The Peeper

📅 Published on March 17, 2021

“The Peeper”

Written by Geoff Sturtevant
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.33/10. From 9 votes.
Please wait...

7:35 pm, November 28. Sheriff Ron Ball and Deputy Ernest Dingle: On-duty.

Unit 1, we got a 10-70 at Royalty Deluxe Luxury Mobile Estates. I repeat, a 10-70. Unit One, do you copy?

Sheriff Ball looked at Dingle. No more than five minutes after they’d parked for a little snack, and here comes a 10-70.

“What’s a 10-70?” Dingle asked.

“A prowler. Some sick son of a bitch with idle hands and a hard-on decides to go skulking around.”

Unit One, do you copy?

Ball fingered the button on his radio. “Say, Frankie, why you always gotta call me Unit One when you know damn well there ain’t no unit Two or Three or anyone else?”

Sorry, Sheriff, just followin’ protocol is all. Trailer seventeen, it’s supposed to be. A 10-70 in progress, sir.

Followin’ protocol, Ball thought. Now ain’t that a fanciful idea…

“Problem is, Frankie, the deputy and I are currently responding to a 7-11.”

A pause. “A 7-11, sir? I’m unfamiliar.”

“It means we’re havin’ a couple hot dogs by the 7-11. They never taught you that one in dispatch class?”

Another pause. Lady of the house says there’s some fella hangin’ around outside. Supposed to be peeping in the window while she’s in the bathroom.

“Good heavens,” Dingle said. “That’s not nice.”

“Naw, Deputy, that’s not nice at all. If it were, they wouldn’t have a radio code for it.”

“Why you suppose that is? Never have a radio code for no one doin’ nothin’ nice.”

“Besides a 7-11, anyways.”

“Yeah, you’re right about that, Sheriff. It sure is nice having a 7-11.”

Unit one, do you copy?

“Go ahead.”

It appears the suspect is still on-scene. Caught up somehow. Something about being stuck in a toilet bowl.

“A toilet bowl?” Ball said. “You mean the suspect got inside?”

Negative, the toilet bowl is supposed to be outside, Sheriff.

“Well, I’d have to disagree with that,” Dingle said. “The toilet bowl is most certainly supposed to be inside.”

“Naw, I think what Frankie is trying to say, Deputy, is that this particular one just happens to be outside.”

“Oooh. Well, that makes sense.”

Unit One, do you copy?

“10-4, Frankie. The deputy and I are on our way.”

Ball frowned at his half-eaten hot dog. “You wanna finish this, Deputy?”

Dingle recoiled at the suggestion. “Well, I can’t eat after you, Sheriff. I could catch the rona virus!”

“Well, goddamn.”

Sheriff Ball tossed his hot dog out the window and hit the cherries. Then they pulled out onto the road.

Royalty Deluxe Luxury Mobile Estates was only a mile down the interstate. Ball cut the siren and they pulled into the gravel entrance. Illuminated in the strobing lights as they approached trailer 17 was the unmistakable figure of a man in distress. As described, he had one foot on the ground and the other in a toilet bowl. By the flowers and dirt scattered around it, the commode had clearly been used as a planter. The tank still had tomatoes dangling out of it.

Ball left the lights on and stepped out of the cruiser. Dingle followed. The man’s eyes glowed in the lights like a raccoon’s caught in a dumpster. An Indian fella, complete with the turban-thing you sometimes see ‘em wearing. Not the usual kinda fella you see around here. Then again, it wasn’t a usual thing to see a fella with his foot in a toilet bowl either. Particularly outdoors. All in all, there was nothing usual about it.

“Evening,” Ball said. “Say, you happen to notice anyone prowling around here tonight? There’s supposed to’ve been someone sneakin’ around, peekin’ in windows at innocent ladies goin’ to the bathroom. You notice anything like that?”

“Well, damn, Sheriff. I think this might be the very man right here.”

“This nice fella? Nah. Couldn’t be. I mean, could it, sir? A nice little man like yourself?”

