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Jon Mitchell - A relaxing observational apparition

‘To exist’ he pondered, ‘what is it to exist?’ thought a man who sat in the middle of his bath, sideways on, facing the toilet. The radio in the lounge at the end of the hallway emits a muffled gurgle of news or story; he is undecided, trying to block the sounds as much as he is trying to listen.

Toilet roll drapes down, caressing the top of an old yellow and rust bitten radiator, he studies a corner for the first time noticing an undiscovered patch of decay. The radiator is less than a foot from the toilet bowl; maybe splashes of urine over the years have acted as a form of corrosive liquid.

The cheap pink toilet roll delicately moves, lightly twisting her textured cloth as if dancing, communicating with the old and neglected metal recipient. The ageing radiator gracefully acknowledges her presence, his warm breath steadily rising, lifting the soft swirling material.
She moves for him, touching the heat with her embossed love heart pattern that spreads out upon an unharmed and virginal surface.

A different voice is heard travelling along the hallway, derailing his train of thought momentarily. He scratches a rubbery cheek with badly trimmed fingernails and looks up at the pull-cord, gently swinging in its designated spot.
‘How long has the cord occupied that particular space, a single short line of emptiness no more than three foot in length filled with the flimsy thread of an ageing switch?’ he wondered, adding to his deliberation ‘the line must be black from top to bottom!’
He watched the cord move lethargically, it was obviously waiting in isolation for the next tug, the next usage of its working life, screwed into the ceiling, fixed into its place.

Over a long period of time the clean woven exterior of the pull-cord has become stained, yet by no means dysfunctional, just ugly and used. ‘Maybe’ thought the man ‘I should buy another one, they’re cheap, I could buy an ornamental cord with a hanging figure of a cat or a rabbit’.
After a pause in contemplation a decision occurred in that practicality should take greater precedence and that although abused with the fondling of grubby ignorant fingers, the existing cord is still a functional object.

His eyes moved about the room letting his mind take in the surroundings, so different today, so clear. Dust collected by its own free will, entwined into pencil shaped moustaches that wore the corners of the room with dirty wavering grins, and so these too become suggestive.
The radiator hadn’t stopped rumbling since the man had slipped into the warm water.
The plastic bathtub, split along the side edges revealed a dark line of mould and scum. Yet for the moment he was more intrigued with the nature of his observance than the shades of his poverty.
The water was clean, he thought, so why let the spoilt bathroom interior affect this clarity of mind.
‘Existence’ he quizzed ‘what is it just to be?’ He looked straight ahead toward the underside of the toilet lid, propped up against the cistern, revealing the naked water that lies waiting, ready to take the contents of an aching bowel, to flush them out of sight and out of mind. But even the lid was broken, corrupting the symmetry of the ‘ideal standard’ lavatory. The tank behind the lid, attached to the wall, was crooked.
‘Does this hinder the cisterns durability?’ he said to himself, making polite conjecture with nobody.
Taking further recognition of the shoddy workmanship, he noticed the brown stains that ran so offensively around the circumference of the bowl. He slipped further into the bath striking a more relaxed repose, which led, unfortunately or not, to further dismay.

The ceiling was peeling between darkened blotchy patches of damp rot. A light bulb was missing along with the fittings, leaving only two dim bulbs, one of which was red.
The disused space of a forgotten fixture had been covered over with a postcard, stuck to the peeling artex with masking tape. ‘I did that’ remembered the man who gazed once again at the image of a pastel dandelion floating before an azure void.
The toilet gave an involuntary splutter, which turned his attention back to the latrine.
‘My poor lonely friend’ he sighed ‘it sounds as if you have consumed too much effluent’; he recognized again the aesthetic dilapidation but couldn’t help noticing ‘her’. The slender fluttering toilet tissue which delicately danced had now retreated, hanging in a lifeless silence behind the radiator.

Had she been tossed aside by the comparably monstrous shape of an angry body, a masculine object that threw heat with rabid ferocity and no concern for this serene beauty?
Her loving gestures brushed aside, she can only wait for the despicable truth of her existence.
The man felt a small pang of guilt as he looked at the torn edges of her abused quilt, how could he also use her and in such a vile act, wiping away his own defecation.
He turned in the bath and smiled ‘Existence! What fun it is to have a day off’ he grinned ‘to just relax and do nothing’.

The shadow of the pull-cord silhouetted on the door frame seemed to be moving, but the cord itself had relaxed into a pleasant daydream, refusing to budge for the mans idle amusement.
The voice from the radio changed once again, a more conservative tone enveloped the misty confines of a strangely provocative room.

The moaning, spluttering pipes were now losing their appeal and the man, whom again was sitting sideways to the taps, knew that this imaginative observation was drawing to a close.
He arose reaching for his towel, the water beneath him calm, his body already dry, his image slowly evaporating amongst the mist; his questions left within the condensation.

© Jon Mitchell 2001

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