H.A.L. International – The Peeping Tom Idea


By Lisa Marklinger


Morning. Again.


“Yes… I’ll get four biscotti—on a plate—and a large Viennese with almond milk.”

“Sure. That’ll be $10.75.”

Norris lets out a bleary sigh. “Can you guys make a milkshake?”

“You already know we can.”

“Make me a chocolate one.”

“Okay. That comes to $16.50.”


“Sixteen dollars and fifty cents. Please.” The barista repeats, stressing each syllable.

“Since when do you charge over five bucks for a milkshake?”

“Listen, pal, you know I don’t set the prices. If I did, I would charge you fifty just for breathing in front of me. We have the same exasperating conversation at least three days a week.” Tears welling in the young man’s eyes, he takes a stilted breath. “I hate my job, I hate my family, but more than that, I really fucking hate serving you. Seriously. Stop coming here.”

“What time is it, Jimmy?”

“Didn’t you hear what just I said!?” His voice in shattered squeaks, Jimmy slams his fists on the counter, weeping.

“Yes. Of course I did, Jimmy. And, believe me, Jimmy, I hate you equally as much—probably even more, being the lovely tulip that you are. But I’m going to a dinner party tonight, so I promised I wouldn’t fuck anyone up today. Now. Jimmy. Can I pay for my order? That nonsense you keep whispering is very distracting.”

“Sixteen fifty, asshole.”

Sneering, Norris pulls a crisp fifty-dollar bill out of his wallet, pompously snaps it between his fingers, and drops it on the counter in an effort to further provoke his first nemesis of the morning. “Keep the change, Jimmy. Buy your dopey kids some Gummi-Sours or something.”


Plate of biscotti in hand, Norris seats himself at his usual table and stares aimlessly out the window as he waits for his drinks. Needing to dunk each piece rough edge in, he begins bisecting each cookie into more efficient portions while tapping his right foot on the floor. Wednesday mornings were mundanely routine on the avenue: a plethora of poorly dressed people greeting their stylistically challenged sidekicks; ugly businessmen wearing cheap shoes and ill-fitting suits; meth addicted beggars accosting sedative dependent school moms; hung-over, sniveling housewives with secret lesbian leanings meeting their more-attractive, overdressed-for-daylight female acquaintances for manicures and “girl time”— typically lunch consisting solely of plush, jammy malbec— followed by a parting of ways; presaging forlorn, misty-eyed masturbation with shower-heads in their respective homes.


“Large Viennese with 2% and a chocolate shake!” A female calls out. The voice was luscious. Distinctive. Velvety enough to nurse away the distress of Norris’ non-dairy coffee specification in favor of a brutish heat palpitating in his groin. He snaps to his feet.




She was a ‘leave lipstick on your cock’ kind of feisty.




She and her boyfriend, Kyle, lived in a fourth-floor condo across the street from Norris. He’d been watching them from his sixth-floor balcony every morning since they moved in two months ago. Kyle liked nailing Janice to the window; Janice liked being corralled in the ass with Kyle’s hand around her neck, eyes rolling to the back of her head in such a convulsive, electrified spasm, she must have blacked-out every time.


“Those are mine,” Norris announces to her, avoiding eye contact. Taking one drink in each hand, he scurries back to his table—aroused and extremely lightheaded.




A philistine temptress flaunting a red crinoline beneath her ruffled black latex skirt, black and white PVC corset, Burberry rain boots and ragged fishnet stockings.


Limber. Slinky. Contortionist. Whore.