Flush

 

10:00 a.m. 

“Hey…I’m William.”

“John,” said a voice from the second stall.

“What?”

“I said John. My name’s John.”

“Oh, right. Are you camping?”

“No, I’m using the toilet.”

“C’mon, I’ve been in this restroom three times since six a.m. and you haven’t moved.”

“Busted.”

“What’s up with that?” I glanced down at the man’s boots, wondering why the seat of his pants wasn’t crumpled around his ankles. 

“It’s my job.”

“No way!”

“Every single day.”

“You’re paid to hang out in the Jon. Is that right, John?”

“Well, yes. But not I’m hanging out. I’m here to uh…supervise, kinda.”

“Keep tabs on things do you?”

“Think of me like an air marshal on a plane.”

“So, you’re like a dick in the Jon?”

“I wouldn’t say it that way but yes, and I get the 1930’s detective reference.”

“Must get boring.”

“Nope. I’ve got my cell phone, a tablet and a few snacks.”

“That’s it?”

“I’m not trapped in here. I can sneak out for water, stretch my legs, as long as 

I remain undetected.”

“Johnny on the spot, eh?”

“Funny.”

“Sorry. I’ve never met a Johnny Cop before.”

“Oh, you’re full of it.”

“Hey, I gotta go. Do me a favor.”

“Name it.”

“How about providing a little background noise?”

“Like what?”

“Flush a few times.”

“You must be kidding.”

“Trust me. I’m bashful.”

“Ok. It’s your funeral. The plumbing here is suspect.”

“I’d shake your hand, but…”

“I understand completely.”

“I’d hate to blow your cover.”

 

“Thanks.”

“You bet.” I pulled out a length of toilet paper, wrote FAKER on it and tossed the whole roll under the partition to get a reaction. John was motionless. He made no move to stop the unraveling accusation. It bounced into the empty handicapped stall.

 

4:00 p.m. 

“I’m back,” I say to the same two shoes in the second stall, entering the men’s room again 

to confront the mystery man John. I lower my shoulder into the closed stall door.

“Here’s Johnny,” echoes a deep voice from inside.

“How’d you know it was me?”

“Who else would attempt to force open an occupied stall?”

“I…I, don’t know.” I eased back into the empty stall and sat down.

“Yes you do. Because you were here earlier and you’re obsessed about me lingering 

in this damp campground bathroom.”

“I could care less.”

“Then why send the camp ranger in? 

I was silent. What could I say?

“You need to know me. You want to know me. You wish you were me.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Why not?”

“You engineered all this.”

“How so Sherlock?”

“You came in first thing this morning. Left your cell phone in the can. Turned on the 

speaker and are now sitting in that fifth wheel across the road talking to me.”

“To what end?”

“To reserve a stall. It’s all about power, and control.”

“Hey, that’s quite a theory. But why would I do that when, as you pointed out, I can use the 

facilities in my own RV?”

“I can’t believe I’m having a disembodied debate with a psychotic toilet stall-squatter.”

“You’re the one who came back.”

“I need to go.”

“I don’t think so.”

“It’s true.”

“Have to go you say?”

“Right.”

“This isn’t the only restroom in the entire camp.”

“I know that.”

“You knew I’d be here. That’s why you came back.”

“How could you still be here?”

“You ask a lot of questions. I may have to report you.”

I sputtered with laughter, “Oh that’s ripe.”

“Nothing from you but obscure bathroom and body references,” said John. “That’s why you’re 

here in the first place. You engaged me, remember?”

“You’re a camping toilet snob. An anal retentive, scat-centric psychopath. You want total privacy, all the time. From everyone. You consider your body functions so pure and beautiful that no one else should enjoy them other than you.”

“That’s a mouthful. You’re sick.”

“You are.”

“Prove it.”

“I’ll prove you’re not on that toilet.”

“Go ahead.”

“I’ll climb on the seat and look over the top…”

“Stop and think about it. I’m minding my own business. You’re over there carping about me, sitting here.”

“You’re a nut job.”

“And you’re not?”

“You slay me.”

“That’s prescient,” said John.

I ignored the implicit threat. “It’s not normal for any human to camp out for hours in here.”

“I detect a hint of desperation.”

“You’re so full of crap.”

“See, there you go again.”

Gastrointestinal pressure signaled adherence to my original mission. I pounded my fists on the thin divider between us.

“You’re going to have to go soon,” suggested John.

“I’m not leaving.”

“I meant…must relieve yourself at some point.”

“With you over there, never.” A loud rumbling growl from deep inside my gut suggested otherwise. I moved fast, dropping my trousers and erupting in a pent-up intestinal explosion. 
I tried to mask this moment from the strange lavatory voyeur in the adjoining stall. 

“That’s a wondrous cacophony of sound,” said John. 

 

Repeated flushing dominated the small stalls. Screams and strangled gurgling gasps filled the bathroom. He cracked a grin. “I warned you didn’t I.” “Plumbing’s shot,” he added. 

 

Viscous body parts combined in a sucking spiral in the white porcelain stool.

 

6:00 p.m. 

A northern campground on the edge of a vast reservoir. The camp’s central men’s room is silent. Its main door swings inward accompanied by a soft, inquisitive query “Dad?” 

 

A resonant voice emanates from two shoes visible in the second stall. “Hey…I’m John.”

 

© Vox Populi

 

Bio:  Vox Populi’s short fiction has been published in 365tomorrows, Potato Soup Journal, Literally Stories, and Bending Genres. His award-winning graphic tableau, Parallax, will be   published in Small Town Anthology IV.

 

Populi’s slightly-dark urban observations employ a laconic, staccato style. He absorbs everything and crafts his experiences into humorous, paradoxical irony. He’s an author/artist/entrepreneur who creates with abandon and encourages others to see the world differently through his writing and artistic explorations.