by D.S. Levy
Harry Hicks was in his driveway whacking tiny whiffle balls off a fake turf pad toward his neighbor’s front yard. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Shirley Bell pass back and forth behind the picture window. The Bells always kept their curtains open until dark, making it easy for Harry to scope out big-breasted Shirley in her tight spandex workout pants.
It was early spring, golf season still a month away. One of his balls flew into the Bells’ shrubs; another hit their roof and bounced off. But it was a bad slice into the side of their house that sent Marvin Bell flying out shirtless, wearing only his boxers.
‘What in the Sam-hell do you think you’re doing?’ Marvin said to Harry, pointing at a golf ball-sized dent in his aluminum siding. ‘Look what you did!’
‘Aw, go put some clothes on, for Christ’s sake,’ said Harry, teeing up another ball. ‘Go fix a toilet.’
It was not the first time Harry and Marvin had had words over Harry’s golf practice. Last year, Marvin had found two balls buried in his tulips, a third in his geranium box. He’d marched over to Harry’s house and dropped all three balls on the step telling him he’d better stop using his front lawn as a driving range.
The Bells were liberals who not only voted against county tax exemptions, but thought it was the government’s duty to keep people on the dole. Last November, they’d put a sign out in their yard for a slimy Socialist who, fortunately, got annihilated in the primary. Plumber Marvin was, no surprise, a union man.
But politics hadn’t stopped Harry from spying on Marvin’s wife. At night, he’d sit in the dark and watch for her shadow to pass across the pulled curtains. On sunny afternoons, when she’d lay out in the backyard, nothing between her and l’Soleil but a teeny-tiny neon-pink bikini, he’d pretend to work in his garage, watching her with binoculars, waiting for her to point her two firm breasts skyward.
‘You’re going to pay for this!’ Marvin said, shaking his fist. ‘I’ll get someone out here first thing tomorrow. You’re getting the goddamned bill!’
‘Send me the bill,’ Harry mumbled, seeing long-legged Shirley stumble outside with a tall drink in her hand.
‘Look what he did!’ her husband said to her, and she went over and stuck out her derrière to have a look.
‘I said, send me the bill,’ Harry said, a little louder.
Shirley stood up and waved at Harry, and then turned to her husband and softly said something. Marvin swiped his hand through the air and followed her into the house slamming the door.
Harry hit a few more balls before deciding to call it quits. The Bells had closed their living room curtains early, and he was getting hungry.
Inside, his lights were on, and for a moment he’d felt as if he’d stepped back two years ago, and Roseanne was standing at the stove, smiling. ‘What’s cookin’?’—their joke, since he’d never made a meal in his life. Now, he wandered over to the freezer and shoved a frozen dinner in the microwave.
He ate in the living room, pretending it was something his wife had made instead of the Stouffer’s Chicken in Barbeque Sauce it was. He stared at a dead TV screen. Down the hallway, the old grandfather clock that had belonged to Roseanne’s great-aunt was the heavy heartbeat of the house. Listening to it, he wondered what tomorrow would bring. More tee shots, (hopefully) more stolen glimpses of Shirley to pass the time, make him feel less lonely. And a bill for the Bells’ dented siding, which he’d at first refuse just to see Marvin’s face turn red before pulling out his wallet and paying up.
DS Levy’s work has been published in Fictive Dream, New Flash Fiction Review, Little Fiction, the Alaska Quarterly Review, Columbia, South Dakota Review, Brevity, The Pinch, and others. Her chapbook of flash fiction, A Binary Heart, was published by Finishing Line Press.