tagExhibitionist & VoyeurOpen Window at the Marsden

Open Window at the Marsden


The Vincent Chronicles

San Francisco – July, 1976

I was standing in line at the cafeteria style counter—"cafeteria" in the sense that I had to wait in line, but the counter was very short and the selection of food was just the makings of one meal—when looking around I saw a man waving at me. I didn't know him, but he looked about my age and had an empty seat next to him.

I had arrived down to dinner late, the place was full, so the empty seat was welcome.

I had checked into the Marsden Residency Club earlier that afternoon and this was my first meal. The Marsden was similar to European hostels in some ways, different in others. Breakfast and dinner were included in the weekly rate. For lunch I would have to fend for myself. The dining room was in the basement and consisted of six long tables seating eight people each side positioned parallel in two rows and the food counter with its limited selection of food.

The basement dining room was pretty drab—painted concrete walls and no windows—but the rest of the old building was very attractive if not also showing its age. The outside was reddish brown stone blocks and large windows. The interior was polished, if not also scarred, wood fixtures, large ceramic tiles, dark wood paneling, and new, red carpeting of a modern design. I should say that the anachronistic carpeting was relatively new; it was pretty well worn as well. The Marsden had rooms with bathrooms or without (facilities down the hall), large rooms and very small, furnished or semi-furnished, shared or single—rooms for all needs and budgets, and therefore perfect for me since I was newly arrived in San Francisco, looking for work, and living on my meager savings.

Balancing my tray in front of me, I walked down the length of the room towards where the gesturing man was waiting. What caught my eye about him was that he had (there was no other word for it) an elegant face, expressionless, but very well designed. As I got closer I saw that the rest of him complimented his head: thin body and well, but casually dressed, slacks not jeans, shirt tucked in, a thin belt.

"Just arrived?" he asked. He gave me a small half-smile.

"This afternoon," I nodded.

As I was settling into the presented seat, he motioned to a woman directly across from him.

"This is Elizabeth." He placed his open hand on his chest with almost comical dramatic motion, "And I'm Cyril."

I looked at the woman.

She smiled back, "Call me Lizzie." She smiled. She had a British accent.

Her hair was deep auburn and was cut shoulder length. It rolled out and away from her head in swirls that, I thought, looked natural and not imposed by curlers. Her mouth was somewhat quirky, kind of an odd shape, but in a smile it was pretty, full and shapely. She was idiosyncratically beautiful because of her unusual mouth and her deep-set eyes—green, I noticed. Very attractive. She was older than either Cyril or me.

"I'm Vince," I replied.

We talked during dinner. Cyril had arrived just the day before. Lizzie had been at the Marsden for three weeks. We were all new arrivals in San Francisco. Lizzie had moved here from New York (she was from West London, but had been in New York City for a couple of years working for a British corporation) having accepted a job as one of four secretaries to the director of the San Francisco Opera, which fascinated me more than it did Cyril, especially since she said she could get me in for free via the green room. Cy (though he hadn't volunteered it right away, Cyril said his friends call him Cy) had moved down from Portland for no more reason than he had wanted to live in San Francisco. I was resettling here for the same reason.

We talked about how the Marsden's dinner reminded us of elementary school lunches (or in Lizzie's case, primary school lunches), that is: overcooked vegetables, salty, the type that came out of huge cans; meat of one type or another over cooked as well; white bread pre-sliced thin out of long plastic bags; and soggy, baked deserts, square-cut and baked in huge rectangular trays—it was a treat to get an crispy edge, and a corner piece was beyond luck.

Oddly enough and I found that, not only did we arrive at the Marsden one day apart, but he was born one day before me, on January fifth and I on the sixth. We laughed at the idea that I seemed to be living my life one day behind his.

After dinner Lizzie and Cy lead me to the lounge, a very large room with a television, quite a few well-used sofas and easy chairs, coffee tables and card tables, and a big window that overlooked the busy San Francisco street.

As we were talking, comparing notes on where we all had lived and what we thought of San Francisco, a women walked up to us, sat down beside me on the wide arm of my easy chair, leaned far in over me, and said, "You are so fucking cute."

She stared straight in to my eyes and continued, "With emphasis on the "fucking.'"

Cyril laughed. Lizzie looked a little stunned. I just sat there flummoxed.

At dinner, I had noticed this woman looking at me a couple of times but had been busy talking to Cy and Lizzie. I had paid enough attention to noticed that she had a strong face, very chiseled with sharp features, almost elegant but too hard—good-looking all the same. She had short hair, dark brown, almost mahogany, in hue, not over her ears or neck but very full and heavy with bangs. She wore a black top.

Now that she was perched over me, I could see that the top she was wearing was a tight, black tee shirt with, obviously, no bra underneath. Her nipples were hard and mere inches from my face. Her breasts were round, shallow but full. She had on black pants with gray, vertical stripes. And there was a kanji character, large and black, on her forearm. In the seventies, business suits might be black, evening gowns maybe, but other than that, people didn't wear black. And tattoos were still a rarity.

"I'm Bette." She spelled it for me. "It's pronounced like 'bet' and never, never-ever, like 'Betty'—Got it?"

I nodded.

"Who are you?" she demanded, smiling hugely.

"Vincent," I mumbled. I was feeling like a fox at bay with this woman looming over me.

I am shy, but generally I am also good at conversations so that after an initial awkwardness, a minute or two of trepidation, I am carried away by the talk and my timidity evaporates. But this woman intimidated me, and any words I might have had to say fled.

Bette—never Betty—leaned that last six inches forward and kissed me on my forehead.

"Well, I've got to go, but I'll see you later."

She bounded up and strode like a storm trooper towards the door.

Cyril was still laughing. "Well, you met Bette."

Lizzie said, "I call her Bête Noire."

"Appropriate," I stammered. I half scowled a sort of smile—I was still rattled. "Does she eat people?"

"Only young men," Lizzie stated.

We three continued our interrupted conversation until a few other people stopped by, suggested we all go out, and we went for some drinks.

During the following days, I spent a lot of time with Lizzie and Cy. There was a great place for lunch two blocks away and down around the corner. The restaurant had a long list of great soups and provided short baguettes with each order. The coffee and deserts were terrific as well. We spent hours there hanging out. In the evenings, a gang from the Marsden frequently went dancing at various clubs in the North Shore, and we three went often. The Bête Noire was never part of the group. She seemed to always be busy. The few times I saw her that week, she'd stop, coral me, and, smiling all the while, make insinuations about what she would do to me if we were alone. But we never were, alone that is, and she inevitable was in a hurry and dashed off whenever I did bump into her, which was fine by me. I was much more interested in Lizzie. And the Bête still scared me.


One evening after I had been at the Marsden a week, I was in my room relaxing when I first heard the noises. I had been pounding the pavement, as the saying goes, all day looking for work—and pounding was correct because my feet hurt. I was in good health so I was surprised at how sore my feet were, but I figured that walking miles on hard concrete sidewalks was enough to wear out anyone's feet. I had declined a night of dancing with Lizzie, Cyril, and the gang, and was settled on my bed leaning back against the wall with a pillow as a cushion, barefoot, wearing jeans and a short-sleeve shirt. A neat scotch in the room's single water glass was in one hand and a book was in the other, when I heard the first sounds. My window was open—it was a hot night and air conditioning wasn't common in San Francisco—and the sounds of sex just drifted in.

I looked out the window. Across the alley in another old building, a hotel I thought, a window was open and light was streaming out. I was looking down approximately one floor at a room where, like my own room, the bed was under the window. And from the bed came the sound of soft moans, of rustling of limbs moving on the bed sheets, of wet, slobbery licking, sucking noises, all from a naked woman and man. He had his face between her legs, and she gripped the sheets in her hands, arched her back, and emitted loud, furry purrs.

The room's ceiling lights filled the entire area with harsh illumination displaying the couple on the bed very well. He had short-ish, shaggy dark brown hair and a slim body with dimpled buttocks. That was all I could see of him. His face, as I said, was buried. She had auburn, leaning to red, hair, acres of it tossed about the white sheets of the bed. A lone bottom sheet covered the bed, the rest of the coverings were puddled on the floor. Two pillows had joined the coverings. So the auburn lady was sprawled across a naked bed, legs wide, knees high, feet planted firmly, arms circling above her head framing her hair, face rolled to one side, and her mouth wide letting escape her pleasure in a stream of throaty sounds. Her back was slightly arched, and her breasts lay flat settling to either side of her chest and peaked with swollen aureoles and hard nipples.

