Close Your Eyes

At night, she grabs a pair of binoculars and looks out her upstairs window. She sees a boy, not far away, taking his clothes off in a blue bedroom. She holds her breath and watches for a minute. When the boy pulls down on his underwear, she looks away. Then she puts on a worn-out leather jacket and goes for a walk around the neighborhood.

She walks by the boy’s house and wonders if she may see something that the boy owns or plays with. A ball or possibly a bike, (if he’s old enough maybe a car). She sees a toy gun and imagines him holding it. She is close enough to breathe on it. She can feel its presence in her field of vision. She puts her hands in her pockets and whistles. She is alarmed by how loud it sounds.

From here, she walks to the grocery store to buy something sweet (candy bars are cheap). She smiles at the clerk and thinks of the boy undressing in the window. When the clerk says "Thank you," she says "Window."

She goes back home and looks out the window again. She sees the boy’s feet at the foot of his bed and some dirty underwear nearby. Socks can also be seen; they look pink or red. She can tell that the boy has walked around the house for quite a while before taking them off. They are filthy. She closes her eyes and swallows her sweet treat. She keeps swallowing and breathing heavier.

Next, she has in her hand the top of a spray paint can. It is a red plastic lid. She wiggles it between her legs and manages to hold it tightly inside of her. The man who picks up her recyclable plastic on Monday morning is positioned over her. They struggle for a minute until he has his wide penis stuffed full inside the lid. She points to her mouth but doesn’t say a word. He stands up and quietly puts his pants on. Then, she wakes up.

She laughs at herself, and then goes about her day.

In the afternoon paper she reads a story about two missing women (thought dead in the snowy mountains) being discovered alive in a cave after seven days. There is a picture of them drinking juice on plastic chairs in a Hospital somewhere. She wonders if they had sex with each other as they waited to die in the cave. It was two men who found the women. Their names are Joe and Larry; she doesn’t bother to picture what they look like. Wondering about women seems so much easier than wondering about men. "Men are predictable," she says to herself. She talks to herself while reading the paper often.

She folds the newspaper up and takes a cup of tea out to the front porch. She sits and watches six teen-agers across the street playing basketball. She quickly notices that one of them is the boy she saw partially undress the night before. She watches only him, and after a few minutes pass, he seems to notice this and starts moving like someone who is self-conscious of being watched. She hears two of the boys talking, but the one she watches does not say anything while they discuss a girl at school.

"How was Rachel last night? You get any?"

"Shit, boy. You know I did. I busted her last year when we were playing Truth-or-Dare at Jenny’s house."

"Oh man, Jenny’s one I’d like to jump on. She’s got that big ass and stuff."

"Those big lips have gotta be good for more than just playing flute."

She sees the boy smile in a clumsy uncomfortable way because of this comment. Then she realizes that the boy is smiling at her. She averts her eyes and then looks back to see that the boy is looking at the roof of her house, as if trying to find the window.

That night she watches again as the boy walks around his blue room looking for something, or so it seems. He leaves her view for a few minutes and then returns to be seen in the window frame. He has a suitcase that he is packing.

She watches with the upstairs lights turned off and a bowl of salad at her side. The binoculars are around her neck and used only to see random details. She watches for so long on this night that she actually stops a few times to pull the phone nearby and call friends. The boy slowly packs the suitcase with all his clothes still on. She talks into the telephone about books, politics, and a brother who is a doctor.

The boy is staying up late. But around three o’ clock in the morning he finally begins to undress. She sees through the binoculars that his belly button sticks out like a balloon knot, but his chest is near-perfect in a lifeguard kind of way. She guesses that he is sixteen and maybe started lifting weights at fifteen. He drinks milk, she notices. He does not remove his underwear tonight, but instead he again starts moving about as if he knows he is being watched. After fidgeting with a Velcro wallet and an alarm clock he gets in bed and the lights go out.

She watches TV for an hour and tries to masturbate while watching a TV movie, but does not find it as easy as usual. She falls asleep on the couch at 4:20.

At 9:00 that morning she is awakened by the telephone.

"I don’t want you watching me anymore," a man on the line says.

After a moment of shocked silence she says: "Who is this?"

"I’m running away. I’ve got other things I can do. Another place to live. I’m not just a freak all the time. You know that don’t you?" The voice sounds younger as he talks. It starts to shake at the end of the sentences.

She sits up and turns the TV off. "Do you live on 17th street?" she asks.

"Right next to you. You watched us playing basketball yesterday."

"I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been doing that, in the window I mean."

"I have to tell you something about those boys you saw me with. They don’t like you. I have to come over and tell you some things. Like, they’ve done stuff to me." The boy’s voice is sounding clipped and tough.

When she wakes up again, it is 11: 45 and the boy has not come over to talk as he said he would. She wonders if it was really him on the phone. That day, she goes to a bagel shop and writes letters, then goes to a record store and allows herself to buy two cassettes. When she comes home at 7:00, there is no sign that the boy has been there. There is a notepad that she has taped to the front door but no messages have been left.

At 3:00 in the morning, she is awakened by the doorbell. It rings two times before she realizes she is not dreaming this. She gets up and is putting on clothes as the doorbell rings a third time, and then the sound of someone kicking the door. She goes downstairs and looks through the window by the front door but nobody is there. She goes to her kitchen and looks out the side window and sees the boy quietly climbing onto the roof of his house. She wants to say something to him but is still unsure if it was really him that called her the day before. She goes back upstairs preparing to say something to him through the window, but when she gets there he is already in his room.

