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Peep Show A Story in Seven Parts (Incomplete)

Peep Show Part 1

"Let's start the tour in the bottom half."

"Is that a euphemism for something?"

"Yes."

"O.k."

They take the elevator down.

"This is where the magic happens."

"It is?"

"No, not really. I tend to speak in cliches."

"Oh."

"No, the magic happens upstairs, but I thought I'd show you how it happens so that you are not blown out of your mind when you see the real magic." The Tour Guide wiggles his eyebrows. "Or so that you do not succumb to the machines power."

Louis would never succumb to any power, especially not that of a machine.

"I can take care of myself."

"We'll see... Put these steel toed boots on. Put theses goggles on. Wear this helmet. Here, here's a clipboard. here's a lab coat, put that on too. The chemicals here are hazardous."

Louis wasn't afraid of hazardous chemicals, the chemicals in his body were hazardous enough.

"There, now you look like a true Inspector. You'll fit in with the ones who have come before."

"I don't usually carry a clip board."

"Just hold on to it. It makes you look important, and if you have to, you can use it as a weapon."

Louis eyes the clipboard, and imagines using it as a weapon. He would have to be very angry to use it as such.

"Through these doors. Brace yourself. The machinery does not care if you get caught in it."

"I'm not afraid of any machine."

Reggie, the tour guide, has heard that before. He rolls his eyes and opens the big steel door. The noise is deafening. Reggie sprints ahead. Louis follows, and is almost impaled by one of the machines. Luckily, he has time to duck n' roll.

"What the hell was that!" He screams at Reggie, but Reggie can't hear him.

"It's better not to dawdle!" Reggie shouts back, but Louis can't hear him.

The floor they stand on is made of white sand, but the oil the machines exude have made the sand greyish. Like beasts of the desert, the machines unearth themselves from the sand, go about their business, and return from whence they came, only to be replaced by another.

Louis has been in Japan for an earthquake, and the feeling under his feet is not dissimilar to that.

The space which the machines carry out their tasks is vast. Louis has been traveling through the desert, with a gypsy caravan whilst fending off invading hordes, and the feeling is not dissimilar to this. Except the hoards, even though he didn't like to admit it, had hearts - were human. Louis cannot say the same for these machines whom he can only compare to psychopaths - if they were human. They would sooner slice your throat than give you the time.

Louis would love to stand there and take it all in, but there is another machine coming straight for him, a seedy one, with all it's eyes goggling at him. Although not as fast as the first one, Louis is correct in making the assumption that this one is triple times as deadly. Louis, not one for scampering, throws away his dignity, and scampers willy nilly towards his only protection, Reggie.

"What have things come to?" Louis asks himself.

"Not your everyday tour is it, Inspector?!" Reggie shouts into the ear of Louis. Louis manages to hear him only due to their close proximity. He doesn't bother replying. Louis can barely tolerate Reggie's Devil-may-care attitude under normal circumstances. All pretensions have been thrown out the window. If he makes it out alive, Louis will make sure to have this man fired.

Noticing the fear in Louis's eyes, the cry-baby fear, and having some small amount of sympathy for him, instead of leaving him to his own devices in this chopping block, Reggie decides to dole out some situational wisdom, "It's like jumping off a cliff on the sheer edge of a mountain," he shouts. "You're better off jumping than climbing down!"

"Jumping off a cliff, what!?" Louis shouts back.

"Remember to keep your clip board at the ready! It might come in handy!"

All Louis hears is "clip board" and eyes it, trying to imagine it as a weapon. It wouldn't even jam any gears, because as far as Louis can tell, these machines don't run with gears, but on their own volition.

"What possesses the machines!!" Louis screams, but his voice doesn't carry nearly as well as Reggie's does. Louis's face just gets red and his mouth moves funny. Reggie cannot help but laugh looking at him.

"Get a hold of yourself! We're coming to the most dangerous part!" Reggie shouts back without bothering to look. It would be no skin off his back if another Safety Inspector died down here. The more the merrier, as Reggie's grandma was fond of saying. Reggie looks at all the slightly red patches with what might be mistaken as machinery appendages in the greyish sand, and bows his head.

"This one looks sprightly enough," Reggie says to himself looking at Louis. But Louis's face is still all red, and if Reggie is not mistaken, his eyes are watering up.

