FathomOnline

 

 Fathom 2007

Cover

 

Inside Cover

 

Poetry

Kirby Best (3)
Michael Da Silva (2)
Jean-Marc Prévost
Heather Ingram and Alana Paul
Eli Burnstein (2)
Chris Rice
Benjamin Mitchell (2)

Prose

Amos Sarrouy
Vincenzo A. Ravina
Jesse Hilz
Ashleigh Gaul

Artwork

Alex Picot-Annand

[PDF]

Jesse P. Hiltz

 

 

Adieu, Adieu, to the Spaces that Make Us Function

The following story outlines the details of a sudden realization of one men’s bathroom stall door:

     Greg remained there for fifteen years, hanging off his hinges, inside a bus station bathroom, wondering why no one ever asked him his name. It was a hard existence being a men’s stall door. No one speaks in bathrooms, not even to each other, let alone the doors.
     Greg had long endured the lengthy stares of the toilet sitters. His face had been tagged by punk kids and washed clean with harsh ammonia and steel wool. All this had begun to wear on him. His hinges were sore and his face was scarred. He would sit there at night and wonder, was this what he was made for?
     Greg was tired and saddened by this question. The answer was obvious. Yes, this was his purpose. It was he who would to hide defecators from their peers. It was he who would conceal the flowery boxers of the businessman changing into a fresh suit. And, it was he who would keep secret the pas­sionate rendezvous of infidel lovers.
     He, however, could only remain a wallflower.
     One hot August day, Greg looked in at the toilet that was his wife. She was five years new today. His former toilet-wife had been replaced because of a crack in her side. Her once white porcelain skin was yellowed from patrons forgetting to flush. Her once glistening chrome handle was cloudy with the dirty fingerprints of construction workers. Their marriage was not one of love, but of proximity. His new wife he did, truly, love. She was radiant. Her polished, cool, curvaceous body would still shed drops like she was new. He desired her but was always so many feet away. Except for those times when a patron would open the door and Greg would swing over her, gazing into her bowl. Those moments were the only happiness in his life. But then, the patron would sit and hide her from him.
     On that particular day Greg could hear the dull roar of bus travelers un­loading from a tour back from the city. The sounds were muffled and clunky like young bloodhounds flopping awkwardly after each other on a freshly waxed linoleum floor. Their galloping grew louder, less like the sound of puppy paws and more like that stomping of Clydesdales. The door flew open in the way that only handless doors can: abruptly and carelessly.
     Three men blundered in like blind walruses, smelling of dark rum and axel grease. Two of the men carried the third. He was wearing a black t-shirt and his face looked whiter than Greg’s wife. The men drove their friend towards the stall like a battering ram. Greg was butted by the man’s skull and the man in the black shirt twisted over Greg’s toilet-wife then collapsed to his knees in a nauseous retribution. Greg had seen this scene all too often but was powerless to stop it.
     Then he smelled it: The sweet and sour mélange of black rum and vomit. If he only had eyes, he would shed a tear for his beloved wife but having none, he expressed his anguish by simply remaining still, sombre, and silent. The men laughed and the man in the black shirt stood up, wiping the vomit off his chin with his hand. He laughed modestly but began to stumble. He reached out to correct himself and his wet hand slapped across Greg’s face. The sound of moist skin squeaking across metal squealed throughout the bathroom as the man slid to the floor. Greg was stunned and disgusted. Never had anything felt like that. Not the permanent marker, nor the am­monia to remove it. It was the feeling of humiliation.
     The men left without flushing, and without closing the stall door. Greg hung unlatched beside his wife. She looked so disgusting and pathetic, and so did he. The custodian would come in tomorrow and groan with disgust. She would not want to touch them. The whole bathroom would smell rancid by then, but the smell was, and would be, the worst where Greg was hang­ing. His world might be small, confined, and fixed, but he knew that there must be more to life than this. There must be growth. There must be spa­ciousness. There must be mobility. There must be potential. There must be final causes he could choose. There must be more. There just must be.
     The next morning Janet, the short, stern and caffeine driven custodian, wheeled her cleaning trolley up to the men’s room. Her squinty eyes cracked open as the fresh smell of Lysol entered her nostrils. She left her trolley in the doorway and walked to the sinks. The water knob gleamed and the ba­sins were buffed and reflective. She looked down to the floor and her beady eyes stared back up at her from the linoleum. The whole room sparkled. Her clamped mouth loosened and she grinned, even laughed.
     But something was off other than the purity of the men’s room. One of the men’s stall doors was missing. Janet toddled over and looked inside. Next to the perfectly polished toilet bowl there lay six bolts and two hinges neatly arranged in a strange pattern; a farewell letter written in the language of technology.

 

last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul