To Tom Gregson, there was no question in his mind that his house was haunted by a most foul presence. This thing was something that tormented his very existence. It consumed his night and day, that night and day, all day without relent. He was kept awake by the thoughts of how this vile thing would be the death of him.
It was the second Sunday of the month and it was his turn to clean the bathroom.
A little context: Tom Gregson lived in a house he shared with three other roommates. They were all men around his age who never until this point in their lives learned to fully clean after themselves in the way of most adults. Before college, they could always look towards a parental figure to handle stuff outside of cleaning their rooms. Now being thrust into doing certain things for themselves for the first time, they’re winging certain household functions like cooking and laundry and these only when absolutely necessary.
A bit more context: Tom Gregson was a notorious germaphobe. When he first learned about germs and, more importantly, what germs could do to people, he has lived in fear of them ever since. (Imagine a little Tom ducking behind the nearest chair at the sound of a sneeze). He’s the type of guy who carried hand sanitizer in his back pocket. He’s the kind of guy who visibly cringes when passing by a public restroom.
A little bit more context: The night before this dreadful errand, everyone had gone out to enjoy a hearty burrito dinner. Imagine a blessed mess of beans, meat, cheese, and lettuce tightly contained by a white tortilla. Now imagine Tom’s face at the realization of the gastrointestinal avalanche that would be awaiting him at the end of that same burrito’s adventure. Now you can see Tom clutching his starched sheets as he stare wide-eyed at a wall as the sound of muffled grunts lull him to sleep.
Then the day of reckoning. It was finally Tom Gregson’s turn to tackle the monster that awaited him in the porcelain palace.
Tom Gregson didn’t take any chances. He strapped on his knee high rubber boots and yellow latex gloves. He tied his mask and apron with all due precision. In order to tackle the beast, he needed to fend off the fumes. He held his toilet brush aloft like a sword in one hand with a canister of disinfectant spray in the other.
Daryl Cliven, a roommate and nonbeliever of germs’ ills, witnessed Tom Gregson’s procession towards the war zone. He screamed “NERD!” as he made his way across the hall towards the kitchen.
Gregson ignored these ignorant taunts. He took in deep breaths of air before kicking down the door with spray can blazing.
He gagged on the scent of spray as it mixed with dirty water and another acrid smell he tried not to think too much about. He grabbed the bull by the horns, gripping the sides of the toilet bowl to steady himself. But this is where he made his mistake.
On looking down in the cesspool, Tom Gregson was met with a horror that was beyond description. In the era of automatic toilets, it’s easy for some to forget an essential step in the modern restroom experience. But oh the odious horror!
Tom Gregson recoiled from the seat and fell to the purple shag carpet. His mental faculties were beyond considering the bits of spittle and whatnot soaked up by the fabric as his eyes drank in the white ceiling. His body trembled as he tried to forget. But his vision became overcome by that same sight that greeted him in the toilet bowl.
The next time he came to his senses, Daryl Cliven stood over him with an eyebrow raised.
“You’re having another one of your moments, aren’t you?”
(13 January 2016)