A Carefully Calculated Random

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: June 12, 2019

Reads: 57

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Submitted: June 12, 2019

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A Carefully Calculated Random

By

Karl E. McCord

 

 

 

 

 

Overdosing on a public toilet in a grocery store was not his plan, but when is an overdose the plan? The needle bounced twice and settled a few feet from the toilet. He moved his foot in a slow effort to get it off the floor and kicked it well out of reach. The stall was spacious, plenty of room in case he were to fall to the floor. The room was clean; more so than other bathrooms he had used before. Being moderately used it would provide less traffic and yet someone would be in with regularity should he fall victim to himself. He hoped, when he chose the spot, that he wouldn’t pass out but past experience got the better of him.

His quickly deteriorating condition caused his vision to grow dark as he looked at the syringe. It was too far from his perch and he was in no condition to snatch it from the floor. He dropped his pants to his ankles to help create the illusion of a man doing what one does in a room such as this one. He stopped thinking about the needle and its contents. He stopped thinking about someone interrupting him and reporting his illegal activity. He stopped thinking about his reasons, his pain, and his dull senses. A sober person has an active mind, the thing a heroin user is trying to subdue. A person with heroin in their blood is slowed, the nerves are distant, the electric body is plied with resistors that keep the flow of movement repressed. That’s the point of opioids.

The heroin pulsed with each heart beat. His eyes fluttered, but he had become unaware. He didn’t have time to care anymore. He didn’t have time to think about where he had been earlier that day. He didn’t have time to worry about why he needed a fix. He didn’t have time to think about how long it had been since his last hit and how strong this hit would be. He didn’t have time to concern himself with how low his tolerance had become. He was nearly out of time.

His head rolled uncontrollably to the back as he came to rest on the tiled wall behind him. He didn’t care about the plumbing poking him in his ribs. His arm fell limp to his side and the toilet flushed. He heard it and cared nothing about it. It was only sound, just noise that was nearly hidden from his mind in this state of relax. He heard the door open and feet enter. He saw nothing but a streak of light, fluorescent, amid a sea of black, dank darkness. The light was fuzzy and the porcelain cold.

“You about done in there? I really need to use it.”

The young man on the toilet didn’t recognize sound any more, not enough for meaning to register. The drug hit hard and fast. His jacket caught the plumbing at his back and he slid awkwardly out of it as he descended with a strange, soft motion to the floor. He didn’t recognize the cold of the linoleum as his bare legs sprawled and his genitals bore the weight of his body. If he were awake, he would have winced from the pain. His arm dropped above his head like snow rolling down itself in fresh clumps of dusty ice.

“You okay, pal?” the stranger wondered if he should shove the collapsed man off the toilet and use it, or call for help. He hesitated, then frantically felt for his phone.

Colm Teppenz didn’t hear the man call for help over his shoulder to the door. The man entered the stall now looking at Colm spread on the floor like some human paste or ooze. Nothing registered behind the ears. Nothing was meant for him at the moment. It had not grown dark and silent yet, but light and sound were no longer his for bargain or barter.

This stranger, this man with a lump in his colon, looked at Colm with concern. He saw the thin lips turning blue. The paste that was once Colm Teppenz had a tongue protruding from the mouth. The man, this Samaritan, noticed the wretched thing turning white, or blotched with white spots.

“Hey,” he yelled again, “help in here!”

He fumbled with the phone trying to do too many things at once. He flipped thoughts in his head too quickly to be coherent. Turn him over? Leave him still? Mouth to mouth? That thought was wretched. Check for a pulse? Yes, that’s it. Yeah. How do you tell if there’s a pulse? He put his finger on the neck of the paste, once a man, now listlessly stuck to the floor. He fumbled with the ooze and the body heaved and rattled. The entire mass shook once, then twice. Vomit spit from the sides of the mouth around the tongue, still slightly protruding. He jerked his hand back quickly; however, too slow to be useful. He wiped the goop on the floor to witness more of the substance splatter from the orifice. He turned the head with a push of his palm away from his body toward the toilet. A third rattle spilling liquid and the man had to back away for fear of following the example set by the paste on the floor.

“Hey!” he yelled, “I need some help in here,” he managed to yell between fits of heaving.

The phone ringing confused him as emergency was supposed to connect immediately. Still yelling at the door when the thought crossed him and timidly turned away from the paste as it convulsed and turned blue.

“Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?” the voice sounded testy with boredom.

“Finally,” he gasped as he witnessed another wave of convulsions.

“Excuse me?” the voice implied concerned with exhausted distemper.

