I felt I should elaborate on this blog post for clarity.
I started writing this short story in March, and it has morphed and been trimmed several times. I came to this last version sometime in May, and what is posted below is the fifth draft of that idea. I am tired of this short story, and am no longer sure if the original intent of the work was worth all the fuss. Goodnight my shabby short story. I will give you the posthumous title of:
David’s new boss was a thin Asian man who carried an air of prestige for being the only one in the entire building to wear a tie. He also never talked to anyone. He was referred to only as “Rando”. David had assumed the man was silent because he was unable to speak English, but that couldn’t explain the English language newspaper tucked under his arm. He would strut back and forth and all around the cavernous warehouse seeming busy, but never remaining on one end long enough for any sort of business to have been completed. The building itself begged even more inquiries. It must have begun as one massive warehouse that over the years was compartmentalized as need for specifically sized rooms arose. An engraving above the entrance mentioned the year 1954, but one room contained an untouched newspaper on a desk informing the reader about the Battle of Midway. It wasn’t made clear to David, who didn’t want to ask a thousand questions to the other workers on his first day, why this building was selected for its current purpose, as the functional sections made up less than half of its total area. The men David met at the start of the shift had obviously been here long enough to stop being enraptured by the quirks of the massive structure. They were nice enough, going as far as to lend him a pair of rubber boots until he could afford his own. But as they used their breaks to suck endless plumes of vapor out of their e-cigs in the crummy break-room, he hadn’t gotten to know anyone yet. David spent his allotted half hour exploring the crannies and time capsules of former offices. Some of these former businesses must have shuttered in the span of minutes, leaving piles of ancient invoices and well organized coffee stations for the current owner to not clean up himself.
Even with the jumbles of artifacts and garbage, the abandoned rooms offered a living space more palatable than the one he was returning to at the end of the workday. The modest room he was boarding in was smaller, and likely much noisier at night, once the machinery had been silenced. Still, he was not in a position to ask such a favor, particularly to a man who conducted business in silence.
At the end of the shift, the floor manager handed him some paperwork to fill out. He said to leave it on Rando’s desk, gave him a “great job today”, and quickly filed out with the other workers, all eager to make use of their Friday night. David brought the papers into a side room with a dusty television the size of a loveseat on the far wall. It was partially obscuring a tiny bathroom with yellowing walls. Taped to the front of the screen was a handwritten note declaring: “Do Not Break This Any More”. The entire building reeked of wet, brown paper towels, but walking into individual rooms brought on a renewed instance of the thick smell, giving the impression that each new room was the source of the odor. David filled out his W-4 in an instant, and then spent several minutes meticulously going back over it. Eventually, he sorted out the ones and zeros, organized his papers, and turned to go find Rando’s desk again. Immediately leaving the office, David turned the corner to see Rando standing at attention by the back exit. David slowed his pace, but still cautiously approached the strange man who twirled a ring of keys around his finger, and only broke eye contact to repeatedly check his watch. David offered a weak “I’ll just grab my stuff, won’t be a minute.” to which Rando smiled with his entire face. Then, without a twitch of muscle movement, his eyes slid down again to his watch. David grabbed his bag and shoes from the cubby he chose this morning, and returned to the chair in the television room. He removed the loaned boots, and shoved his foot into each shoe, dragging them against the floor. He brought his bag into the bathroom for a quick inventory while he emptied his bladder of an entire shift’s contents. Everything in order, he flipped his bag onto his back, zipped up, flushed, and then turned to leave. He hadn’t made it to the threshold before he stopped immediately in his tracks. The silver handle had flipped down and back with zero resistance. Closer inspection of the tank confirmed his fear. The only liquid in the entire apparatus was his own urine.
David tossed his bag onto the floor, and began desperately fiddling with every knob behind the toilet he could get his hands on. They all required some hefty torque before relenting, but none brought forth the relieving sound of flowing water. Lifting the seat, he inspected the tiny puddle of yellow. David returned to the outer room to fetch something that could carry water, and returned to the bathroom with a 24oz plastic cup. The sink did not offer even a drop. Again he fussed with the knobs underneath the porcelain, accomplishing nothing. The next forty-three seconds were spent standing completely still, staring at the wall in what was intended to be deep thought. From the other room Rando’s watch strap could be heard jingling. David closed the lid of the toilet, grabbed his bag, and sauntered out to greet Rando.
Walking towards his car, David kicked at the sidewalk to get his foot past the crushed heel of his sneaker. His mind already planning for two full days of idly thinking about a toilet. The urine slowly separating into urea and water in his mind’s eye. He sat on the driver’s seat watching Rando lock up. He would stop and use his last eighteen dollars on cleaning supplies on the way home.