torsdag, januari 03, 2008

The Voyeur


A voyeur has arrived on my block, and I believe I saw the moment of inception.

This was perhaps three weeks ago. I'd returned home about 7:00, which is a rather dark time of the morning here. I parked outside my building, and turning to exit the car caught sight of the naked, pink side of a body. Presumably it was a woman's. At the same moment, a bundled up and masked jogger passed, glanced into the woman's apartment, and slowed.

The building across the street has what the property manager calls "bump outs." These are French-door enclosed half-rooms that are off the living rooms of those apartments. Some people use them as sitting rooms, some as bedrooms (in which very little other than a bed might fit). The woman in the ground floor apartment directly across from my building's entrance probably uses hers as a bedroom.

She is simply someone who is comfortable--or was comfortable--with her blinds open. They are no longer that way.

The jogger was not the only person who seemed to fancy looking in on those windows, as a cabal of teenagers sometimes meets at the corner nearby. A bus picks them up. Sometimes when I've gone out to the living room and looked out I've seen one or two teens off by the doors to the now-defunct framing shop across the street, and they would on those mornings smoke a cigarette and cast furtive glances into that apartment.

In the weeks that followed this instance with the jogger, I caught sight of him stalking the block. Sometimes I saw him when I returned home at that same hour. Sometimes when I went down to fetch the paper from the foyer. Sometimes just walking out to the living room in the morning--I'm on the third floor--and looking out at the morning on my street.

That first morning I saw him, he slowed as he passed her window. It was a slowing that indicated to me he was thinking, "Did I just see that?"

I went into my building, turned my head back, and true enough he was making another pass of the window, just as slowly and this time with a bit of lift to his toes for an extra inch of viewing.

When I got up to my apartment, I looked out and saw him making repeated passes, sometimes from my side of the street, sometimes from the other.

I don't know how old he is. I suspect he's older than maybe his thinness suggests. (Life tends to have a way with us, you know.) At least I think he's thin, based upon the relative skinniness of his spandex-clad legs. His heavy coat disguises his stomach's true shape. His white scarf and tall knitted cap mask his face and hair. But there's an awkwardness to his steps that makes me think it is not so much a carefulness on the ice up here but the gimpy, balance-concerned stride of someone whose body is not as ready to be running (or walking) in the morning as it once was. Each step seems to be taken to prevent the body from going over. It's that sort of hesitant but forward-falling stride.

This morning I saw him again, as I arrived home at 7:00 am in the darkness. He was walking back and forth in front of that building and glancing in now at a new window where the blinds were up part way. The window he used to seek is lit but the blinds are firmly closed, as I believe they have been for a spell.


And seeing him makes me wonder about the human as an animal, and the way in which we attach ourselves to schedules, including the schedules of others. About the way in which we cannot help but watch and question one another. And about how writers, myself included, very much enjoy people-watching and catching glimpses of ordinary life, snippets of conversation, a note dropped upon the avenue.

And about how fine a line it is between ordinary and predatory viewing.
-cK

5 Comments:

OpenID Sara said...

And about how fine a line it is between ordinary and predatory viewing.

1:53 em  
OpenID chasingtwilight.com said...

It removed my text after it? Sorry I'm such an airhead. I meant to mention that the last line was really good.

I'm always scared that someone's looking in my window when I least expect it.

1:54 em  
Blogger cK said...

And if they are, there's probably some insomniac like me who sees someone like that seeing someone like you eating cinnamon cake with great happiness at midnight.

I now have neighbors in the building next door. They are on their balcony smoking ALL THE TIME. Their balcony has a lovely view of my bedroom.

It's kind of weird. I'm trying to act (as) normal (as I can).
-cK

2:01 em  
Blogger Night Editor said...

This feels very Hitchcock, Rear Window-esque. Here, you are examining him--that neighborhood jogger--very closely, determining his age by his tender pace, etc; maybe with even more precision than he is watching her--but with a much different intent. I read a little piece called "In defense of lurking" and it had to do with the value of literacy and the internet, but can we apply the same defense to our real life lurking? Writers do all the time.

9:56 em  
Blogger hallamon7 said...

I'm blindly plugging around Swedish commands to type my reply!! ..umm.. what the heck was I going to write here?? :)
Oh yes.
I laughed out loud when I got to the condoling statue photo. Your witty timing is precious, friend! :)
Best to you and The Muse and good luck with the moving - if only I had a truck and lived in MN! I'm assuming kitty will have a new home too?

axebutu

9:55 fm  

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