Tuesday, March 18

Have It In Your Secret Windows

I WAS WALKING DOWN the street when I smelled the stench of frying mushrooms. The café—or should I say, the origin—was clouded in the grey underbelly of an old office block where all the floors are empty but one; where all the blinds are drawn but one; where all the toilets are blocked but one. There were hand-painted signs advertising the lunchtime specials, but the stench of frying mushrooms turned my stroll into nausea and I retched. The mushrooms were grey and black and being fried. They hissed and were brought out in front of me, ruining all the adjacent delicacies I had been excited about. Between the buildings was a white sun that smudged the brick walls away and gave one pains behind the eyes. Tourists took their lovers by the hand; one leading the other, then rolls reversed; some never held hands but kissed sporadically as though they were reminded so by a particularly protruding paving slab.
I am sad about something—nothing—I don’t know what. Whatever it is I claw back from time to time, I lose before I am able to hear my mother’s voice again. The M stands for ‘mother’. I take my suits to the drycleaner’s and down the trousers is splashed vomit from Thursday night, when I, leaning against a cab—driven by a most appreciative cab drive—emptied myself in the middle of the road, ahead of waiting traffic. I cover it with my jacket while he notes down my name (surname only), my address and contact number; I squint over the cigarettes as I recall each.
Opposite my flat there is another block of flats with a great many windows. The lights between us flicker from time to time in the incomprehensible morse code of residential structures. This evening—after I had passed the minutes as best I could—I put a needle on the record, got a chocolate bar, a cup of green tea and lay down on my sofa to read. It was over the lid of my book, with all its words wiggling to be read, that I saw a figure at the window over yonder. They—whoever they were—were watching me. I adopted a pose. I saw them watching me as I read. At a window that was fragranced by the zig-zag of ascending descending stairs, they stood and watched me. Above and to the left was the moon bride and white. I was a superstar, the celebrity of a poorly-advertised serial. I carried on. Who were they? I thought of James Stewart and all the windows his disabled arse had to gaze upon. Miss Lonely Hearts. What was the name of the dancer who had a penchant for short military men?
The light went out.
I thought that the person was still there in the darkness. I sipped my tea. Having read forty-pages of my novel for the day, I picked up a comic and read that. I sipped my tea and thought of how boring I would be to observe. I thought that perhaps I should commit a murder or engage in some phone-sex with my girlfriend, pull out my cock and come on the Persian rug. It all seemed a trifle silly, so I sat there and read my comic book. At one point I sneezed and the nerve that had been trapped in my hip became free and I could walk without hobbling and without pain.
After all, I had been hobbling with pain past the café that was frying mushrooms and making my stomach turn. You get what you can. The sun is shining. I thought about shouting—‘I can walk okay now!’ to the voyeur in the darkened window, but I expected that, somewhat disappointed, they had gone back to whatever it was they were doing.

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