Friday, January 18, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: The Sea in Which the Most Men Have Died

Foreman manned the left oar and Aftman manned the right. They propped their boots up on the parcel at the bottom of the boat. The fog swirled thick, but they knew this lake. They’d served on the estate for years.

Foreman said, “The last riddle Master gave to me was this: what is the sea in which the most men have died?”

Aftman puzzled this over. Stalling to come up with a clever answer, he asked, “What did you say?”

“Well I figured the Dead Sea, on account of the name.”

Aftman winced. “I think that’s rather a metaphor, friend.”

“As much he said. When he finished flogging me I went to the study. I came back to him with the Red Sea. Moses drowned a whole army in there.”

“That’s a good one.”

“But he had me flogged again. He said near Greece and Africa they’ve got all sorts of seas that have seen all sorts of wars, and so have soaked up many an army’s lives.”

“Master was a well-studied man,” Aftman nodded mournfully. He kicked the bundle. “I would have guessed that one near Jordan, what’s mostly salt. A body can’t swim in it, you see. They sink and die.”

“You’d have lost some skin on that, friend.” Foreman smiled. “That’s actually the Dead Sea. And I’m afraid that you can swim in it. Most everybody floats because of the salt. Picked that up in the study.”

“Well dash it all,” Aftman kicked the bundle again. “Then we both guessed the Dead Sea and were both wrong.”

“Yet only I lost the skin.”

“Like you’re the only one to be whipped. I’m still raw from last night. You would have killed me had he lashed one more time, you know?”

“I didn’t mean it that way, friend.” Foreman straightened a little, as though proud. “Funny thing. Before you came to me with this chore, I was working on a new guess. I think I’ve got it right this time.”

“Did you?” Aftman asked, letting go of his oar. He stooped and fastened the lead weights onto the parcel. “What is your new guess, friend?”

Foreman stooped with him and they boosted it together. The Master’s left leg stuck out of the bundle as they lifted. Both hesitated as though to stuff it back in, then they chortled and dumped it over the side. As the Master’s body disappeared in the drink, they took up their oars and Foreman hypothesized for his housemate.

“Now I think the sea in which the most men have died is idiocy.”


  1. Ah yes that sea can be a rough one all right! Good story almost fable like.

  2. Lovely parable.
    Adam B @revhappiness

  3. If only they would die a little sooner. :)

    (not all men, just the idiots)

  4. Not nearly enough money is devoted to finding a cure for idiocy. Foreman and Aftman have a solution just the same. Thank you John, I thoroughly enjoyed this and am ashamed to say that I was still stumped until the denoument.

  5. I saw the parcel reveal coming, but this was fun. The last line is killer!

  6. ending the tale on a pun, brave man John. I think it's whatever sea lies over Atlantis

    marc nash

  7. Ah, bravo for the story and the odd couple! And the servants getting wise and doing in the harsh master. "Idiocy" indeed. I think he's right.

  8. Revenge is a dish best served with seafood

  9. What a great discussion, not to mention the final answer, to have while they complete their deed. Excellent story!

  10. Oh, I love it when I don't see the end coming. Great fun story John!

  11. Heh, great ending, although I think the Master was actually killed by complacency.

  12. Ha! I think I agree with their logic on that one. ;)
    Plus, you use 'chortled'... One of my favorite words.

  13. They may have struggled to find the answer, but they certainly had the solution to their woes. :)

  14. Talk about just desserts... I liked the Beckett feel to this one. Foreman and Aftman reminded me of Vladimir and Estragon. It was a relief at the end to find out they wouldn't be waiting on their Godot anymore...


    I nominated you for the Liebster award:

  15. The Master had it coming, methinks. I wonder if idiocy was the answer he sought? It's a good one. Fun, clever story, John.

  16. It must say something about me that the last line made me laugh out loud. Great story again :)

  17. Not only the deadliest sea but one of the largest and ever growing.

    Liked the twist with the master. Great stuff as always :).

  18. Oh, I loved the twist! This I think was the right answer. And it is such a clever one, John - a sea of idiocy indeed.

  19. I've no idea why, but I though the parcel was a baby to start with: I was quite traumatized. Funny how a reader can see something entirely different than the only makes the process more fun.


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