"Poor critter," he says to himself. But now is no time to get sympathetic. They have yet to cross the 'Wailing, Wounded Soldiers'.

"Head-up!" Reggie shouts, but his words fall on deaf ears.

Reggie takes off running again. Louis makes sure to do likewise, but his feet don't get much traction in the sand. Running here evokes happier memories for Louis as a child running on the beach after a ball. But this is no beach, unless it's true what they say of life being a beach. If so, this beach would be more apt a metaphor for Louis's life.

And there it is ahead of them. The sight of it always makes Reggie's adrenalin flow. It takes more for him nowadays to get that spark going. In anticipation, a smile plays upon his lips, and his legs pump a little harder. He cannot say the same for his new friend Louis, the Safety Inspector, who, as he looks behind him, is the picture of panic. The Inspector's mind has probably stopped computing all the ills wrong with this place. Not that it matters. Most Inspectors who visit usually do not return.

"Get those knees up! Pump those legs!" Reggie shouts behind him.

Reggie could be shouting Louis's impending death for all Louis knows. Louis's animal brain has kicked in and all he can think of is survival. Fight or flight! Fight or flight! Louis eyes the clipboard in his hands again. It is no match for the whirling dervishes of the insanity of these machines. It would be like bringing a clipboard to a nuclear bomb fight... and all the valences of the atoms in the clipboard are stable...

There it is, what the Tour Guides like to call 'Vimy Ridge', or the field of 'Wounded, Wailing Soldiers'. The machines they wail, sure. But a wailing no infantry has heard before. The sound alone might be cause enough for retreat. Louis looks behind him, there is not retreat. "It's like jumping off a cliff!"

The 'Wailing, Wounded Soldiers', lie before them. Severed machine limbs strewn about... anguish... pain... no, not really, just the makings of magic. To us it's a travesty, to the machines, it's just another day at work. To Doctor Hoffman, it's the building blocks of desire. When He is in the throws of ecstasy, he would not be out of place among these soldiers. And the machines are far from wounded, in fact, they are in their element. It's only our anthropomorphic projections that cause us such pain. Reggie knows this. Louis does not. Let's hope he has enough sense to get over his fragile human tendencies - just this once.

The sight of Vimy Ridge from afar, however, is much more daunting than the view from in it's midst. Upon closer inspection the machinery is just that, machinery. Whatever alien material it's made of does not shroud the fact of it's insentience. Their eyes glow, but only with the depthless glow of inorganic power. Louis takes a deep breath of having made it this far. He coughs as a result. The fumes the machinery emit are foul and thick. Reggie shares sympathetically Louis's triumph. He is still alive. They both are. It's cause for celebration.

Unfortunately for Louis, Reggie has a different concept of celebration...

Peep Show Part 2

“Not your regular tour is it, Inspector?” Reggie asks now that they are in the quiet of the anteroom. But Louis can’t reply, he’s breathing too hard.

“It really takes your breath away, doesn’t it, Inspector?” Reggie waits for Louis to catch his breath, but for some reason, the heavy breathing goes on for longer than it should. Not only that, Louis’s eyes are bloodshot and all the fear has left them. Replacing the fear is an animal rage. Now that they are out of the deafening noise, and their ears have adjusted to the quiet, Reggie listens a little closer to Louis’s breathing, and decides it’s more like growling.

Reggie would have made a comment on the weather, if they knew what the weather was like outside, but as it was, they are somewhere deep underground. He searches his mind for some other platitude.

“How about those Bears?”

Reggie doesn't find out until after if it is Louis’s aversion to the Chicago Bears, or the Trauma he just went through that makes him react in such a violent way. Now Louis has no difficulty in using his clipboard as a weapon. He deals Reggie several blows, but because Reggie is much bigger, not much harm is done. Reggie acts as though Louis’s efforts are worth his energy in the hopes of placating him. Reggie even lets out a few cries. Having decided that Louis has vented enough of his anger, Reggie puts a stop to it with an extension of his arm, turning his hand into the symbol for stop, something he learned from StarWars. Reggie’s tolerance for the Uninitiated in regards to pain and fear is low.

These inspectors don’t know fear, not really, not yet, anyway. If this Inspector makes it through the second part of the tour, we’ll be that much closer to Nebulous Time.

