Rick pulled up into the drive after an especially hard day at the power plant, glad that he'd tacked an extra day off onto his vacation. He was exhausted - ready for a shower and a lazy weekend. Loud music greeted him as soon as he opened the car door. He shook his head and chuckled, making his way to the door.
Most of the neighbors complained, and his sister had commented more than once about the white trash who had moved into the trailer next door. Rick took a live and let live approach, able to more or less ignore the cluttered yard and loud music. At least the music was simply loud, and not filled with overblown bass thumping his walls. The youngsters who had moved in next door were both nineteen, and though he was forty, he wasn't so old as to not remember being that age.
A quick peek out the window made him pause. Billy was under a shade tree, working on a dirt bike - a regular sight out the rear window. What was not a common sight was Summer lying on a beach towel in the yard, wearing a skimpy bikini.
"Good lord," Rick muttered under his breath as he drank in the sight of her. Honey blonde hair fanned out around her face. The sparse cloth of her bikini bottom revealed every inch of her long, gorgeous legs. The top likewise did little to hide her breasts, which were perky little handfuls.
Fortunately, she had her eyes closed and Billy was engrossed in his greasy engine, because Rick stood staring out the part between the curtains for far longer than he should have. He hadn't been with anyone since the divorce three years ago, and the sex had been sparse for the last several years of his marriage anyway. The sight of the gorgeous young woman had simply mesmerized him.
Tearing his eyes away, he blew out a long breath and adjusted his erection, which had swollen as he admired her. He was a couple of minutes into a shower before it ever drooped.
A weather report blared over the clock radio the next morning, confirming warnings that had been in the air for days. The whole state was under an excessive heat warning, with the heat index expected to reach around 110. Never fond of the heat, he would have been miserable and irritable if there had been any need to go out in it.
He stretched and slipped out of bed. His only plan for the weekend and the following week of vacation was sleeping in and watching television in the air conditioning, so the forecast didn't bother him in the slightest.
After whipping up some breakfast, he settled in to do exactly that. A World War II marathon on the History Channel kept him engrossed - the perfect start to a lazy vacation. Once or twice, he heard odd thumps from outside, but assumed it was Billy working on something and did a fair job of ignoring it. He'd been young once, and wasn't one to complain.
Upon returning from the bathroom during a commercial break, a different sound caught his attention. He stepped toward the window, having heard Billy and Summer shouting at each other. Through the curtains, he saw them face to face in the yard, screaming at each other. It was hard to make out the words, but Summer's final scream of, "Fuck you, bastard," came through loud and clear.
She spun on her heel and started to walk back to the trailer, but Billy grabbed her arm and jerked her back. She clawed at him with her other hand, trying to get free, and he suddenly backhanded her.
Rick was moving even as she stumbled back and fell hard on her bottom. He threw open the back door and shouted, "Hey, now."
"Go back in the house, old man. This is none of your business," Billy growled.
Rick ignored him and crossed the yard. He could see the red mark on the blonde's face, and the tears streaming from her dazed eyes. "Summer, are you okay?"
"I said go back in the house, old man," Billy repeated, turning with balled fists.
The words sprang to Rick's lips almost as soon as they formed in his brain. "I may be old, but at least I am a man, and not some punk hitting a woman."
"I will knock you the fuck out."
"Stop!" Summer cried out as she tried to rise, but it was too late.
Billy sprang forward with a growl, his fist cocked. Rick's training from the Marine Corps and subsequent years of karate kicked in, and he moved without thought. In the space of a heartbeat, he dodged the punch, grabbed the younger man's wrist, twisted it behind his back, and drove Billy to his knees.
Billy's voice was an octave or so higher than usual, somewhere between pleading and demand. "Ow, mother-fucker, let go."
"Please stop," Summer asked, touching his arm.
Rick released him, and Billy grabbed his arm, scooting away across the grass.
Summer looked down at him and said, "We're through, Billy. Nobody hits me."
The younger man started to rise. "Bitch, I'll..."
Rick stepped between them and growled, "Get in your truck and leave. You've got three seconds before I call the police. With your handprint still on her face, you'll go straight to jail."
"This isn't over, you old son-of-a-bitch. You either, whore." Despite his brash words, Billy was walking backwards toward his truck.
Choosing not to answer him, Rick turned to Summer instead. "Are you okay? You should really call the police anyway."
"He's ... He's just drunk."
The truck roared to life, tires squealing as Billy tore out onto the road.
"That's no excuse."
"I meant what I said. I'm done with him. I just want it to be over."
Rick nodded. "Okay. Have you got someone to be here with you when he comes back to get his stuff?"
"Good. I'm sorry about all this."
She rubbed at the red mark on her face and offered a half smile. "Don't be. Thank you."
"You're welcome. If you need anything, I'm right next door. Don't hesitate to ask."
"Thanks, Mr. Willard."
"Rick. We're neighbors."
"Rick," she repeated, her smile a little wider.
He gave her a nod and returned her smile, feeling good as he walked back to the house.
Concern for his neighbor kept Rick's eyes and ears open throughout the day. Fortunately, Billy had either sobered up and had a flash of reason, or one of his friends had, because someone else came to clean his belongings out of the trailer late that evening. Rick hit the rack feeling fairly comfortable that Summer was safe from another drunken rampage for the evening.
He'd barely had time to have breakfast the next morning before a knock sounded on the door. When he answered it, he found Summer, dripping with sweat and her eyes red from crying. Jumping to conclusions, he said, "Let me get the phone and we'll call the police. He's..."
"No, Mr. Will ... Rick," she interrupted, "It's not like that. He didn't come back. It's just that ... Well..."
"Come in out of that heat. It's like Satan's breath out there."
"Thanks." She stepped inside and a violent shiver ran through her as the air-conditioning hit her sweat-soaked clothes.
Rick had to concentrate hard to ignore how her damp top outlined her bra in perfect detail. "So, what's wrong?" he asked after closing the door.
"The electric and stuff was all in Billy's name, and the jerk shut them off." Her eyes welled up again. "They came out and turned everything off today, but they say that they can't turn anything back on until Monday at the earliest. Everything in the fridge is going to go bad. I can't take a shower. The..." A sob stole her breath.
Laying a hand on her shoulder, Rick said, "Okay. First things first, let's go clean your fridge out and get everything over here. I've got plenty of room, so there's no need to worry about that."
She sniffled and said, "That's what I was kind of hoping."
"Let me grab a couple of coolers to put everything in for the moment."
"Thank you so much," she said while wiping her eyes.
"Like I said, we're neighbors. Don't be afraid to ask if you need any help. I'll be right back with those coolers."
Finding a pair of coolers in the well-organized loft over the garage took next to no time, and he was soon walking across the yard with Summer. All the doors and windows were open, but it didn't seem to do any good. Right at the threshold, the temperature shot up.
"Lord, it's like an oven in here," he commented, sweat already beading on his forehead, and he barely had a foot in the door.
"It's miserable. It only took like fifteen minutes after the power went out."
"This isn't safe. Let me take care of the fridge. You grab some clothes, head back over to the house, take a shower, and cool down. The bathroom is the first door on the right. I can't conscience you being over here and ending up in an ambulance from heat stroke."
"Yes, you can. I'm not taking no for an answer."
Hints of a smile emerged on her face. "Thanks, Rick. I didn't know what I was going to do."
"Well, you do now." He gave a nod and headed toward the fridge.
Emptying everything into the cooler didn't take long, as there wasn't much. Over half of it was beer. Summer had only been gone with her armload of clothing for a minute or two when he finished and made an escape from the sweltering trailer. He breathed a great sigh of relief when he stepped back into the cool confines of his own house.
The fridge in the garage only had a few beers in it, so there was plenty of room for Summer's things. When he walked back inside after putting everything away, the sound of the shower running tickled his ear.
.... There is more of this story ...