants and barefoot—but, upon mental inspection, I realized I was dressed more decently than that. Still, the furtive looks the man was giving me when he didn’t think I was looking at him made me wonder if I had dressed.
“The house is empty now,” he was saying. “Apparently has been for some time. Bank repo. We’re clearing it out and cleaning it up for sale. Not much room out here on the street, though, and I’ve got a truck that has to be here with my crew and we have to bring a dumpster in for a week or so for what we’ve got to shovel out of the house. Looks like the residents just up and left without taking anything with them.”
“Up and left?” I nonsensically said. I was searching my brain for the last time I’d seen one or both of the women from over there and I was coming up with a blank.
“Well, we aren’t supposed to know, but these were the women who died in Lake Stanley last month. So I guess they’re not coming back and they don’t need anything in the house—although it don’t look like there’s much in the house to be proud of. Place needs a lot of work too. Doesn’t look like anyone was in here to service anything in years.”
“Oh,” I said, just now processing the connection between the women who died in Lake Stanley and the women right next door who I hadn’t given a second thought to for more than a month. Beylikdüzü escort I was just as glad they hadn’t died in the house. I wouldn’t have been any quicker, I don’t think, to cluing in to the lack of activity over there—and the smell. Some neighbor, I knew, but this really was Tim’s house, and, given my relationship with Tim, we hadn’t exactly become the neighborhood gadflies.
“Well, the reason why I knocked on your door is that we really, really need space to put the dumpster, and there’s very little space around here. I saw that you have a double parking pad without anything on it. I was told to ask you if the construction company could rent your pad for a couple of weeks for the dumpster. We’d keep the dumpster covered when we weren’t filling it. The company would pay well for the inconvenience.”
“Oh, yes, of course. No need to pay me,” I said, giving the man—who was quite presentable in a way that was a whole separate world from what had been mine and Tim’s, and therefore of more interest and worth a second look than otherwise. I’d always had a little surge of electricity over men in construction—all that virility and muscle—and Andy met that description well. It was sort of a taboo and two different worlds thing, I guess. I had gone with construction workers in an earlier life, and I’d retained more than a few fantasies of going with a construction worker. And it had been a good six months since I’d gone with anyone—and that was Tim and had become a bit ho hum. Tim was an older man. Of course I did gravitate to older men. Of course, the construction workers who had covered me were older than I was too.
Andy was an older man. Maybe fifteen or sixteen years older than I was. But the construction workers I’d gone with had all been vigorous and meltingly demanding in a way Tim never had been. Tim gave me rather more respect in the coupling than really aroused me. There’s no way I ever would have told him that, of course.
The construction foreman named Andy returned my smile and suddenly looked like a million dollars to me. But I knew that wasn’t going anywhere—or shouldn’t—so we just exchanged pleasantries and I left him to supervising the work next door. That day—and in succeeding days—I didn’t get much research or course preparation done, though, as I found myself frequently at one of the front windows, looking at an angle over at the small front yard of the townhouse next door, where there was a double-cab white truck with a Falwell Construction logo painted on the door pulled up on the more-dirt-than-grass verge between the front stoop and the street.
The workmen Andy was directing—all young and well-muscled and jovial men—swirled between the truck and the house, hauling in tools and hauling out split sections of drywall. I wanted to see what sort of furnishings would come out of the house. Maybe there was something I could salvage and use. But they seemed to be doing structural work now. This stood to reason, I decided, since the dumpster hadn’t arrived yet.
They also seemed to be having a good time and getting along very well despite being engaged in some heavy-duty work—very well, as a matter of fact. They were all banter and hands and sexual innuendo and “fuck this” and “fuck that” and “ream you a big one” with each other. Andy was directing them, but pleasantly—and in a very friendly manner. Very friendly indeed. More than once I saw him pat one of the young men on the butt or give one a bear hug.
It was, I was sure, all very innocent, but it set my mind aflutter. I hadn’t really given much thought to having once had a construction worker fetish—which I sometimes carried out—before I lived with Tim, but those fantasies certainly were stirring now. And I’ll admit that they were the source of more masturbatory sessions in the dark of the night than I customarily indulged in after Tim died.
He was a big, heavily muscled, manly musk-scented brute, certainly too powerful for me to fight in any way. We were in an unfinished house, bare wall framing, sawdust on the floor, unfinished floors. I was completely in his control. I had shuddered and gone powerless as he cornered me, putting his hands on me and talking “gonna fuck you hard,” “gonna ream you a bigger hole” dirty to me. Just the thought of that and look of him made me putty in his hands.