Reggie grabs his side remembering his Initiation. His side evokes memories of the sensations of pains and pleasures so acute and intense that they started blending into each other. The biology of the sensations stopped having psychological pairings so each sensation was brand new. He remembers transcending those feelings and feeling something he had never experienced before, something he didn’t have words to describe.

“Please, Inspector, mind yourself. Now is not the time for madness. We have yet to tour the upstairs. Save your madness for then, I’ll have more sympathy for you at that time.”

Louis stops growling and the animal in his eyes have been replaced with a more human anger. Reggie’s admonition holds weight. Louis tries to process his thoughts into the right words to yell at this man.

Trying as best he can to restrain himself, and controlling the tone of his voice he says, “First I’m going to have you fired. Then I’m going to have you sued. Then you’re going to go to jail, and then I’ll visit you and sit there and laugh.” Louis manages to utter an insanely mechanical laugh as though in rehearsal of his plans.

Reggie would have joined him in his laughings since he was apart of the machinery of the Institution of Doctor Hoffman, and therefore basically untouchable, but the nature of Louis’s laugh is unsettling. Reggie takes a few steps back. He was used to dealing with the mindless nature of the machines, and for all their apparently psychotic mannerisms, they were after all just machines, without complex minds.

That’s where the real terror lies, in our minds.

Reggie gathers himself and steps forward and says, “Buck up, Chum. You are still alive. Wait until the tour is over to make your threats. Then we’ll go through the necessary papers and you can witness my ejection.”

Louis is wary of the Tour-Guide’s confidence.

“No, this tour is over. And so is your career. I’m leaving. I’ve had enough assaults on my life, thank-you. Show me the exit.”

“My pleasure,” Reggie replies, and sidles past Louis. He opens the door to the “killing fields”. The noise, smell, and smoke refresh Louis’s senses, and produce within him a vicious flashback and accompanying actions.

“The door is over there!” Reggie shouts and points to the wall furthest in the desert.

Louis’s eyes are wide with panic.

“Shut the door! Shut the door!” But Reggie can’t hear him. To make matters worse, there is a machine coming through the door. It already has it’s insect like legs in the room, soon it will be crawling up Louis’s pant leg, and then who knows what.

Louis madly gesticulates to Reggie to shut the damn door. Reggie’s good humour has returned seeing the Inspector in such a state.

“Where are your lawyers now?!” He shouts, knowing Louis can’t hear him, and has a good laugh. He kicks the machine, whose soul purpose is to scare Inspectors, out of the room, and slams the door after it.

“The tour will be over soon enough. There will be no more assaults on your life,” Reggie lies.

Louis knows he has no choice. The only other exit is in the ceiling at the other end of a long steel ladder mounted onto the wall.

Reggie starts climbing it.

“If you don’t want to continue with the tour, you can either stay here, or have another go in there. If you wait here, I’ll send someone to get you if I remember to. But tonight is “Wheels” night at the club and that tends to leave me forgetful.”

Although Louis does not like his options, he decides to choose the lesser of two evils. He doesn’t want to stay in this room alone too long, partly because he knows Reggie won’t send anyone, and partly because he doesn’t believe he’s safe from the machines behind a door. Indeed, he doesn’t believe he is safe from the machines anywhere now, and they will haunt his dreams.

He starts climbing the ladder after Reggie.


Peep Show Part 3


“There you go, up you go, almost there,” Reggie takes Louis’s hand and helps him through the hole.

They emerge in a grey concrete hall somewhere crowded with busy people. The people, all men, all dressed in suits, they don’t think it’s unusual for these two to climb out of a hole in the ground. Indeed, they probably wouldn’t think it unusual to see hamburgers walking down the hall.

“There you go, up you are,” Reggie says, as he dusts Louis off. “No harm no foul,” he says, and winks. “You look twice warmed over. Someone stick a fork in you. You must be famished. Let’s get something for you to eat.” Reggie doesn’t give time for Louis to respond. He drags him to a cafe at the end of the hall, moving with the current of bodies.

“There you go, down you sit. Take a load off. Put your feet up. It’s lunch time. Now we’ll enjoy some snacks, and few beverages,” Reggie wiggles his eyebrows at Louis when he says “beverages”.

Louis tries orientating himself to this new place, a world away from what he’s just come from. The only machines he sees are familiar, non-threatening ones. The espresso machine, the blender, the chicken nugget extruder...

“A nice cafe,” Reggie says. “A good place to get away.”

