“I’ll tell you what, the strangest thing about this job is the perverts.”
Bruce had come to quote and measure up for a new set of blinds in our bedroom, but it turned out he had much more to offer than we initially thought.
“Yesiree. Bayview. Tipperary Waters. Cullen Bay. Full of perverts.”
Minutes before, Bruce had been harping on about having to fly to China to order 35 kilometres of fabric in various shades of Loft Grey and Beige Sepia, and I’d been less than subtle about the fact that we were running late to meet friends for pizza.
But perverts? The pizza could wait.
“Yep”, said Bruce. “Perverts. I go round to put up blinds and they’ve got telescopes on the balcony, every last one of them. And I’ll tell you for nothing, they’re not looking at the bloody moon.”
Having been in the home furnishings business for more than 30 years, Bruce had done the empirical leg work.
Just recently, he’d done a quote for a mining executive in Cullen Bay.
“The guy had three phones and he was on all of them: he hadn’t said a word to me, so I got on with the job, measuring up. In his bedroom was a telescope and while I was waiting I thought I’d have a quick look. It was zoomed right into a woman’s bedroom on the other side of the Bay, so close you could almost touch it.”
Bruce shook his head.
“I backed away straight off; not my business if he’s not looking at the bloody stars.
But he saw me.
He said, “Bruce, it’s not what you think!”
“I said you’re right. Look, whatever floats your boat, up to you.
He said, “No, wait, you don’t understand. I got this to watch the stars and then one day it slipped and landed on a woman across the way. She had a telescope too and she waved. Turned out she had been watching me in the nuddy; I never wear clothes on the roof.”
So now they have a thing.”
Like a telescope relationship?
“So he reckoned. A long distance thing. Everyone’s just watching each other. If you live in a block of flats, someone’s watching you.”
How many telescopes do you reckon you’ve seen in flats around Darwin?
“Oh well,” said Bruce. “I reckon round the water, nearly everyone. Oh nah, there’s a few old people. They don’t have telescopes. And one guy who really does like astronomy. But everyone else does. Most of them are Defence. A few of them have even got surveillance cameras, or they’re doing, whaddaya call it, time lapse. Perverts.”
He finished writing out our quote and ripped it out of the receipt book.
“I’ll come and do the install in a couple of weeks. You guys don’t have any cats do you?”
Mr Tea shook his head.
“That’s the other thing people have got. Stuffed cats, taxidermied kittens. The fur feels that real.”
Bruce shook his head.
“I did a job last week and I nearly knocked one over with my briefcase. Only then, you see, it turned out that was actually a real cat. He was an old one, 17 years old. Hadn’t moved an inch and then it sprang straight onto my back. Drew blood and all. I was in that much shock, I pulled it off and threw it against the wall. And that was when the owner walked in.”
Somehow this was more shocking than the perverts.
What did you say? I asked.
“I said I thought the bloody thing was stuffed! She said, well it is now!”
He snorted. “I didn’t get that job, I’ll tell you that.”
Bruce started pulling on his sneakers and patted his pocket for smokes.
I wanted to get back onto the perverts, but then his wife rang and Bruce had to go.