So this isn’t only once or twice. Every time I go to the bathroom at work (not the touch and go numbah one, but the big brown effort), one of the two stalls is closed. I’ll sit on my own little seat and there will be a set of shoes under the wall, as motionless as an Afghan rifleman in the rocks.

Worse, bathrooms are tiled, perfect for magnifying sounds. Knowing there will always be a certain… um… outburst… (in the words of HG Wells, “He compared it to a colossal puff of flame suddenly and violently squirted out of the planet“) on my behalf (or backhalf), I’ll kick off a flush to mask it.

But enough about me.

So while I’m getting down to business, my neighbor sits motionless, not stirring, not making a peep, a shift, a grunt. Nothing.

Are they waiting for inspiration?

Maybe its all that bike riding, or that I eat well (no, probably not that) but I’m usually pretty much done in a minute or two (I haven’t really clocked it, but I’m not shitting around in there (or perhaps I am)). But no, I’m done and doing the followup paperwork, and still no movement. Again, the masking flush, the slam of the door. I’ll wash my hands, hoping the stream-like sound of running water unlocks their levy-gates, that as my proximity increases, their constipation diminishes. It is with some social need that I’ll pause at the door, wondering if I should say something.

“Is there someone I should notify?”

“Good luck.”

“Press from the diaphragm.”

“For the love of God, Montresor!”, maybe? No.

But I’ll admit, after the bike ride home, the shower, the dinner, the evening’s amusements, after a final few pages of reading, the click of the light, the stillness of the dark, I have to wonder…

Do they still sit in that gloomy stall in the long shadows?

“Unggg…. ungggg….”