The man didn’t answer, only continued trying to wrench his leg out of the bowl. By the depth of it, he must have had his foot jammed right up the gooseneck.

“That’s him alright! Peepin’ son of a bitch!”

A young lady came out the front door of the trailer, clad in a cutoff Britny Fox concert tee and hotpants. Dingle took off his hat.

“Leanin’ over to put a suppository in, and I seen this creep peepin’ in the window!”

At the sound of her anger, the man intensified his efforts to get loose. A few tomatoes fell off the vine and rolled in the gravel.

“Now, you sure it was this man right here? Couldn’t have been someone else who looked just like him?”

“That’s him alright! Goddamn peepin’ Indian. And look what he done to my garden!”

“Now, now,” Ball said. “Easy enough a misstep when it’s so dark outside.”

“He was peepin’ in my window. Standin’ on the toilet there so he get up high enough. See? There’s my bathroom right there!”

The gal pointed at the window just above the toilet tank. Ball took out his flashlight and shone it through the glass. He wrinkled his mustache. “Well, you’re certainly right about that. That there is indeed the bathroom. What do you make of that, Dingle?”

The deputy still clutched his hat to his chest. He was regarding the angry woman with grave empathy.


“Oh… Well, yes, Sheriff. I’d say this very lovely young lady was victimized. Caught this fella red-handed. And if I didn’t have such respect for the system of law and order, I’d shoot him my damn self.”

A pause. Ball raised an eyebrow.

“Peepin’ son of a bitch!” the gal said. “Gimme your gun there and I’ll do it myself!”

The Indian was thrashing wildly now.

“Now, now,” Ball said. “Let’s not make any rash decisions before we decide just how 10-70 the situation is. So what’s your name there, character?”

He laid a hand on the Indian’s shoulder, who seemed to freeze at his touch. They met eyes.

“My name?”

“Unless you prefer I keep on callin’ you character.”

“Or peepin’ son of a bitch!”

The man seemed to understand all at once that he wasn’t going anywhere. He let out a great breath and said, “I am Hardy Sindhu. I am innocent.”

“The hell he is!”

“Well, hold on. Mr. Hardy Sindhu, I’m sure you got a perfectly good explanation why you’ve been walking through the Royalty Deluxe Mobile Estates at night and got your foot caught in this incidental toilet. All you gotta do is tell us what that is, and I’m sure we can all just put this to bed. And no one has to get shot, and I can go have a hotdog and not have any paperwork to do. So why don’t we just—”

“He’s a goddamn peeper! All over the park, the girls have been saying someone’s skulkin’ around at night. He’s a repeat goddam offender! He saw my bare ass!”

Dingle shifted uncomfortably, lowered his hat to his midsection. “I’m sure sorry, ma’am. It’s a good thing we came when we did. If it weren’t for law and order, heaven knows I’d string him up right where he stands.”

“I’ve got a rope right goddamn inside!”

“Well, come on now. Let him at least explain himself. Hardy, what’re you doin’ out here so late at night?”

Hardy looked back and forth between the sheriff and the angry woman. “Looking for spice,” he said.

“Lookin’ for spice? As in spices?”


“That sounds reasonable,” Dingle said.

The girl shot the deputy an angry look. Dingle changed tactics. “Reasonably illegal, that is!”

“I’ll go get the rope. Unless you wanna just shoot him?”

“Ma’am,” Ball interrupted, “I understand you’re upset about what you believe happened. But say Hardy here was truly looking for spices when he just happened to step accidentally into your garden pot here. I mean, would that really be a killin’ offense?”

“Have a look around, Sheriff! Where you suppose he’d find any goddamn spices?”

Ball straightened up, pulled out his flashlight and panned slowly over the lot. Gravel. Not so much as a clover peeking out of the gravel. He turned the light on Hardy. “Mister, I’d like to give you the benefit of the doubt, but the more I study things, I’ve found we’re completely surrounded by no spices at all.”

Just then, another set of headlights swung into the lot. A black sedan pulled up and a woman dressed in traditional Indian garb got out of the driver’s seat.

“Hardy! I knew it! You are peeping again!”

“I am not peeping. I do not do peeping.”

Disregarding everyone else, she hurried to the toilet and swatted him. “You do peep. I know you are doing peeping.”

“I do not do peeping.”

“Yes, you do.” She swatted him again. “Always doing peeping.”

“I am looking for spice.”

“You are not looking for spice. You do not do cooking.”

“You do not do cooking anymore, now I must cook. That is why I am looking.”

She turned to the sheriff. “I do cook. He is lying. He is peeping. Bad man. Bastard guy!”

“I am not bastard guy.”

Ball noted Clarissa’s knees were knocking together. The look on her face had changed from purely angry to half-angry and half-something else.

“‘Pository’s workin’,” she said.

“Well… Goddamn.”

“Don’t you worry, Ms. Clarissa, you go right ahead and do your business. We’ll just stay right here and make sure this bastard guy stays right where he is.”

“Thank you, Mr. Deputy!” And with a move evocative of The Matrix, the girl was back in the trailer, the screen door wobbling in her wake. Dingle’s eyes panned the trailer wall as if to follow her inside with X-ray vision.

Ball crossed his arms and addressed the enervated Indian woman, still staring daggers at her ensnared hubby. “Well… Now that that’s settled, what say we just load Mr. Sindhu into the back of your car and call it a nice evening?”

The woman’s eyes went wide. Everyone paused.

“What’s the matter?” Ball said.

“I think you might be overlooking a few logisticals, Sheriff.”

“Well, like what?”

“He’s kinda stuck, for one.”

Ball reexamined the situation. His stomach grumbled. “You could grab under the tank there and I’ll grab under the bowl. As far as Hardy goes, he can’t weigh so much. How much you weigh there, Hardy? A buck-twenty-five, tops? Figure we’ll load you right in the trunk there and you and your lovely wife here can hash this out at home.”

“He is criminal! Bastard guy! This is last straw. Must go to jail!”

“Well, now, now, Mrs. Sindhu. I understand you’re upset about your husband’s little foot. But I’m sure there’s a good plumber can snake that right outta there. Maybe not this time of night, but you could call one right in the morning.”

“Foot? I don’t care about foot! He is bastard guy. I don’t want foot, don’t want husband! He is peeping criminal! I want divorce!”

“Now, now,” Ball said. “I’m sure he didn’t mean all those things about you not cooking. No sense ruining a beautiful marriage over a…”

Ball looked for Dingle to add an encouraging word on the situation, but he was presently preoccupied. An ever-diligent deputy, he was on tippy-toe by the bathroom window monitoring the victim’s wellbeing.


Dingle snapped back to attention, holding his hat over his crotch like the lid on some rabid animal trap. Hardy watched him with disdainfully. “Uh… Yeah, Sheriff?”

“Let’s get our friend here loaded in the car.”

“I told you! I do not want him! Bastard guy!”

“Why do you call me bastard guy? I am not bastard guy. And not peeping.”

“You are bull shitting again! Shitting bull!”

“I am not shitting the bull.”

“I divorce from you! No more! You do cooking yourself!”

Hardy held up his hands in supplication. He regarded Ball as if they were the only two reasonable men on the planet. It occurred to Ball that might very well be the case. Although he’d never known a man with exceptional reasoning to get his foot caught in a toilet while he was peeping in a bathroom window.

In any case, as Sheriff of Splittail, this was his great commission—to be supremely reasonable in a world incapable of reasoning itself. And the overarching fact of the matter was this: It didn’t stand to reason that arresting Mr. Sindhu tonight would affect a societal good or bad.

Like any respectable profession, the best result you could hope for was to get through it without hurting too many people. And hadn’t Hardy been operating within those boundaries? Because whether there’s an Indian peeping in the window or not, we’ve all got to take a shit. And who was Hardy but a little black fly perched the wall, watching your ass a hundred times over in its compound eyes? And maybe jerking off just a little.

