View Full Version : QuikStop, Meeting Your Needs—On the Go! (1700 words, sorry!)

August 31st, 2010, 12:54 AM
The key was dangling precariously from Caldwell’s pocket, in very real danger of falling into the toilet. Caldwell himself, perched perpendicularly to a normal bathroom seating position, was one more twitch from sliding off the greasy black plastic ring and onto the cool tiled floor. As the sink produced a steady plink plink plink, his eyes began to open, the lids fluttering nearly in time with the rhythmic drip. Caldwell sat up slowly, his vision blurred, and he gradually began to take in and recognize his surroundings.

The bathroom was small, an eight by eight box, featuring only the barest of necessities. The sink was off-kilter, resting a few degrees to the right of true. The correct hot and cold knobs, both missing, had been replaced with what appeared to be household shower knobs—plastic and far too big. There mirror above the sink was absent, its past presence only indicated by four drilled holes paired with the appropriate red plastic inserts. Someone had scribbled S.F. and K.B. fucked here in sloppy Sharpie, apparently to fill the void where the mirror had once rested. Some would argue the improvement.

The walls were covered in a drab and depressing gray, one which sucked life even from the flickering fluorescents, which in turn made even the most vibrant and youthful skin appear hideous and sallow. The drop panel ceiling, flaking and old, was frequently disrupted by the changes in air pressure above its lain segments, and often shed flecks of white stuff onto the floor—or perhaps restroom occupant. The floor lay covered in one inch tile, the grout blackened from years of neglect, and a dull film lacquered the surface—the result of a decade’s worth of soles.

Caldwell stood slowly, spilling the contents of his lap onto the once off-white floor. A sudden clatter rang in his ears, only slightly repressed by a simultaneous splash of water; the piercing clang of metal-on-tile drilled into his tympanum with startling clarity. He shut his eyes against the sound, and the brief tension ended as quickly as it had come. Opening and blinking his eyes against the increasingly harsh light of the muted fluorescents, Caldwell looked down at the toilet to further shield the annoying brilliance. Focusing his gaze, Caldwell noticed the slightest glimpse of silver disappearing down the dark hole at the bottom of the bowl. Not particularly moved by what he saw, he shook his head and moved over to the sink to splash some water on his face.

Caldwell gripped the cold knob, and giving it a slight and awkward turn, was relieved when cool water poured, reluctantly at first, from the faucet. He pooled the liquid in his hands, and threw it to his cheeks, basking in the brief and refreshing feeling of life and vitality. Both faded quickly, leaving him wet and dissatisfied. The paper towel dispenser was empty; Caldwell resorted to drying his sunken face with what would undoubtedly be 1-ply toilet paper. He did this quickly, a wet piece of paper remaining stuck to his forehead; a circumstance that may have been comical in a different light.

Exhaling a shallow sigh, Caldwell leaned on the sink and stared into S.F. and K.B. fucked here, his face a portrait of a man who was glad the mirror was gone.

“Good for you.”

Before he could spend anymore unnecessary time in the box with a Men sign on it, Caldwell gave his body a half-hearted shudder, and moved slowly to the door, leaving the used syringe on the floor for the clean-up crew.

Extending his hand towards the knob, Caldwell took notice of how thin his arms had gotten. The veins had retreated behind his translucent skin, leaving his forearms pasty and colorless, without even the mapping of the circulatory system to indicate signs of life. Who can blame them, the veins; nobody likes needles. Caldwell grabbed the silver knob, bracing his now-frail body for the blast of cold December air that would inevitably come.

Only, there was no blast, no invigorating chill—the door remained closed, the knob refusing to turn in one way or the other. Locked.


Caldwell jiggled the knob repeatedly, with no change in effect. Pushing and pulling, he tried various ways of opening the door, all to no avail. He bent at the knee, buckled, and collapsed into a kneeling position, his eyes just above level with the handle on the door. Shooting pains fired up his legs like charged lightning as his kneecaps collided with the unforgiving tile.

The inner knob featured the same narrow slot in the middle as its outer counterpart; the key was needed for both entry and exit.

“Ah, dammit. What did I—,” Caldwell cut himself off abruptly as he patted his front right pocket.


