The First Time I Was Caught in the Nick

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A man sits high, high above Cape Town. His feet swing gently metres and metres above the ground. He feels the stiff pull of his life line over his shoulder, it rubs against his collar bone. The harness is tight, secure, strong. His bum complains about being confined to this wooden plank of a seat. His balls have given up by now. A bead of sweat runs slowly down his temple. He is annoyed by the tickle and brushes it away roughly with his forearm.

He looks at the cars, scurrying like rats through the city and then scratches the back of his head, squeezing his fingers under his hard hat. The breeze is most welcome. He opens the top button of his overalls, a tricky feat with his safety gloves on, and lets it wash over his neck and the top of his chest. He takes a deep breath; he can taste the salt and cool of the ocean. The blazing sun is too strong to face for very long. He turns back towards the building and lowers himself by a few feet to start painting the next window frame.

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He starts laying on the paint, thick like custard at first and then as it spreads more evenly, like syrup. A movement in the window’s room catches his eye. The pale flesh of a naked buttock. No, two buttocks! A woman’s naked back. “Oh shit” he thinks and freezes.

She is facing the cupboard, her back turned from the window. “She hasn’t seen me” he thinks. Now he’s stuck with the dilemma of either moving away which could draw attention to himself or he could pretend that he hasn’t seen her and just carry on painting. The latter seems totally ridiculous. He’s facing a massive window, looking straight into it like a child standing in front of a sweet shop window. While all of this is flying through his mind he hears a high pitched, “Oh FUCK!” and the woman drops suddenly behind the bed.

Her knees hit the black tiles hard. “Fuckity fuck fuck!” She thinks. She’s not sure if he had seen her or not. She crouches even lower so that her belly and breasts are squashed flat on her knees. There’s no point hiding if your butt is peaking out above the bed. She pauses there for a moment. This is not what she had envisioned.

She thought that living alone meant you could waft about after a bath, perhaps sipping on a glass of wine, moisturize your legs languidly just generally swan about being the essence of femininity. She hadn’t quite done this yet. She had just dived out of the shower and was frantically looking for something to wear because…Oh yes, she was late. “Shit! Fuck!” She whispered.

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She can’t stay like this for much longer, she can feel the dust and granules sticking to her shins and she has to get going. “Right. Just do it” she says quietly to herself. If he’s there, she has planned to subtly pull the blanket off the bottom of her bed, cover herself with the grey fleece and retreat to the lounge where her washing is drying. She inches forward on her shins, peaking past the end of the bed. She pushes silently off her big toes for the last centimetre.

The view that fills her windows has never looked more bright or more beautiful. So great and so vast. With the telling hint of a rope running straight down through it.

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