He turned out the light, lit a cigarette, and watched the street. The building opposite darkened. He developed his idea that behind one of its windows sat another, hidden observer. Usually, this would have thrilled him. He didn’t like to close his curtains, preferring the implied invitation of a nighttime room, lit or unlit, revealed to the street. Opportunity, from passing gazers, or idle watchers, in other windows, or on the footpath, would be stunned as soon as the curtains were closed. And in bed, waiting for sleep, he was soothed by the metallic light that entered the room, from the street lamps, the headlights of passing cars, and the moon, when it shone.
But he closed the curtains now. Would his supposed watcher have caught the sudden movement of fabric? This person, who existed for now only in his mind, may have a companion, may have malicious intent… But there was no watcher. Salina had said so. The building was empty, disused, and secured, and it had been that way for years. Disused: but she couldn’t tell him why, or convince him of its history. “A library, I think. Then something else, then something after that. A nightclub, one time.”
There was no tangible reason for his wariness – he pulled the curtains back, revealing himself again. He continued to sit there, but he became jittery. He felt the pump of blood through his heart, and the threat of a tremor in his hands as he held the cigarette to his lips. Since taking the room, he’d been drinking more than usual, and responding to hangovers with restorative doses of gin. He wasn’t functioning at a regular pitch; the fault, not of his room, or of the neighbourhood, or of his nightly activities, at Junk and online, which caused him to be in a constant state of sleep-deprivation, but of his own choices. He could fix his life – if he wanted to, which he didn’t; or if his physical condition urgently demanded it. For now, he liked being slightly out-of-tune. He finished the cigarette, stripped naked, and got into bed.
© Barry Lee Thompson and ‘Stories, by Barry Lee Thompson’, 2013.