s

Sûrah XLIX
THE PRIVATE APARTMENTS
"And spy not..."

49
VOYEUR

Though they be naked, lovers watched unawares are clothed in kindred innocence, whereas those whose eyes invade a keyhole bear the brunt of sin... if sin there is in Franchone's clumsy game of fox-and-hound ineptitude, ducking in and out of doorways, feigning interest in distractions, finally trailing his appointed lead to a Fulton Street Victorian wherein Z is not in evidence, though the GRAY-HAIRED GIRL alights, perchance to recommence (once doing what with whom remains at issue) her prognosticated path to Pinkney's Protagonist. He can wait. That is he trusts in his capacity to endure this unplanned vigil, brave the chill, withstand the drizzle, cope with boredom, stave off sleep, until confirming or confuting Z is no place on the premises, a conclusion courting action if he wants it drawn posthaste, inciting Franchone to consider climbing the dwelling's outdoor fire escape—an undertaking difficult, insofar as it is hinged, the ground-floor flight too high for his outstretched arms to reach... his subsequent leap... his shoe-scuffing scramble up the rain-slick brick unwise... for it tears a flap in his slacks (with damage to his knee) and leaves his fingertips red with rust (not to mention raw and smarting). Still, he manages undetected (though in plain view of the street)—his exploits having roused no audible hue and cry.

First Peek

Initially, they are clothed—the couple—seen through a kitchen window that affords Franchone a glimpse without self-exposure; they wear shirts. But as the hostess clears off dinner dishes, aided by her guest, shirts prove the only garments either girl has on.

Second Peek

Back at the kitchen table, they prepare to have dessert—each with a scoop of frozen yogurt topped with peach halves—spoon between, alongside candles—two—and a box of wooden matches.

Third Peek

Weird! The one who serves picks up the box, slides out its drawer, removes a match, and deftly strikes it—all accomplished with her bare feet! Toes, like fingers, shift the flame from wick to wick then hold it out to the GRAY-HAIRED GIRL whose puckered lips distend to blow an extinguishing kiss.

Fourth Peek

Repositioned chairs are now aligned directly opposite. The GRAY-HAIRED GIRL lets TWINKLE-TOES undo buttons, remove her shirt—carried out once again with footsure dexterity.

Franchone balks. A sudden qualm (beyond the wrangling of his good cop, bad cop conscience) makes him tear his eyes away for a moment's introspection. Goal unclear, this Peeping Tom act calls into question the nobility of his enterprise. If the GRAY-HAIRED GIRL discovers him, how prevent her telling Z— whose ill-opinion he has yet to override?

Fifth Peek

Compelled, his glimpse returns, becomes a leer at her whose breast is bared, mouth open, tongue extended to receive a piece of fruit—once more conveyed by means unorthodox, by the unshod, upraised foot, exposing ankle, thigh, and unclad crotch to the recipient—or such is Franchone's viewpoint of this singular seduction that has steamed the kitchen window as might modesty draw a veil.

He hears a laugh. An elfish giggle draws attention to a peach half where it nestles after skiing down a slope of naked torso. TWINKLE-TOES spies it, casts a yummy-yummy look, discards her dish and spoon adroitly, kneels and shags the gooey morsel using nothing but her teeth, then feeds it, mouth to mouth, to her from whom it slithered.

Obscured by condensation, shapes grow vague, distorted, watery, their backlit silhouettes appear to part then re-converge, their union ghostlike through the blurry pane... diminishing on departure; Franchone backtracks down the wrought iron stairs, abandoning his surveillance—or suspending it while retreating to a more discreet locale.