by Pablo D’Stair
I’d often thought about it, but it wasn’t until one day that I did it—Callie, a woman in the apartment building, I’d always time it to do the laundry the same time as her, had noticed she was pretty much on a schedule about things like that and taking out the trash and things, and so I’d think about it and one day she had her first load going and had just left the basket of the second load, went out into the parking lot, into her car to get something so I poked around, took a pair of the panties, a pair that didn’t seem well worn but not so specific or new looking she’d definitely notice it missing.
Actually, it was a lucky thing to have picked those—and I can admit I’d sort of mostly picked them because they were the cutest, just the sort of thing I really liked, cut, color, pattern—but it was lucky because they were actually quite new and I was able to find an identical pair at the shop in the mall they’d come from, the same franchise, lucky also that I was dead on that Callie was the same size as Ana and, because it wasn’t a sure thing, wore the appropriate size panties to her, I’d known some girls wore panties maybe a size bigger, smaller, just not spot on. Bought the identical pair with a few other pair, also bought a coat and a dress, told Ana I’d just felt like getting her a present and made a joke of how I’d bought the panties on impulse, which made her laugh.
Wasn’t too long before the pair identical to Callie’s wound up in the laundry, so when I gathered up the laundry I put Ana’s in my pocket to be thrown away when I took the trash, dropped Callie’s in to be washed. Took my time with the folding that evening, gave the pair of Callie’s panties a special little pat, then put them away like nothing in with the other pair, the socks, the camisoles the third drawer down our bureau.
I made a point not to avoid doing laundry the same time as Callie, the next two weeks, stupid to be paranoid, even if she thought I’d stolen something it wasn’t like that was the sort of conversation to strike up and added in to it, well, we’d never said a word to each other except for once I’d helped her lift an old office chair into the dumpster, told her “No, they take shit like this” when she’d asked if it was something the trash men would leave.
When I changed to doing my laundry times she wasn’t, it made it much simpler to make further little swipes—took a camisole, took a tank top, took some socks—just little things but more and more I wanted a shirt, some jeans, something. Jeans, really tough, took a pair on impulse and no sooner was I back in my apartment I realized they’d be no good—frays at the cuff, few little holes, just didn’t seem the sort of thing I could mix into Ana’s rotation. My heart was ugly with thumping and anxiety when I walked them back, left them, wanted to swipe something else but it just seemed a bad idea.
Tracking down new versions some of the things was impossible—take for example the camisole, as ordinary as it was it wasn’t a sort that Ana tended to wear and I couldn’t find it at any of the department stores and when I looked up the brand and poked around online the pictures just didn’t seem right (maybe I was tricking myself, but they didn’t seem right) and it got harder and harder with that to think How would I make it reasonable I’d ordered Ana some fucking cami in the mail? Where would I send it?
I mean, nothing I could do because I needed to see her in it, so finally came up with the brilliant idea of starting to, for myself, shop at thrift stores, secondhand stores, changed my style around generally and this made it simple enough to sometimes pick up items for Ana, usually a whole bunch (nothing to do with Callie) and since Ana showed no hint of thinking it odd, would just sometimes laugh at me, I got comfortable.
One morning, Ana walked from the bedroom to answer the telephone, not yet fully dressed and she was in Callie’s socks, Callie’s panties and a t-shirt I’d bought from the thrift shop (nothing to do with Callie).
So I waited, one day, for Callie to leave her apartment, laundry baskets in tow, just curious as to how she went about it exactly—she tended to start a load, leave the laundry area, come back, usually within five minutes of the washing or drying cycle being completed, not like some people who either left things there forever or spent the whole time in the laundry room reading a book or doing homework or whatever—but sometimes I knew she drove off someplace, did some little errand or another. What I wanted to see was just that—yes, just that—she didn’t lock the door behind her, down the steps she went, around the way, back inside in less than ten minutes, door closed behind her.
The first time I went into Callie’s, I didn’t do anything, couldn’t, stiffened up, just walked in an odd circle taking things in, then out the door, down the steps and made a big loop, smoking cigarettes, around a nearby park before coming back to my own apartment. I don’t know, who knows who looks out of windows and what things people think are important—worst thing would be I hadn’t even done anything but some busy-body says to Callie “Some man went into your apartment” or something, no reason to bring it up and so I lose the window of opportunity for nothing.
Two things with Ana happened by pure serendipity, bolstered me.
First, maybe nothing to do with nothing, but very very noticeable, our sex life seemed to intensify. Ana was in the mood more often and more spontaneously and more and more not only would she make suggestions we try this or that (or really she’d just do different things) but she seemed keener on coaxing suggestions out of me—sex became more adolescent, game playing, and her overall style in everything followed suite, not even laughs if I’d bring back pointless things from thrift stores (things I’d pick up randomly to keep up the idea this is how I shopped now and gifts to her were part of it) she’d just wear whatever it was and often (really, I paid attention) she’d seem most sexual when she was in some random new outfit, like it all triggered a casualness in her.
Second, was she came back from the salon with a cut and a color—hair was very short (Callie’s was longish, but this didn’t really matter, hair length didn’t matter) and hair, instead of being red was stark blonde. White blonde.
They didn’t actually have the same size feet, Ana and Callie, but the first time in Callie’s apartment where I took something it was a pair of dressier shoes. I’d resigned myself to having to settle for just buying an identical pair someplace for Ana, but needed to take Callie’s, too. It was as close as it could come and no matter how much it bugged me, not everything can be perfect.
