Some years ago, when I worked in an office building, I took what decent people referred to as a health break1 and what monsters and criminals referred to as a bio break2, both of which are what people whose minds haven’t been broken by corporate soul-worms would simply call going to the friggin’ bathroom.
I decided to use the outside one (meaning accessible from the outside of the building, not like, a bush or a gila monster) for several reasons:
- More time away from my desk; not great for my metrics, but good for my mental health
- The inside bathroom was a one-toilet 8×8 room enveloped in a physical particle-field of both various human stanks and weaponized Lysol and no one would leave the fucking fan on
- Gotta get them steps and it was nice and cold outside
- I could go down to the billing department and get a Pepsi-cola from their vendo (this will be important later)
So I open the bathroom door and what do I see but AN ESPIDER3 bumblin’ around on the tile floor like a Jaeger-basted disc-golf bro who got separated from his group on a bachelor-party weekend, his “Bodie’s Last Day Of Freedom” shirt somehow inside out, backwards, and upside-down.
Now, house-spiders4 are one thing, they do an important job and mostly couldn’t hurt us if they tried and also cats go BANANAS when they find one, but a more-or-less public bathroom is a different story; spider ain’t supposed to be in that water closet, there’s nothing for him there. So I tore a page out of my pocket notebook, scooped him up, and set him on a bush outside wishing him all the best of fortune and unwary bugs. I concluded my business in the bathroom (read: briefly peed and then spent seven minutes tweeting angrily at the Little Debbie account to bring back non-salted Caramel Cookie Bars), then strolled over to Billing FOR, as you may remember, they have a vendo and in that vendo there are soda-pops for me.
Sidenote, I love Stephen King a lot, and I think Christine is probably the best thing he’s ever written even if it’s not my favorite (probably Pet Sematary), and although I last read it almost twenty years ago there’s an exchange halfway through the book that I will remember for the rest of my human life, when the main kid whose best friend is being consumed by the Very Bad Car goes to talk to the brother of the old man who sold it to him. Hang on, I think I can probably find it.
And I just remember thinking, then and now, what a deeply strange way that was to describe a device that even in that old man’s time (the 1940s or so) would’ve been very common, and yet he treats it like a relic from another age, another civilization, like he’s a Hobbit who’s found a two-in-one washer-dryer in the woods and has kind of figured out how to use it for his purposes but doesn’t understand what it is or how it actually works. A machine, my boy, that in exchange for coins will dispense a wondrous refreshment which sharpens the mind and balances the humors. God I’d love to ask Stephen King about that, what the hell, dude5.
Anyway, I go into Billing, shoot a ‘zup to the wife of my coworker who never stops talking about how many bands he’s been in and chicks he’s bagged and also his plans for a very racist video game6, navigate the cubicle labyrinth, and finally get to that big blue obelisk which promises liquid joy. I donk my phone against it in the designated spot to pay, press the big button7, out comes my Pepsi, God’s in His Heaven, all’s right with the world. BUT THEN, a strange sound, one I’ve never heard in all the times I’ve used this machine: ka-tunk jing-gling. Have I broken it? One thousand years jail for Bageler?
My friends: No.
Even though I paid with my phone, because I’m not an ancient man in a Stephen King story who thinks the soda-robot needs to be fed pieces of smaller, weaker robots’ shells before it will offer its nectars, the machine gave me a quarter back8.
And I’ll never know for sure, as none of us will with the Great Questions, but I like to think that if my sight could’ve swooped up through the coin-slot and into its mechanical guts, I would’ve seen another spoider in there, wearing wee eight-legged coveralls and the tiniest hardhat, working a bunch of like levers and switches, and that if he knew I was looking he’d pause and shoot me four finger-guns, as if to say here’s a little something from your homies in the web; keep up the good work, Wilbur.
And I will; not for the money, and not for the soda, not for the tiny chitinous friendship, but because I think I’m on Ungoliant’s payroll now and she would like me to deliver a message to some Mothmen tonight, something about how they need to stop eating the silk-wrapped parcels she leaves her various dark pantries, and I think I’m gonna need to go pick up like one of those headband-lamps to get their attention. Wish me luck!
- Before I was management, when I still needed to ask permission to take one, I loved saying “HB, please” on the main chat because it sounded like I was sassing Hellboy ↩︎
- What is wrong with you, don’t remind me that I’m full of various gooptubes, I am a creature of water and light and falling leaves, if you cut me open fucking stardust leaks out, keep your nature as a meat-creature to yourself ↩︎
- 🕷️! ↩︎
- 🏠🕷️ ↩︎
- Of course this is the same guy who tried to convince us in The Outsider that a monster imitating a human could use the phrase “doc-in-the-box” as slang for an urgent care and not immediately be chased out of town by a torch-wielding mob; the man has a lot of talents, but believable, naturalistic dialogue is not on that list. ↩︎
- Oh wow Clarf you’re right, me sitting here in the breakroom reading comics is DEFINITELY a cry for you to start talking to me, what’s that, you have a dark and tWiStEd sense of humor, I would NEVER have guessed ↩︎
- PATRICIA. Daddy want the big button. ↩︎
- 🏈! ↩︎