#thesideshow August 24th 2015 Big Bang by Michael Eastabrook
August 24, 2015
#thesideshow September 9th Thesaurus by Shloka Shankar
September 9, 2015

#thesideshow September 8th 2015 Saṃsāra by Eric Williams

Dude must have been drunk or high or crazy, or some combination thereof, but for whatever reason he decided to take a shit right there in the south entrance to the TitanMart where I worked.  Just dropped trou and went for it.

Amazing thing was, watching the security footage after the fact, you see just how much crazy stuff people can put up with going on in the periphery of their lives.  Some guy takes a public shit?  Three people walked right by him, dude in full view, and all they did was a little shocked double-take, then look away and keep moving.  Like it was them doing something wrong, not this mad shitter breaking the social contract in front of them.  Eyes forward, grab the cart, keep trucking.  That’s some cellular level survival instinct right there, the key to our evolutionary success I bet, an ability to let a crazy universe just wash over us.

Anyway, the shitter finishes up and makes a run for it, easily outpacing Carl, the three hundred pound rent-a-cop whose job is to keep us safe from criminal trespasses of just this sort.  Me, Darla, and Marcus watch Carl bend over in the parking lot, hands on his knees, puking his guts out from the debilitating exertion of his run.  Meanwhile, the Agent of Chaos he was chasing disappears around the corner of the liquor store.  Carl’s just finishing up when Tim, the assistant manager, comes up behind us.

“Alright,” he says, hands on his hips, “enough gawking around.  Clean this mess up.”  We look at him, at the shit, at each other.

“I’m not cleaning up human shit,” says Marcus.  Darla and I nod in solidarity.

“You’ve all cleaned up shit before,” says Tim, with the smug security of historical precedent.

“Sure,” says Darla, “dog shit, which is bad enough.”

“People shit is a whole other thing entirely,” I say.

“Who knows what diseases you could get from human shit?” adds Marcus.

“That’s like the story of the entire Middle Ages – people dying from each other’s shit,” I point out.

“They died,” says Tim, his voice taking on a distinctly managerial tone, “because they didn’t clean up the shit.”  

Carl, a little shaky in the knees and paler than usual, makes his way over to us, alternatively wiping his mouth and the front of his shirt with an ineffectual handkerchief.

“Nice hustle there Carl,” says Marcus.  “You almost had him.”  Carl starts to respond, but the smell in the entryway hits him like a runaway bus and he dry heaves a couple of time.  Flipping us the bird, he shuffles into the store and out of sight.

“Sorry folks,” says Tim, stepping quickly around us, his arms outstretched, putting himself between the shit and a family coming in for groceries.  “Got a bit of a mess here, maybe y’all want to use the other entrance, just right down there, that’s right, sorry for the inconvenience.”  When they’re gone, he turns back to us and shakes his head.  “We gotta get this cleaned up guys.”

“Just close the entrance,” says Darla.  Tim is aghast.

“I can’t close this door during store hours, Darla,” he says.  “Someone has to clean this up!”

It goes on like that for a while, until it becomes clear that none of us, Tim included, has any intention of cleaning up the shit.  He sends me out into the parking lot to mop up Carl’s puke, and he sends Marcus out back to salvage some plywood from the dumpsters.  He leans this up against the corner, hiding the shit from view.  He grabs a couple of box fans ($21.50 each, on sale TODAY!) and runs an extension cord out to power them.  He cracks open a big six-pound box of baking soda ($4.25 with coupon) and puts it behind the plywood with the offending excreta.  He uses his manager’s key to keep the sliding doors wide open, turns on the fans, and nods.

The plywood/fan/baking soda rig is still there in the morning when I clock in and learn that Tim has changed my (and Marcus’s and Darla’s) schedule to night stocker for the next two weeks.  I tough it out for a while, but I’m ground down to nothing after three days of graveyard hours and quit the job.  When I leave, the plywood and the fans are still there, and Tim has put out a fresh new box of baking soda.  


Eric Williams is a writer living on the lithified remains of a Cretaceous seaway in Austin, TX.  Say howdy to him on twitter (@geoliminal).