The Peephole Cleaner
René Georg Vasicek

I am a peephole cleaner. Don't laugh. Everyone laughs. People stop laughing when I tell them how much money I make. I clean peepholes in New York City. At any given moment, there are thousands of human eyeballs pressed up against peepholes. More goes on than meets the eye.

My investment was modest: $3.69 for a 32-fl.-oz. bottle of window cleaner and .99 cents for a roll of paper towels. The hard part was convincing people that they actually needed to have their peepholes cleaned. But more importantly, a peephole cleaner must have a uniform. I wanted passersby on the street to point and shout, "Oh my God! Look! It's the Peephole Cleaner!" 

So I wear a jester's outfit: a long Technicolor dream coat, a white renaissance shirt with long frilled sleeves, garish baggy pants, soft-felt shoes that curl up at the toe, and a tri-colored pointed cap with a reindeer bell.

The first door I knocked on was in Yorkville, a Queen Anne-style redbrick townhouse on East End Avenue. A young woman in a negligee answered. She was barefoot.

"Is the circus in town?" she asked.


"Then who are you?"

"I'm the Peephole Cleaner."


"The Peephole Cleaner. I clean peepholes."

"You mean like the peepholes on a door?" she laughed, pointing at her own peephole.

"Exactly," I said, grinning sheepishly.

"Is this some sort of joke?" she asked, her raven-black eyes searching the street for hidden cameras.


"Why do I need a peephole cleaner? I can do it myself," she said, folding her arms over her breasts.

"Yes. But do you?"


"That's why I'm here."

"But my peephole isn't dirty," she protested.

"How do you know?" I asked.

"Because I can see through it perfectly fine."

"Yes, but until you see BEFORE and AFTER, you never really know."

"And how much does that cost?"

"It's free… The first time," I said.

"Sounds like a scam."

"It's not a scam. It's art."


"Yeah, listen… I'll tell you what. Close your door and wait one minute, and then look through your peephole. If the world doesn't look more beautiful, I'll walk away. You can forget I exist."

She locked the door. I squirted her peephole, wiped it clean, and one minute later she opened the door.

"Come in," she said.   

René Georg Vasicek's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Divide, High Times, Post Road, Diner, The Prague Revue, and Yuan Yang.

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Photo detail on main page courtesy of ladymay79.

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