Latrine

  1. No one seems to want to install the new roll of toilet paper on the toilet paper roll. They just rest the new roll on the old cardboard core. As soon as I notice this, I pass the time taking off the old core and threading the new roll. The old core goes in the basket outside the door. No longer an old core, it is an art supply.
  2. Who wouldn’t leap at the chance to make this happen?
  3. I wonder if they feel the old core is untouchable.
  4. While making this change, the metal spindle slips out of my hands, and, in its own version of landing jam side down, enters the toilet bowl with a professional splash. Incredible, murmur the judges. The spindle made a perfect dive, wouldn’t you say?
  5. The distance between my eyes and the scene below stretches into a deep unbreachable abyss. Finally the definition of untouchable is here, and no one to share it with. After a few seconds, I realize how important it is to keep this definition a complete secret. Running my finger gently over the door knob lock, I confirm I cannot be interrupted.
  6. could flush the toilet knowing the size of the spindle would prevent it from carrying any further into the system, then retrieve it from ostensibly potable water, if you’re a bad dog. I could pin the spindle to the side of the bowl while flushing with this peculiar spatula left to air dry next to the sink.
  7. I decant and place a second roll of toilet paper on the back of the toilet in order to buy some time, and prepare the next visitors with an option when the current roll expires.
  8. Perhaps someone is better at this than I am, and waiting for the moment to shine but for my incessant intervention.
  9. And with a great exhale, I reach into the bowl and retrieve the spindle. This is a move of a certain speed, but not frenetic, lest it make things worse. If someone is watching using the pinhole video cameras now readily available from catalogues, for the home version of our collective paranoia, they would say, yes, that is exactly how good things are retrieved from bad places. Quietly. Immediately.
  10. There is no soap in the soap dispenser. As I flood and flush, I think of my father showing us his burst knuckles and telling us how he would have to scrub these in the morning. It seemed so simple to me even when pint-sized: stop performing morning surgeries or stop putting holes in the walls with your fists. I think of all the other bathroom debacles: the cool of the tile on my forehead, the careless toss of the keys into the trap of my underwear and the subsequent search for them an hour later back in the office, the time it took me to gather the courage to stick my tongue out in the mirror and see for myself how deeply I had bitten it, the urge, the scourge, the horrible passage of reverse digestion in Martin Amis’ Time’s Arrow that I had to read serialized in Granta )and( in the published final. I’m afraid that goes with me everywhere I go now.
  11. When I leave, no one is waiting to go in.
  12. I hit the lights.

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