Twice already, the guard, against his will, has entertained the access requests of her new acquaintances – who reek of tobacco and sexual desperation – tonight.
Over the intercom, she sounds a bit woozy, and her lisp – that often titillates the guard – is fiddling with her diction, and cannibalising the words and turning them into a puzzle of some kind.
“But madam,” the guard says, faking a cordial tone and suppressing an urge of defiance, “he doesn’t have an ID proof on him.”
“That’s okay, I know him personally. Let him in,” she commands.
And he compels himself to say, “Alright. Could you please come downstairs and sign for him?”,
“Yes. I will!”
And the third time tonight, she is at the entrance gate, arching her body like a sloppy contortionist, to sign the register, and while doing so, the strap of her brassiere falls sideways, and the guard, in his full capacity, pretends to remain oblivious to the sexual tension that she has ignorantly weaved around him.
While the visitor, who clearly doesn’t know her that well, is standing at a little distance; smoking a cigarette and impatiently waiting for certain events – that he looks assured of – to unfold.
And then they both hug, a cold detached side-hug, and walk in the direction of the window that opens to her bedroom on a floor above the ground.
The guard’s eyes follow them, till they mould into elongated shadows, that soon collapse into each other and becomes a distorted sketch of temporary tenderness.
The guard often wonders, why of all the tenants, she has to be like this? Is it not the abuse of her social and mental freedom? Isn’t she trapped in the same desires, that she assumes, set her free? Besides, what does she see in these fuddled men? Some of them don’t even have a character, let alone an unadulterated soul that seeks harmony. And why the ones, that look the lousiest, come back over and over again?
Sometimes late in the night, the guard leaves his booth unattended and strolls underneath her window, in a sinful desire, to catch a glimpse of her nylon legs and shirtless acts. And when the window disappoints him, he walks up the stairs to her single bedroom flat in secrecy, and through the eyelet, tries to capture all that he can.
He often watches her embody certain acts in front of the mirror, that he finds rather amusing for someone who isn’t a defined recluse, for instance, talking to herself and smiling at nothing but her own reflections. And also, clicking pictures – tens and hundreds of them – from all the angles, the whole night, in different items of clothing, is that a sign of a narcissistic abnormality or is it an escape from the dismal reality that surrounds her?
He has also seen her dance tenderly in her knickers to nothing but just the instrumentals of uncommon melodies. But surprisingly, when she hosts others, the music jumps forms; from unbearing heavy metal to contemporary pop to unheard reggae, and the guard has identified the lack of assertiveness in the company of these men, as one of her glaring shortcomings. But he also wonders, if this is one of those status or the compulsion of coming out as affable, things?
Some of these men, that she more than just befriends, leave the next afternoon and some scram away in the middle of the night. The guard wonders, who decides, who stays and who leaves? And what makes one leave anyway, for he wouldn’t have left, not the next morning, not the next afternoon, not this lifetime!
During the day, he seldom misses a chance to greet her with a fuzzy smile, and when she acknowledges his greetings, he somehow manages to initiate inconsequential conversations about the irregular water supply and the lack of parking space in the building premises. He almost always fails to grasp the reluctance in her responses to entertain him, and more often than not, confuses her forceful smile for a hint of flirtation.
But tonight, because she seems overdrawn and because she is drunk, her voice and behavior towards him, which otherwise is always a showcase of how true she is to her moral imperatives, has been cold and callous.
So after a while, when the lights of her flat have dimmed and the music has faded into a distant rustle, the guard abandons his booth and being unsure of what he truly wants, climbs the stairs like a thief and peeks through the keyhole.
He finds her sagged and balled up on her couch and the man’s words are faintly audible through the door. The language they are speaking in is a barrier for the guard, but the unspoken sexual connotations aren’t; he knows what is coming next.
He despises how the man could ever so easily touch her bare legs and brush her hair and playfully break through the boundaries of proximity without being questioned or opposed. Something that would perhaps take the guard a lifetime to achieve.
And as soon as he sees them unbutton and progress to an act he is unprepared to witness, he fumes and balls up his fist and thumps the door, while thinking of an appropriate reason for such an unusual interference.
When she opens the door, she has an expression of anger, surprise and emptiness; an unexplainable awkwardness enveloped in a baffling silence.
The man covered in hair, like a grizzly bear and a newly lit cigarette in his mouth, standing behind her in his blue bottoms, tries hard to fathom the unspoken words. What is so urgent, that can’t wait till tomorrow?
And the guard, trembling and choking on words, wearing a look of anguish, indifference, and awe, murmurs something trivial and untrue about the man’s car being parked wrong and dissolves in the darkness of the stairs.