“Ah, yeah, ah,” he stammered and held his jacket sleeve to his mouth, not remembering that there was ooze from the human paste on it.

“What’s your emergency sir?”

“There’s a guy in the bathroom shaking and turning blue.”

“You say he’s turning blue? What bathroom sir?”

He could hear the clicking of a keyboard on the other end of the phone. His mind was blank and he looked around him and the only thought in his head was, “beige.”

“I’m sorry, did you say beige?”

“Yeah, it’s a beige bathroom.” His mind paused as he listened to stunted silence on the other end of the line. “At the front of the store. It’s at the front of the store.”

“Which store sir?” her voice sounded reminiscent of the standard operator’s voice in the old black and white movies, or was that just his imagination?

A clerk opened the door and saw the sight of two men in what he at first assumed was a possibly nefarious situation. Three conscious people danced around the event as one unconscious person faded from existence. The man with the lump still stuck in his colon looked at the clerk and motioned for him to help the paste as it became less and less human. He handed the phone to the clerk and went to the urinal and passed his own vomit into the basin. He also passed the lump into his pants.

With an employee on the phone, the address would be quickly determined and the operator remained on the line with the clerk as the other man tried to clean himself, embarrassed, in the corner of the stall. The paste was given sharp chest compressions as the clerk learned that blue lips were a sign he was not getting oxygen. The young man pushed as hard as he dare, all the while the body of the paste would shudder and spew a foamy goo. The clerk had not realized that his knees were covered with the previous attempts of the body to eject any poison. These attempts were unsuccessful and only acted to restrict the airway. The public restroom took on an odor that did not seem to dissipate with any respectable time. Vomit, death, and defecation filled the air.

Red lights flickered from the front of the store and people gathered at the doorway. Two men with a gurney tried to enter and had to hurriedly, yet kindly, ask to get past the accumulating crowd. People reluctantly parted.

“Where’s the bathroom?” a tall, dark haired EMT asked a stout girl with the green vest.

She staggered and pointed without a word. They rushed past and looked at the refrigerated flowers. The second EMT, without saying a word, slowed the gurney as he saw the path needed. The tall one stopped and looked at him with confusion.

“It’s in here,” he pointed to the hidden alcove of tile.

“Man, they must really needed to go,” a bag boy said to the girl. She back handed him sharply.

“Step back, Please,” the tall EMT demanded as he dropped to his knee on the vomit slick floor.

The clerk jumped up, still sporting puke on his trousers, and found himself pinned to the wall between the sink and the hand dryer. The two EMT’s tried to force the gurney in with them and found it was impossible. The dark haired one went to work immediately, ignoring the plight of the second as he struggled with the gurney. Once he was past the object, he dropped next to his partner with a plastic case.

“Good work, kid,” the second EMT said to the clerk. “We’ll take it from here.”

As the EMT took his next breath, his face gave way to the smell and he coughed, turning his head. His eyes caught the Samaritan still attempting to get clean, but with his pants up and his underwear in the sink. The turd was safely dumped in the toilet and he hoped no one would be wise to his stealthy drop.

“Goddamn man,” the first EMT choked. “What the hell is that smell?”

“My guess,” the second EMT said, “is vomit and shit.”

“He breathing?” the EMT asked.

“No. No pulse!”

He eyed a syringe keenly and tapped it, fluid kicked out of the needle. He read the bottle a second time after he filled the needle. Naloxone. Just what he needed.

Within minutes the paste was strapped, ventilated, shocked, prodded, poked, and poised for the trip to the hospital. For the clerk it felt as if it were seconds, even pinned to the wall by his embarrassing fright, the time sped quickly. For the man with the now extricated lump in his colon, it was hours. For the by-standers and pedestrian obstacles, who may have been a better judge of time, it seemed far too fascinating to clock.

Faces dropped to gawking and eyes turned necks as they followed the paste strapped to the gurney. Tiny puffs of white lined the mask over his nose and mouth, signs that he was breathing and one step closer to being human rather than a glob of meat. Doors slammed and he heard nothing. His response to all questions was a blink.

“Suppose that’s a twitch or an answer?” the clerk asked after he saw the man at the sink and knew they both saw it.

He stupidly shrugged his shoulders, his hands cold from the water he used to rinse his shitty underwear. He felt bad and later that night he decided to never shop at this store again. It’s not a bad store, the fact that something like this happened on the premises is a one in a million. He knew it would be more likely to happen in the other store a few blocks away, but he was too embarrassed to ever cross that threshold again. The clerk would already know the man would never return.

 


© Copyright 2019 Karl E. McCord. All rights reserved.

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