by Steve Wilds
Rated: 13+ · Other · Contest Entry · #1777034
In which a man is caught short.
|The bus was ten minutes late and I was beginning to wonder if I should've gone to the toilet before coming to catch it. A dull sense of fullness rose up from my bladder and I thought about going home to attend to it. I couldn't, of course, because you can never turn your back on a bus stop. If you do the bus will come, load up it's passengers and drive off before you get chance to get on yourself. |
Besides, I only had to go to the bank to pay in a couple of cheques, and then to the market to get a bag of two-inch screws. It could wait.
Ten minutes later the bus arrived, I boarded and it pulled away into the city. The full feeling was less vague now and I kept my mind off the half-imagined sensation of sloshing in my abdomen as the bus bounced and banked along the road.
By the time the bus disgorged me on Westgate, the fullness in my bladder was becoming a pressing issue in more ways than one. I marched off to the bank at a pace set to distract the growing discomfort.
Predictably, the bank was full and the queue stretched out between the automatic doors onto the street. I stood waiting in line and shuffling forward when the opportunity presented itself. Twenty minutes later my cheques were paid in and I left, keen to make a different kind of deposit.
I crossed the road to the market and entered. It was a fine old building, with stalls that sold everything from peanuts to spirits, from bloomers to bread to toys that were unsuitable for children due to the choking hazards they were made from. Vegetables of all description, from every corner of the world were for sale here, their vendors trying to out-shout each other with better deals than the next one.
But I wasn't here for that, even my bag of screws was forgot. I moved through the crowds to the far corner of the hall, where I knew there were some tiled steps that led down to the public conveniences.
I trotted down them as soon as I got there, my mind focused on one thing, and stopped at the bottom uncomprehending of what I saw. No toilets, no cubicles, no chunky Victorian urinals made in Stafford or Bolton. Now it was a barber's shop. He smiled at me and invited me to sit. Instead I turned and legged it back up the stairs and out of the market.
On the street there was a beggar. I felt in my pocket and found the last of my change, a solitary twenty-pence piece which I dropped into his cup.
"Thank you, sir," he said.
"Say, mate, do you know where I could go for a slash around here?" I asked him.
The beggar looked up at me, thought, then tipped the coins from his cup and offered it to me. I smiled politely and left him to it.
The discomfort had by now become pain, an aching, bulging sensation that consumed me. I tried not to think about it, but all my mind's eye could conjure were images waterfalls, fountains and hosepipes watering flowerbeds on sunny summer sundays. My own mental treachery added a scowl to the wince that my need had already put on my face.
An elderly African lady passed by me, misread my anguished expression and told me that Jesus loved me. Touching, I'm sure, but if Jesus really loved me he would have provided me with the means of relief long before now.
There was one last chance: the toilets in the St John's Centre. It was a hike but they'd still be there, surely? I stormed across town, a man on a mission, and everyone got out of my way.
I arrived and couldn't believe my eyes. They had installed turnstiles you had to pay to pass through. The price, of course, was twenty-pence.
"No," I said out loud, "no, this isn't how karma is supposed to work!"
As I stood there, bladder close to bursting and ready to burst into tears myself, the beggar I'd given my twenty-pence to sauntered out of the toilets and through the turnstile past me. He didn't even smile.
I followed him with narrowed eyes, wishing all kinds of ill upon him when, in a moment of absolute clarity I noticed the Golden Arches of MacDonalds as he walked past it. Of course!
I practically ran inside, ignoring the remonstrations of the woman who mopped the floor, spotted the toilet sign and charged toward it. I pushed the door open and bolted inside.
It was a place of beauty and serenity, clean, brightly lit with music, hits of the 80s played on pan-pipes, floating through from hidden speakers that might've been the mouths of angels. I dropped my bag on the floor and stood at a urinal.
Just as I was about to begin, the door swung open and a man came in. He was at least six foot five, bald and brawny with a nose once broken.
"Alright, mate," he grinned at me as he stood at the urinal next to mine, unzipping. He began and it sounded like a horse pissing into a bucket. My own refused to come, its shyness in the face of superior firepower betraying me in every single way.
Finally, after an age, he finished.
"Shy one, eh?" the man winked, nodding at the emptiness of my urinal. I smiled as best I could and nodded. He washed his hands then dried them under the hand-dryer, taking longer about it than seemed necessary.
"Good luck," he said as he left.
Alone again, I closed my eyes and relief finally began.
Irene Cara's What A Feeling pan-piped through the room. I couldn't have agreed more.