by Annesha Sengupta
Pervert Mike liked naked women. He liked them clothed, too, but he preferred them naked. That’s why Pervert Mike was squatting inside the unusually thick wall of a gynecology clinic.
Pervert Mike liked to watch the introduction of each girl into the cold, antiseptic room. He watched as they looked around at the sterile elements; the square jars filled with cotton balls, the remote watercolor tacked on the wall like spring garnish, drawers that sounded like thunder when pulled.
He loved the reveal. Some girls disrobed mechanically, running through a mental checklist. Pants. Bra. Panties. The panties they wore were plain and white, and they would hide them under the rest of their clothes.
Some girls smiled at their own shyness in a wry, condescending way. Don’t be stupid, she seemed to say. They undressed like they were coming back home after a long, exhausting day of work. They wore a carefully engineered nonchalance. It’s just a doctor’s visit. It’s not supposed to be embarrassing. They fooled everyone but Pervert Mike.
Pervert Mike loved painfully and easily. He adored the virgins in corsets, the world-weary prostitutes spreading their legs with a mechanical tiredness. He once fell into agony over a timid eighteen year old who confessed never to have bled at all.
Pervert Mike listened.
Are you sexually active?
How many sexual partners have you had in the last month?
Do you practice safe sex?
Are you experiencing regular periods?
With each answer, he could feel the girls unwrap a little bit more. Until they were naked and vulnerable under his gaze. Not their bodies, stiff and uncomfortable against the metal tables, but their spirits, the long complicated essences that billowed and stretched behind them.
One morning, Pervert Mike watched a girl who looked surprisingly like his wife. Her hair was a little longer, true. And her breasts, a little bigger. But her soft grey eyes were exactly the same. They scanned the room with a delicate kindness. There was an earnestness to her, as she stalked across the room, opening drawers, not bothering to take her clothes off.
Pervert Mike began to feel uncomfortable. She looked too much like his old life, too much like the past. He looked at her, so young and beautiful. And then at himself. Pervert Mike had greasy hair and was mostly naked, except for his stained boxers. For months he had held his dirtiness gingerly against him, refusing to let it interfere. It had been many days since Pervert Mike had left the wall, and his teeth were mossy and jaundiced. He felt disgust for the first time in a long time.
This curious girl who looked like his wife was going to be his final act of perversion. After this, Pervert Mike was going to leave the wall and face the sunlight. He was going to make things right. Get a job. Brush his teeth. Date this girl in real life. Hear the secrets that she chose to tell him.
The girl was inspecting the wall now, digging her fingernails into the blue paint. She noticed a very tiny hole near the doctor’s desk. Mike’s peephole. She got down on her knees and looked through it.
The flecks of gold in her irises, the way her mouth popped into a surprised little “O” drew him back to the old kind of love. The downtown bar and uptown jewelry love. Pervert Mike wanted to go back.
So when she screamed at the sight of him, malnourished and crusty with semen, he screamed too.