There was a straight chair, and he had his right leg lifted, his foot, in a heavy construction boot, flat on the seat of the chair, with my right leg trapped up and over his. I was bent over in front of him, both of my arms forced painfully up my back, him needing just one beefy hand to hold them together there in a grip that was painful on my wrists and an angle of stretch that was painful on my arms. I was gasping for breath, panting because he was already thick and long inside me, buried deep but just barely pulsating as yet. His right arm was wrapped around my waist, keeping me bent over there in front of him. My eyes were on the colorful snake tattoo wound around his right calf—and also on Escort Beylikdüzü his shiny construction boots, polished by my tongue. He’d made me slither across the floor and clean his boots with my tongue—and to beg to be fucked.
I yelped, giving it a hollow sound that assured me that I wasn’t really awake, as he began to stroke inside me with his cock. In and out; in and out; in deeper and hold; pull out to the rim of the bulb and plunge, causing me to gasp and jerk and groan. Even unconscious I had the presence of mind to search my memory for whether this had actually happened to me before—or if this was a true fantasy of what I would want if I unleashed my desires and let them run wild. I was ready to come. I screwed my face around to see his and was shocked. As I shot off in an arc over the sawdust-covered floor, the face registered—Andy, the construction foreman working next door.
I woke up in a sweat and with cum dotting the front of my sleeping shorts. I was gripping my still-hard and throbbing cock. I wasn’t fully awake, though—just fully satisfied for some reason—maybe for the first time since before I’d met Tim, I had to admit to myself. I went over the scene in my mind, trying to decide whether I was bothered that I’d had a wet dream about the construction foreman working next door. And I should have known it earlier in the dream than I did. Andy sometimes wore shorts rather than bib coveralls, and I’d seen the snake tattoo on his right calf before. I just hadn’t realized that the eroticism of it had stuck with me.
The next day I tried to keep myself busy with research. I almost regretted that I didn’t have any classes to cover at the university. But my mind kept drifting to what was happening next door. I don’t know at what point it hit me that they were working so hard and had been at it for a few hours and therefore could probably use a break and a cup of coffee. It would only be neighborly to offer them a cup of coffee. I went into the kitchen and scrounged around under the counter for the twenty-cup pot Tim had used for class and faculty meetings. After finding the urn I discovered I was out of coffee. There was beer in the refrigerator. Even better, I thought.
* * * *
“What could have made them want to do that, I wonder. They were reclusive, yes, but I can’t really believe that taking a rowboat out on a lake at night in early March and both falling out of the boat and drowning was an accident.”
“No, it wasn’t any accident,” Andy agreed. He was sitting at my kitchen table, on his lunch break. They’d been working on the house next door for several days now and I had started making them sandwiches and taking them over at lunch. They were such a convivial crew and so good looking that I felt comfortable and a little bit warm inside to have that bit of connection. I’d already dealt with the wet dream I’d had of Andy. It was just me not having had sex for some time and thinking back to my days before I’d met Tim. I’d given all of that up, though. That was behind me. I’d grown up.
Today, for the first time, Andy came into the house and ate with me while the rest ate over there on the job.
Until now, I hadn’t realized how lonely I’d felt without Tim in the house and in this hiatus between semesters at the college. And I certainly couldn’t concentrate on research, not with a dumpster sitting right outside my dining room window and me running there each time I heard a clunk to maybe see what was being tossed—and who was tossing it. It didn’t escape me that I was more interested in seeing what was what out there than annoyed at the interruption of my work.
Strong, hunky construction workers in those loose, white coveralls, with no shirts under them, giving the impression that was all they were wearing. Heavy-duty construction boots, wide-stance strutting to and from the dumpster like they were heavy hung. Moving with the grace of dancers, contrasting tantalizingly with the hulkiness and roughness of their bodies. All smiles, patting each other on the back and rump intimately. The construction supervisor, Andy, moving among them, more muscular than any of them. Tattoos on his bulging biceps as well as on his calf. Rough, calloused, but sensitive, hands, moving expressively. He so attentive as he sat at my kitchen table.
“There must be some story behind it,” I said, “and to think that it was developing just on the other side of this wall from me and I didn’t know it was happening—or care.”
“You mustn’t be hard on yourself,” Andy said, giving me a sympathetic look and ever so briefly touching my forearm with his rough, calloused fingers. “That’s the way it is with city life. I’m sure you were having your own concerns here.”
“Yes, I guess I was.” That’s when I told him about Tim and how harrowing it was that week that Tim was dying and there wasn’t anything anyone could do—or was doing—to prevent that. It, of course, was only a week, though, and whatever was developing next door surely built up over much longer time than that. But Andy was right about urban life. Everyone here husbands their privacy. I couldn’t say that either of the women, even the few times I saw them, appeared to be open to approach. Not that I ever gave a thought to approaching either one of them.