His bedroom is lighted by one candle. He moves slowly and catlike around the room, stuffing some things into a backpack. She watches, as always, in the dark. He sheds the clothes from his small, tight body. This time he is wearing girls’ underwear. She does not look away. He pulls down on the elastic and his cock tumbles out, looking bigger than it should on his young body. She grabs her binoculars to see closer. His ass fills the magnified scope. His naked body turns twice as he looks for something in his room (his hands are opened in confused gesture). He leaves her view for a second before returning with a chair. He sits naked in the chair, and faces, as if staring, toward her with his legs crossed. She feels warm and sad inside, like a best friend is telling her a brutal secret.

There is no movement between them for several minutes. He cannot see her until she reaches above her and pulls a string. Now she is lighted and he sees her wearing a loose T-shirt and boxer shorts, sitting on her wooden floor. He looks down and uncrosses his legs. His cock hangs down, long and half-hard. She focuses her binoculars on a small pinkish-blue vagina, also between his legs.

The light in his room flickers dimmer, and fades to nothing.

In the morning, a police car is parked in front of her house. A policewoman is talking to her neighbors, who appear to be distressed about something. When she steps outside to get the newspaper another policewoman asks her if she’s seen her neighbor, the young boy, who hasn’t been home since the previous morning, they say. She tells them no, but is nervous and goes back inside.

The window shades are closed, and she sits in her rocking chair watching the silhouettes of the police and neighbors on the sidewalk. They motion toward the other boys’ houses across the street. They point at his bedroom window on the side of the house. Once they leave, she remains in the rocking chair, thinking about the boy, with the newspaper in her lap.

In the Metro section of the paper, she reads an article about a dog who was run over by its own master. There is a photograph of the car.

When the day turns to night, she looks out the window, the action now a habit. It is still dark. She decides to walk to the store. At the store she buys ketchup, a steak knife, and a cheap magazine with a picture of a comedian on it. The man at the cash register does not say Thank You.

Outside the store, a tall pimply boy from her street asks her to buy beer for him and his friends. She turns around and sees four boys sitting in a big car. She remembers watching them play basketball the other day. The pimply boy holds out a twenty dollar bill. He is sweating badly. She looks at the other boys. They too, seem sweaty. One of them opens a car door. The sound is loud in the empty, litter-strewn parking lot. The pimply boy seems to pull his hand back and step toward her aggressively. She hears the sound of boots stepping onto pavement. She clutches her bag tightly, almost cutting her hand on the knife inside. "You can keep the change," the pimply boy says
quietly out of the side of his mouth. The twenty drops out of his fingers and onto the ground. She looks at the boys in the car. They are smiling now. "You want to go drink with us?" asks the boy wearing boots. Someone in the car is laughing. She grabs the money off the ground and gives it back to the pimply boy, who seems to be standing too close to her. "I don’t have my license with me," she says, "otherwise I would." The booted boy begins to kick the side of the car. "We’ll give you a drive home so you can get your license," says the boy in the driver’s seat. She notices that he is wearing sunglasses. The boy in the passenger seat also has dark glasses and a stocking cap pulled tight over his head. "I have to go," she says, but the sound of three car doors opening overtake her words. She runs around the corner of the building and flees down a wide alley. Dogs begin to bark when she knocks over a garbage can full of glass. The palm of her hand bleeds. She hides behind someone’s wooden fence, in a dark backyard. The boys can be heard, calling out to her from the alley’s edge. One of them is throwing rocks, hitting cars. She waits for silence, and then starts back down the alley in the direction of her house.

The moon is half-full and casts a pale glow at the end of the alley. As she gets closer she sees a wooden chair by her fence. It is empty; but also nearby is a package of some sort. When she gets closer she sees that it is a sleeping bag. It is zipped up, and there is something (or some things) inside it. She kicks it lightly with her foot. Then, bending down, she starts to unzip it.

When she sees the head seemingly lunge toward her, she almost screams, but for some reason does not. It is the neighbor boy inside the bag. She pulls back the flap and sees that the body is twitching and the boy’s mouth is searching for air, opening and closing like teeth chattering. "What–" she says quietly, but stops short, too scared to make a sound. His arms grab weakly, blindly, at her arms. She starts to pull him up, out of the sleeping bag, but drops him suddenly. Her legs are like liquid, now that she sees the blood between his legs. He has been cut and she notices dark blue pieces of skin where his penis had been. The vagina is more red and swollen than when she saw it before.

She falls to her knees and holds the boy close. She hears his breathing. Or maybe it’s the night breeze playing with her ear. His touch is cold and still. Her face is against his. Their lips. Their tongues. Their teeth. Their blood.

"Close your eyes," she says. She closes his eyes. "Just go," she says. Her fingers in his mouth. "Don’t–"…She looks at his house and up at his window, all of it dark. Music is heard all of a sudden, slowly increasing in volume. She looks down the alley, but it is still dark. His mouth falls open and his tongue stretches out of it. She presses her mouth against the tongue, sucks it between her teeth. She bites on the tough outer skin. She feels her teeth meet, the boy’s tongue filling her mouth. Then it slowly punctures and comes loose.

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