April, 2015. The Boston Marathon. On Bob’s race day it was 40 degrees and raining with meaty gusts of wind. I could end this horror story right here, couldn’t I? I mean, imagine: Running twenty-six point something miles drenched and cold and getting buffeted by wind.
By the time you’re running the Boston though, you’ve experienced all the running horrors. You’re practically bionic. Rain. What rain? You’re no longer surprised by little things like plantar fasciitis, bleeding nipples, or stress fractures. You’ve blown through dozens of pairs of sneakers and know your pace intuitively, hardly needing that fabulous watch that knows more about you than your physician does. At the end of the race, you expect to be down a long-sleeved shirt when you tear it off and throw it from you at mile # I’m-too-hot. You expect to be down 3000 calories. And you expect to be down a toenail or two. Bob was temporarily blind after his first marathon. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? Horror story complete. And Bob says I’m the scary one.
Veteran runners know how important it is to do two things before a race: stretch thoroughly and go to the bathroom. Thoroughly. That’s why they have obscene numbers of port-o-johns at every race. Dump your ballast and all that.
We pick up this MTO Horror with Bob, running the Boston marathon, getting the urge that hits many a runner.
Ahead was a row of port-o-johns, all with lines three to four runners deep. Bob deflated. His race time would be seriously impacted by a wait like that. He imagined all the people who would ask him about his pace in the Boston marathon. He’d have to explain every time about how he had to wait for the john or else it would be x much faster. Not cool.
He could almost hear angels singing hallelujah when he spotted, in a dingy wood behind the johns, the familiar blue color of a lone port-o-john. On the plastic door a spray-painted skull and crossbones warned of badness, and the structure listed to the side, slightly submerged in a puddle. But how bad could it be?
Bob dashed behind the official johns, ignoring the stares of green-looking runners in various stages of intestinal agony, with legs crossed and cheeks pursed. Why somebody had a port-o-john in their backyard was anyone’s guess, but Bob wasn’t about to question serendipity. The NO TRESPASSING sign put a stab of guilt in his gut, but that made his need all the more urgent, ratcheting things up to a full-fledged colonic emergency. Surely the property owner would understand.
As Bob made his way through the yard, his sneakers squished in brackish puddles. Icy water soaked into his shoes, seemingly through the bottoms of his soles, but no. They were rubber. He shook it off. Once he started running again, he’d not feel a thing. Just had to take care of this one crucial piece of…business.
The moment he closed the plastic door, Bob knew why this port-o-john had been set apart from the others. Judging by the stench and carnage on the walls, he’d just stepped into a large intestine. Someone had placed an explosive device down there, and it brought all of it out. A port-o-john enema.
From the hole came a phlegmy gurgling, like the rattle of breath. Was that a race number crumbled up and tossed into the water? Was that a sneaker? What was that whitish twig thing still inside the sneaker? The port-o-john quaked, agitating the water, changing it from black to blood red. Terrible things appeared on the inky surface: tufts of hair, bones, clothing, organs, GPS watches.
There is an idiom about being scared and how it renders a bathroom moot. If Bob had asked for an ending as horrible as things can get, well, you know how that might look. And smell. But Bob’s my best friend, and I’m not going to do that to him. We continue with Bob staring down certain death…
Bob used his Boston marathon speed to escape that haunted port-o-john, barreling and splashing his way through puddles and mud. Once safe, he slipped into the back of a very long line for the port-o-johns, did what he came to do, and finished the race.
True: Bob ran the Boston Marathon in 2015. He got himself a stress fracture trying to qualify. And plantar fasciitis. And all the rest. I’m weirdly scared of sitting on the seat in port-o-johns and pit toilets. I imagine some horrible thing lives down there in the quag, gobbling excrement and waiting to grab the unsuspecting ones who actually sit on the seat. I know. TMI.
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5 thoughts on “MTO Bob Griffiths”
love it wife!
Glad to save you from a horrible, pit toilet demise, husband! xoxo
“Meaty gusts of wind.” Brilliant.
Also, I actually avoid portajohns because of vague paranoia about what’s down there. I always imagine slimy tentacles reaching up to grab me and pull me down….
Aha! If we were in person, I’d high five you over sharing this very rational fear of port-o-johns. 😉
This is so different from your usual style of writing. I liked it a lot. Very meta, somewhat postmodern, and the breaking of the fourth wall bit is a wonderful touch.