Samuel walked up the backstair cases as quickly as he could without losing his breath. His office was on the eighth floor and as a rule of practice, Samuel tried to take the stairs at least three days a week. It sucked, but it made up for the late night delivery he and the rest of the team ordered in. He was close with his team, as well as the other engineers in their practice. Even the admin and corner offices were hard working, yet friendly and relatable people. It made coming to work easier. It also helped that Samuel loved what he did.
What he didn’t love was the way the office was set up. With their company having the entire eighth floor to themselves everyone shared the same bathroom. Well, the women – all five of them – used the one women’s room while the rest of the company used the one men’s room. For most of the guys this wasn’t an issue. It was life at work, the same as home. If they had to shit, they went in and assuming a stall was open, they took a shit. They had to piss, same deal. Once Samuel had walked in to find one of his co-workers taking a leak into the last sink on the left, the broken sink. “What difference did it make if it was already broke,” Theo had chuckled more to himself than to Samuel as he exited the restroom without washing his hands.
Samuel was not like most people in that regard. He couldn’t just go anywhere. He needed to have privacy. He needed to be alone. It was hard enough for him to pee in his own place when he had guests over, even with the door closed. It was his quirk. The same one he’d had since being a small kid. There was nothing he couldn’t do or wouldn’t try – he had even fucked one of of his co-workers on her last day with the company on the staircase between the rough and the twelfth floor. It was just “bathroom stuff” as his mom used to tell his teachers. He would cringe knowing what she was telling them on the first day of school, as they both looked over in his direction. The look on his mother’s face never changed, it was always sympathetic and kind. Overly nurturing. Alone, it made him sick. With the sappy, patronizing look from his teachers it had pulled his skin across his bones, forming goosebumps of shame up and down his arms. Another quirk he supposed, goosebumps from shame or any other flush of emotion. Goosebumps he could handle. “Bathroom stuff” was another sport altogether.
Samuel couldn’t breath. He already had to pee and he wasn’t even passed the third floor. There was a small change that he was going to have to shit as well. It was too early for this. He knew he should have just sucked it up and been late for work. The dog wouldn’t corporate, there was traffic, anything would have been better to just be at home. The gurgle of Samuel’s stomach echoed throughout the staircase. There was going to be no time. Hoping off at the next floor, the third floor it seemed, Samuel barrelled through the heavy steel door. The regular lights were off. Only the ever-on side lights lined the ceiling. Samuel looked around. A little further down the hall there was a sign for the restrooms. Believing he was most likely alone, he bolted toward the bathroom.
The automatic lights didn’t click on when he walked in, Samuel reached around for a light switch. Flipping it up the lights began to flicker. With enough light to see where he was going Samuel beelined for the first stall. Scientists said it was the cleanest one by way of being the least used. The third stall, being the most popular, was likely to be the dirtiest.
After fumbling around with his pants buttons, Samuel definitely had to shit, he was able to get his pants unattached and down. He had just enough time to adjust his seated position before this stomach erupted. Samuel looked at his watch. He had just enough time to shit, wash his hands, and take the elevator up to the eighth floor to make it to his weekly check-in meeting on time. For the next few weeks Samuel made a stop to the third floor bathroom. It allowed him to take care of business, while also not being late to morning meetings.
Samuel had forgotten it was a holiday weekend – less people, less cars, less traffic. Reaching his stall, he proceeded with what had become his morning routine. Samuel checked his watch, he still had time to make it to his team’s morning check-in meeting, even without rushing. Samuel took his time and finished up. Out of habit, he gave a courtesy flush though he doubted anyone would be coming in here anytime soon. Samuel exited the stall and washed his hands. Looking at himself in the mirror, he made sure he didn’t have any leftover poppy seeds or pieces of egg in his teeth. As always, the bathroom lights had fully turned on as he shut the water and began drying his hands. Knowing he had time to, Samuel began looking around the bathroom.
