From Jester To King CXII
By Simon Barget
My mother’s place had numerous toilets not just because it was big but because she had a passion for them. There was one in all bathrooms, three on the landing, one in the garage and utility room, one in the study and a toilet outside for those who liked a soft wind blowing round their bottoms. But these toilets came in especially handy when we had people to stay, and sometimes we had quite a few staying, with beds set-up in all the bedrooms, and it was good to know that there was no shortage of toilets, that everyone would be able to go through their motions and not have to worry about being caught short. But aside from the stay-overs, we had long-term residents; these were people who didn’t have a family, men usually, travelling salesman, people forced away from their family homes through work, and they ended up staying in the house far longer than we’d expected, far longer than their initial 3 month projection, and one of these people was Albert.
Albert was almost a dwarf but not quite. He had the swollen disproportionately large head of the very small man, he had the shrunken neck and fused joints, he had the manicured beard set over the protruding jaw bone but he wasn’t actually much shorter than me. Albert lived in the room next to mine and there was an adjoining bathroom to both rooms. And at that time we had Emily Giul staying, we didn’t know for how long, and how I always longed for Emily Giul, and pined after and yearned for her, but she was in the same room as Albert, and she kept herself to herself so much so that I hardly knew she was there, and I hardly got the chance to touch her, let alone see her and I certainly didn’t like that she was sharing with Albert.
I would wonder what went on between them, whether they talked, did she really not dismiss him out of hand, why did she not leave the room immediately, and though there was no way she could find him attractive, I still worried for all the time she was separated from me and physically with him, all the time she could be doing strange dwarfine things -- it was almost as if I’d convinced myself she had a fetish – as if there were these precious grooming routines you could go through with him, like let him rest his foot on your leg and cut his toenails, and then I wondered whether she was doing these things completely divorced from sex but in some ways even more intimate.
I remember that night was a Sunday because I had to go to work the next day, and when my alarm clock went off my first inclination was to go to the toilet. My first choice was the one next to my bedroom but as I lift up the lid, the bowl is full of turd, and you can see the shit’s just been produced, because it has this warmish brown colour, and then the culprit has not even bothered to cover it with paper, because I assumed there was a problem with flushing, but I’m more mystified than anything that someone has just left the poo in there and not come back to flush it if they weren’t able to flush it at first calling, but because I need to go, I go to one of the toilets out on the landing. And both the toilet seats are up on these toilets, these toilets that were affixed onto the back wall of the landing backing on to my mother’s room. And these toilets were actually two bowls attached to one, one bowl on top of the other, a dual-toilet, and I thought that was a nifty idea, but as I approached them I saw shit all round the rim again, pellets in one, a big log in another, smatterings of brown-- again no sign of toilet paper -- just the poo plainly visible on the surface of the water, and now I am starting to wonder what the deal is with all these poo-ridden toilets.
And all the other toilets are the same, not one is free of poo, but the strange thing is that no one’s talking about it. Everyone up, getting ready for work, totalling about thirteen of us, busy and purposeful, and why is everyone acting like there’s nothing wrong, because there is not one toilet in the house that isn’t befouled, so I take it upon myself to work out what’s going on but what I’m secretly hoping amongst all this kerfuffle is that Emily Giul will come out of her room and show her face and show me some interest.
But my prime suspect is Albert. There is something about Albert. Although he’s quiet and conscientious, he’s often secretive so that you can’t fathom exactly what he’s up to and when, he tended to hide in his room and what he got up to when in there no one really knew, and there was something about Albert that I didn’t like at all, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But there was a sure-fire way of finding out if he was the culprit: I could just look at him right in the eye whilst accusing him of it, and I’d be able to tell by his response whether it had been him.
Bear in mind I was quite angry by now. I took it as a personal affront that people would do this in my own mother’s house, I was also proprietorial, and there was a natural inclination to take matters into my own hands. So I burst into Albert’s room, and he was doing exactly what I expected, which was hardly anything, I mean he was up and about, ostensibly getting ready for work, but every second he’d walk back to some cupboard or chest of draws just to check something was there, then look up into thin air for a moment with no particular thought or a thought you couldn’t fathom, then he would pace back to the place he had started before he had paced to the cupboard, and this whole superfluous process was a case in point of what annoyed me about him, he was like a broken robot, and the things he did had no rhyme or reason, they were just pointless. And I went right up to him, simply hoisted him off the floor as if he was a toddler and set him down on the worktop so he was sitting on it with his legs well off the floor and his head about a foot above me, but I went right up close into his face and just asked him why he did it, and I don’t think I was even prepared to wait for a response because I had made up my mind, and he might have made a gesture as if to slough the whole thing off, but I couldn’t be bothered to wait for excuses so I lifted him onto my shoulder and walked him right out of the house.
By this time the other people in the house had started to gather and pay attention as if being very gradually swayed by my devotion to the problem. And I remember seeing Emily Giul but not really paying her much attention, I remember seeing the crowd looking at me for direction, waiting for my next move, but by this time there was nothing to wait for as I had already thrown Albert out. Perhaps they had wanted to discuss it but no one said a word and certainly not Emily. There was still a bit of me that wasn’t sure of his guilt. But I went to my mother to tell her I’d caught them, and then I realised that my eagerness to emit Albert probably did have a little bit to do with my frustrations with Emily, but it was interesting that I only realised this after and that when I was removing him from the house I was fully convinced he was the wrongdoer. And then even after he left, whether or not I would get closer to Emily was another question entirely, I mean it didn’t alter her natural reticence and suddenly make her appear right there before me, and then I noticed that I felt quite comfortable not seeing her and just knowing she was there, what I hadn’t wanted was for her to interact with another man even if it was Albert.