Peeper – plasticbagger
September 30, 2019
there’s a bench in the hallway. We don’t have an elevator. i’ve seen other tenants, older ones, put their groceries on the bench for a few seconds. to catch their breath Before carrying them upstairs. at first i’d figured the stuff that gets left on the bench had fallen out of their bags. yet much of what appears are objects not found on regular trips to the supermarket. cellphone holsters for devices not made in a decade. blank canvases. romance novels. math textbooks. dinner plates with medieval paintings on them. bungee cords. medical syringes. a toy crossbow. candles dedicated to religious figures. cloth roses.
not all peepholes are the same. the one from my childhood had a hatch that had to be lifted open. when moved it made a scraping sound that bellowed through the hall. that’s how they knew someone was watching. it was never good when someone did anything. the peephole i have now looks more like a telescope. a long neck extends out from my side of the door, giving me a clear view of not only that bench, but also the upper windows of the front entrance; the state mandated no smoking signs; and a staircase that leads up to a place i only know from footsteps. two plastic plants wait besides those steps. they get knocked down a lot by the sides of people’s bags.
i’ll never witness history from this tiny glass marble. though i do get to see many moments in-between. the guy with slippers that look like monster claws gets decapitated by the upper windows of the main entrance. those lonelier than me talk to the mail man about model cars and boxing subscriptions. a woman’s curly blonde hair bounces as she tackles those first steps to what could be a better place. body bags are carried out by people with badges some mornings. at night a tall old man in a bathrobe stands under a chandelier that should be flickering. rubbing the leaves of the plastic plants between his pale grey fingers. which the super almost knocks over while mopping the floor later that week. hunchbacked, she sometimes glares at my door. i feel the eyes of the world when she does that.
The things on the bench appear at any point at any hour. i’ve heard sounds in the hallway, only to look out and see a new stack of tupperware sitting in plain sight. with no one around. or it was one of those people i’d come to expect. MAKING MORE NOISE than they probably would’ve liked. or maybe not. maybe they didn’t care about noise. noise is unavoidable. a piece of tupperware slides off the pile. No one ever seems to take any of those things on the bench. They just disappear. become garbage. except for the religious candles. found once again, though now besides the set of plants. as another thick black bag got carried out. they a decent job of masking the scent: a creeping mix of old meat and orange nail polish.