April 16, 2012 Comments Off on At The Urinal by Clyde Liffey
A head abutting porcelain — was it so long ago I used that absurd hyperbole as I watched him from the other end of the row? His right hand was pressed flat against the lukewarm tile of the wall, his left thumb and index finger guided; he almost shuddered. He told me later he felt light-headed. He lied, but who could blame him in that windowless room with the faulty air-fresheners glued to the walls? He’d had a busy morning on the telephone: arguing, cajoling, coaxing, pleading, anything to coordinate, to expedite the job at a remote site where he’d never been, hardly even seen pictures of. He’d met with the usual resistance: a man out of town, a man on the mend, a boss on the prowl — I have no control over who they send me, I can’t take responsibility for that. In the afternoon — more of the above. He was glad when nature called, coffee getting cold, a chance to step away. Immediately he thought of other things: family, community responsibilities, manufactured crises, financial worries, the long walk through the narrow dingy urine-soaked corridor to the aging halted train, holding the huddled glowering others, that will take him back home where invariably something else will cause him to postpone or forsake the little pleasures — a piece of candy, a can of beer, a mediocre football game, the failed drama of the sacked quarterback, his be all and end all — that he had reserved for himself. He thought, “A whole life, a whole little life,” spent in such paroxysms, the graying balding head, the thin nattering lips, the moments of remission intermittent like dirty motes floating in the light filtering through a small overhead window. He didn’t know I was there until I flushed. He shook, zipped up. We washed our hands at separate sinks, splashed cold water on crevassed faces, dried ourselves, did not make eye contact, and – separately – left.
© 2012 Clyde Liffey
Clyde Liffey lives near the water.