The Voyeur Next Door(8)

By: Airicka Phoenix

The fun was always in the guessing.

That evening, only three of the windows lit up. Old Man and Hopefully Not His Daughter came home first. She sauntered into the living room, tossed her bright, pink purse down on the sofa and flopped down next to it. Old Man ambled his way into the kitchen and yanked open the fridge.

No fucking tonight, I thought, shifting my gaze to the other two windows.

The Ghost Girls were back in their lacy, purple dresses, white stockings and jet black hairs. They stood shoulder to shoulder with their backs to the window. Their dad was hanging up their matching red coats in the hallway closet. Mom wasn’t home yet. She was a secretary, or a lawyer. She didn’t get home until about eleven, stooped over like her briefcase was filled with bricks.

The third window gave me a start. The presence of the pale, golden glow took my brain a full minute to process and even it knew something wasn’t right.

Window two, top row: wasn’t empty. There was movement behind the curtains. There was light!

“Holy shit!”

Cereal bowl abandoned on the glass table next to the terrace doors, I stepped further onto the balcony. My fingers curled around the cool metal railing and I leaned in as far as I could without forgetting my not Cat woman notion and making the lunge over.

But as quickly as all the excitement had started, it sparked in surprise when the light flicked off and there was nothing. My gaze darted from the windows to the glass doors, waiting like an eager little puppy begging someone to throw the fucking ball already.

Nothing happened. The lights remained off. Stillness continued.

My gaze narrowed as I straightened. “All right,” I mumbled to the silence. “You win this round, but tomorrow…”

I let my promise linger into the night as I stepped back into my apartment.

Chapter Two


People were idiots. People on Tuesdays somehow managed to be worse. It was astounding, the number of morons that went through life every day without managing to get themselves killed. Unfortunately for me, they were the ones that always found their way into my shop at the butt crack of dawn, rambling on about things that made my eye twitch and my brain hurt. I’m a mechanic. I don’t give a shit about your rat-looking purse dog’s appointment to the vet to get his anal glands squeezed. It’s not my problem that you waited until Tuesday to get your damn car fixed, or that it overlaps with your rat’s appointment. My job is to make sure your car doesn’t explode one day and kill innocent bystanders. That’s it.

“Ma’am.” The sheer force of my restraint creaked through the clenched lines of my jaw. “Your car will be ready, when it’s ready.”

Even with dark glasses that resembled insect eyes, I could feel the wrath of her squinting. Her little purse dog yipped like a mindless little rodent against her side. I wasn’t sure who I wanted to boot physically out the door more.

“How do you not know?”

The woman had this voice that was a mix between a chirpy bird and a spoiled little girl. It was giving me a migraine.

“Simple. You don’t have an appointment, which means I have two other cars before yours. Second, I have to see what’s wrong with it. Third, I might need to order parts to fix whatever’s wrong with it. Fourth, I have to install it. All of those things take time and my crystal ball is at the shop.”

Over injected lips pursed. “You were recommended,” she stated, like that was somehow my fault. “By a very dear friend whose opinion I value, so I’m going to let your attitude slide. But maybe in the future, if you want to keep customers happy, you might not want be so rude.”

Her stupid little dog gave a yip of confirmation as its owner swirled on her neon pink pumps and flounced through the maze of machines towards the bay doors. I watched her walk away, part of me wondering if I would get karma points taken away, or added, if I killed her.

“Still nothing?”

Grandpa Earl scuffled up next to my hip, his brown eyes fixed on the bright stain of sunshine spilling through the open doors.

I knew what, or rather, whom he was waiting for and my irritation level spiked.

“She’s not coming,” I muttered. “I told you that.”

“She could have changed her mind,” Earl grumbled. “And it’s your fault if she doesn’t come.”

I didn’t have time for that. I had two cars up on their lifts and another waiting to get looked at, plus about two tons of paperwork that needed filing and an apartment that needed unpacking. My grandpa’s latest crush was the least of my concerns.

“Why are you here?” I asked.