LOVE THY NEIGHBOR

Chicago. 1997. I lived in the back of a storefront building. I had a Girlfriend who had become less than keen on me. I too had become less than keen on her. We liked drugs. We liked sex. We had trouble resolving the two. I'll leave it at that. We had a neighbor whom I was jealous of. He had no problem resolving the two. I'll call him Smuttheif.

Girlfriend and I shared a mailbox with Smuttheif, who lived in front apartment of the storefront. When I was missing mail I would peer through the slot, Smuttheif's mail slot, to see if my absent gas bill was stuck in with his knife catalogues. I would stand on the sidewalk, calves stretched, peering in, affording me a view of his palatial slum. Often there'd be video tapes stacked twenty high and glass bongs laid out on some hippy blanket. I complained to my Girlfriend about having to deal with the constant mail mix-ups but I relished the chance to slowly lift the metal flap, deftly to prevent the squeak, and possibly catch Smuttheif 'enjoying' himself. Enjoying himself with sex. Enjoying himself with drugs. I could only hope. I'd been having trouble enjoying myself so that's what drove my hopeful voyeurism.

After a particularly frustrating night of drugs and problematic itchy sex I decided to check the mail early. 11am, maybe. Walked around to the front and got on my tippytoes, lifted the flap. The first thing to hit me was that familiar jungle odor of marijuana. Second was the high and low pitched grunts. And there he was, finally. On his couch, buck naked and back turned to me. His VeryYongGirlfriend was on all fours on the couch as well. Ass sex at 11am! On the coffee table was a powdery mirror. This had to be meth. Next to that, a Costco size bottle of lube. I was mesmerized and lost all track of time and place.

The female mail carrier snapped me out of it. I never heard her approach. I felt a tap on my shoulder (she had said, "Excuse me." to my deaf ears) and reluctantly turned my head. With profound mortification I realized that while my left hand held open the mail slot, my right hand was stuffed down my pants.

 

- Benjamin Redgrave