Sunday, June 07, 2015

(Sh)It Depends on the Weather

James Baxter was sweating. Profusely. It was an inordinately hot afternoon for late April, and the air conditioning on the metro was feeble, if it was even running, but those weren't the main reasons for James's dripping brow and soaked Perry Ellis shirt.

All day he had had to take a monstrous dump. But he had held it in. At around 10:30, he was about to make for the 2nd floor bathroom -- he worked on the 17th floor, but the office men's bathroom was situated next to the kitchen and coffee maker, which didn't encourage a comfortable mail delivery system -- when Kyle Bynes, his manager and Rhonda Byrne acolyte, had called an impromptu meeting. Just after one o'clock, the gophers again started grumbling in their tunnels, but a twenty-page letter to a law office in Taiwan needed to be sent ASAP, and James had to give it a thorough read over. Then, at ten minutes before six, James's usual punch out time, his gut shook like a rack being broken by a cue ball.

Just hold it in until you get home, Son of Stupid, he told himself. Then you have home court from which to drop Fat Man and Little Boy.

If wishes were fishes. James's metro commute home wasn't a long one, only thirty or so minutes, but during the six-kilometer jaunt from Chesham to Chalfont & Latimer Station -- the longest distance between all London Underground stations -- a pluperfect protest of penetralian proportion reached a boiling point in his gut.

Jesus, he thought, I'm going to crap myself on the bloody metro.

There was no question that the prison riot in his bowels would lead to a mass escape; what was of chief concern was whether the prison guards could hold the rebels back long enough so that James could exit the underground with his dignity intact.

I can't shit myself on the train. I can't! I'd rather die.

He clenched. Hard. The hand strap and his sphincter. If he were in a car, he could have pulled to the side of the road and done his business; if he were on an aeroplane, he could use the lavatory; but there are no restrooms on the metro. You just have to deal with it.

Miraculously, the train finally arrived at Chalfont & Latimer Station. James exited the platform and walked like a penguin for five minutes until he reached his second-floor apartment. He unlocked the door and took off his shoes. His Pekingese dog, Josie, was sniffing at his feet and wanting to be fed.

"Soon, girl," he said. "I have to do something first."

James went into the bedroom and stripped himself of his shirt and trousers. Then he opened the closet and fished out a crumpled pack of Dunhills and a Bic lighter, both of which had been in an old jacket pocket since time immemorial. He pulled out a coffin nail that was probably produced when Tony Blair was still prime minister.

Josie barked.

"Give me fifteen minutes," he told Josie. "If I'm not out by then, call the cops."

James sat on the toilet, lit his cigarette, and pondered.

All life exists because of volcanic eruptions. Continents, islands, archipelagos. From this we have grown. Wallpaper over wallpaper. Paint over paint. Don't strip off the old coat, just put another one over it. Again and again.

The doorbell rang, interrupting James from his bathroom reverie. He hastily wiped his ass, threw on a towel stolen from a hotel in 2008, and went to open the door.

The solicitor was gone. Left behind on the floor outside of the apartment was the May issue of Watchtower, which announced that Jesus Christ was coming back for a third time, so people get ready. Any time now.

James fed Josie, read two chapters of Stephen King's latest novel, sent a happy-birthday email to his uncle, and turned off the lights and hoped for sleep.

As he drifted toward Nod, a cacophonous maxim echoed in his brain: 

Stay alive. Wait until it gets better. Don't give up. 

Then dark.



John Jackson was out of breath. His lungs were screaming. Twenty-six miles will do that to anyone, but they're especially harsh to a forty-one-year-old grade school teacher with a penchant for Quarter Pounders and Dairy Queen Blizzards.


No comments: