Flash Fiction Friday: Bathroom Break
by Karl A. Fischer
At last, sweet relief. You buckle your belt and zip up your pants, feeling as though you weigh several pounds less. You diligently ignore whatever stained the floor orange and wash your hands. Like any good convenience store bathroom, a condom dispenser hovers just over the sink. It also purports to sell Swedish massage oil, vibrators, and the secret to lasting happiness: “You must make four purchases in order to acquire the full set.” You scoff.
When you reemerge, you find that the store’s selection of candy has been much reduced, the shelves picked clean like a vultured corpse. Only bags of black licorice and something called Cuntpunching Delicious remain. The coffee pots are empty and the parking lot is devoid of all cars except for your tiny red shitbox. Medium sized hermit crabs with knives taped to their backs scuttle across the floor; an interesting choice for a security system. As you head for the door, a small cough alerts you to the presence of a paunchy Tibetan man behind the counter. He does not look very happy.
You suppose that, at home, he is a perfectly hospitable man, perhaps even a loving father. You imagine him inviting his neighbors over for beer and kabobs and conversing languidly while the children throw rocks into the sunset. However, at this moment, such thoughts are only a distant comfort. He is holding a prairie dog, which is holding a gun.
“This isn’t a public rest stop,” he says in a thick accent. “Read the sign.”
You read the sign: “You must be born on or before this date in order to purchase—”
“The other sign. Bathroom’s for paying customers only.”
The prairie dog loads a bullet into the chamber of its gun and yips. You look around for something edible and cheap. Hotdogs are out of the question. Black licorice is a no. You note the selection of beer, but drinking and driving, while fun, is also out of the question.
Resolved, you reach for the Cuntpunching Delicious, the last one in the box, but the clerk looses a growl before your fingers can close. “Not that. I’m saving that for later.”
One of the hermit crabs attempts to scavenge your shoe for nutrients and its knife falls off. Nothing seems even remotely desirable until you examine the end of the beverage aisle. You eventually pick out a bottle of fruit flavored drink and make for the counter. The sight of your credit card causes some contention.
“There will be a 79 cent transaction fee,” says the clerk.
You groan. All you have in real money is a pair of quarters. The prairie dog looks antsy and the hermit crabs start to swarm. A bear in a golf cart pulls into a handicapped spot and begins eyeing your pathetic excuse for a car. The bear and the clerk wave at one another.
You fondle the quarters for comfort. You hold up the coins and walk back into the bathroom. The condom dispenser leers at you from the sink. It shudders when you deposit the fifty cents, as if insulted by its own purpose in life, and only grudgingly allows you to rotate its valve. A small plastic container is released into your hand. You’re not sure whether you got the massage oil or a vibrator.
Returning to the counter, you hold up the dispensed good. This does not please the clerk, but even he must concede that you are now a paying customer. He puts his prairie dog away and sits down to read a book. The bear and its golf cart are nowhere to be seen.
Without further obstacle, you exit the convenience store and scramble back into your red clown car. You find that you did not get either the oil or a vibrator. The package glows with displaced light and warms your hands. You diligently place the secret of lasting happiness in between your thighs and resume your drive through the cold desert as day rapidly descends into night.
You have never heard of Karl A. Fischer, but he’s heard of you. He does editing work when he can, recently with Bust Down the Door and Eat All of the Chickens, and is known to hobnob with other writers. Read some of his micro flash fiction at Short, Fast, and Deadly or follow his opinions on books and shit at http://awaitingamazon.tumblr.com/.