Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Mobility: Underrated

I can limp again. This is surprisingly better than it gets credit for. Most people see a hobble and think, “That poor guy.” It’s only when you mess your knee up so badly that you have to keep it curled under you like a dead fetus hanging off your hip that you appreciate the limp. Where once it hurt like blue blazes just to shift my body, now it hurts to limp. I’m mobile! Limping is mobility under repair. It deserves a better term than “shamble” or “lurch.” This is the Igor Strut. That’s what I’m doing. I’m desperately Igor Strutting my way to the bathroom at 2:00 AM. Mobility: highly underrated by the mobile.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Feldman will Never be a Man

The three old ladies hovered outside the kitchen door. They chatted idly and watched Feldman chop vegetables for the stew. He worked quietly, hunched over as though to protect himself from the music and conversations in the living room.

Miriam, the youngest and whitest-haired, picked at her muffin.

“How can he ever be the man of this house? He does whatever his sister says.”

"She sent him in there."

“And I heard he cleaned this entire house last night for the reception just because she mentioned it.”

“I heard she made him pay out of pocket for the casket.”

“He does all their laundry, you know.”

“He's done that since their father got sick.”

“No backbone. Nothing like his father.”

“Or grandfather.”

“Now that was a man who could win a war.”

“I could make that boy do my laundry. Just snap my fingers.”

Miriam flipped her wrist like sassy colored girls did on TV, but arthritis wouldn’t let her fingers snap. The three chortled together.

“You should make him do my laundry.”

"And mow my lawn."

“He’ll mow all our lawns if his sister tells him to.”

“You’d think his father would have beaten a little pride into him.”

“A shame he had to pass. He was so young for cancer.”

“More people are getting it these days. I heard on the news that it’s something in soda pop.”

“I heard it was meat.”

“That’s mad cow, not cancer.”

“At least it was a nice service.”

“Pretty shabby, I think. The Catholic Church on Northridge would have done a better job. And it was such a cheap coffin.”

“You’d think they’d want the best for him, after all his father did for this family.”

At some point in the conversation Feldman had finished with the carrots. Miriam felt him behind her. The three glanced and saw him in the doorway, chopping knife still in hand. His hands and sleeves were stained bright orange.

“My sister said to be polite to you,” he said.

They turned to him.

“What’s that?” asked Miriam.

He cleared his throat and came through the door. His skin was pasty and he was scarcely taller than any of the old women.

“I don’t agree with everything my sister says,” he said into her eyes. “She says that you three are catty because you’re infirm, and funerals like this are hard on you because it reminds you what’s coming. She said to be polite to you because the occasion might make you sensitive.”

He turned the knife upside down so that its tip pointed at his stomach. He extended the handle to the old ladies.

“The stew's on. Why don’t you clean up the kitchen while I change?”

When they didn’t answer immediately, he pushed the handle in-between Miriam and Winifred. Their fingers closed around it unconsciously, two women holding one knife. A little carrot orange got on either of their hands.

In handing it over, he drew close enough that the old women could feel something detestable on him, something between young heat and the smell of housework.

"I inherited a lot of shirts that don't fit me this week. I need to go try one of them on." He unbuttoned his stained sleeves and rolled them up like he should have before he'd started cooking. Like he would have if he'd done this before. "Bring your laundry over later after dinner and maybe I'll throw it in with mine."

Feldman walked to the stairs.

There ends Afterlife Week. A story on the theme of afterlives has gone up every day this week. You can read the other four by going to the HOME page or clicking the 'Afterlife Week' label tab. Please vote for your favorite in the poll on the left hand side!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: The Other Place Sam Went

Don't cry, honey. Your friend is in two places now, rather than just here. When a werewolf dies he splits. Sam has gone to wherever humans go - I don't know where that is, but it's probably a nicer place than around here with everyone persecuting him. The wolf side, though, goes straight up. See the moon? That's the source of his wolfish side. See the dark blotch up there? How it forks on the right, like the ears of a bunny? You can kind of see his arm, and back there are his legs mid-stride. That's the rabbit in the moon. He's running from the great pack of werewolves. All the wolfish ghosts to ever die ascend to the moon, to chase that rabbit. They're ghosts, so they don't hunger. They don't need to catch him, so it's okay that they still haven't. They just chase him forever, with thousands of their own kind. All those thousands running are why the moon revolves, making it spin under the scampering of their invisible paws. Sam's wolf-self is up there helping the moon spin now. If you ever miss him, you can look up and cheer him on to catch that blasted bunny.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Rent-a-Time

