Home > Doomed (Damned #2)(11)

Doomed (Damned #2)(11)
Chuck Palahniuk

Eventually a stranger obviously brimming with caca hurried from a parked sedan to the women door. I readied myself to follow her lead, by now almost knock-kneed with my rapidly accruing wee. As the poo-burdened stranger reached toward the door handle, I stood so close at her heels that I could’ve been her shadow. Grasping the handle she pulled—but with no result. She braced her shoulder against the door and pushed, then again pulled, but the brown-painted door refused to budge. Only then did my eyes follow her gaze toward a paper card affixed to the door with adhesive tape. It bore the handwritten legend Out of Order. And, hissing a genital expletive, the woman turned on one heel and stalked back to her car.

Unbelieving, I seized the door handle but succeeded only in rattling some unseen bolt which held it fast. Ye gods!

During my vigil several men had entered and exited the men’s bathroom on the opposite facade of the building. Now, confronted by the options—to express my wee-wee like a base house pet on a scratchy dooky-laden lawn, fly-menaced, in full view of all the leering truck drivers and lead-footed soccer moms in tedious upstate … or to waddle back to my nana’s farm, my denim slacks drenched like an infant’s … offered those two humbling choices, I availed myself of neither. My alternative would be to abandon every tenet of civilization, to surrender every moral and ethic I held dear. I’d violate humanity’s most fearsome taboo. I felt a stray drop of wee-wee trickle down my leg, wetting my denim slacks with a small dark spot. Thus, clutching my Beagle book as I would a shield to cover my shame, I lowered myself to the depth of an outlaw, a heretic, a blasphemer.

I, an eleven-year-old girl child, crept off to use the men’s room.

DECEMBER 21, 9:00 A.M. CST

Entering the Labyrinth of King Minos

Posted by [email protected]

Gentle Tweeter,

As I sat in the toilet stall of a long-ago upstate public restroom, my worst fear was not of being grabbed and manhandled by some drooling Mr. Pervy McPervert. No, the reason my lungs contracted and my heart thrashed like a netted Galápagos finch—even as my bladder unleashed its torrent of scalding widdle—owed more to the terror that I might be arrested. My presence in the men’s bathroom violated sacred societal taboos. It seemed certain that I would be severely punished—and, on some level, I prayed for it.

Don’t ask me why, but that terror felt as exciting as Christmas Eve, and I anticipated that unknown punishment as if it were a solid-gold pony.

Not that my parents ever celebrated Christmas.

If I were caught here, dared I hope that I’d be pilloried? Some stone-faced magistrate would lash me to a post in an upstate village square. My tender child’s budding form would be stripped of its protective clothing, and I’d be flogged. Not merely the lash would fall upon my tender skin. The lustful gaze of drooling oafs would also ravage helpless, captive me as they greedily fingered their reproductive organs through the ragged holes worn in their peasant britches.

Gentle Tweeter, if I may be honest, I found such a prospect infinitely exciting. How glorious it would feel to be smote a great blow and return to my Swiss boarding school with the raised welts and ruddy contusions that proved to those coddled children how much someone Ctrl+Alt+Loved me. Oh, to be so proved a stoic!

As a fledgling naturalist, here was my first expedition into the dark continent of masculinity. The sound of dripping faucets echoed around the room in bright, subterranean notes, like someone plucking harp strings at the bottom of a deep cave. The real world existed elsewhere. The tuberous dog doo, the careening trucks. The harsh, humiliating daylight. Within this space dwelled something well beyond my naive schoolgirl experience.

No Turkish prison could appear less enticing. Scaly curls of filth-colored paint peeled down from the ceiling. Leprous patterns of mildew, like black-flocked wallpaper, crept in arabesque designs across the cinder blocks. All herein was unclean, corrupt, rusted. Aggressively sullied. A row of sinks hung along one wall, the faucets dripping beneath a mural of menacing graffiti and gouged telephone numbers.

Facing the sinks was a wall of piddle-spattered urinals. Near those, a trio of flimsy sheet-metal partitions separated three caca-scented toilet cubicles, and it was in the third-most of these that I hid myself to make water. These partitions were in no manner opaque; hoodlums, perhaps hungry upstate woodpeckers, had assailed the sheet metal and torn holes of differing sizes. Through those sordid rents I had a limited view of my surroundings.

Seated as I was on a hideously stained and battered commode, my lungs shrank away from inhaling the toxic air. My hands recoiled from any contact.

