the shower: prt I 22 Comments

Waking up on a Sunday morning is always a sensory overload. Especially here: a damp basement where mold and dust marry each other, and erupt into an unsavory odor of their own microbial consummation. Debris ejaculate smells like mildew. The air becomes an expansive womb that carries little dust-mold fetuses, bellicose zygotes that take absurd amounts of delight from being my nasal disasters.  Compound this with the fumes from oil paint still drying on haphazard canvasses, cigarette smoke, and the toxicity of my own breath, and you have the perfect recipe for respiratory apocalypse quarantined within these four walls.

It must be at least noon. The sun has managed to force its way through the army of dust that stands guard on the window pane. Morning sun cannot do that. Morning sun is lethargic, nursing its malaise at having to break the stratosphere. No, this was definitely noon sun. Or later, even.

I squint at the tiny window buried a few inches next to the door that gives out to the sidewalk. The frequent vroom of cars outside affirms that the world had not died in my sleep.

In a self-absorbed effort to minimize pleasure and maximize misery, I have opted not to have a bed. Or a mattress.  I have only recently come to the realization that convenience and comfort do not fuel my creativity at all. So I sleep on an arthritic futon that I never stretch out into its full, sleepable grandeur. I unglue myself from its sweat-soaked embrace and let my mind wander along rhetoric of how its unrealized potential is a profound echo of my own. I would let my mind wander farther, had it not been guillotined off by the agonizing blade of Mr. Over. First name: Hang.

My face hurts.

I lean in close to the tiny mirror hanging on the wall facing the futon. There is a very noticeable scab running the length of the right side of my nose, ending at the inner corner of my right eye – blood spatters caked around the edges.

Shit, it happened again. Chalk it up to another drunken tumble where the weight of my head clearly staged a formidable mutiny against my center of gravity. My friendship with concrete is apparently sealed in blood.

Thoughts: how long before it heals? Will it leave a scar? Wait. This is garden-variety vanity. I should not succumb to such self-conscious behavior. But explaining this scar at work will definitely give me some grief.  I will have to endure punch lines from friends for at least a few weeks. I need to think of witty comebacks. Quick! Where’s my pen and pad? I need something clever –

And the guillotine drops again, pummeling and severing off whatever my poisoned neurons were sluggishly trying to relay.

I need some pills. Little white encapsulated stealth bombers to shock and awe my inner disaster. But they are all docked upstairs. And this apocalyptic air in the basement is already making me nauseous.

Must. Go. Up. Stairs. Now.

The stairwell from the basement to the living room is dark, and I stumble halfway up the stairs before finding the light switch to turn on the solitary bulb that hangs from the ceiling.  I flip the switch on and off a few times. Still dark. Nothing. All I get in return is mocking silence from the bulb. Fuck you, bulb!

I crawl up the remaining steps and when I reach the last step, I fall headfirst into the door, swinging it wide open with a jolt that sends it jackknifing into the wall behind it. It swings back and slams into the top of my head with a vengeance, finishing off whatever the guillotine pangs had spared. I slide back a few steps, my head reeling from the assault like an involuntary belfry tower at six in the morning. I did not sign up for this!

The door teasingly bounces back off the jamb, and slowly creaks open, flooding me with daylight from the living room. I crawl past the top step. Eyeing the door with same keenness that the USA has been eyeing Russia since the Cold War, I lay my head down on the floor, the rest of my limp body hanging behind in the stairwell. Like gum – elastic and non-compliant. The rogue communist door slowly creaks back and bumps against my shoulder, bouncing off a few more times before coming to a complete rest against me.  Me and door. In divine camaraderie. Communism did look good on paper, right? I bet the futon is seething with jealousy.  Suddenly, the frigid bulb that refused to be turned on by my fingers does not matter.

I hear the idiot box from a distance. A horribly cooked vat of aural jambalaya, grating against my eardrums, nuking the last of my brain cells into cranial dust.

“Please. Mute. Hush.” I mumble with eyes half-closed, hoping there’s at least one living soul who might hear my plea.

Dare I open an eye? It is so peaceful behind these eyelids. I do dare.

I should not have.

A scabby grey rat is my welcoming party. Inches away from my now publicly exposed eyeball, nibbling away at toe-nail clippings. Who the hell is leaving toe-nail clippings behind so casually? The rodent is so close that I can smell the rabies off of it. I want to react. I want to shoo it away, or maybe try to engage it in a cosmically profound inter-species dialogue. But all that I have energy for is inhaling oxygen that has been peppered by floor dust.

“Someone please turn down the volume … TV … please.” It feels like I am screaming the words, but all my feeble decibels manage to do is peak the rat’s curiosity. I think it looks at me. And cocks eyebrow. Like Dirty Harry. Please, Rat, I plead. Don’t do it! I am weak, and I have my whole life ahead of me!

My cheek still plastered to the floor I inhale for air again, and take in with me some more floor dust. I may have vacuumed a few flakes of rodent dandruff off the rat’s furry little scabs.

And it’s quiet. Someone – a Samaritan blessed with the understanding of hangovers – has muted the TV. The only thing I hear is the little wretch’s teeth nibbling on the toenail clippings. It hears it as well, and in a moment of heightened self-awareness, takes one last bite and scurries past me, downstairs … into my living quarters.

“Thank you!” I smile and close my one eye again, inhaling floor dust sans rabid dandruff.

“You’re welcome – are you ok?”

Brain: voice registered … external voice registered … female … unfamiliar … you are lying in a stairwell … head sticking out of basement door … inhaling dust … not good.

“Are you ok?”

I am still hiding behind my eyelids, listening to each neuron slowly inflate back into life, like microwave popcorn.  I hear bare feet shuffling on the hardwood floor, getting closer to my head. I wonder if it really is bare feet approaching, or if that rabid little twat of a rat is staging a coup under the floorboards.

“Hi” – she drags out the word, and inflects the greeting into a curious query.

With my right cheek still firmly glued to the floor, I open my eyes, and confront my second welcoming party of the day: feet. Pretty little pedicured feet, an army of ten toes, each wearing a helmet of thick black toenail polish. The pinkie toe sports a corn – the hunchback on notre dame’s feet. I want to rub my facial scab on it, and let our respective blemishes have a go at it.

Rolling my one eye towards the ceiling, I slowly pan up for a wider shot. I can tell she’s petite, but from my bug’s eye view, she seems gargantuan. A Brobdingnagian to my basement-dwelling Gulliver.

“Are you alright?” She asks again.

I think so, I mumble and drag one last breath of floor dust before lifting my corpse up.

I’m actually all wrong. And verticality is a motherfucker. It gives you a keen sense of perspective that horizontality does not. It felt like the elevator ride up takes about a few minutes short of eternity, and I can already feel my brain getting motion sickness. My bowels spasm from a sudden head rush, and I vomit a little in my mouth.

I swallow it.

“Hi … err … did I –”  I try not to infect her oxygen with my upchuck breath.

Knowingly, she giggles. “No, nothing like that. I’m Ruth. I just came in this morning. I’m your housemate’s sister.”

“Oh.” I am relieved. There is nothing more intellectually burdensome than attempting to piece together disjointed fragments of an evening swimming in an Olympic-sized pool of 100-proof vodka.

Which one? I ask her, walking over to the couch while reading the news ticker on the muted TV.

Some people apparently died somewhere because of someone’s belligerence. News: it’s starting to get old.

“Which what?”  She stares blankly at me, and sits at the bottom of the stairs that go up to the bedrooms.

“Which housemate, I mean.”

Teddy, she says. And proceeds to inform me that he’s upstairs working on something.  She’s wearing a loose full-length dress that, despite its casually flowing appearance, does a great job of accentuating all her curves.

You with those curves. Me with no brakes. Accidents really look good right now.

Of course, I say that to myself, in my head. Unfortunately, my penis overhears this conversation, and decides to chime in with its unsolicited opinion.

“Stop your self-pitying drivel, my dear fellow.  I am quite aware that you are currently under extreme duress caused by the preceding evening’s gratuitous intoxication. Nonetheless, if I may, in strict confidence, of course: I urge you to summon up the courage and will to overcome your present dull-mindedness and coordinate your faculties towards something slightly more gratifying … something libidinal.”

My penis is an intellectual.

And it speaks with a British accent.

22 Responses to “the shower: prt I”

  1. 1 Tsedey


  2. 2 nyalasmoke

    hahahaha… absolutely fantastic!! can;t wait for part 2 :)

  3. 3 beshou

    nooo waaayyy???!! you put it up on here?!hahahaha.

  4. 4 helen

    Toothpick, I love reading your stuff. It is very descriptive. I enjoy it. I can’t wait for the next part… BTW you should put that that monocled (that is how I pictured it), Brit accented Willie of yours to work. Not in a prostituty way but in a Vagina monology way …. I would pay to see that

  5. 5 yachilej

    the most engaging piece of grossness i’ve read in a long time..
    “my penis is an intellectual” LOL! love it..

  6. 6 DeceptiveMasochism

    Hilarious delivery of, sadly too familiar portrait of a stagnating DC life & the exhaustively appalling lengths one will go to paint this waste voguish; part of which, I must admit, almost rises to the level of open-minded, penetrating catharsis. Was fun reading it though…

    BTW didn’t know Teddy was renting rooms & his sis? Well count me in… Was looking for a summer house ;)

    Teddy , quick, go down stairs & evict the RAT w/ the British accent before he ravages Ruth & gives her rabies. :D

  7. 7 maebel

    Toothpick: I have a difficulty of understanding most of ur articles. I may be lagging behind linguistically. or your creative imaginations may be beyound my reach.

  8. 8 Doro Mata

    Love it.

    Lust it.

  9. 9 tpeace


    ok there!…so i said it! sue me i’m human.

    ye, sounds a twisted fate if u imagine i practise british penus envy, snuffing up dustmites, curvy fantacies and the lot… :)

    …but, damn it tp! u write with flow – like…like words trickle onto ur nerve cells, into ur finger tips with ease that arouses a word-libido the size of a native english speaker’s!

  10. 10 yebolelij

    details , details and more details . Brilliant .
    I like the way your brain processes information -specially when it registered the girl’s voice – betam yasikal.
    looking forward to Part II !!!

  11. 11 Mikematic

    haha, another amusing Gonzo like literary piece. Good stuff. Keep on the delivery …

  12. 12 Wurgatu

    this is all about the shower of thoughts,not events…i think!

  13. 13 Her

    lol nice ….cant wait for part 2

  14. 14 Anonx

    Nice read. Look forward to part II

    I was reminded of the day, or rather the day after, I rode my bike home after a visit to the local watering hole. Bart Simpson should get partial credit though for the Mr. Over, first name Hang line. Bart called the local bar and asked to speak to Mr. Coholic. The Bartender said: ‘who?’. Mr. Coholic, first name Al. The bartender shouted, ‘is Al here!? Al Coholic!’

  15. 15 esl

    i think it was boring, some what cumbersome to read

  16. 16 shtoni

    nice job, robel

  17. 17 lorie

    Is there a way to become a content writer for the site?

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