Peter’s laugh is strained, high-pitched, wheezy. Someone not in the room may have confused the noise with the screams of live crabs in a pot. But Peter didn’t have a kitchen, or the money for crab, or the opportunity to visit the seaside to catch his own. No, Peter lived at 435 Swinson Avenue. Also home to Rachel, Sam and Dave, with whom he was sharing his piercing joy in the TV room. His face red from happiness and the scars of a near lifetime of drink.
For now Peter has company, but when the ward shuts down, and they are to return to their beds, he’ll wheel the small television and its stand into his room. Once he’s done his nighttime business and kissed the photo of Beer, his old dog, Peter will scour the TV Guide. Like a seagull after a school of fish, Peter has honed a special sense. He will scan each movie for (n) and (s) classifications, the country of origin, then the language, and finally, the actresses. With all this information, Peter will select the most likely to contain sex or masturbation or a voyeuristic shower scene, switch out the light and make his final wheezing noise for the night.