Jan loses his phone in the toilet, and I’m the one perving around the boys’ restroom like some kind of cockstalker.
When did my life become its own parody?
One of the urinals is being used by an older kid who’s apparently checking his Facebook on his phone while taking a very casual piss. Of the four stalls, three appear to be in use. Depending on whether or not Jan was taking a dump at the time of droppage, and assuming no one’s doubling up (don’t ask, don’t tell), that equals three, possibly four people more than I’d like to have to deal with under the circumstances. My instinct is to wait until the urinal boy finishes before I start poking around, but what if, in that time, another boy comes in? What if two more come in? What if Typhoid Mary’s zombified corpse has broken quarantine, and has been slinging Boca Linda lunches for the past few weeks—leading to a massive influx of sickened teenagers all converging on this very spot within the next thirty seconds?
I force my legs into motion, walking over to the urinals. The other boy is using the one on the far right. I take up post beside him, unzipping my jeans and presenting my junk to the porcelain. As casually as possible, I tilt my head to the left, spying empty, phone-free urinals. Facing forward again, I take a deep breath, psyching myself up for what’s coming next. Just a quick, incidental peek into the urinal on my right to check for my friend’s lost phone. It has nothing to do with high school dick, which is the last thing on my mind. In fact, it’s not on my mind at all until that fateful instant during which I make the glimpse, and simultaneously realize the following: I’m looking at another dude’s grasped wang; said dude is now looking at me; all is for naught, because Jan’s phone isn’t in the urinal. Of course it isn’t. Why would anyone just piss on someone’s phone? Unless that’s the new gallon-smashing?
I face forward again and wait for the boy to leave. The instant he’s out the door (and likely taking to his friends a twisted tale of being ogled by someone’s curious younger brother), I tuck, zip, flush, and turn my attention to the stalls. The open one is clear—no phone. That would be too easy. As for the other three, it occurs to me all I have to do is check which one isn’t currently occupied, thereby confirming the likelihood that’s the one Jan had been using.
Dropping onto my hands and knees, I peer under the stall doors—at just about the exact same moment two more boys decide to enter the restroom. With cockroach-like reflexes, I scurry into the third-from-left stall, which is empty, and freeze in place, listening, waiting, hoping to God no one saw me. Jeans are unzipped; the sound of urine trickling echoes against the tiled walls; in the stall beside mine, someone’s ass puffs the word “bouffant!” during a bowel movement.
Unsure if I’m doing so to complete my mission or to puke, I grab the rim of the toilet bowl and haul myself up for a look inside. Lo and behold, Jan’s phone is floating face-down in the water.
More boys enter the restroom.
More urine is expelled.
More turds are dispensed.
All the while, I’m gazing at Jan’s phone, spirit willing, but flesh all kinds of weak. I will say this about Boca Linda: the toilets are clean. But they’re still toilets—and with all the pissing and shitting going on around me, I’m reminded that people’s excrement has heretofore marinated the inside of the bowl before me. I feel like Willie in the bug tunnel scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. To save the day, all she had to do was pull a lever crawling with insects galore. This toilet is my lever. Any minute now, Jan’s gnarled fist is going to explode at me from the depths of the bowl, followed by a murky exclamation: “Do it now!”
I’m really, seriously considering just up and walking away, making up some lie about the phone not being here. Phones get stolen all the time—why not from the bottom of toilet bowls?
I go so far as to turn around and grab the stall door handle. But then I stop, gritting my teeth, feeling a sudden surge of determination. Jan’s lost his parents, his apartment, and his bytes. The least I can do is dig around in a little poop water on his behalf. Besides, I’ve witnessed a wang that wasn’t my own, I’ve got piss stains on my knees and restroom musk in my hair—it’s not going to be for nothing!
I face the toilet again, bend over, squeeze my eyes shut, and reach into the bowl, fishing around momentarily before grabbing Jan’s phone and hauling it out. Holding it between thumb and forefinger, I fumble for the door handle and flail out of the stall, making a beeline for the nearest sink. I toss the phone in and blast the faucet.
As I’m scrubbing up to my forearms with hand soap, Jan’s friend Mark walks in. He stops when he sees me. “Hey, Theo.”
“Hey,” I reply.
He snickers knowingly. “Dropped your phone in the toilet, huh?”
I want to lie, or at least make up something witty. “Uh-huh.”
Mark heads over to the nearest urinal, takes a nonchalant leak while he goes on to say, “First-world problems. Phones spend as much time on the ground or in the toilet as they do in our pockets. When you get home, take the battery out and swab the thing with some high-concentration rubbing alcohol, then let it dry. You did take the battery out, right?”
“Of course,” I start to say—
—as Jan’s phone rings.
Calmly and quietly, I turn off the faucet, pick up the phone. I ignore the call with an annoyed tap of my finger. “I’m going to leave now,” I tell Mark.
“Your secret’s safe with me,” he chuckles as I exit the boys’ room—
—and run right into Thrill-Kill.
“Mr. Smole,” she says, folding her arms and frowning. “In my office. Now.”