He was a rather average man. His name, John was as common as a name could get. His size was average, his face was plain. His age was the population average of thirty something. He was mild mannered and went out of his way to avoid confrontation. The only thing in which he wasn't average was his shyness. Technically he wasn't a virgin but he was so shy that he couldn't approach a woman to ask her for a date. He lost his virginity to a chewing gum prostitute who told him from the start that she didn't do anal and didn't kiss and who looked bored with his fumbling attempts. The two other times when he visited a professional lady the results weren't much better.
He lived in a small two stories house side by side with two other identical ones. The house on the left was occupied by an elderly, almost deaf lady. On the right was offered for rent for ages. The houses were painted in different colors and had small different details but inside had exactly the same division: a small living-room and a kitchen downstairs, a bedroom and a bathroom on the second floor. The living room window opened at the front of the house on the small porch and the kitchen had a door to the tiny backyard. The bedroom upstairs had the window over the backyard.
John lived from his job as house telemarketer. He had a computer and a list of names and telephones which were updated every time he finished the previous one. He spent most of his day on the telephone. He had a nice routine which he followed every day, making a call, striking the name from the list or making a tick for calling later and making an occasional sale. He separated a part of his day to walk to the shops, supermarket or restaurant, all in walking distance.
Until three months ago he dedicated the rest of his lonely day to his only two hobbies: television series and classical music, well, he probably wasn't average in his love of classics.
He listened to his CD's during his working hours and on his free time he watched series on the TV. Occasionally he used his backyard where he had a small table and an easy-chair. His backyard and the backyard of the deaf lady were paved, while the backyard of the third house had a small abandoned garden.
Three months ago the house on the right was rented to a young couple. He peeped on them through the blinds of his living room and judged them to be in the late twenties or early thirties. He almost died from fright when they crossed his porch, ringed his bell and introduced themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Bill Jones. The husband was a big guy and explained that he worked as a foreman on the nearby rail line construction team and would work there for the next couple of years, hence why they moved to a house within walking distance. She was a housewife. Penelope, Penny to her friends.
One glance at Penelope and John fell in love. Desperate, first sight love. It was not the fact that she was beautiful, or that her long blonde hair shined like halo around her angelical face, or that her simple short summer dress molded her curvaceous body into a sculpted perfection, or that her melodious voice recalled Chopin's nocturnes, or that her soft golden skin invited the most delicate touch, it was the assembly, the aura, the whole. John was so taken by this inhuman apparition that he almost couldn't answer any of couple's questions. Probably disappointed by his aloofness they cut the visit short and went to the next house on their courtesy tour.
From than on John had another hobby: spying on Penelope and worshipping her from a distance. Pe-ne-lo-pe... He rolled the syllables of her name on his tongue like sweet candy. He spied on her behind the blinds of his living room in the morning when she was giving her husband a goodbye kiss in her pajamas or dressing gown. He spied on her from his bedroom window when she was tending to her garden in the backyard, dressed in her summer dress or in her cut-off denim shorts and skimpy halter. He changed his routine to cross with her when she made her short walks to the local market or the post. On those occasions he always exchanged a shy smile or a quick wave, but he never had the nerve to stop and speak with her.
At nights he would dream of her. Dreams of heroism and gallantry with her in the role of a damsel in distress and he as the heroic rescuer. A gallant rescuer requiring nothing from his lady and often dying at her feet imagining her words: "Ah, who was that gallant and handsome hero who lost his life to defend my honor. Oh, now I'll never know his name!" But sometimes he didn't die. Instead she throws herself in his arms and in halting voice surrenders her purity to his ardent love.
Then came this fateful night, a few weeks after they moved to the house on the right of his, when while in the middle of changing the CD he perceived a strange noise coming from his neighbors' house. First he couldn't recognize the sounds, but straining his ears he could distinguish high pitched cries and lower register noises like something striking something. Then it downed on him. His princess was being beaten up.
He didn't know what to do. He thought on calling police but he had a natural dislike of exposing himself, he thought on barging in and rescuing her, but her husband was twice John's size and would probably beat on him as well. He ended on his bed crying from hate and frustration with his head under the pillow to drown the sounds.
Next day, he spied on them in the morning and their goodbye looked the same as any other day. He looked carefully at her face and there were no signs of beating. It was morning and she wasn't using any make up. Was it possible he dreamed the whole thing?
.... There is more of this story ...