Voyeur ExtraordinaireBy: Cora Reilly
I’d never considered myself a voyeur, but that changed one night when I came home late from waiting tables in a shabby bar where ass touching was considered a valid sport, and spotted my new neighbor banging a red-head across from my bedroom window. If I’d known what would follow after, I’d have never picked up those damn binoculars. Or maybe that’s just what I’d like to tell myself.
I could still feel the imprint of his hand on my butt. It had burned itself into my skin – just like his sweat had left a stain on my skirt. I hated the way the guys in Jack’s bar thought that because I delivered their drinks to them in a ridiculously tight and short skirt (requested by my boss a.k.a. Asshat Jack), I gave them permission to clap my ass like I was a donkey they wanted to get moving faster. But I shouldn’t complain – I needed that job and those ass claps were more action than I’d gotten in a while and, if you didn’t count the few awkward make-out sessions with creepy-Chris, probably all my life.
I squinted into the darkness. The light in the hallway on my floor wasn’t working – again. I’d complained to our landlord Mr. Olsen at least a dozen times and just that often he’d promised to fix the problem. Maybe he’d finally fix the problem if I broke my legs tumbling down a flight of stairs. That might actually solve my financial problems. I felt my way forward, my heels catching on the uneven carpet. Who in their right mind put carpeting into a corridor of an apartment building?
No light came from under the doors of the neighbor apartments. It was past midnight and most of them were probably long asleep.
When I reached the door to my apartment, it took me a few minutes to fumble the key into the lock and open the door. Bruno yapped sharply and jumped against me, his paws scratching over my legs. I guessed that meant I could kiss my tights good-bye. At least they’d been only 99 cents. But with my budget even that added up to a dangerous amount of money if your overweight dog managed to get runs into a new pair every fucking night.
I pushed him into the apartment, closed the door and turned the light on. The stupid bulb hanging from the ceiling flickered a few times before it started working properly. Amy threw a fit every time she saw it. I should really take her up on her offer to go lamp shopping with me. For a moment, I stood in the middle of my one-room apartment with its tacky kitchenette and bathroom where I got water on the toilet and every inch of the floor every time I took a shower. Despair and frustration kindled in my stomach but I squashed them immediately. It wasn’t pretty or big but at least I had a roof over my head and didn’t have to live with my parents anymore.
Bruno gave a high yowl, his claws digging another hole into my tights. I patted his head as I stepped out of my 4-inch heels. After a nine-hour shift running around in them, it felt like my feet were on fire. Luckily, Amy was looking after Bruno for a few hours every day while I was at work and brought him back into my apartment around 11pm every night.
I glanced at the stack of paper on my tiny desk squeezed between my grandmother’s wardrobe and my bed. Would someone ever want my writing or was being a waitress really the end of the road?
Three years ago, after high school, I'd moved to New York in the hopes of finding inspiration for my writing and maybe – hopefully – an agent or a publisher for my books.
‘That had worked out just perfectly, hasn’t it?’ A nasty voice whispered in my head.
My parents weren't happy that I hadn’t started college and was now living on my own in the big city. If they'd had a say in the matter, I would still be living with them, attending community college, boring myself to death or alternately trying to escape Chris's advances. Freaky Chris had been my prom date and still tried to contact me occasionally. He was too insistent and oblivious to my rejections – just like the stupid ass customers in Jack’s bar.
I walked over to my desk, which was pressed against the white wall below the window, and grabbed the curtains to close them. I glared at the brick building in front of me that towered over its surroundings and obstructed my view of the park that I knew lay behind it. It was a new investment project with luxury apartments. I’d heard rumors that they were planning on removing our apartment building to build even more of those luxury apartments. It wasn’t that I loved living in this dank room so much, but it was cheaper than most apartments, so if Mr. Olsen ever decided to sell I’d probably end up on the street.
I allowed myself a peek at the panorama windows of the other building. They’d been rented out or sold only recently and I didn’t know a single person who lived there. Not that those people would want anything to do with a waitress. Most of the windows were dark or the curtains were drawn, only a single window, one floor below, was illuminated. It was a bedroom – which was held in light colors. Beige and white. A painting of red and black and blue squares hung over the massive bed. I’d never understood modern art. Why would people pay millions of dollars for something a kindergarten kid could draw?
I let out a frustrated sigh. Had my life gotten so pathetic that I was analyzing other people's bedrooms?
I let out another sigh, more resigned this time. Bruno wagged his stumpy tail and let out a yelp while he was busy tripping over my feet. His little pug face seemed to be smiling up at me. He was only ten months old and I'd bought him because I'd promised my dad that I'd have a guard dog if I lived alone. I had to bite back a snort. Dad hadn't been too pleased when he'd found out that I'd chosen a pug. I guess he'd imagined a German Shepard or a Great Dane or something like that. Maybe he should spend more time in my tiny apartment, then he’d realize how ridiculous his suggestion had been.
I tore my gaze from Bruno and was about to close the curtains when something in the illuminated window caught my attention. My eyes widened and a strange small gurgling noise escaped my throat.
Stumbling back, I almost ripped the curtains off but managed to pull them shut in a jerk as I tried to catch my breath. I drew in some desperately needed gulps of oxygen and tried to calm my racing heart.
A naked man.
There had been a naked man in the window.
My mind tried to wrap around the fact and my hands wouldn’t stop shaking while they were still clutching at the curtains. I wasn't sure why I hadn't let go of them yet but my body seemed unable to move. Slowly, and a bit guiltily, I leaned forward and peered through the gap between the curtains.
My eyes found the window; the light was on, and there he was.