When he opened the curtains, he was there, closer than ever, sitting on the window ledge, straining his eyes. This morning he was looking in at the ten-pence coins piled up into pounds on the windowsill, the disarray of clothes, books, CDs and magazines strewn across the room, the half-drunk coffee and red wine on the desk, and the unmade bed, its linen crumpled with the sweaty movements of the night, the ironing board still up despite going unused for a week.
He had focused immediately on his morning erection as if he'd been able to see it through the curtains before they were opened. Immediately he jumped into his tracksuit bottoms and banged on the window in the hope of scaring him away, but he didn't even flinch.
Normally he would be sitting on the wall but his presence at the window was disturbing. He reached for his canvases to put up against the window to block his view, but had only one, half-done, left. The rest had been finished hastily and used to pay off debts to everyone from the sympathetic bank manager to the local skunk dealer. The best thing for it, he thought, would be to get on with his day and hope that the voyeur would disappear upon his own motivation.
Taking his coffee cup with him, he went into the kitchen, leaving the cup on the side of the sink before using the outside toilet. One of his housemates had left his breakfast dishes, frying pan and all, piled up in the sink, as he persisted in doing every morning. Regardless, after using the toilet he washed his hands on top of them, scrubbing out his coffee cup, the brown ring inside taking some time to remove. He heated a pan of milk a couple of days gone and had a breakfast of three Weetabix and coffee. On returning to his room the voyeur was still there on the window ledge, staring in, as if wishing to be invited into this warm hovel.
It was already midday, and there was much to do, so much that he felt paralysed to act. His room was an abyss. He wanted to take down the net curtains to wash but that would only encourage the voyeur further. The very presence of the voyeur kept him idle. The room was small, but with a huge bay window. He caught himself in the mirror, and in his bedraggled, just-woken-up state, quite sank into his disordered surroundings, he thought.
Having finished what he could eat of his breakfast, he suddenly sprang up from the bed and began to strip off its linen, fouled as it was by night sweats and careless masturbation, creating an off-white pile like a dirty, melting snowman, upon which he threw almost a dozen once-white bath-towels and tea-towels, all his white t-shirts, underwear and socks. He then separated the pile into two, cottons and linens in one, which he directly put to wash at sixty degrees.
On removing the bed linen he had discovered a week-old bowl of soup under the bed, and various crisp and biscuit packets, juice cartons, and the remains of a fish-and-chip supper (under which he found an encrusted pair of white boxers, infuriatingly, as he'd just put the cottons and linens to wash, and the machine would already be filling up with water). The voyeur licked his lips. He emptied the overflowing bin into two of the supermarket carrier bags also littering (or adding colour to) the room, the burnt tang of a used condom with shit on it making him gag. Every time he looked up the voyeur seemed to narrow his eyes a little more.
The sofa was hidden under a ton of clothes, magazines, books and CDs, which had spilled down onto the floor and made it necessary to cross the space between sofa and bed on tiptoe, as if it were a rocky brook. He collected all the books and decided upon putting them in some order, settling on the paradigms of fiction and non-fiction, subdivided into read and unread, and further into poetry, prose and plays, and biography and reference. By far the biggest pile was of unread prose fiction, of which he placed the two largest volumes, Ulysses and Don Quixote, on the floor, piling everything else up on top of them.
This took an hour, after which he sat down on the bed heavily. The voyeur had not moved a muscle except seemingly to stare even harder in. On the chest-of-drawers, backed up by his sole canvas, was a mirror pane coated with a thin film of cocaine dust that had done little other than make him feel ill, next to which were little titbits of skunk and tobacco from pieces of cigarette, and crumpled sheets of Rizla paper. Not that he was much good at rolling joints. He'd made one for the local skunk dealer, who held it up between his fingers in the manner of a scientist with a rare insect in his tweezers, grimacing incredulously. 'Yo, what the fuck's dis bag o' chips, bladd?' he exclaimed, tearing the thing apart and re-skinning it with more skunk, tightly and elegantly, with an exquisitely-tight roach hole.
They smoked joints and sniffed cocaine, the placebo effect of the latter relaxing them, the skunk stirring them. They talked about girls. He put on a porno, in which the girls were being fucked anally by huge cocks, and took a chance, easing the dealer's out, but with the latter's daily habit taking its toll, even his expert tongue couldn't succeed, and what began as the exciting seduction of a rough, council straight guy ended in wet disappointment. 'It ain't 'appenin' bladd,' he'd said. 'It's da toot, bladd. Anova time, yeah?'
Again, he sprang into action as if recharged, and with fluid movement, grabbed an old t-shirt from the dark wash-pile and leaped towards the chest-of drawers, gathering up the loose drugs from the mirror and its side before shaking the lot into a supermarket carrier bag, scraping the sloppy remains of the Weetabix on top of it so that he could no longer be tempted. The nine pounds-worth of ten-pence coins on the window sill were his only money in the world, so there would be no more. He looked back at the unfinished canvas, and its cacophony of multiple colours and textures lent by different types of paint, many of which were now dry and empty. He would have to save the painting for another day, and spend today cleaning himself up.
He wanted to take all his dishes to be washed, but could hear his two housemates chatting, in the small kitchen, with plates and running water.
'Have you seen the little puss-puss outside?' one said.
'No, where?' said the other.
'Sitting on the front window ledge.' He took something out of the cupboard and marched to the front door. 'Here puss-puss!'
The voyeur ran away.