It was more dated than the bathrooms on the first and eighth floors. The first had been redone most recently to impressive clients coming into the building. They had finished construction a week or two before Samuel had applied for his current job. Occasionally, he would use that restroom to pee if he was leaving late and could expect traffic delays. The tiles on the floor were older and cracked. The doors needed a fresh coat of paint and to be reset on the hinges. The lights were obviously in need of attention as well. Samuel wondered for the first time about the supplies in the bathroom – did someone replace them regularly? Or when he had used the last of them was that it? Samuel shuddered and for a second wondered the last time the bathroom had been cleaned. Shaking his head he knocked the thought out before he ruined his own bathroom heaven.
Taking a deep breath in, Samuel began to choke. He settled himself and began taking small sniffs of the air. Like a dog he followed a foul smell with the turn of his head. It was coming from the stalls toward the back of the bathroom. Maybe someone else had found this bathroom haven? Perhaps Samuel had interfered with their schedule. It was unlikely, that even if there was another person using this facility that Samuel had disturbed them, there was never any evidence of another person. Samuel laughed at himself for being ridiculous. Turning around, Samuel headed back toward the door. Shutting off the lights, he left the bathroom and took the elevator up the rest of the way to his office.
Samuel had been planning on skipping his third floor stop the next day. Of course, the shits are what happens when a day has already been planned out. Making an emergency stop, Samuel returned to the third floor restroom. This time the foul smell trickled into his nose past his own smell before he left the stall. Samuel dry heaved once. Forcing himself to quickly finish up he exited the building and washed his hands. Today he would follow the smell. He would check the stalls. It could have been a dead rat or even a squirrel that had somehow made its way into the bathroom and died before it made its way out.
Samuel pushed open the doors of the five stalls immediately after his. Looking ahead there were only two stalls left. It’s always the last stall, Samuel laughed to himself. This wasn’t a horror movie, it was a bathroom on the third floor of a populated office building. Skipping ahead Samuel nudged open the door to the last stall. He wasn’t expecting anything to be there, but just in case. Samuel exhaled when there was nothing there. He was being ridiculous. Kicking open the last stall Samuel waved at the body sitting on the stall as he made his way toward the exit.
Four doors down, he stopped dead in his tracks. He had just waved to someone. In a stall. A wave of nausea turned in Samuel’s stomach as he turned around to face the back of the bathroom. The smell had gotten exponentially worse as he got closer to the second to last stall. Pushing open the door with great care, Samuel’s eyes took in two boots, a pair of rusty brown work pants, and a shirt covered in dirt and several large almost moldy, rusted brown spots. Dried blood was caked on to a face that was purple and swollen beyond recognition. If Samuel didn’t move quickly, the gentlemen was about to be covered in throw up as well. Running out of the bathroom, passed the sinks, leaving the lights on, Samuel flew through the door and hoping in to the elevator. Bursting into his office he told the receptionist to call 911. “There was a dead man,” he repeated over and over.
Co-workers flew out from their offices at the commotion. His team members, some of which he called friends, flocked to his side. Samuel was so worked up he barely recognized the familiar people around him. Joe was by his side, he had thought he had seen Bart, but he wasn’t around anymore. In a panic he told them what he had seen in as much detail as he could get out without vomiting again. The police arrived within fifteen minutes. Walking Samuel back to the third floor bathroom, he explained his story again to the police. He did as he was instructed and waited outside the bathroom with an officer while two detectives entered the room. Before Samuel could fully understand what was happening he was being turned around, cuffs violently thrown on him. His team watched as he was being escorted back into the elevators and taken out of the building.
Joe shook his head as he went back into the office. “Shame, huh,” he asked Bart. “Yeah, real shame,” Bart said slowly in response, “can’t believe he would make something like that up,” he added. “He must’ve snapped man,” Joe said as he sat back down at his desk. “Maybe he was working too hard,” Bart laughed. Joe felt bad to laugh, but appreciated Bart’s poor sense of humor for the lightening of the mood. “Wonder what he was doing in that bathroom anyway,” Joe added as an afterthought, “that floor has been closed for at least two years. “Better not to find out,” Bart added in a somber tone, “better for everyone if people would stop going in there at all.”