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Pipes

Poetry & Prose | April 8, 2013

Professor Littlejohn fingered a sixteen-year-old the day after the office’s septic tank split in half. The commute to campus felt drearier than usual; all the trees stood naked and dead along the freeway’s barrier. Mounds of dirt crowded the department building’s entrance. He asked a maintenance worker what had happened as he walked through the front door. She told him it probably had to do with the cold weather.

He knew that the office should have upgraded its plumbing, that some disaster should have happened years ago. The toilets clogged easily, barely filled with water, and the pipes made terrible groans throughout the day. He thought he could hear the creaks of broken mattresses from within the walls. One day, months ago, he had wished that the entire system would burst open and flood the professors’ lives with a wave of their own excrement.

Except for one blank spot. The women’s restroom remained a mystery. He had assumed its facilities were superior to those of the men’s room. The female professors and students stepped out looking brand new, with glowing blow-dried hands. He once caught a glimpse of the entrance corridor, its pink tile slowly vanishing as the door gently sighed closed. The day the septic tank burst, Professor Littlejohn resolved to discover if its rosy tiles were touched by ruination.

He did not tell any of this to the maintenance worker, because the woman seemed like she thought she knew how to do her job. Instead, he held in his shit all day until it was time for his daughter’s CYO volleyball game, where he ran into Patricia, a blonde libero on the hunt for toilet paper, in the unisex bathroom. He strode in, unlocked, an exploding pipe.