“You guys, I need your help,” I lied. I simply wanted to make them both jealous and envious of the enviable position I found myself in. I had a piece of paper and a pen poised. “I need to decide which chick to go out with.” I tapped the pen on my teeth. “Carol or the other one?” I asked.
I looked up. Paula was walking slowly to her counter and Enrique was staring at me. “I’ll do it in a minute,” I told him. God-damn slave-driver. I’d blocked the toilet in the toilet and Enrique was angry about this. Really angry. Crazy angry with no perspective. First world problems, eh? “Your problem is you’ve come over here from a Third World country and you’ve got too used to flushing toilets and water, think about where you grew up and now think about what you’re moaning about.” I laughed dismissively and looked back at the piece of paper which I’d formatted like a darts score board. Two titles at the top and a line down the middle.
“Looks,” I said again tapping my teeth and gazing out of the window. I could feel Enrique’s glare burning into the side of my head and I ignored it. A lot of people say looks aren’t important but honestly, to me, looks aren’t that important. Having said that and given a choice then, yeah, of course better looking is better. That’s why it’s called, better.
Carol looked like a Toby Jug, certainly compared to the mad one. “I think the mad one’s better,” I said and with a flourish I put a 1 under her description, for I didn’t know her name, and a 0 under Carol’s name. I’d planned at least ten categories but I couldn’t think of another one, not off the top of my head.
My eyes darted around the shop looking for inspiration and by accident they met Enrique’s face. He had his hands on his hips and was staring. “Fine!” I sighed and slammed the pen down to demonstrate that he had ruined the one fun thing I intended to do. “I’m probably going to leave next week,” I told him, then I sighed again. I wrote a resignation note and thrust it at him. I placed it on his chest as I stomped past him. Enrique he had to move, to let me past, so I could get down the aisle to the toilet. He moved out the way with his hands on his hips The note fell to the floor. “Thank you!” I said.
“Good thank chu!” He said nodding vigorously. What a jerk. I mumbled stuff about living in slum, tin shed, one room, drinking piss, eating rats and now he thinks he’s a king. That was the theme of my mumbles. To show I wasn’t a complete slave I turned back and headed to the counter. I again walked too close to Enrique.
“Excuse me!” I said to show he was getting in my way and hampering me doing the thing he wanted me to do. He should make up his mind, did he want me to do it or not? Blocking my way suggested he didn’t but I was going to do it anyway. I got to the counter and put the paper and pen under the counter as violently as I could and then I headed to the toilet. It might have gone, I thought optimistically before I opened the door.
Fuck, it hasn’t gone down, I thought as I stared at the bowl.
It had crossed my mind that tipping the berries down the toilet might not be a brilliant idea but part of me also thought that tipping the berries down the toilet was a brilliant idea. Nine times out of ten when I think something really bad will happen it doesn’t. It’s generally when I don’t expect bad things to happen that bad things happen so I was hopeful the berries would just flush away and I wouldn’t have to walk across to the field and tip them over there.
They hadn’t turned into wine and instead had gone white and furry. The tub I’d taken home was in the freezer at home and would stay there until the freezer broke.
As soon as I’d started tipping the berries down the toilet I knew I was in trouble but I didn’t stop. I was committed. I thought the weight of more berries might push the other berries around the U-bend but they didn’t. It just filled up the bowl and then as suddenly as I’d started I’d finished. I mean, there were a handful of berries still in the bucket, clinging to the side for dear life, but the rest were in the toilet and the toilet clearly wasn’t accepting them. I looked at the bucket then after the briefest of pauses I banged the bucket on the seat so that they’d all gone in. I was making the problem worse, I knew that, but I guess I thought at least I’d only have one massive problem rather than a great big one and a tiny one. A handful of berries being a tiny problem compared to the massive fuck-up I’d done to the toilet.
The sides of my torso were tingling and I was breathing shallowly through my nose. This was complete disaster.
I knew that flushing the toilet at this point would almost certainly be a mistake but after a quick look around the small room it was clear there was no other option. The weight of the water might just be the extra encouragement the berries needed to begin their journey. I held my hand on the handle and then pushed it down. Within half a second I knew I’d erred and without waiting to see the water flood over the top of the bowl I turned and left. I walked back to my counter with my eyes closed, I clicked my fingers silently as I heard the bad splashing. The bad splashing seemed to go on and on.
20 minutes after the bad splashing Enrique left his office. As he stepped out his face changed as his brain told him something was different. It didn’t normally splash when he walked and yet incredibly he took another couple of steps before looking down. “De fuck!” He shouted and then did a knees up dance over to me. “Whadefuck?”
“Dunno, but some man came in and used the toilet. Drove a white van but he’s gone now. Why, what’s happened?” I screwed up my nose and tried not to touch it because that’s a give away that you’re lying. Enrique ushered me over to drinks aisle. I mean, I could see the water from where I was but I was pretending I couldn’t and he believed me. “Oh shit!” I said.
