Monday, May 25

The Wishes of a Curtain-Twitcher

‘I am. There’s nothing to do but look out of the window… “Sorry about the smell of urine, but there really is nothing to do round here.”’
So what if I am now a curtain-twitcher? She is gone and the cats are gone so I live my life looking out of the window.
‘I’m James Stewart… You can be that other bird…’
‘Grace Kelly… Lisa.’
‘No, the maid.’
‘You used to say I was prettier than Grace Kelly.’
‘You are.’
I do not have to move from my living room to watch the people – for the first time in my life – and it is a pastime I am all too enthusiastic about. I have a privileged perspective, a good location, and, due to an intermediate tree, adequate cover. From my table, laden with coffee and cigarettes, I can watch the people come & go. What more pleasure can one assume than from the observation of people? Especially when the kettle is boiling and grounds are in the pot. So it is I witness (on Saturday morning, hungover, having spent the previous day (& evening) with my parents I had missed something: neighbour’s moving out and now their whole flat is empty, the white walls agape, and what I will surely miss most of all is the red bikini hung outside on the railing that the young lady did lean out and snatch prior to her jaunt down the gym)) a new couple move in. On Saturday morning, in the radio static rain, they enter with their cleaning products. I watch the new man clean the window frames; his spray arm and his cloth arm. Then they leave in the radio static rain. It is a sincere pleasure of mine to observe and to be unobserved, invisible, existing in a margin unseen. So that is that couple and maybe she has a red bikini somewhere she is yet to exhibit for my atrocious voyeurism.
I am ready to shower, at approximately half-two in the Saturday afternoon, and looking out of the window again. It is a tall window with white, wooden frames; beyond it, the courtyard. If there is no-one about I am satisfied enough to solely observe the courtyard. And so I am, standing, solely observing the courtyard. From a building comes a young lady carrying a bag and an umbrella (still raining, a rain that won’t let up soon). O hello, stranger. She is interrupted, our umbrella stranger, by a young man; they greet each other as friends and talk beneath the scraggly arms of a tree, where stuttering raindrops wobble and drop. He is a handsome enough, but so is she. I watch them talk, in that I observe them without moving, but smoking my cigarette and blinking my eyes to keep them from stinging. They talk for a minute or so. He has to go back to his flat. She is going into town. ‘Shit weather, eh?’ They separate. She walks toward me as to walk toward me is to leave the courtyard west and into town. But an extraordinary thing happens – and it is extraordinary thing – as she walks away from him, she is smiling. It is not the smile one performs for someone upon their departure; it is a beautiful, true smile that is a joy to anyone lucky enough to chance it. She wiggles down the path and smiles wonderful. Indeed the encounter with that young man has left our young lady so overwhelmed that she cannot help but smile as she walks along in the rain. She smiles & smiles and does not stop. It is so that when I see her smiling as she is smiling I say aloud—‘Go on, lass!’ I laugh for her, my happy for her happy. She leaves my view still smiling. I remain unseen.
I think, stepping into my shower, that I would like to have such an effect on a young lady; that, even in the London rain, she is walking down the street, smiling away because there is no other way she can avoid me.

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