How My Life Was Forever Changed, or: The Escalation of the Toilet Paper Incident

I want to make an oddball short story, complete from start to finish, collaboratively with another or a few other authors here on Protagonize. I don't know where this story should should fit... but I think comedy is the closest thing I can think of. All I'll say is it has something to do with toilet paper.

Toilet paper changed my life. Yes, toilet paper. It sounds wierd, I know, but it is a fact. Don't believe me? I'll to tell you how it happened.

I guess in order for you to see a change, you'll have to know a little about what my life was like before that day-do not worry, this will be brief. In a word, boring. I lived alone in a bachelor suite across the street from my job as a gas jockey at the local Shell. I liked to call myself a Petroleum Transfer Engineer, but that's neither here nor there. My typical day went like this: I woke up in the morning and ate some Count Chocula, showered, dressed for work, and then headed out the door. The walk to work was about a minute and a half, and that's including the walk from my suite door on the fourth floor to the exit. Once I got to work, I turned off my brain and went into work mode; it was how I kept my job for eleven years. All that existed was my customers, the gas pumps, and other various products I would try to sell them without sounding pushy or demanding. I had it down to a science; no one ever sold as much windshield wiper fluid as I did and I suspect no one ever will.

Anyway, five minutes before my shift ended I would buy a bag of bar-b-que flavored corn nuts then walk home. Once home, I played video games until supper time at which point I would get up to make a mustard sandwich, pour a glass of milk, and then play video games until it was time for sleep. Weekends were mostly the same, only without the distraction of working through most of the daylight hours.

That's about it. Sad, I know.

Well, one peculiar Saturday morning I woke up feeling strangely ambitious. I looked around my bachelor suite and saw a disaster. A filthy, dirty, rats nest of a home. I spent the better half of a day cleaning it, and I mean I cleaned everything. There wasn't an empty bread bag or piece of junk mail in my entire suite.

Let me tell you, cleaning a home can be more tiresome than a ten hour work day. I know this because by the time I was done my tongue was screaming for sweets and my stomach had developed an entire nuanced language of differing grumbles and snarls. I emptied the box of Count Chocula, four big bowls full with milk and all, and then I finished off the latter half of my two-kilogram bag of corn nuts. Bad idea.

The combination struck a terrible note with my stomach, and the grumbles resumed only this time they were much louder and came from much deeper down. It seemed to be coming from a hidden loudspeaker right below my navel. Well, needless to say I rushed to the bathroom and the rest, as they say, is history. Loud, spurty and occassionally explosive history. Every time I thought that it was over and tried to sit up straight, it began all over again. Half an hour this lasted.

Now I must take a quick break to apologize, for I have lied to you. Now don't be hasty. I know what you're thinking, and you're wrong. This story is true, I assure you. However, it was not toilet paper that started it, but rather the lack of it.

So when it was eventually over, my troubles were not. You guessed it, no toilet paper. I wasn't worried at first because this happened often, every five or six times I went to the bathroom I had to struggle to reach the cabinet where I kept the reserve supplies. This time, however, this one horrible time, I reached into the cabinet and felt nothing. The reserve supply had expired.

I sat there wondering what I could do, and then I got it. The answer was obvious, what could I do? I had just cleaned the entire house and there was not one thing laying around that might have worked... so I used my shorts. My favorite shorts. My socks, too, but they didn't matter-I just tossed them out. The shorts would have to be salavaged. Laundry day wasn't until next Sunday, but I couldn't let them sit around until then.

I threw on another pair of shorts, gathered up my smaller-than-normal load of laundry, and headed to the laundry room. I never trusted that place enough to leave my clothes in a washer or dryer unattended, so I stood there with only the hum of the machines as company.

It was boring, yes, and I regretted throwing away all of the junk mail. That's okay though, because there is a window in the laundry room that overlooks the courtyard. The windows in my home all faced the opposite side of my building, so I couldn't normally see it. It's almost entirely surrounded by apartment buildings. I had looked before and never saw anything of interest happening out there, there was never much to see on a normal day. This day, however, there was a woman. She was stark naked, walking in circles and gracefully waving her arms around like a ballerina.

This happened during the summer, mind you, so I wasn't too concerned; only interested. Being a single, lonely, twenty-eight year old man I could not help what I did next; I took the chance and left my laundry unattended.

No one in history had ever descended four stories worth of stairs as fast as me, and I may have set a new world sprinting record if I had been timed going through the hallways to the back exit that led into the court yard. Once outside, I pretended to be as nonchalant as I could. Looking back I realized that I must have looked stupid; here was a guy walking slowly by himself, unconcerned with anything around him, and breathing like he just failed out of a marathon.

I took the sidewalk that would lead me closest to the naked woman. My head was down but my eyes watched her during my entire approach. She, too, appeared indifferent to me as I was trying to seem to her. The woman simply kept walking in circles, waving her arms, and now I could hear what I couldn't from the fourth floor window; singing in a different language. As the sidewalk brought me ever closer to intercepting the invisible circle she followed, I could tell she knew of my presence. Her eyes kept darting at me and then quickly looking away. She was pretending not to notice me.

Well, something was wrong with her, obviously, so I decided to keep walking, get as much of an eyeful as I could, and then head back to the laundry room and reminisce. I was passing by her-she was only three feet to my side then-and straining to make my eyes point sideways when she stopped singing, uttered something unintelligible, then began walking toward me. I stopped and turned my head toward her. She was holding out a hand, so I did the same. Maybe introductions were in order-a guy can't be denied hope, can he?

Well, she reached out as if she was going to shake my hand and then she placed something in my palm, screamed, and began running away. I looked around nervously, realizing how it might look to an onlooker. No one was watching that I could see. I watched her run away screaming until she rounded the far building. I never saw her again.

It was then that I looked at what she had given me-a pocket watch. A very special pocket watch, mind you-I just didn't know that at the time.

The End

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