In the Shower
Bill was in the shower. This time of the morning was his scheduled time and it was also his favourite time of the day. There, in his tiled palace, he was able to completely relax. Only here did he have the space to dream his dreams of travelling to far away places and meeting interesting new people.
He imagined his wife and their grown children packing their bags and flying to India or Thailand or somewhere else with exotic food. Bill loved food almost as much as he loved his shower. His daydreams of thick curries and pickles that bit him back so delighted and entranced Bill that he failed to notice when someone switched the light on in the room. He had barely opened his eyes and returned from his imaginary supper in Mumbai when the curtain was pulled back and the screaming began.
Bill stepped back, unsure of what he’d done to cause this strange woman to scream, and tried to introduce himself. ‘Hello there, miss! Sorry to have startled you, I’m Dave’s roommate. My wife is just next door and…’ Before Bill could finish his sentence the woman hit him with such force that he saw stars. She then turned on the water and sprayed him directly in the face. Bill tried to get away, but in the process, his legs gave out from under him and he slid clumsily to the bottom of the tub.
The stranger, still screaming at the pitch of a whistle, called out to Dave. ‘Dave, get in here! Dave!’
Bill was relieved when he saw Dave come through the door. ‘Morning Dave, there seems to be a bit of a misunderstanding. You see; it’s my time in the shower…” Bill was panting, trying to finish his excuses, trying not to fall victim to the drain’s mouth, which was very close and thirstily guzzling gallons of water. ‘I think you must have forgotten to explain this to your guest.’ Bill smiled up at Dave expecting him to help him up. He was sure they’d all laugh about this later.
Dave looked down at Bill disgustedly and without recognition. He shooed his female guest, still wailing like a siren, into the hall. Bill had managed to just gain purchase on a dry bit of the basin and catch his breath when Dave’s giant hand came down and crushed him beneath it.
Two of his legs snapped first. He heard them go before he felt them and the sound made the pain that much worse when it finally did arrive. With his other 6 legs, Bill tried to escape under a raised bit of Dave’s palm, but Dave pressed down harder and closed the gap. Bill felt the rest of his legs splinter into pieces. He opened his mouth to cry out, but he made no sound. His body was completely gone. Left behind, engulfed in pain like fire, but Bill was in the water so he thought that there could not be fire. Then all at once there was no more pain and there was no more thought and there was no more Bill.
Marjorie awoke to the sound of a woman screaming and jumped out of bed. She called out to her husband, “Bill, Bill where are you?” She checked the time and noted that Bill was usually out of the shower by now, so she was confident that the screaming, although it was coming from that area of the house, was nothing to do with him.
Once all the commotion had settled down and she’d had her breakfast, she checked the time again. It wasn’t like Bill to be so late, she thought to herself. She decided to go and see what was keeping her husband. She knew that on the odd occasion Bill could get very lost in his thoughts. She smiled to herself remembering the last time he was late. He’d planned them a whole itinerary for Vietnam and Laos in his head. “My little old fool,” she smiled and muttered to herself before entering the bathroom.
“Silly Billy, you’ve been in here half the day. You’ll start to prune up!” There was no response. “Bill, come on now, we’ve got to go visit the kids in an hour.” Something didn’t feel right. Marjorie checked every corner of the room for a web, but there was nothing. She checked in all his usual spots – behind the toilet, next to the radiator, under the lid of the hamper. Her husband was nowhere.
Finally Marjorie clambered up to the top of the bathtub and peered over the edge. Her blood turned to ice when she spotted what looked like a leg poking out of the drain. She crept closer to the lone appendage and her breath nearly choked her. “Bill?” With every step; the reality of her situation became clearer.
She pulled gently on the leg to see if it was attached to anything and it came off in her grip. She knew it was Bill’s, the same way she knew now they’d never go to Vietnam or Laos or see the Taj Mahal and all of that knowing was too much. She began to sob. Great waves of grief crested and thrashed inside her and she found she could not ride them or control them; she was sure they would destroy her.
She clutched her husband’s amputated leg in her arms and rocked it to sleep. She petted it; she cooed at it, she even licked it once trying to remember everything that was once Bill, but was no more. She stayed in the tub with Bill’s leg for hours trying to get closer to it and to make it the whole of him again.
Marjorie had no idea how much time had passed when the room became white. Her eyes stung with the salt of her tears and for a moment, she thought she’d gone blind. After blinking a few times, her eyes adjusted and she realised that her sight was fine and that it was just her roommate, Dave, coming into the bathroom.
Breathing a small sigh of relief she hoped she might now get some answers. “Dave, have you seen what’s happened to Bill?” Marjorie held out her husband’s leg like a dead infant “Is this what the screaming was? Was there a terrible accident?” Marjorie looked up pleadingly, into Dave’s face, searching for an explanation.
Dave threw his hands in the air and shouted, “for fuck’s sake!” Before he reached down into the tub and mashed Marjorie’s body, still holding Bill’s abandoned limb, to pulp beneath his thumb.
more by LEE ANNE HILL
photograph by Tertia Van