I broke the heels off Callie’s shoes before I discarded them in a dumpster behind a fast food restaurant.
When I’d have a bit of time alone in the apartment, when Ana wasn’t home yet or when she went out with a friend, I’d inventory exactly what I had—no full outfits, not of just Callie’s clothing, so I needed to get a bit more specific in what I’d go for. I couldn’t, I wasn’t an idiot, keep taking the chance of slipping in and out of her apartment and she could start locking up, anytime, how was I to count on this?
I needed pants, a skirt, a casual top, a more dressy top (like that Ana could use for work) a bra, some stockings would be nice. I mean, I wanted gloves, a small piece of jewelry (nothing distinct) wanted a hat, wanted a towel, wanted wanted wanted. Christ, even the bra would be a stretch, I knew it, but maybe it was something I could chance slipping in without explanation, Ana would just wear it. She’d no reason to think suddenly another woman’s bra was in her drawer, obviously, so she might go Hmn…or something, but so what?
I’d think up ridiculous daydreams of ways to keep Callie in the laundry room a bit longer—I could pack all the washers but one full, and then unplug that machine. Idiot thoughts.
In a backpack I only used to go on trips, I packed as close to a full outfit of Callie’s as I had, including the dress shoes identical to the ones I’d taken and disposed of. I also packed a little travel bag of some of Ana’s make-up, soaps, did this as best as I could, just all the little this and that I’d noted she took when we’d go on an overnight trip.
Even if I’d forgotten something, I’m sure it would be good enough.
It was almost like I didn’t care if I’d get caught, if something was going to happen it was going to happen and I wanted what I wanted—no point pouring over and over everything that could go wrong, who might be looking, what might be said. God, even if someone caught me going into the apartment, reported me, I wouldn’t let the police into my apartment, no need to, and since I wasn’t going to do it anymore, let there’d be no further suspicions, let Callie wonder if I’d broken in and stolen random articles of clothing—I wasn’t going to anymore, so it’d stop there.
So I had my backpack, slipped inside after Callie was out of sight. I took a pair of green corduroy pants, took a pair of denim (no time to see was it the same pair as before) took two more pairs of panties, pantyhose, stockings (didn’t know if the ones I grabbed matched) took two dressier shirts, took a pair of lounge shorts (hadn’t thought of these before but once they were in my hand they were my favorite item, to date) took a few t-shirts (two ordinary colored shirts, one with some design, illustration, logo on it) and a plain, relatively new looking black bra.
The backpack was stuffed, didn’t even try to put it over my shoulder.
And as I turned to go—just couldn’t not do it—I took one of the dresses that hung there, still in plastic from the last time it had been dry cleaned, draped it over my arm and left.
Down the steps, around the back, then immediately to my car, got in, drove off, turned onto the highway and just drove awhile, pulled over in the parking lot of a random strip mall and sat. I was breathing heavy, had been muttering to myself the entire time.
Took out my telephone and called Ana up at work. “Hi—hey listen, I have sort of surprise for you, so I’m picking you up, tonight, okay?”
When we got off the phone, I called a hotel where we’d stayed, once before, two hour drive away, made reservations for dinner at a restaurant we’d enjoyed for the next night.
Ana was actually thrilled at the impromptu little adventure and said she was impressed I’d even packed her things.
What I’d left in the backpack was a full casual outfit–the green cords (even though I’d have to say I’d just seen those and picked them up on impulse) panties, bra, socks, pantyhose, camisole, t-shirt (speckled gray) and the make-up travel bag.
The rest I’d wrapped in a trash bag I bought at a gas station, shoved it in the trunk.
Also in the trunk, removed from the dry cleaner’s bag, was the dress.
It was late when we got into the hotel, so we just had a casual meal out at the diner across the way.
That night we had sex and slept nude, falling asleep with the television on.
While she was in the shower, next morning, I slipped out to the car, brought in the dress and had it laid out on the bed with the shoes. She adored it, asked me where I’d gotten it (obviously not a thrift store) and I kind of dodged around that, no answer to give, told her about our dinner reservations for later.
I watched her dress in the outfit I’d packed, no remarks or hesitation, and we spent the day going to little shops and talking. She was just as amorous with me as I was with her, my hands over her ass, arms around her, she stealing kisses in bookstore aisles.
We got back to the room in time for her to undress and shower. I acted occupied while she dressed, getting myself done up in the cheap suit we’d picked up that day, as in my rush I hadn’t even thought to pack for myself, which I made into a joke.
Helped her zip up the dress and pressed into her back, watched her make final touches and adjustments in the mirror.
“What?” she said and I looked into the reflection, saw her smiling at my image there—I’d drifted off, I guess, and she repeated the question, now asking me what my look meant, what I was thinking.
I kissed her neck, brought my hands to her hips and turned her, took a step back, touched my forehead shyly.
“I was just thinking about you,” I said, my best little Aw shucks grin.
Then I touched a kiss to two of my fingers, set it on her lips.
“I think I fell in love the very first time I laid eyes on you.”
Pablo D’Stair is the author of many books of fiction, several collections of poetry, and numerous series of essays and dialogues. He is also the writer/director of several films and the founder of the Art-House Press KUBOA. Information on his work can be found at pdstair.wordpress.com.
Thank you to blythedolls.tumblr.com for our creepy doll image!