A fellow student at my Swiss boarding school, some Miss Trampy von Trampton once told me how Catholics would forget their sins. According to her they’d sit alone inside a darkened little booth and they’d talk dirty to God through a hole in the wall. Sitting here, shut inside a toilet stall, I could see how that might take place. About halfway up the wall of my cubicle a hole opened in the metal, and I could see a little tunnel through to the next toilet. The hole was only about eye-size, edged with jags of torn steel metal like a small mouth of snarling teeth. I wanted to peek through, but it felt too scary to put my eyeball so close to those knife-sharp metal points. Even with my eyeglasses on.

Pretending to seek divine forgiveness, I put my mouth to the frightening hole. To test God’s love in the same way my false diary tested my parents’, I whispered about committing fake murders and shopliftings. I whispered the make-believe details about bearing false witness.

Every inhale smelled, in the words of that same aforementioned Miss Von Trampton, like a bag of sweaty armpits.

Human sexuality is by no means limited to genital reproductive functions. I’m safe in saying The Erotic covers a broad spectrum of behaviors which create and manage and eventually resolve accumulated tension. Even as I loosed my pent-up wee-wee, that gushing pleasure was my model for how an orgasm might someday feel. My mother had openly discussed orgasms with me, as had my father, but my knowledge of sexual matters remained piecemeal and theoretical.

With the commode seat framing my childish buttocks, I looked to be sure the stall’s door was locked. I sat with the Beagle book open across my lap, idly turning the pages, scanning for handwritten memories from my predecessors. Noted in blue ink in the margin of one page were those words: … one day I’ll raise a great warrior …

A noise interrupted my reading. A squeal, the squawk of rusted hinges, told me the bathroom door was swinging open. I was no longer alone. My tinkling complete, I squirmed into my denim pants and made ready to take flight; however, frozen by heat and fear, I sat on the commode fully clothed and leaked sweat from every pore in my skin. Through the holes in the partition I could discern very little, merely a flash of untidy clothing, a hirsute knuckle. The stranger entered the toilet stall beside my own and slammed the flimsy door.

The brute sounded enormous. With the wet, sucking sound of a bathtub drain he hawked up a massive wad of saliva. I could hear it rattling from his cheeks and throat into his mouth, followed by the spit-bullet splat of his robust mouthful hitting the floor. Flecks colored brown with masticated tobacco sprayed my way under the partition, and I stepped my Bass Weejuns back as far as the tiny space allowed. A great hulking ogre had taken up residence on the toilet next to mine. This thought infused my fear with a hunger, but not for food. As the tedious upstate sun had filled me with thirst, the looming sense of some hairy giant spurred a tenuous new physical need. A true scientist dedicated to studying nature, I reasoned, would remain motionless and silent. The cubicle made a suitable “blind” from which to spy; Mr. Darwin had endured worse. I heard the buzz of a heavy zipper parting. That ominous sound was followed by the clank of a metal belt buckle striking the concrete floor.

In the stealthy manner of Mr. Darwin I remained toilet-bound, but leaned forward from the waist, lower and lower, so as to peek beneath the bottom edge of the partition. What I saw baffled me: The beastly monster’s feet were shod in rather louche shoes of the type called “cowboy boots,” and his low-quality, prêt-à-porter gabardine slacks were collapsed to rest around his booted ankles. The two ends of a belt dangled from his open waistband, flanking the yawning zipper, and the buckle was a hammered oval of tarnished silver embedded with faux turquoise and engraved with the legend WORLD’S BEST DAD. What piqued my professional curiosity was how his toes ought to have been pointing forward. They were not. Both tips of his boots were pointed toward me, facing the metal wall that separated us.

The flimsy sheet metal bowed and groaned as if some leviathan pressed against it from the opposite side.

Alarmed, I slowly sat upright. There, the real horror awaited me.

What appeared to be a stubby boneless finger now protruded through the snarling mouth hole in the stall partition. This short, thick cylinder was mottled brown, fading from a red-brown at the blunt terminus to a soiled beige where it disappeared through the wall. Infinite tiny wrinkles carpeted the finger’s spongy surface, and several short, curling hairs clung to it. The finger gave off a sour, not-healthy odor.

Before I could make a closer inspection, mercifully, my eyeglasses chose that moment to slip from my sweat-slicked face. Their tortoiseshell frames clattered against the concrete floor, skidded through the field of expectorated tobacco juice, and spun out of my reach. I grabbed at the air, desperate, but caught nothing. Everything in the world smeared together. Minus my corrective lenses nothing had an edge. This place was already as dark as wearing ten pairs of Foster Grants and ten pairs of Ray-Bans at the same time, and now everything looked mixed-up as well.

Squinting, I leaned so near the finger that I could feel its animal heat. I peered from so close up that my breath stirred the short, curled hairs. I sniffed at it tentatively. As my brain whispered that the “finger” was not an actual finger, I was shocked by the true nature of this encounter. The scent was unmistakable. This apparent psychopath … this sexual deviant … he was attempting to menace me with a longish lump of dog poopie.