I thought the couple must be in their late twenties or early thirties, bodies looking a little soft but still fit. She had a slight tummy curve but a still thin waist, and wide, womanish hips. His butt was a bit droopy.

I took this all in, ran it through my thoughts, but mostly I was aware of my body and its own reactions to the couple below. Blood was flowing into my cock, thickening it, trying to straighten it, to shove it upwards, but my jeans held the process in check. I unbuttoned them, yanked the zipper down, shoved them down six inches or so, then reached into my boxers to untangle my dick, get it nice and straight, unencumbered and free to rise to its full potential. And within another couple of heartbeats, it was full and hard and as long as it was going to get. I worked my shorts and jeans down my thighs a little more feeling a bit constrained by them but too immersed in my arousal to bother taking them all the way off. I leaned against the window sill and started to jerk off.

I was just starting to feel the beat, so to speak, getting up a good rhythm, when a knock sounded on my door. I said a quiet "fuck" under my breath, maneuvered my dick back into my boxers and the boxers back into my jeans, zipped them up, and headed for the door.

I expected Cy or Lizzie thinking that maybe they had not gone out yet, but it was the Bête Noire.

"Do you hear that?" She shoved past me, ran across my room, and hopped on to my bed to take the place I had just vacated, all before I could think of anything to say.

I stood behind her a yard or so still flabbergasted. She was leaning both hands on the window sill, kneeling on my bed, bent at the waist, peering out and down at the same hotel window that I had been gazing at just moments before. I was staring at her butt, not out of attraction but because it was the most prominent thing in front of me..

"Oh my God, listen to them go," she said to the open window. "Holy fuck."

I managed to close the door, but I had no words.

"Holy shit!" She turned to me, "Are you watching this?"

"I was before."

She nodded and turned back to the window.

"My room is too high up. I could hear them but I couldn't see much. Just a knee or something now and them. My God, they're really fucking."

She laughed a contralto chuckle.

Apparently, the couple had progressed in their loving making while I was getting the door.

I stood there taking inventory of my emotions. I wasn't sure if I was angry at the sudden invasion by this woman or if I wanted to laugh at the comedy of the situation—yell or laugh. The one thing I was definitely aware of was that she was in my window and that was where I wanted to be. My cock was still hard and still wanted attention. And I could hear the couple across the way very well from where I was standing even though I could not see them. There was a big butt in my way. Well, not a really big butt—big, but in a nice way. Full and tight and round. Big in that way.

"Oh, crap! They're stopping!" Bette called.

Bette threw a glance my way then quickly looked back out the window.

"No. No. It's okay. She's just getting on top. No. She's going down on him. She's gonna give him a blow job. And he's cover with all her juices. Yum."

She watched and I just stood there unsure what to do, of even what I wanted to do.

Suddenly she turned to me.

"Don't you want to watch this?"

I thought that with her eyes meeting mine she only needed to look down a couple of feet and she would see the answer, but she didn't look down and gave no indication that she had notice the vertical ridge in my jeans.

"Come on. There's plenty of room." She scooted a couple of inches over to illustrate the fact. And there was plenty of room—it was a wide window, two big sets of four panes each swinging out to open a space about four feet wide. Still, I felt it presumptuous for her to invite me to my own window. But I was starting to realize that Bette was like that, just followed her instincts without the intrusion of thoughts and just did what she felt like doing. Rudeness didn't occur to her.

And the sounds beckoned. I did want to see what was going on in the room across the alley and one floor below.

I climbed on the bed and knelt beside her. She smelled like sage. I don't know where that thought came from, but she did smell like sage, like the prairie.

"They're one helluva pair of exhibitionists, aren't they?" She turned to me and smiled.

"Yeah. They sure are."

The woman below ran her tongue down the man's cock, up and down a couple of times, then sunk her mouth over it again. From our vantage point, we could see it clearly. Only thirty feet away, I thought, not much more. Bette was right, they were exhibitionists. They did want an audience or else why have the bright room lights on instead of, maybe, just the side table reading light, or no lights at all. And why not draw the drapes closed. They definitely wanted to be watched. They were performing. And I so much wanted to watch the show.

