Paul Heatley

Do Not Feed the Animals

Janine’s flat was on the corner at the top of the main street. Every hour during the day a bus drove by and shook the glass in her bedroom window. They had to stop for the junction below, and their roaring engines rattled the room.

“That’s really fucking annoying,” I said after it woke me up our first night together.

“You get used to it,” she said.

I doubted it.

We’d met at the town’s only nightclub, both of us completely wasted. Somehow we’d wound up back at her place. I had a dim memory of her sticking her tongue in my ear, whispering “It’s not far,” as we dry-humped down the road. Truth be told, I couldn’t remember if we’d actually fucked or not, but there wasa used condom on the floor in the morning, so the chances seemed good.

Janine made eggs wearing just a grey t-shirt that barely covered her backside. Admiring her lovely legs from behind, I wished I could remember fucking her.

“You wear glasses?” I said as she sat down.

“Only in the morning, before I shower. Then I put my contacts in. My head hurts today. I might leave the glasses on.”

I didn’t say anything in response.

“You lose interest in a girl if she has bad eyes?”

“No,” I laughed.

In fact, those thick black rims looked quite good on her.

She had pale skin and red hair that was tied back. In addition to her tongue in my ear, I could vaguely recall that she was most definitely a naturalredhead as well.

After breakfast she sent me on my way. “I’ve got your number,” she said.

“Cool.” I couldn’t remember giving it to her. Didn’t expect her to call.

She did, a week later. A Friday. I’d just sat down in front of the television when my phone began to ring.

“Hey, it’s Janine,” she said.

“Hey.”

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“Wanna come round?”

“Sure.”

I was glad I’d been sober this time.

We went through a few more condoms. She kept a box of them in her underwear drawer.

Three buses rattled the windowpane from eight until ten that night. Janine insisted we leave the curtains open and the bedside lamp on. The buses were all double deckers. My back was to the glass, so I forgot about potential voyeurs and got on with the task at hand.

Afterward, we lay back and stared out the window. A few stars pocked the clear night sky.

“They could probably see us,” I said. “On the buses.”

“They probably could,” Janine said.

“That kind of thing get you off?”

She shrugged. “Maybe. People always ask me if I’m bothered that everyone on the top level can see inside. It doesn’t. I don’t care if they look. Usually they do. If I stand at the window and stare back, they look away.”

“And what about when you’re fucking?”

“They don’t turn away then. You know what I do when it gets late, and the last few buses are passing by? I lie here on the bed, totally naked, and I play with myself. Right here under the light. You should see the faces, especially the boys. They squeeze up to the window, like they could reach me through the glass. They pull out their mobiles and try to snap pics and vids before the bus pulls away. They look like they’re at the zoo, watching something really rare, like a panda trying to mate.”

“Why do you do that?”

She shrugged again. “Why not?”

I still see Janine. She still insists we leave the curtains open and the light on, and I don’t argue. I’ll keep seeing her and we’ll keep doing this, until either of us gets something long-term or decides to address the fact we’re in a relationship.

Maybe then I’ll say something about the curtains. Or maybe I’ll just leave them be.

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