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Notes of a Professional Voyeur IV - Fiction Serial by Benny Profane

Read Part One Here


It might surprise you to find out that the parameters of my terrestrial existence stretch further than the dimensions of my projectionist’s booth.

Although I consider my cinephilic den as my true spiritual home, it is incumbent upon me to every now and then venture out into that grand and grumbling hubbub of activity, the playground and battlefield of all our basic human compulsions known commonly as “The World”.

I precipitate these excursions with a stiffening intake of breath, combined with the adoption of a firm, resolute posture, as I endeavour to overcome my agoraphobic inclinations and feed this atavistic and counter-intuitive hunger for human interaction.

My inevitable destination on these sporadic excursions is my local working-man’s watering hole. It is a prestigious enough sort of an establishment, where the peanut bowls are usually full and the disposable bathroom towels plentiful.

It mainly attracts a sombre and surly type of clientele; replete as it is with loners, outcasts and depressives who contribute to the homely atmosphere of stasis and monotony that I find so comforting.

Suspended in the corner of the room is a television set that is usually tuned into whatever national equestrian pursuit happens to be taking place that day. That is, until, just before six o’clock when it is ceremonially turned over to The Angelus.

The sanctity of this tradition is recognised with a solemn and sincere reverence. As the pre-recorded bells chime out over the silent bar, the gaze of each individual rests somewhere in the middle distance and a placid contemplative expression falls over every face. And I honestly don’t know how long that ringing is supposed to go on for but my God it never fails to feel like an eternity.

When it finishes there is a collective exhalation of breath and an unintentionally synchronised shuffling brought about by the repositioning of buttocks on seats.

Pints are supped and fags are dragged as normal service is resumed and each occupant seems to share a common quiet pride in their dedicated recognition of this ritual. To them this moment of solemnity no doubt seems like a saintly sacrifice; but behind the subterfuge I can see that it is merely an excuse to impose a legitimised silence on a room of men who will spend the rest of the night awkwardly sashaying around the silences that monopolise their time.

The Angelus is followed immediately by the 6 o’clock News which provides ample material for muffled grumbling and sideways snarks aimed at whatever blowhard politician, greedy banker or disgraced businessman happens to be that day’s tabloid fodder. And finally at the end, once the buxom weather girl informs us of developments that could just as easily be garnered from staring out the window; the tube is switched over to whatever significant sporting event is taking place that night.

Football nights give the illustrious patrons an opportunity to clinically analyse and critique the performances of athletes who have attained a level of skill, stamina and expertise that us mere mortals can only but fathom. And yet, “Sure yer man’s youseless; he couldn’t kick shnow offa bleedin’ rowp.” and “How much are dey payin’ him?”

I generally avoid chipping in to such conversations and instead quietly sip my tipple of choice on my rusticated perch at the far end of the bar.

My poison comes in the form of a pint of porter (in a tulip glass mind you—none of your new fangled etched glasses) chased by a Mediterranean aperitif known as Amontillado; a Spanish sherry that is hard to come by in these parts but which said establishment now stocks specifically for yours truly.

On cold winter nights this combination will be replaced by the hearty supplication of a Hot Whiskey—a private tribute to my dearest Papa who was partial to a mulled pint of stout following a long day’s work in the elements and whose closeted composition was the archetype on which I built the foundations of my character.

On my perch I lift my eyes to the bodies around me and quietly consider them while subtly unblocking my nasal passage with my index finger. Coagulated specks of nasal residue are carefully dislodged and then quickly studied for colour, shape and consistency before being stealthily squashed on the underside of the bar where they rest beside their fallen brethren in a hidden gallery of crust and ooze. Sometimes while discarding the treasure in this manner my finger will stumble across an old sample of my errant nasal detritus and the urge to reacquaint myself with these past-picked compadres overcomes me as I tentatively poke the hardened gunk. This inevitably leads to said gunk being dislodged from its position. It then falls to the ground where it lies, disintegrates and mingles with all of the rest of the dust, dirt and epidermical waste.

From my perch I can carefully observe all of the curious idiosyncrasies of my fellow inebriates. Peering anonymously from my adjacent vantage point I have a great view of the sometimes absurd, always strange, tics and mannerisms of this unique species.

I believe there exists an unknown gamut of subconscious male gestures that binds its users in an invisible and barely comprehendible catchment of communication. The subtleties of this language are not accounted for in any book on semantics.

Small samples of this language are regularly reproduced by the subjects in question and it is my claim that the constant repetition of these gestures serves as the scaffolding about which a supra-oral language of understanding is built.


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