Suddenly I heard a zipper sound. I looked over at Bette and nothing had changed except one arm was no longer resting on the window sill. I thought, no she couldn't be, not with me right here. I went back to watching. The woman now mounted the man, knees on either side of his waist, sitting up, raising and lowering herself with enthusiasm.

Then I became aware of another scent intruding upon the sage, the smell of a woman's wetness. And it wasn't coming from across the way. The distance was too great and the smell was too potent. I couldn't help it—I looked over at Bette and down her arm; it disappeared deep into her pants. Her fingers must be well beyond her pubic ridge not just tickling her clit but burying themselves in her vagina. Her black slacks were a couple inches lower as a result. I looked up at her face. Her eyes were fixed on the spectacle below, her mouth was open an inch, her breath coming heavy and hard but nearly soundless. I could see her taking in the hot night's air and then shoving out in fast, sharp breaths.

At that moment she turned to me catching me watching her.

"I can't believe," she said between pants, "that you're not jerking off."

She looked down for a moment. I don't know how well she could see my state of arousal with me in my kneeling position, but for that matter she probably didn't need to see to guess that I was hard and yearning to beat off just as she was, except that she seemed immune to embarrassment and I was feeling very self-conscious both about what she was doing and about what I wanted to do.

She smiled seeming to know my thoughts.

"Go ahead. Don't let me stop you."

I was mortified at the thought of unzipping my pants and hauling out my hard-on. But Bette had, again, totally immersed herself in the action across the alley. I could see her shoulder moving, adding to the motion of her arm as she worked away at her pussy obviously rubbing back and forth vigorously now. And my cock was shoving against my jeans with an imperative to be set loose. My right hand was the furthest from Bette. Somehow that was important to me—the act of undoing my jeans might not be noticed by her. I popped the button then slowly and, as quietly as I could, unzipped them. I knew she didn't care, but I did. I was feeling very shy about the whole situation, but I also was feeling extremely compelled to get my hand on my cock and start working it. I slipped my hand into my boxer shorts. But the boxer style I wore in those days wasn't the big bulky style but a tighter, butt-hugging type with less give in the elastic waist. My hand fit around my cock, but it was a tight space. I started moving my hand leveraged from my elbow in a nice, slow cadence, an elliptical motion.

I looked over at Bette. She seemed oblivious to what I was doing, absolutely focused on the couple below. I realized I had been more aware of her masturbating beside me than in the show next door. Looking out into the night I saw that the couple was now doggy-style fucking. I hadn't even noticed them repositioning themselves.

I struggled to stroke myself inside my boxers. I was keeping my cock covered out of some sense of modesty. I watched the couple but stole a glance over at Bette. Her arm had levered her pants lower. It was too dark to see, but her pubic hair must have been uncovered, her wrist pushed her panties so far out and away from her body. She didn't pay any attention to me. She was intent on the couple beyond the other window and her own growing excitement.

The restriction of my boxers was becoming frustrating. Encouraged by Bette's obsessive stare out the window and my own desperation, I used both hands to shove my boxers down into my jeans, down below my balls so that the elastic top caught underneath them pulling them up and out. My jeans were still most the way up, but my butt was bare against them and my cock was out free in the not complete darkness, maybe visible if Bette happened to glance over, and that I found both frightening and exciting.

I tried concentrating on the couple—he was still banging her hard from behind as she was on knees and elbows, her moans much louder now—but every thirty seconds or so I felt compelled to look over at Bette, first at her face to watch her intense concentration and her ragged breathing, and then down to see her hand jerk and gyrate between her thighs barely hidden by her panties.

I had one hand gripping my testicles and the other stroking like crazy now that my equipment was free and unconstrained.

The cycle continued. I'd watch the couple for a time—they were spooning now, facing away from the window, but her leg was high and we voyeurs could see his cock driving in and pulling out of her pussy over and over again—and then I'd watch Bette. The intensity of her watching and of her masturbating seemed unbreakable. She still seemed unaware of me.

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