Louis nods his head.

“You look like a dogs chew toy,” Reggie says with a look of concern in his eyes.

A waitress comes to take their order. She also wears grey. The skirt she wears tries to accentuates her hips. It’s as though she has planned her wardrobe with the aim of being backlit.

“What are you having,” she asks. Her voice is deeper than Louis expected.

“My friend here will have one Turkish Rocket, one Hottentot Fig, three Jacob’s tears, and seven Tiger Nuts. I will have the same. To drink please bring us a bottle of Hermes.”

“Did you want butter on your tears?” She asks.

“Yes, please,” Reggie replies.

“I don’t know if I like the sound of your Hermes,” Louis tells Reggie. “And isn’t there anything normal to eat here? Don’t they have milk shakes?”

“This isn’t a diner, Inspector. It’s not Arby’s. Does Arby’s serve Turkish Rockets?”

“No, they don’t. A Turkish Rocket sounds like a pleasuring device.”

“It will pleasure, Inspector. You don’t have to worry about that.”

“Not my butthole, I hope,” Louis replies in serious consternation.

Reggie has a good laugh.

Once again the Safety Inspector sets himself apart from the ones who have come before. None of the other Inspectors have made a butthole joke, Reggie thinks. Then again, I’ve only had the fortune of sitting down for a meal with one other Inspector, but he was out of his mind before he started the tour.

“That waitress,” says Louis, “she has a deeper voice than I imagined.”

“It’s deep, isn’t it?” responds Reggie. “We try to get our ladies with higher voices, but in a cafe like this, it’s as best as you can get.”

Louis looks at Reggie with question marks in his eyes, but does not press his observation. He is famished indeed. Turkish Rocket, Hottentot Figs, whatever. He’ll be glad for some nourishment.

“Is this the second part of the tour?” Louis asks.

Reggie has a good laugh.

“No, Inspector. We are merely fortifying ourselves for that.

Are you okay?”

Louis considers his question. He’s almost died.

“I’ve almost died. Other than that, I guess I’m okay.”

“So, you’ll continue with the tour? After we’ve had some refreshments, of course.”

Louis thinks about continuing the tour. He has a feeling that even if he didn’t want to continue with it, it wouldn’t matter. He has to finish the tour. He has no choice. Not having a choice allows certain freedoms. Shooting your mouth off is one of them.

“Of course I’ll continue with the tour, you lily loving pansy,” Louis replies with hard cold eyes.

Reggie is somewhat taken aback. The last time he was called a Lily Loving Pansy was when he was working as groundskeeper for the local elementary school.

“... Lily Loving Pansy!!!” Reggie forces a laugh, but his eyes are full of vengeance.

Holding his tongue, and keeping his temper in check, he waits for their refreshments to arrive.

Thankfully, the waitress arrives. Reggie’s eyes show merriment at the sight of food.

“Thank-you, Miss,” Reggie says, with extra intonation on the Miss. Like her being a Miss is a big fat joke.

The waitress nods and smiles, and shuffles back to the kitchen. Both Reggie and Louis watch her go.

“Sleight of hip,” Louis observes.

Reggie looks at Louis and nods his head and smiles.

A strange smile, Louis thinks, and gets uncomfortable. The uncomfort comes with the realization that since he’s been here, here in Dr. Hoffman’s institution, in the desert, he can’t remember seeing what he would recognize as a normal woman. Even though he was ushered quite quickly to the Tour-Guide, he was still greeted by a receptionist, a lady, but seeing the receptionist, and now seeing the waitress, he draws the same conclusion: The women here are masculine. Not just in their tendencies, but also in their appearance.

“The women here,” Louis says, deciding to voice his observations, “they have a... ‘je ne sais quoi’”.

Reggie has kept his eyes on the waitress as she walks away. Louis’s observance has tugged him from his gaze.

“A what in the what now?” Reggie asks.

“It’s French. It means they have something about them...”

“The women? Oh, them...” Reggie wonders if he should tell the Inspector about the women. “I’ll tell you more about them once the Hermes arrive,” he decides.

Louis wears a questioning look.

Whatever, their food has arrived. Reggie smiles contentedly. It's been a tough day for him, too. All tour days are.

“Thank-you, Mavis,” Reggie says.

“The pleasure is mine, Reggie,” the waitress, Mavis, replies.

Reggie wiggles his eyebrows at her.