Enrique looked at me and then, on tip toes, headed to the toilet door. Enrique must watch too many cartoons because he put his shoulder against the outward opening door when he turned the handle, I guess to hold back the massive wall of water he feared was in there. When he’d opened the door a crack he relaxed and stepped back and then opened the door fully and without saying anything he turned to me. “What is it?” I asked, scratching my nose and looking anywhere but at Enrique.
“Chu do dis?” He asked.
“No, it must ha-“
“He did!” Chimed Paula. I couldn’t see her but Enrique could, he turned to her and nodded. Although I couldn’t see Paula I imagined her leaning on her counter, her head propped up on one hand as she lazily chewed bubble gum.
“Well, I didn’t do it but I’ll clean it up, no big deal,” I said and then for the next 40 minutes I mopped the floor.
I tipped the water down the sink. I thought it was lucky I’d tipped the berries out because otherwise I wouldn’t have a mop bucket. I laughed when I thought of this and thought about telling it to Enrique the next time he came out to check up on me. He was checking up on me. Every five minutes he came out of his office and checked my progress. Dick. Eventually the floor was pretty much dry. I mean, I couldn’t get under the chillers or racks but everything else was dry. “There you go, no big deal,” I said when Enrique came out. Enrique marched to the toilet, his heels clicking on the dryish tiles, opened the door, stepped in and then while looking at me pointed into the bowl. “That’ll go down by itself,” I told him. “Slowly, around the U-bend.” My ability to name the bend seemed to pacify Enrique somewhat. He thinks I’m a skilled plumber, I guessed as he squinted at me. “Seriously,” I said and Enrique responded with a deep growl from his throat. Thirty minutes later he checked again and it hadn’t moved and so I told him to give it another hour. I started a Chick-Checklist. Chicklist. No, Chick-Checklist. An hour later Enrique ruined it.
Fuck, it hasn’t gone down, I thought as I stared at the bowl. It hadn’t gone down a millimetre, it was still right to the brim. I musically exhaled a large breath. I turned to go and find Enrique but he was right behind me. “Coat hanger,” I said. Enrique didn’t understand. “Get me a coat hanger,” I repeated with the authority of a highly trained plumber. “Come on, come on!” I urged. Enrique went in his office and came back with a wooden coat hanger. “The fuck am I going to do with that?”
“A wire one.”
“Oh sorry,” said Enrique and when he went back in his office I felt better. Some order had been restored. I was in charge and got in charger when Enrique didn’t have one.
“Oh, for fucks sake,” I sighed like it was all his fault.”Well, I don’t know,” I said. I was looking at the toilet with my hands on my hips. I was looking at the toilet the way Enrique had been looking at me.
“Get cup and spook it out,” said Enrique.
“Spook it out?”
“Si, spook,” said Enrique making a scooping motion.
“I’m not putting my hand in that.” I said. Enrique clicked off. I turned to Paula and chuckled but she wasn’t looking. He returned with a packet of rubber gloves. “You know, Paula’s probably been ramming tampons down there, it’s her fault.” I looked over at Paula. She was poised exactly as I’d imagined earlier and didn’t react to my quip. “Her abortion might be down there,” I added, pushing the envelope for what is acceptable workplace banter. She turned to me and blew a bubble which popped.
Damn, a big argument could have got me out of it, at least put off the inevitable but she hadn’t bitten and so I used Paula’s cup that Wellington bought her to scoop the berries out of the bowl. The cup had a duck on it. The worst bit was carrying the berries in the bucket out around the back and across the lane and then tipping them over the wall. Twice I had to do that. I was left with some berries in the bowl I couldn’t get with the cup due to angles. I mashed these up with a cucumber and after a few seconds of mashing the toilet burped and bubbled and I’d solved everything like a real life Steve McArmstrong. I flushed the toilet and the bowl cleared. When the cistern filled I flushed again. Perfect.
I washed the bucket and mopped the floor around the toilet again. I wasn’t going to let on but It was quite satisfying. Enrique was actually waiting to check the standard of my work, can you even believe that? “Excuse me!” I said walking past him with my head down so he had to move. I was drying my hands on blue paper towel. “Maybe don’t get so worked up next time?” I said but I smiled to myself as I headed back to my counter. I’d done a great job, he couldn’t say anything and didn’t. I got my stuff out from under the counter and started tapping my teeth with the pen.
I couldn’t think of another category and so threw the paper in the bin. Gonna play it by ear and go out with them both. I was thinking maybe next year loads of berries will grow just across the road where I tipped them. That’ll be handy, although I won’t still be here to benefit, because the people I work with do my head in. It’ll be my leaving gift to Enrique and Paula. A big nearby, handy to get to throcket or thicket or whatever the fuck it’s called, of blackberries.