No one worth missing dinner over, Ball reasoned.

“Well, listen, ma’am… The way I see it, we’ve only got two options. We could wait until Ms. Clarissa there gets done doin’ her business, and see if she wants to press charges, or you can retrieve your husband here and 23 skidoo before any of that becomes necessary. And I’ll remind you, Mrs. Sindhu, that even if you intend to divorce this nice man, you’re currently married to him. And any damages he may end up on the hook for may also apply to you.”

Her eyes went wide at that—quite the desired effect. Ball wasn’t sure how accurate the warning had been, but in policework, the end often justifies the means.

“Ain’t that right, Deputy?”

Dingle was pacing by the bathroom window. Muffled from within, quaintest reverberations. With each, Dingle’s head twitched to the window like a watchdog. Hardy eyed him ruefully.

“Ain’t that right, Deputy?”

Dingle turned his head. “Well, certainly, Sheriff, it is a nice night.”

Ball shook his head and returned his attention to the scorned woman. She seemed resigned at best, according to his keenest police instincts. But with the three of them alone—discounting Dingle, who was preoccupied at the moment, he wondered if he couldn’t offer a little help for the troubled couple while he was at it. He was here to help, after all.

He said: “Not to come across so negative, ma’am. It ain’t really so bad. See, what I’m tryin’ to say is this: Tomorrow’s a brand new day. What’s already happened tonight can’t be helped, and I guess whatever Mr. Hardy may or may not have done in the past, maybe that can’t be helped either. But what good man in this world has no bad in him whatsoever? And that little bit of bad, well that don’t hardly make him all bad, does it? That’s why everyone needs a second chance from time to time. Because each new day brings a chance for redemption. And tomorrow morning, when the sun casts everything in a new light; when the daisies and the petunias spread their petals to embrace the day; maybe you two can start things over. You can shine a new light on your marriage. Focus on what brought you together in the first place. I say to both of you this very night: When the sun rises anew, it rises on a fresh, new Sindhu household. All transgressions forgot. And by nightfall, you’ll both be out hunting spices. Together. And I just know you’ll do the most delicious cooking. Because together, you’re greater than the sum of your parts. Like two nice pedals on a fresh petunia. Ain’t that right, Dingle? Ain’t they just…”

And that was about as far as he got. Dingle, hearing his name, pulled his gaze from Clarissa’s bathroom window. His reverie broken, he noticed the lightness of his holster. On the heels of that, they both saw the glint of the .357 leveled at Hardy. His eyes got big.

“Now, now, ma’am,” Ball said.

The toilet inside flushed. As if on cue, the gun went off. Mrs. Sindhu’s arms flew upward, and likewise did her husband as the round blew off his lower jaw. Strange matter specked the window. Clarissa peeked out from behind it with her eyebrows like a muppet’s.

“Aww, shit!” said Dingle. He’d dropped his hat, but his erection was quickly subsiding. The crazed woman had held onto the gun, and was composing herself for another shot.

“Ma’am,” Ball said. “I was just sayin’ some real nice things to you two, and look what you went and did.”

Hardy’s face was pouring blood. His tongue lolling loosely in absence of his jaw. How he was still conscious, Ball had no idea. But he was. He held up his hands to indicate he’d gotten the message. Dingle stood flattened against the siding as if he hoped to camouflage himself there.

“I think you’ve made your point, ma’am. Why don’t we just—”

Another shot. This one sending Hardy’s turban into the air.

“Bastard guy! Peeping bastard! No more shitting the bull to me!”

Clarissa came out the screen door and beheld the mess. The toilet, in mid-tip, went over and took Hardy with it. An audible snap as his knee went sideways and left the bone peeking out his pant leg. He was quiet now. Everyone was. All eyes were on Mrs. Sindhu.

“Goddamn,” Clarissa said. “So much for the goddamn tomaters.”

Mrs. Sindhu dropped the .357. Her eyes looked glassy. Ball indicated for Dingle to retrieve the gun.

Hardy, Ball noted with a shine of his flashlight, was suitably de-brained by the second shot, making the reconciliation he was suggesting very unlikely. But was all lost? Did no truth remain in his words?

A glance upward revealed the turban sitting on the end of a branch like a bloodied beehive. It looked strangely at home, like it belonged there somehow.

He broke the silence. “Now Mrs. Sindhu, that wasn’t very nice. But then again, I suppose it wasn’t real nice what he did, either. I guess the question now is…hmm…”

Dingle retrieved the gun and re-holstered it. That done, he pulled the cuffs from his belt and advanced toward the stunned woman.

“Whoa, Deputy,” Ball said. “Let’s think this out a moment.

Dingle looked back with his eyebrow raised. “Sheriff?”

“Well, if you really stop to think about it, maybe what she did is more of a justified shooting. I mean, when you really stop and rub your belly and really think on it.”

“But… But how so, Sheriff? She lifted my gun when I wasn’t looking! And goddamn shot the man! Twice!”

“Well, she shot a peeper, that’s for sure. Trespassing on this poor young lady’s property. For who-knows-what reason. Could be he intended to rape, maybe murder innocent Clarissa here. Hell, Deputy, Mrs. Sindhu might’ve saved Miss Clarissa’s life for all we know.”

Dingle seemed dumbstruck. The formerly crazed woman did too, but in a more comatose kinda way. Shock, maybe.

“Hell,” Ball went on, “She at least saved us a heap of paperwork, didn’t she? I mean, we’d have been in the office all night if she hadn’t justifiably shot the man like she did. Fillin’ out forms, fetchin’ vegetarian meals…”

“Justifiable as shit, if you ask me,” agreed Clarissa. “I’d have shot the fuck my damn self if I had a damn gun. And if I hadn’t been so consternated.”

Ball nodded and stroked his mustache. “Waddya think, Deputy? Sometimes situations just kinda resolve on their own, don’t they?”

Dingle’s face seemed to file through its different stages of understanding. In the end, it landed on something like acquiescence. “Well, maybe they do, Sheriff.”

“As long as someone resolves my goddamn tomaters,” Clarissa said.

Ball nodded. “Deputy, why don’t you help me get this gentleman outta Miss Clarissa’s estate there, so we can go ahead and call it an evening?”

Dingle eyed the bloody and pulp-skulled Hardy dangling from his porcelain snare, his throat convulsing. Ball preparing for the effort with a series of head-shoulders-knees-and-toes. “Goddamn undignified,” he said.

The man’s state of deceasedness allowed for a fairly easy extraction from the gooseneck. One good tug, and the foot came free, its corresponding sandal sadly forfeit.

Ball and Dingle dropped the dead man in the trunk of the big sedan while Mrs. Sindhu watched stupidly. What remained of the man’s brains cascaded into the spare tire cavity. Dingle, whose Adam’s apple had been bobbing the whole way, added to the mess a gulletful of barf.

“Deputy, have some respect for the dead.”

“I’m…sorry, Sheriff mmmph!”

With that, Ball lowered the lid. And with the click of the latch, it was case closed.

Once Mrs. Sindhu was convinced to part with $20 for Miss Clarissa’s goddamn tomaters, Ball led her back to her car. The look on her face was that of a woman whose life had been changed in an instant. Because it had, he reckoned. Because situations like this happened all the time, each one with its corresponding radio-code which made things seem just as simple as that.

But things were never just as simple as that. When it came down to it, about the only way you could deal with things was to try not to make ‘em even worse. And with everyone creating all these situations, what good would it do to cause more damage?

No more good than doing nothing at all.

At least where getting dinner was concerned.

Ball sat Mrs. Sindhu in the driver’s seat. Her eyes in the moonlight were white all around the irises. “Will I be punished?” she asked.

