Shit Happens Flash Fiction


Shit Happens!
Bistro 24

Pain in the joints so bad I decide to get in the bath and soak in hot water. I run the water, test the blend of hot and cold, if baby turns red, I remember, don’t insert elbow in bath, water too hot for elbow.

Bath water bubbles in. I set the fan for steam extraction. Test the water. Seems fine.

High the step into the bath and I cannot raise the right leg high enough. The left leg is worse. I lay flat along the bath edge, naked, of course, and think: “How do I get in?”

The left leg will not rise. I stand on tiptoe, pushing up from the right leg’s toes: cramp, shit! I slide back down, swivel, and my belly is cold against the bath’s edge.

I refuse to give in. I try again. I raise the left leg, ouch, cramp in the right toes, and slide the left leg over the bath’s edge. I slide weight to the left, raise the right leg and slip into the bath, on my knees, face down.

I grab the sides of the bath, flip myself over, and victory: I am on my back in warm water, feeling the comfort of the whirlpool’s heat seep into my bones.

Exercises: I raise my legs and move ankles, then do the windshield wiper, left right. I feel immediate benefits in hips. Then comes the slow military march, legs slightly raised against bath end, left, right, left.

Raise both hips now, then gyrate them, left to right, twenty times, and reverse. Now up and down, raising them in a familiar though nearly forgotten motion.

Twenty minutes, they say, or else you may suffer. So I call my wife and she runs upstairs and turns off the motor. The whirlpool ceases.

Now I must get out. I have a funny feeling that something is wrong. My wife pulls the plug and water drains from the bath. The last thing I want is to lie face down in an inch or two of water and drown.

I roll to the left and slip on the bath’s bottom. I roll to the right and slide again. I grasp the handle on the left … it comes out in my hand. With nothing to grasp, I can’t sit up. So I lie there with the water draining away.

I start to panic. Mustn’t panic. I’m in pain. Not that much pain. I must fight. I can’t give in. Again I try to turn over … and again.

Tears. Sweat. I get cramp in the toes, and in the lower legs, where I push against the bath’s end. Panic now and a tightness in my chest with bile edging up in my throat to choke me. I half-turn but fall again and bang my head. Don’t struggle. Don’t panic. Think.

I ask for the towel and my wife slips it under my feet. No good: my hips still slide. I need to pee. Hang on. I can’t hang on. I tighten my stomach muscles involuntarily and urine spurts. My wife slides the towel under my knees: I get more grip but my arms won’t hold. I slip and squeeze. Oh no: my bowels are turning to water. I groan and hope but I can’t hold on and bath and body are soiled. But I have rolled over and now I lie face down, in push up position, humiliated, soiled, tears streaming down my face, breathing above the absent water.

My wife goes downstairs to get the garden kneeler. It won’t fit in the bath. I experiment with my walking stick, but it’s no good, it slips and just won’t hold. Naked, shrunken, smelling like I don’t know what, I can’t face calling the neighbors or the fire department.

My wife kneels beside me. Together we haul the now wet towel beneath my torso and finally I gain a dry base on the slippery bath; no sliding now. I curse as my wife sinks sharp fingers into my fragile flesh and helps me to rise. Together we force me into a kneeling position. From here I can empower my arms and push myself up.

It has taken me twenty-five minutes to get out of that bath. I stink and I am no longer clean. Dipped in my own excrement, I hobble to the shower in the other bathroom and hose myself down.

18 thoughts on “Shit Happens Flash Fiction

  1. Laughter is the best medicine … much better than threats and beatings, as I said in the previous comment. If they are treated with kindness and humor, these unfortunate lapses can be overcome much more easily. After all, they are scarcely deliberate. So pleased you saw the funny side of it … I am reminded of Don Quixote, holding his nose: “Sancho, hast thou done something that nobody else can do for you?”

    Liked by 1 person

      • I spent eight weeks last summer (2015) undergoing radiation treatment for cancer and stayed (weekdays, home for the weekends) in a hospice with a group of fellow sufferers. I learned so much from that experience. Above all, I learned that sharing the good and the bad experiences humanized them and we all helped each other and took into account the frailty of our shared human condition.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Roger,

    I hope you imagined most of this. You did say “fiction.” Makes me feel like I could somehow help.

    I have been out of touch all summer as I’ve been busy completing the building of Gwen’s new house, working seven days per week and long hours. But the work seems to have improved my health – except for the pee bag on my leg.

    Tell me your “Shit Happens” story is pure fiction.


    Liked by 2 people

    • Pure fiction, Victor … in places … totally true … in others … I’ll never tell … but I’ll give you hell if you start sniffing next time you see me … good to see you back … give Gwen my regards too … and drop in any time … either or both …


  3. Oh the loss of dignity is the most heartbreaking thing… for the elderly, for the infirm. Something that should be so simple becomes such a struggle. Reminds me of what my dad faced at the end of his life. A vivid portrayal, Roger. Hope you’re having a good day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Meg: unfortunately these things do happen and I witnessed some at first hand when I was in the hospice last summer … it’s how we face up to them that counts … and also how we are treated … with understanding, respect, and love … or … as I discovered in boarding school when I was a child … with curses, threats, a bamboo cane … and utterly degrading humiliation in front of the other boys …


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