He quickly patted his other pockets, throwing his wallet and car keys on the floor. His shirt did not feature a pocket, but he touched his breast anyway. Again, nothing.

Ffff— He made the sound, his top teeth biting into his bottom lip, but the finished word never escaped. Caldwell looked around the bathroom again, quickly scanning the area for the key in question. Sink, no mirror, toilet paper dispenser, toilet—


Caldwell half dashed, half fell towards the toilet, arriving in a position in front of the bowl that one normally reserves for vomiting. Peering into the clear water, Caldwell tried retrace his limited movement around the box that may have revealed the whereabouts of the missing key.

Shit. Caldwell slapped the floor in frustration, sending bolts of fire to his fingertips, and regretted the decision. Regretted more than the decision. He wondered aloud if it could have fallen into the bowl after he succumbed. Well, of course it could have, but did it?

I thought it was in my pocket.

Pointlessly, Caldwell went to the door for one more try and assessed the situation, as once again, the door failed to open. He walked slowly back to the toilet, and once more, gazed into its watery depths. It must have fallen from his pants, even though (dammit) wouldn’t he have felt that?

He didn’t think about it too much, otherwise he may have just said fuck it. His fingertips touched the cold toilet water, and his arm jerked back, banging his elbow on the toilet paper dispenser. His knobby elbow cried out, and would bruise within an hour. With less trepidation than before, Caldwell ignored the pain in his elbow and submerged his bony hand into the water.

The chill was instant and frightening. His hand, so devoid of insulating tissue, immediately received the sensation of a far more intense and hostile cold. As his arm slipped further and further below the surface of the water towards the vacuous hole in the bottom of the toilet, Caldwell shifted onto his equally knobby knees to accommodate the depth of his hand. He paused at the mouth of the hole, as if it might bite into his fingers if he ventured any farther.

That’s stupid.

His fingers disappeared into the hole, and then it became easy. His skinny and depleted arm slid easily into the waiting maw, and for a brief moment, he wondered if he would similar success snaking his arm into vending machines. Just beyond the rim of the hole, there was minor depression, unseen by one simply looking into the toilet. The crook of his elbow slid neatly into this nook.

Caldwell focused the movement of his finger tips, and lightly brushed something. Something like hope flashed into his eyes, but only the shadow of an emotion that he may have one possessed. It faded quickly, as whatever the object his fingers had briefly encountered skittered, nearly weightless, farther into the darkness of the unforgiving septic pipe.

Caldwell was silent for a long moment. Drawing as deep a breath as he could muster, Caldwell screamed with his lips pursed tightly, directing the proclamation into his own head and relishing the feeling of his face flushing with blood pressure. His forehead fell onto his still outstretched arm. His body lay in a contorted angle, the rim of the bowl digging into his protruding ribs. Shifting himself into what felt like a more productive position, Caldwell pulled on his arm, thinking of both how to free himself from the most current prison. Failing that, how to get through the night without a proper fix.

Like the door that barred him from the blustery Minnesota evening, his arm would not pull free. With instant panic, the last real emotion sent coursing through his body, Caldwell frantically yanked on his arm, wrenching and pulling with force that may very well have dislocated the ball and socket of his fragile shoulder. Caldwell flailed and struggled, but the crook of his elbow nestled too nicely into the depression beyond the rim of the septic opening. Locked.

Contorting his body into every possible position, Caldwell attempted to accommodate the severe hold the immovable porcelain had on his arm. Without any luck, his weary head came to rest at an odd angle against his bicep; an angle which enabled him to clearly see to jagged tip of the key, peeking from behind base of the toilet.

Caldwell opened his mouth to scream, but the flickering fluorescents extracted the life from that too.

* * *

Four hours later while preparing to close, the QuikStop cashier made the executive decision to punish all the folks who came to use the public restroom; at least those who failed to return the keys. He walked towards the beaten sheet metal door.
“This will teach them to steal my keys.”
He walked back to convenience store with no intention of having another key made, the Out of Order sign freshly fastened to the front of the men’s room door.

August 31st, 2010, 03:31 AM
A little bit confusing. So Caldwell died? Was his arm stuck in the toilet? I had a hard time following exactly what happened. It took me a while to realize he was shooting heroin. I think the whole thing was a little too subtly written.