by Matthew Sanborn Smith
Bob was a regular guy, and by that, I don’t mean he was average. I mean he had some seriously loose bowels. The guy could pass a baseball and not realize it until he looked down. He thought nothing of mentioning this in casual conversation and because of that, Bob really didn’t have anything that could be called a social life. He stopped buying planners years ago because he had no plans. He was just a man alone in the world, hoping to find a cheese that might bind him, even just a little.
One night his central heating stopped working and when he awoke in the morning he was on the verge of popsiclehood. As always, he had to run to the toilet. It wasn’t so much a run this time as a stumble. He could no longer feel his feet and he was wrapped in all of his blankets. He seated himself and forgot everything else but the cold-so-cold that pierced his very bones. Bob fantasized about eliminating this icy mass that seemed to sit in his gut. There was an odd shifting in his organs and he felt warm suddenly, like experiencing a hot flash. What happened? He stood, relieved, and looked down. There in his toilet sat a huge chunk of ice.
He checked the thermostat. The heat was still off, but he felt warm. He’d eliminated the cold, just as he’d wished. No, that was insane. The ice must have been there already, it was that flipping cold in here. Maybe it wasn’t, the ice was already melting. He had to test it. How else? What else did he want to eliminate from his body? From his life? How about that spare tire? It was crazy, but what else did he have to do? He sat back down and thought about it.
There came more motion within, things changing places as if his intestines were being rerouted and hooked up to something new. After a movement that made even Bob sweat, he rose to discover an actual spare tire in his toilet. It wasn’t full-sized, just a doughnut that you’d get with a new car, but it was still impressive. More importantly, his belly had shrunk. He could actually see abs!
There was one more thing, an hysterical thought in a morning full of hysterical thoughts. He pulled the tire out of the can (It was quite clean, thankfully) and took his position. He considered. Things altered within him and he felt a tug in his chest. When he was done, Bob felt better than he could ever remember feeling. In the toilet, half floating on the water, was a pile of gray ash. He was so glad to be rid of it. It had dogged him for years, and he’d never fully known its weight until he was free of it. He flushed away his loneliness.
He jumped when the phone in the bedroom rang. It had been so long he’d forgotten the sound. Bob wiped fast and ran to answer it.