I was seated in close proximity to a deranged masher who’d armed himself with a longish, brown dog boo-boo.

Some unbalanced Mr. Lechy Vanderlech, most likely an escapee from a lunatic asylum, had traveled to this location for the specific purpose of collecting a discarded dog dooky. In all likelihood he’d lingered over his selection, scouting for a dried pet poo nugget with sufficient length and tensile strength to be so brandished, but with not so much girth that it wouldn’t fit through an existing hole in this partition. I was merely the unlucky target of his deranged attentions. Only a breath away from my look of dumbstruck horror, the poo log emerged from the battered metal and drooped at a steep angle.

It was the downward angle of my nana’s cigarette when she was subject to a serious emotional depression; however, as I watched, the mood of the drooping poo finger began to improve. Like some horrid, soft-focus miracle it began to inflate. The hideous mud boo-boo rose until it jutted straight out from its rough hole in the metal wall. Its ruddy color shifted from red-brown to pink as its angle slanted upward. Before I could blink my eyes it was pointed at the ceiling. By now it had swollen so large, and it thrust up at such a steep incline, that I doubted my assailant could easily retract his hostile doo-doo probe.

Even seen, vague and unfocused, through my crippled eyes, the transformation was astounding. The nascent naturalist within me began to formulate a strategy.

Wary, I lifted the heavy tome of Mr. Darwin. For as long as I could recollect I’d been the victim of schoolyard bullies, those giggling Miss Skanky Skankenheimers who’d misled and tormented me. No longer would I tolerate similar forms of demeaning abuse. Tensing the slight muscles of my youthful arms, I took aim. My plan was to swing the heavy book and swat the menacing poop with such force that it would fly the full extent of the room. After that, I’d bolt, running full speed, and return to the bright outside world before my lunatic harasser knew I’d so destroyed his sad, ridiculous toy.

DECEMBER 21, 9:05 A.M. CST

Besting the Minotaur

Posted by [email protected]

Gentle Tweeter,

Those long years thence, seated astride a stained toilet bowl in an upstate public bathroom, I tightened my grip on the Beagle book. With both hands I held the heavy, leather-bound volume. Like a golfer preparing to hit a drive down the fourteenth fairway at St. Donats, or a tennis star rearing back to hit a scorching serve over the net at the French Open, I slowly aligned the book with the offensive dog dooky. The magically swollen pet doo-doo jutted eagerly toward me, oblivious to my imminent violent actions. The cinder-block room echoed with the plink-plunk musical notes of dripping water, but otherwise a silence had settled, so intense it proved my harasser and I were both holding our respective breaths. The muscles of my frail shoulders and shoestring arms flexed, rigid as iron, focusing the strength garnered from my mom’s spacey yoga gurus in Kathmandu and Bar Harbor. A wild karate yelp took shape at the back of my throat. Squinting my nearsighted eyes, I told myself: Exhale. I told myself: Lean into the swing.

Steeling myself, I was Theseus about to do battle with the Minotaur in the dank basements of Crete. I was Hercules girding my loins to fight Cerberus, the fierce two-headed watchdog of the underworld.

I told myself: Now.

Wielding the heavy volume from above my head, swinging it diagonally, down and sideways simultaneously, I rendered the threatening doggie poo a mighty thwack. Without hesitation, my backswing landed a second, resounding smack against the loathsome doodie-caca, but it refused to detach and go flying as I’d hoped. Trapped by its own magically increased size, the menacing poo finger appeared to be wedged within the jagged metal hole. The awful dooky bobbed and flopped wildly, flailing and twisting in every direction. From behind the sheet-metal partition a sharp gasp of breath preceded a howling scream. The pressure which had bowed the partition in my direction now reversed, and some great force seemed to tug against the metal wall. The scratched, mutilated barrier pulled away from me, dragged backward by the efforts of the trapped dog boo-boo attempting to escape.

Flogging with the hardcover book, I pummeled my foe’s vile puppy poop with one savage blow after another. In response, the unseen opponent bellowed and shrieked. These were animal sounds. The wailing which might occur on the killing floor of a slaughterhouse. This senseless keening might be a suffering horse or cow as likely as it was a human male.

Striking a hail of blows upon the struggling caca, I likewise found myself howling great screams of rage. Mine was the vengeful whoop of every child ever tormented by cruel bullies, a combination of fury and weeping and sheer hysterical laughter. The concrete room felt flooded, swamped with the outcries of two combatants, the fetid air vibrating with the multiplied echoes. So fiercely did I scream that frothy spittle ribboned from my lips.

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