“Inspector, it’s what we’ve been waiting for. The Turkish Rocket. Here. Try it out.” Reggie grabs a Turkish Rocket by it’s shaft and thrusts it into Louis’s face.

Louis finds the smell pungent, but alluring. He grabs it from Reggie’s hand and eats it like you might eat a corn dog. It tastes like mushrooms.

“It tastes like mushrooms,” Louis says.

Reggie laughs.

“It sure does!!!” He has a real good laugh.

“Here, now try this.” Reggie grabs a Hottentot Fig and hands it to Louis.

Much like your regular fig, but more wrinkly.

“A wrinkly fig!!!” Louis exclaims. The Turkish Rocket is altering his senses.

Just wait till he eats the Fig, Reggie thinks.

Louis grabs the fig, and goes ahead and takes a bite out of it. It’s crunchy.

“Crunchier than I expected,” he says.

“That’s what they all say!” Reggie laughs, and helps himself to a bite of fig.

“Here,” Reggie says. “Here’s a Jacob’s tear. I won’t judge you silently, nor overtly if you start to cry after eating it. We’re all friends here, friend. Go ahead and take a bite,” Reggie offers Louis a Jacob’s Tear.

“I’d rather not,” Louis replies.

“Go ahead. You’re in the Tree of Trust.” Reggie looks at Louis with sympathy in his eyes.

“Fine, but just one,” Louis says.

One is all you’ll need!!! Reggie thinks, and has a hard time controlling his laughter.

Louis takes a Jacob’s Tear between his middle and thumb fingers. Just like a tear, he thinks. The sight of it in his fingers evokes cloudy days. He takes a bite. And hear come the tears.

Louis’s heart is broken ten times over with that bite. Love lost. Love gained, then lost again. Love found, love lost. A spinning infinity.

“A spinning infinity,” Louis says aloud, despite his better judgement.

“A spinning infinity,” Reggie sympathizes.

Luckily, the Hermes has arrived. The waitress pours their glasses full.

“Thank-you, Mavis,” Reggie says, and slides a note into her belt.

“Thank-you, Mavis,” Louis repeats. If he had a note, he’d give it to her.

They both watch as she walks away. Her walk leaves an unsettling feeling in Louis.

“Not your regular lady, is it, Inspector,” Reggie says, his eyes misting.

Louis chooses not to respond.

Reggie grabs a full glass and hands it to Louis.

“To love,” he says.

Louis takes a drink without question. He’s come this far...

“You’ve come this far, Inspector. It’s all uphill from here.”

Just before Louis loses all grasp on his mental discipline, he says to Reggie, “Is uphill good or bad?”

“I don’t know,” Reggie responds. “I guess we’ll find out.”


Peep Show Part 4


Louis enjoys eating strange snacks in the strange cafe. He doesn’t get the chance to relax enough anymore. It’s always Safety Inspect this and Safety Inspect that. I’ll take some time to Safety Inspect my soul, he thinks. His experience in the bottom half of the tour is now just a memory. He’s forgiven Reggie for almost killing him, and treats him cordially. He’s starting to see things clearer.

“Not your normal Cafe, is it, Inspector?” Reggie asks him.

“I like the food here,” Louis answers.

Reggie has a good laugh.

“I knew you would! But don’t settle down too much. You need your wits about you for the next half of the tour.”

Louis wonders why Reggie has poisoned him with drugs if he needs his wits about him.

“Why have you poisoned me with drugs, then?”

“I thought it would be better for you. You’ll need help suspending your disbelief. Also, it’s just what we eat here.”

“That helps explaining your weirdness,” Louis observes.

Reggie laughs. “Let’s go,” he says.

Louis teeters a little as he gets to his feet.

“Get a hold of yourself, Inspector. You can’t be falling over everywhere.”

“Just a little light in the head.”

“Try and buck up.”

Louis tries bucking up but the glass of Hermes he drank is more deranging than he thought.

“The drink you gave me slants the floors a little.”

Reggie laughs. “Hopefully it doesn’t slant your brain.”

“Slanty Brain,” Louis ponders.

They make their way back through the hallway. It’s empty now, all the stiff collars are gone.

