Peepshow

peepshow-highresEver wanted to spy secretly on other people’s lives?

Ken doesn’t have a choice: his student summer job is manning the CCTV screens for the new shopping centre. But instead of spotting criminals or vandals, he becomes fascinated by a cute waiter from the local bistro who sneaks out to the backyard for his break—and plays sexy to the camera.

Is he an old friend, or just an anonymous exhibitionist? Should Ken be excited by this naughty peepshow, or will people think he’s behaving like a voyeuristic pervert? Poor Ken’s confused and thrilled in turn. It’s like living in one of the movies he’s studying at university. He knows the man can’t see him, yet Ken feels a connection of some kind. It all encourages Ken to continue with his guilt-ridden Waiter Watch.

Ken bears the suspense as long as he can, until a chance meeting and an abortive blind date provide an explanation to the secret assignations. But will this guide Ken to the real-life chance of romance?

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EXCERPT
© Clare London

There actually was a lot of activity in and around the centre. Ken could weave it into his film projects, he could let it inspire him. Everyone enjoyed people-watching, didn’t they? He just felt that it wasn’t what he was employed to watch out for. It was benign. It was commonplace. Sometimes he felt just like a voyeur, but without the sexiness.

A waiter ambled out of the French bistro, and Ken’s attention darted back to that screen. The young man moved quickly—maybe he only had a few minutes’ break—and he made for the far corner of the yard. It was just a couple of square feet behind the furthest bin, and out of reach of the security lights. The only CCTV screen that covered that part of the view was one of the oldest and with the poorest picture. Sometimes one of the waiting staff would sneak behind the bin, and Ken assumed it was because they didn’t want to be seen, either by CCTV or from inside the restaurant. Was that what this man was doing? He had his back to Ken, who couldn’t see for definite what was up. Was he smoking? Taking drugs? Ken had seen it on other evenings. Was he meant to report that kind of thing, or just crimes that involved damage to the centre itself? And how hypocritical would he be, when he’d smoked more than a few things in his time?

He peered more closely and wished there was a zoom feature. He didn’t like to touch the controls too much, since the time he fiddled with the brightness, messed up screens one to four and spent three hours looking at static—I’m breaking up! I’m breaking up!—until Charlie arrived. The old man had shrugged at Ken’s apology, turned the control button to its fullest point, thumped somewhere under the desk, and the screens all popped back into focus. Lucky, of course, the missile hadn’t arrived at that very time, though Ken rather thought there’d have been other clues if the building had been attacked.

The man in the yard turned his head and Ken caught sight of his shadowed profile. He wasn’t smoking, he was sucking juice from a carton. A new employee? Ken didn’t think he’d noticed him before. Tall, lithe body in tight black trousers and a white shirt that stretched taut over his pecs, short-cropped dark hair, prominent but attractive nose. Ken couldn’t see his eyes, he was looking down at the carton, but the heavy lids were sexy. Even though the picture was blurred, Ken could tell that clearly enough. And the way his lips tightened on the carton straw was… Be still, my beating heart. Ken laughed at himself, a little bitterly. His poor old dick hadn’t hardened that quickly for a long time. He shifted on the seat, trying to get comfortable again. He really needed to get back out in the dating game again. Oh wait, first he had to find the time to date, didn’t he? But if and when he did, this was just the kind of look he’d always liked, even since school days, however shallow Mum would say that was…

And then the guy turned toward the camera so that one side of his face eased out of the shadows—and he winked.

Huh? Ken leaned forward in his chair, startled, but the moment was gone. The waiter turned on his heel, threw his empty carton into the bin and sauntered back inside the restaurant.

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