As if the sheriff himself were God on high. A bearded deity among the clouds. Or a floating elephant with fifteen arms. Ball was none of those things. In terrestrial terms, he was the High Sheriff of Splittail County. In the grand scheme of things, he was no more than a man nearing the end of his shift. A man completely and utterly without a hotdog—hardly one to cast judgment. Because any way you looked at the big picture, whether through the rosy lenses of religion, or the bathroom window of some young gal’s trailer, things were going the way they were going. All the way of Clarissa’s suppository.

Ball took a scratch pad from his back pocket, scribbled down a nearby address and underlined it several times for emphasis. He folded the paper and handed it to her.

“Will you be punished?” Ball said. “You damn well may be. But not here. Not today.”

A little night bird landed next to Hardy’s turban, pecked at it a couple of times, and flew away disinterestedly.

* * * * * *

“Not at all, Frankie,” Ball said into his radio. “Just a little misunderstanding is all.”

Copy that, Unit One.

It had taken Dingle a minute to rekindle his appetite after the gory scene at Royalty Deluxe, but how long could a man sit smelling a hotdog before the nitrites of the human spirit killed off the bacteria of an impure world? Not long at all. And besides, having barfed out his previous, Dingle had a hot dog-shaped pit in his stomach no kind of moralism could fill. Out with the old, in with the new. All transgressions forgot. Old cases closed.

“It’s like my uncle used to tell me,” Dingle said, “sometimes a man uses the toilet. Other times, the toilet uses you.”

“Words of wisdom,” Ball said. “At least I suppose so.”

“He drank a fair bit,” Dingle said.

The two sat eating their hotdogs, watching the clock run out on their shift. Twenty more minutes, and it was back to the station and back on home. Not a paper to be filled out. Not a worry in the world. Tomorrow was another day. Second chances, blooming petunias, and the never-ending pursuit of law and order.

“Hey, Sheriff, what do you suppose Mrs. Sindhu means to do with the…dearly departed?”

“Well, goddamn,” Ball said. “I nearly forgot…”

Ball set down his hotdog and pulled out his phone. He dialed a number and held it to his ear.

“Evening, Mr. Laundry, this is Sheriff Ball. Yessir. About that favor. Obliged? Well, I’m glad you feel that way. See, a nice young lady’ll be popping by in a little while. That’s right… Well, I hope those pigs of yours are hungry, Mr. Laundry. ‘Cause tonight, they’re eating Hardy.”

Rating: 9.33/10. From 9 votes.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Geoff Sturtevant
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Geoff Sturtevant

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Check out Geoff Sturtevant’s critically-acclaimed collection of short stories, Occupational Hazards: The Blue-Collar Omnibusnow available on Occupational Hazards is an omnibus of acclaimed novelettes from the “Return to the Dirt” and “Just Speculating” collections, and new, exclusive stories only available in this book. The stories exemplify the unsavory side of our everyday existence. Existentialism, absurdism, and outlandish humor merge with ordinary, workaday life for a unique and hilarious perspective of the human experience. Occupational Hazards is an unflinching ride through the absurdity of it all. Not recommended for the faint of heart or easily offended. But if meaty stories are what you’re after… I hope you’re hungry.

More Stories from Author Geoff Sturtevant:

Persistence of the Flesh
Average Rating:

Persistence of the Flesh

Everything Inc.
Average Rating:

Everything Inc.

Anything For My Bubela
Average Rating:

Anything For My Bubela

The Protuberance
Average Rating:

The Protuberance

Related Stories:

No posts found.

You Might Also Enjoy:

The Dinner Party
Average Rating:

The Dinner Party

The Man in the Attic
Average Rating:

The Man in the Attic

Storm of the Century
Average Rating:

Storm of the Century

Recommended Reading:

The Electric Boner
A Chemical Fire
Neverlight: A Father Darkness Collection
The Untold

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Why are so many pigs eating so well in these stories

Skip to content