I’m sitting here, naked in the living room, and listening to his sister Mary’s singing trickling up through the floor boards. I’ve never met her, but in some ways I feel that I know her better then he does. There is no chance that I will ever meet her, since I never leave my apartment. I haven’t for years. There is nothing out there for me and everything comes here without problems.
I look up and out the window. As always, he is standing on the roof top and I know that he is looking at me even though I cannot see his face. It’s just the way that he is. Most likely, he is jealous that I can listen to Mary while he is stuck out there in the cold. It is strange that he is as stuck out there as I am in here. But I suppose, all of us are stuck some where.
I get up and stretch, shaking my self out a little, not bothering to draw the shade. Let him look, the pervert. It’s not like he hasn’t seen my penis before. It hasn’t changed any over these last few years since he started watching me. I’m pretty sure that he could see me even if I drew the curtain, but then I would not be able to see him. Not sure why that would matter. I would still know that he is there.
Crossing over to the kitchen, I glance over my shoulder and I am not surprised to see him still standing there. He has nothing better to do. The tea pot whistles just as I get to it and I take it off the heat and flick the burner off. I pour the hot water into the cup with the tea bag already waiting. The kettle clanks against the stove when I set it down, but I’m not paying any attention. Mary has started to sing one of my favorites, The Phantom of the Opera. I close my eyes and I let myself drift along where the voice carries me. Following always on what ever journey she makes.
When the song ends, my eyes flick open. Sadness seeps in. It will be a while before I hear her singing again. She has to go to work. Hearing the door open and then bang shut, I know that she is gone. I turn to the fridge for milk and I catch him standing there and looking at me still. This time from the other building, probably so he has the better view into my kitchen.
The milk splashes into my cup and onto the counter, but I don’t notice it. Staring out the window, I’ve lost sight of him. I drop the jug and hurry to the window. Pressing my hands onto the glass, I peer out in all directions. There is nothing. I dash out into the living room and slam myself against the other window. It is cold against me as I search him out. He isn’t there.
I drop into my chair and sit there, limp and listless. What do I do now? I cannot fathom what his leaving could mean. Where could he have gone? Deciding that there was no way of knowing and hoping that he would soon return, I get up and fetch my coffee… or was it tea? I look down into the cup and I cannot tell. Shuffling over to the cupboard while bobbing the tea bag, I am still uncertain what this strange beverage is. I set it down and stare at it. Nothing.
I almost catch my head on the open cupboard door. The shelves are filled with the standard fare of tune, peanut butter and bread. Next to these are the small bottles that supplement my diet. I twist one open and shake out the required pills. Then repeat. Once they are piled up into my hand, I take a careful sip from the hot cup. Coffee. It is most definitely coffee. I fish out the little bag and toss it onto the counter. Taking a big mouthful, I wash the pills down. The heat of it is intense and I figure I probably should have waited before drinking it.
Checking the windows again, I see nothing. Sitting back into my chair, I find myself feeling lonely. The apartment is silent. She has gone to work and there is no singing. There won’t be for hours. And he is no longer looking in my window. When will he be back? I get up and pace the short distance across my living room. I feel as though there is a great mystery that must be puzzled out. But this mystery is too great for me to even grasp at its edges.
Nothing makes sense. I sit back down and look into my cup. Where did the tea bag go? It surely hasn’t seeped long enough. I take a careful sip and sneer at it. Tastes mostly of milk. But it is plenty hot enough, so I rise and carry the sad and weak coffee back to the kitchen. I fish out the little jar and open it up. One more big scoop added and I stir it quickly. The milky color changes to a rich brown. I take another careful sip and I am sure that something is not quite right, but it is good enough.
A careful sideways glance tells me he is still out of sight. Watching me still, I’m sure. Getting his kicks out of watching me look for him. Well, I’m done with that. I’ll just be getting on with my business. The cupboard door is already open and I scratch my fingers through my short, unruly hair. Has he been inside? Impossible. He never comes inside. I rifle through the little bottles and take down those required. Once the pile of pills has nestled into my hand, I take them down with a large swallow of tea. Still too hot, I wish I had let the beverage cool.
I catch the puddle of milk from the corner of my eye and I growl at it.
“Fucker, milk is expensive,” I snarl as I turn away from it.
Doesn’t matter. Someone will bring more. There is always someone bringing more of everything. Nothing ever runs out for very long. They have always taken care of me. It is a little distressing to realize that I don’t know who they are or why they come to help me. But they do. They always have.
