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
"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.
To link to this story directly: http://wigleaf.com/200805peep.htm
Photo detail on main page courtesy
w i g · l e a F