But we know the process doesn't work like that. You can't change the past and you can't listen to me when I say that. You want to save your girlfriend, so you lie to me that you're just going to say goodbye that morning. You insist you won't do anything to upset space/time continuum. And I know you're lying, but in saying that I just get us into an argument about me trusting you and you wanting your safety deposit on the time machine rental back. It's non-refundable, by the way. I'll waste the next hour trying to steer the conversation back to the fact that you literally cannot save her. You could rent a bulldozer and park it in front of her garage that morning, and she'd just catch a ride with someone else and that car would be hit instead. Tie her to the bed and she'll still die that morning, that same minute. Maybe an aneurysm. The driver will, too. Maybe a second aneurysm. He'll still crash, because you can't stop any of the major things from occurring. She dies, the driver who hit her dies, and his car is wrecked. If you believe in Quantum Economics, then you believe the city will wind up spending the same amount of money to clean up the wreck whether she's in it or not. Ah. It doesn't matter since you're not listening. Your eyes have glazed over. You're going back in time no matter what. You can't bring her to the present, you know? There's a safety on our time machines that makes them return to the present, ditching the patron in the past, if there's any threat of a paradox. But you're not listening again. You see the inside of this time machine as the only place you can sit down, because the only other place you'll sit today is at her funeral, and you just can't have that. Now son, we normally have a seventy-day waiting period after a tragedy before we rent one of these out. But I can see how this whole thing's going to go. I've been in the business long enough to recognize inevitability.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: It’s not a Purgatory

In this sect Heaven does not have gates. Heaven has soil. The literature fails to mention if there is a sky. All you know is that there will be stretches of flat earth and light enough to dig by. Millions of other people will be in these flatlands with you, but they are not communicative. They are busy looking for where to dig. You should get busy as well, says this sect. If you dig in the wrong place the ground will close up as soon as you remove your hands. To find your digging spot requires deeper senses than those that dominated your life, or great luck. Once you dig in the right spot, though, you have a lot of digging to do. No one else can help you and you have to do it with your bare hands. Once you dig deep enough you’ll find an object. The object is just for you – no other soul can touch it. It might be a sabre, or the fender of a car, or a teddy bear. If you’ve thought about life as you lived it, the sect says you’ll recognize the significance of the item and immediately transcend to the next level of Heaven – the good part, with all the relaxation and Beatles reunion concerts. If you’re like most people, though, you won’t recognize the item. You’ll have to meditate on it, trying to figure out why it summarizes what you did right and wrong in life. Generally the object relates to what got in your way. Maybe that teddy bear was the gift of the father who so emotionally scarred you that you took abusive habits in adult life. Likely, it will be more complicated than that. Only once you recognize the full meaning do you transcend. The sword, fender, teddy bear or whatever your token is will not transcend with you; it resumes being a part of you like it was throughout your life. The soil closes back up, to hide the next item for the next dead soul. The Soil of Heaven is sort of like most Christian Purgatories, that test for the masses before entrance, which validates and purifies. It’s not a Purgatory, though, unless you make it one.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: After This, Play Chutes and Ladders

It’s like chutes and ladders. There are several obscure tiers, each connected by many chutes and ladders. Instead of rolling a die to progress across the afterlife, you live a life. Similarly instead of progressing “three” spaces, you progress “average life plus helped out at soup kitchens a lot minus masturbated a little more than was necessary” spaces. How long that is really isn’t conceivable in a world where “three” spaces still makes sense. Anyway you progress based on your life, and if you hit a ladder you ascend, and if you hit a chute you descend. Then you live another life. The object is to get all the way across the board to that final ladder, presumably to Heaven or at the very least to the afterlife’s attic where the other board games are stored. Nobody who has climbed up there has bothered to come back down and tell the others, so we assume it’s really great. It’s also assumed that there are way more chutes than ladders, resulting in the bulk of humanity getting stuck on the bottom row. That’s why overpopulation is so common.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Afterlife Week

Tomorrow begins a special event on the Bathroom Monologues: Afterlife Week.

From Monday on we'll see pieces on what happens after death. It's not always after human death, and it's not always what happens to the person who died - it's werewolves, Purgatory, family matters, chutes and ladders.

It all begins at 9:00 AM tomorrow (Monday) morning! Please vote in the poll for your favorite afterlife.

Bathroom Monologue: It Could be Worse

He laughs. He laughs until he coughs, and coughs until he needs his kerchief. When he pulls it from his mouth it is stained yellow with a little pink. His teen grandson sees it and grimaces.

“It could be worse,” he tells his grandson, crumpling the kerchief.

“How could it be worse?” his grandson snaps. He snaps in the tone of a teenager who hasn’t rolled his eyes at all of his grandfather’s politics today. The tone of a teenager who hasn’t texted complaints about how this place smells when he was in the bathroom. The tone of a teenager who hasn’t left his cigarette butts smoldering outside the windows of old ladies with oxygen tanks.

“How could it be worse, Grandpa? Nana’s gone and you’re alone. Your cane has four feet because you’re so crippled. You shit in a bag. I see you cringe in pain whenever you think I'm not looking at you! How could it be worse, Grandpa?"

His grandson tenses, some part of him beneath the anger afraid he’s going to be punched. He has never hit his grandson – has never shown more aggression than pumping his arms during Sunday football. But his grandson tenses.

He does not hit his grandson. He grasps his four-legged steel cane and trembles his way to the door. He faces away as he opens it.

"How could it be worse?" He asks, his hand shaking on the doorknob and his smile steady. "You could be staying longer."
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