Back to my chair, I shuffle about. The table has drifted, the way that it always does. I bring it back to its place. The coffee slops when I do this, but I don’t care much. Another stain among so many will never be noticed. And who would ever be here to see? Just me. And I don’t much care. My slippers are also out of place. Where have I left them now? I cannot recall wearing them this morning. Wiggling my toes, I decide that my feet are much too cold.
The closet is all clutter. Nothing is where it should be. I am certain now that he has left his post outside so that he could muck about in here. Only possible way that things would be so unsettled. I pull on a pair of shorts and stuff my feet into the brown fuzzy slippers. I drag my feet across the floor into the kitchen in a half way, lazy fashion. Some tea would be nice. I set the kettle on the stove and am puzzled that it is so warm. I shrug. He torments me.
While waiting for the water, I go to the cupboard. The little bottles await me. I shake them and stare at the colorful little bits in my hand. I toss them in and swallow them dry. They stick in the back of my throat for a while. I swallow again. And again. But they stay. I run the water and scoop mouthfuls up with my hands. They are gone.
The kettle whistles. I take it off the heat and pull out a cup. Someone is at the door. They probably have milk. I swing the door open and walk away to let them in.
“Henry, you really should look to see who is here before you let them in,” she scolds me.
I’m not a child. I shrug, but give her no response. What does it matter? She will think poorly of me no matter what I offer.
“Have you taken your meds today?” she asks.
“No. Thank you for the reminder,” I mutter.
I glance at her now. I think her name is Mary, but it is a fuzzy notion. I think that she is someone that my brother knows. But I can’t fathom how. Doesn’t she live upstairs? I go to the stove and put on the kettle. It whistles almost immediately. This is odd. I feel unsettled. Strange things have been happening in my apartment. I look out side. I still cannot see him.
“Is he still watching you?” she asks.
“No. I can’t see him any where.”
I put a scoop of coffee into the cup and pour the water over it. I go to the fridge and while standing in a puddle, I look for the milk. Looking down, I see the jug that has mostly spilled out its contents. I pick the jug up. The milk inside is still cold. I pour some into the cup and set the jug on the counter.
The cupboard doors are open. I fish out my medications while I take another glance out the window.
“How long has he been missing?” she asks.
“Some time today,” I mutter.
I take my pills with the hot coffee. I should have let it cool. I shuffle over to my chair. I watch her. She has her phone out and is clicking away at the keys. She is texting them. Making sure that they know I am out of milk. No doubt. They take care of me and she is one of them.
I close my eyes. The weight of them is intense. My stomach is churning. I vomit, but it is a vague thing, on the other side of the fog. I can feel her hands grasping onto my shoulders.
“Henry!” she is screaming into my face.
She is screaming into her phone. No more texting. She seems so angry. I wonder what happened to upset her, but I am too tired to ask her. She bends over me again and shakes me more. I flick my eyes open and stare at her vaguely feeling like something was pulling out my guts. Then he leaned over her and smiled down at me.
“Oh, you again,” I mutter.
His face remains the constant black blur, but his smile is full of sharp gleaming white teeth. I can see those clearly. When this time comes, those teeth are always clear. I wonder if he has won this time. Every other time, they have saved me. But there will come a time when they are not fast enough. I know this and I think that it is alrigh. They have loved me, I think. They have always tired their best to take care of me.
My eyes are too heavy.
Time becomes a flexible and blurry thing. There are many people who come in, but I cannot tell who they are. Mary sings for a while and she holds my hand. I will always know Mary. I try to squeeze her hand back, but my fingers betray me. The doctor comes in and Mary stands up. Things start to loose focus.
“Mary,” the doctor says. And they shake hands. “Your husband has-” I stop listening. Who cares about her husband? I wish she would come back to me and sing some more.
My eyes flutter open. There is a shot being given into my arm. They flutter open again and I am on a stretcher. Flutter. Riding in a car on a bumpy road. Flutter. I have arrived somewhere. Flutter. Mary is holding my hand. Flutter.
Things are starting to come clear. I am sitting in a wheel chair and Mary is pushing me down a hall. It’s alright. I know them here. I greet them as I pass, but I cannot recall their names. But that’s alright. They have always taken good care of me here. It bothers me that they think that I want to die and that they don’t believe that the dark man is trying to kill me. But I know that they care about me here. The sadness in their eyes tells me this. They are sad to see me return. I only do when I have been hurt by him again.
But that’s alright. He can’t come here. They like me here. I’ll be able to return to Mary soon.