A Cautionary Tale
There’s a corpse in Ras’s bathtub. That’s not important, at least not currently. Here is what is important: the toilet paper roll is empty, stripped as naked as the aforementioned body in the bath, and Ras has just taken what may very well have been the largest, most explosive shit of her life.
Her universe has suddenly winnowed down to the bathroom and all its assembled objects: a dirty sink, a clawfoot tub, a corpse. The toilet paper roll, which is–again–empty. All of the towels are in use elsewhere. Ditto the shower curtain. That leaves Ras with very few options. Not the bloodstained trousers currently pooled around her ankles–she’s not a fucking animal, Jesus, c’mon–and not her mangled hand, the reason her nice new pants are all bloodied up in the first place. There’s not much time left, but she’ll be damned if she leaves this restroom in a state that would make an elderly poodle blush.
That gives her just two other options: the shower mat (cornflower, just as frayed and nasty as all of its kind) and the actual cardboard tube the toilet paper used to happily exist on. The corpse is beginning to make a high-pitched, uncomfortably wet noise, like air escaping an improperly-sealed plastic bottle. It’s pretty easy to guess what comes next after last night’s adventures. After the vindaloo, but before the screaming? That part. Yeah.
Cardboard tube it is, then. People used to wipe their asses with corncobs. When you think of it like that, it’s a step up, really.
Ras has the tube unattached from the dispenser and halfway to its final grisly destination before the better, less disgusting solution hits her. Why not just hose off in the shower instead? She’s got time, right? Last night it took something like five minutes from that wet noise until the hatching. She’ll be quick. In and out. Like a boss.
Gingerly she climbs out of her bloody trousers. Slowly–carefully, very carefully–she steps over the lip of the bathtub, trying not to use her bad hand at the same time as she’s trying not to step on the poor bastard crumpled like a used kleenex against the cold white porcelain beneath her. He never even mentioned his name. Ras feels a pang inside, although it might just be more indigestion. Vindaloo and fear are a bad mix.
The showerhead burbles lukewarm water. The corpse’s uncorking noise continues to grow in pitch. It doesn’t take long to get clean–at least, Ras doesn’t think it takes that long. But here’s the thing about time in bathrooms: it doesn’t work like time anywhere else in the world. You think you’ve been in the shower five minutes, but really? Five hours, if you’re lucky. Rip Van Winkle fell asleep in the bath and look what happened to him.
So the water’s barely switched off before the stalk is hatching from the corpse’s head.
Ras is surprised, and Ras is terrified, but Ras is also CLEAN, and there is very little as liberating in the world as getting clean. She sails back over the side of the tub like her head is on fire and her ass catching. She briefly catches a glimpse of herself in the medicine cabinet mirror as she sails by–eyes as big as saucers, black hair streaming like a comet’s tail–and then she’s past, grabbing the only weapon she can think of: the heavy porcelain lid of the toilet tank, underside slightly damp with condensation.
I should have just gone to the goddamned bodega and bought a cheap roll there, she thinks, bringing it down on the parasite with all the strength she’s got.