Reggie leads the way through a maze of hallways and a series of doors. Each door leading to a different maze of hallways. Louis walks a few steps behind, not concentrating on issues of safety, but more on why there are small holes lining the walls of the hallways. He stops for a second and looks into one. He shudders at the sight of another machine. The machine he sees is less aggressive than the ones down below. It’s not crawling, and he doesn’t notice eyes on it, but it’s motionlessness speaks of innate terrors. The fact that it’s behind a wall does little to calm Louis’s fear. That’s one machine he would not like to see in action. For the first time during the tour, he’s glad for the psychotic guidance of the Tour Guide. He pulls himself from the wall to rejoin with Reggie, but Reggie is no where to be seen.

Louis turns a few corners, and with no sight of Reggie, his panic starts mounting. All the hallways look the same, and he can’t remember which doors he came through to get here. He tries a few doors he sees, but they are locked, which is probably for the best, lest he come into close proximity with what he’s seen through the hole. He knows the best thing to do when you’re lost is to stay in one place, but in a place like this, he’s not sure that’s safe. He’s not above screaming for help, but again, he’s worried about who his screams might attract. So he walks as casually as he can muster through the halls. If I do come across someone, he thinks, it would be better not to appear as though in fear.

Now Louis strolls down the hall. His heart rate pounding. His eyes starting to mist. The end is nigh.

Louis hears footsteps. He sees someone turn the corner. It’s a lady! As she draws nearer he realizes that its actually a man. Nearer still, he decides it’s a woman. Whatever.

“Excuse me.... dude,” Louis says, trying to find the right words to address this person.

The dude stops in his/her tracks. “Pardon me?” he/she says.

“I’m a bit lost. Have you seen the Tour Guide?”

“The Tour Guide?”

“Yeah. Reggie?”

“Reggie?”

“Yeah. Reggie.”

He/she screws up his/her face into a thinking face.

“Who are you?” He/she asks.

“I’m the Safety Inspector.” Louis decides that this being he’s talking to is a woman.

Not that it’s terribly important right now, he thinks. I just won’t ask her out for drinks.

A slight terrible smile has come to her lips. “Ah, the Safety Inspector. Follow me.”

Following her, he comes to the stronger conclusion that she is a woman. She has a certain, I don’t know what, about her, Louis thinks.

The woman leads Louis down more halls still, and through more doors leading into more halls, all of which do not waver in their appearance. Arriving at another door, the woman stops, opens it, and without stepping inside she says, “Here you are,” and she smiles again betraying her otherworldly roots. When Louis peers into the room she has presented, without much ceremony, she pushes Louis in and slams the door behind him.

Louis trips and falls, and by doing so unintentionally prostrates himself before the Peep Show Proprietor.

The Peep Show Proprietor, an old blind man, says to Louis, “Thank-you for joining us. Hopefully you think our facilities are up to par. It’s no Taj Mahal, but it gets our work done.”

Louis scrambles to his feet. The Peep Show Proprietor looks like he has one foot in the grave. Long white straggly hair, beard to match. Bald on top. Long hook nose. His clothes are like rags hanging loosely off him. And he smells like decay.

When the Peep Show Proprietor looks at Louis, he looks through him. His eyes are blue and white with cataracts. “Reggie says you’d like to see the second half of the tour,” his voice crackles with age.

“I don’t think I have a choice,” Louis replies.

The old man laughs to himself. “True enough,” he says. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll be fine. It’s nothing to get alarmed about. We have to ensure it’s safe, after all.”

“If the second half is as safe as the first half I fear it might be something to get alarmed about. Also, I’m already planning on what I’ll write in my lengthy report to the Ministry of Safety.”

The old man laughs at Louis’s plans. “We’re still working on the machines down below,” he says. “They are a bit violent and stupid, but they get the job done.”

“What job is it that they’re preforming?” Louis asks.

“Their job is to create the second half of the tour, Inspector. You’ll see. And I promise that what you’ll experience in it will be much more pleasant.”

Louis worries about the notions these people have about what is pleasant and what is not. “I’ll be the judge of that,” he says.

“Of course. Come with me, and let’s start the tour.”


Peep Show Part 5


The room Louis has been pushed into is sterile white. There's nothing in it. It's a big room, brightly lit with florescent lights.

The Peep Show Proprietor says, "Follow me," and walks toward a different door Louis was pushed through, the only other door in the room. He has no trouble finding the door knob, despite his blindness. The old man opens a door which reveals nothing but darkness.

"Don't let the darkness alarm you. I'd turn on the lights if I could, but there aren't any," he says, and smiles.

Louis is not only alarmed at the darkness, he think he might be dying.

"I think I’m dying," Louis says.

"We’re all constantly on a willy-nilly path toward death," replies the old man. "Being led into a room of darkness does not change that fact. You have nothing to be afraid of. Give me your arm, I'll lead you through."

Louis has plenty to be afraid of. But, "You've come this far!" and, "It's like jumping off a cliff!" Wisdom from the Tour Guide comes back to him.

The Peep Show Proprietor grabs Louis’s arm with more force than Louis thought was necessary. It's like a hand of raw bone has grabbed him.

They enter complete darkness.

"Welcome to my aquarium," the Peep Show Proprietor says, and shuts the door behind him. Now the light from the room they left is gone.

Louis's eyes would have adjusted to the dark, if there was anything to adjust to.

"Not much of an aquarium if you can't see anything," Louis says.

"Oh, you'll see plenty," replies the old man. "I'll show you around."

The old man leads Louis by the arm through the darkness. He has no trouble finding the way to one of his” specimens”. He takes Louis's hand and places it on the hard cold steel of the apparatus.

"Here is Norman. He likes cars."

Louis has a hard time pairing what he's touching to what he's touching liking cars.

"Can you see them?" asks the old man.

Louis can feel his eyeballs darting willy nilly in his head. He's on the cusp of madness.

"See what!?" he asks, maybe a bit too loudly.

"Shhhh... We don't want to disturb them," replies the old man, and in a quieter voice he adds, "Can you see the cars?"

Louis tries calming himself down. He closes his eyes, a pleasure he once took refuge in, but which now does not differentiate from reality. "I can't see any cars," he says.

"Open your eyes. Look harder," replies the old man.

Louis opens his eyes, and forces them to stop swirling. Yes, he can see it, he can see the car. It's a two dimensional image on a small square surface somewhere in front of him. He's not sure how far away he is from the image because all the space he would normally use to judge such a distance has been removed from him.

"I see it," he says. "It's a yellow Lamborghini. Yellow top missing."

"That's it," replies the old man. "What do you think?"

"I've seen one before," Louis answers. "But in real life."

Judging by the tone of the Peep Show Proprietors voice, Louis guesses he his somewhat hurt.

"Real life?" The old man asks.

"Yes," answers Louis. "I've seen one in the city, driving by."

"That must have been something."

"It wasn't much."

"Wasn't much?"

"No, just a car."

"Just a car," the old man repeats.

There is a pregnant silence.

"Let me show you another fish," the old man says, and takes Louis's hand off the cold hard steel. His hand is like paper. Louis worries it might crumple.

The old man leads him through the darkness. As they move through it, now that Louis's terror has somewhat subsided, and his eyes have resumed their course, he can see those images of light as he moves. There is an exotic bird. There is a casino.

"What do you feed these... 'fish'?"

The old man chuckles. "Nothing but the finest liquid supplements." The old man laughs as though Louis has told the greatest joke.

"Don't laugh too hard, sir, you might harm yourself," Louis says.

"Please, call me the Proprietor."

Louis will not call anyone the’"Proprietor’, ever. Not ever. Not anyone. Not if his life depended on it.

"Okay," Louis replies.

"Laughter is medicine for the soul," the old man says.

"So are Hottentot Figs," Louis replies.

The old man laughs so hard at Louis's reply, Louis thinks he might die.

"Sorry," says the Peep Show Proprietor. "It's not everyday I have a guest. It gets lonely in here, you know."

"I can only imagine," says Louis.

"And imagine you will!!!" Cackles the old man. A cackle straight from the netherworlds. Straight from that lady's smile.

Louis gets the feeling he's done for. I am done for, he thinks. And has a hard time accepting it.

I have no idea where I am. I'm basically trapped in here. At least the old man is a person....

Yes. That's all Louis has - a hand to hold (although crumply).


Peep Show Part 6


The Peep Show Proprietor guides Louis through the darkness. The darkness is interrupted occasionally by those images of light. Sometimes the distances in between various images are long, sometimes short, but Louis can’t tell, since the size of the images might be changing. Louis suspects the old man of leading him willy-nilly.

To interrupt the slight sound and echo of their shoes falling on the hard surface, Louis asks, “What are those images? What makes them?”

The old man waits to reply, as though in thought. “I’ve told you already, Safety Inspector, it’s the machines downstairs doing most of the work. What differentiates the images? That is the hand of Desire. Do you know Desire, Inspector?”

Louis thinks about desire. His most recent memory of it is drinking that glass of Hermes.

“Like that glass of Hermes?” Louis replies, uncertainly.

“Yes. Yes,” answers the old man. His voice speaks of smiles. “Did you notice anything unusual after you drank of it?”

Louis decides to answer in honesty. “My concept and definition of reality changed, if that’s what you’re getting at.”

The Peep Show Proprietor cannot help but laugh. In the darkness, with the echo, it sounds like the most heinous and maniacal Louis has ever heard.

“Desire. It has powers you don’t know about,” the old man says, after his laugh. “But if you want... If you want to really experience the second half of the tour, first hand, completely, why don’t you have a seat?” The Peep Show Proprietor takes Louis’s hand, and places it on the cold material of a “seat”.

“Become one of your fish?” Asks Louis.

“Not necessarily. You have a choice. You always have a choice, Safety Inspector. You’ve chosen to be here, in my aquarium, for example. You’ve chosen to take the tour. You are still alive.”

Louis doesn’t have time to question his existence. It’s dark. So dark, he can’t see. He could run. He could release the cold death grip the old man had on his arm, but where would he run? He didn’t know where he was. He didn’t know how to leave. Louis feared what might happen if he ran, he imagined seeing so many images, with the only end to it being death.

“My choice is limited indeed,” Louis manages to utter.

The Peep Show Proprietor could not help but smile.

“Sit down. I promise you you’ll like it. And if you manage to unfetter yourself from the tour, you alone will be responsible for a new collective consciousness. You’ll be responsible for opening everyone’s eyes to something else. Something that was there all along, but was so hard to see.”

Once again, Louis imagines himself on the edge of a cliff. I can climb down, he thinks, but chances of making it down are slim to nil.

“Fine. I’ll take a seat,” Louis says, trying to muster all the cool he had. And now it’s time for Louis to laugh maniacally. “I’ll open our collective eyes!!!”

The Peep Show Proprietor has heard that before. He straps Louis in, wishes him luck, makes sure the I.V.’s have enough fluid in them... attaches the head cap, pushes the “on” button, and leaves to check his fish.


Peep Show Part 7


Desire. Yes. Desire. With the cap on, and his I.V. firmly connected, and with nothing much to worry about (except his vegetative state) Louis has no choice but to relax a little. Relaxing, he is reminded of drinking Hermes. The same sensations in his body overtake him, but now there is less worry about ‘what people might think’. If Louis knows anything right now, it’s that no one can see him, not even the old man. Louis relaxes all the harder. Relaxes himself to the boundary of no return. He thinks a bit, “That I.V. O, man. Yes! I.V.! Yes!” He can feel the I.V.’s contents spill into his bloodstream, and despite his better judgement, all he can do is cry, “Yes! Yes!”

So this is desire, a concoction of chemicals making their way through the blood stream. Louis is not impressed. Although a very tight man, he has known desire, just like the rest of us. We’re not robots, after all. He’s known desire, he knows brain chemicals, but then something magical happens. Before him, bigger than a theatre screen, he sees it. He sees his desire, his desire manifested into an object. What is that feeling that overtakes him? Is it from his own mind? His body? Or is it from the intravenous chemicals surging through his body. It doesn’t matter, what he feels is shattering. There it is in front of him, exactly what he’s been looking for. His dreams. His desires. There it is. If he weren’t strapped down, and if he had a conscious recollection of his limbs, he’d go out and grab it. But as it, the image alone is enough to satiate all desires he’s ever had. There it is. His desire. A reunion with something/someone he’s been looking for so long. The second half of the tour is over, and for Louis, that fish, it will never end, not as long as the cells in his body keep replenishing themselves, and as long as Louis has the delusion to conjure his desires.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. I must say.

John Dantzer said...

Thanks...

Gabriel Sigma said...

The last few years have reduced my attention span to that of a... oh look, boobs!
However, Peep Show glued my ass down. The machines will take over sooner or later. Cliche-spewing Reggie knows this and now i do too.
Great writing.
(loved that sand-beach memory flash.)

John Dantzer said...

thanks man.

Boobs are so distracting