Being the ongoing transcendental prose melodrama of André Katkov, BA, MFA, and Fourth-Order Earthen Pajama Lord
They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but that’s just stuff and nonsense, isn’t it? Anybody who’s dined in Odin’s halls or hummed the bass line for a chorus of spacemaids in the seventh circle of Jorxan 12 knows that sometimes the grass is pink, gold, or a duller, yellowed green. Sometimes it’s not grass at all. Sometimes it’s made of cats or glass or sandwiches.
If you think it sounds like I’m speaking from experience, you’d be half-right, though I feel experience is an awfully generous word for it. That said, yes. I’ve seen my fair share of the Suchdoms. I’ve traveled through space in bootleg spacecans while blasting handcannons from the hip at astral dragons and thrice-dead mummies as the Bubar Nexus collapsed into a nearby sentient sun. But I’m nothing special. No, I’m mortal as they come, and my adventures—if I might be permitted to offer up a somewhat over-exciting term to refer to my many and manifold mishaps—have been more the product of chance, luck (both good and ill), curiosity, and good ol’ fashioned American procrastination.
But I digress. I’m here because I’ve been prompted by some of my best friends and most mortal enemies to jot down my experiences for the benefit of those who have that good and holy ability to learn from the mistakes of others. And though I’d love to recount some of my more classic misadventures, mistake-making is a lifelong venture and I fear it’s all I can do to hurriedly chase after more recent happenings and hope that my life is—at some point—dull enough to allow an interval wherein I can return to my more distant memories and relay them here before my bad brain drops those shards of thought into that unbreachable ether of anti-eternity.
My most recent outing that might be considered noteworthy started with a quick run to a consumer supercenter (which I can’t name here for legal reasons, but it has the word wall and the word mart somewhere in its title, though not necessarily in that order, so puzzle at that if you dare). I’d landed back in Rhode Island, a tiny, tiny state renowned for its smallness, cephalopodish elder creatures, and being really tiny, just the other day and realized I had a dearth of paper towels, which is an unforgivable sin for any sanctum sanctorum caretaker, no matter the size or importance of said sanctum.
The drive itself was fairly uneventful, though I composed this poetic gem in my head on the way:
The road, cold road,
is cold, so cold, and is
a road—o, road! I rode that cold road,
rode that cold Rhode Island road.
Look at that toad on this Rhode Island road
waving his tongue as he talks on the phone
, cold phone, running down the minutes
‘til he has to go home. I check my phone…
no signal, so roam, phone, roam. Like
a free-willed toad on this Rhode Island road.
I grappled with potential titles for a few minutes, but I arrived at the shopping center before I could settle on a title that felt suited to the magnitude of my new work, and perhaps because of that—and not long thereafter—I forgot how the words to the poem itself, and to this day have been unable to remember its sweetly musical combination of nouns and verbs. These are the tragedies of the troubadour. Verily, these moments are the crystalline melodies that lay down rails upon which the poet’s tears flow!
In my artistic distress, my soul quivered like the bestial inner-being of a cornered crow, wounded and at death’s edge, and—not unlike any other foul in such dire straits—I developed a fierce and whelming need to urinate.
Quick as I could, I rushed into the store, hustled past a stand of some straight-to-DVD Mark Wahlberg movies, and blundered into the restroom proper. And here—dear reader—is where the adventure began in earnest.
The restroom, praise good dead Baldur, was vacant, save for some devilish gurgling in the far stall upon which I shall not here dwell. I hobbled up to the second urinal from the left, readied myself for the act, and let that warm golden current flow. Though I am prone to exaggeration, know you now that I tell no lies when I say that I stood there peeing for thirty-eight seconds straight. It was as though some faraway force hungered for my inner heat, longed to drain me of every drop of liquid warmth. When the urine ceased to flow, and pajamas were back in proper order, I turned, ready to approach the sink and wash mine hands, but lo! A voice called out, and to me thus spoke:
“I’ve awaited long for one such as you, my friend!”
I turned back, but there was nobody to be seen, save for the urinals and the being in the far stall which I shall proceed to omit from this narrative. In my confusion and distant fear, I spoke out to identify the source of my would-be partner in conversation, rallying years of sharpened writerly skills and conversational expertise to dance upon my tongue.
“Ahhh, what was… who?”
“Cast your gaze downward, goodly sir, whereupon your urine recently did flow.”
Obediently, I looked down upon the urinal and in my heart I knew that here was the source of verbal expression that had briefly eluded me.
“You’re a urinal,” I remarked.
“Yes, and in recognizing that,” the urinal proclaimed proudly, “you have passed the first test.”
“The first… the first test? I did that?” I asked.
“Did I not just so say?” the urinal replied.
“I… what?” I asked wisely.
“Yes,” the urinal replied quietly. “You passed the test.”
“That sounds good,” I said, smiling a little. My spirit, still downcast from its recent loss of poetry, took heart at the urinal’s proclamation of some small success.
“It is indeed,” the urinal gurgled. “You are the one we’ve been waiting for.”
“You’ve been waiting for me?” I asked, incredulous. “You’ve made a mistake, dude.”
“No,” the urinal said solemnly, and though eyes it had not, I knew it was peering into the very depths of my being. “Middling intelligence… pajamas… beard… a knack for self-deprecating humor… well-maintained rotundity… yes. You are the one.”
“Well, uh…” I said, frowning slightly at my so-called rotundity, “thanks… I guess.”
“But as a formality,” the urinal pressed on, “there are a few additional tests that must be conducted to verify your identity. Flush mine handle thrice and say, ‘Beetle, beetle, made of snow, show me where the pee-pee flows!’”
“Um,” I started, glancing nervously at the door, “I’d really like to, but I have to get some paper towels for tonight so… I’ve got to… um… there’s a Mark Wahlberg DVD out there with my name on it, and—”
“Flush mine handle thrice and say the words,” the urinal commanded. I jumped sheepishly and did as I was commanded.
“Beetle, beetle, made of snow,” I intoned, “show me where the pee-pee flows.” And even as that last sibilant slid from my tongue, good reader, the walls of the restroom didst melt away and the floor, of questionable cleanliness, evaporated into a fine mist that hovered over grass that would make any golf course gardener gape in wonder (and, I’ll admit, it was indeed greener than any grass I’d theretofore seen)! In place of the walls stretched a forest of gnarled, blackened trees, and upon one such tree our friend, the urinal, did sturdily hang. On either side of him stood giant marshmallows with beady black eyes and long, thin emotionless mouths that could only be rendered by pen upon paper by the most unskilled of three-year-olds. They had thin wiry metal arms and stood upon legs of the same. I glanced at horror at one, and then at the other, and then—using my peripherals, in horror I beheld them both at once.
The urinal, acknowledging my fear, laughed evilly and shook his tree just, splashing bits of water here and there, including one of the marshmallows toes (the puffy thing, I noticed, frowned slightly, though let it be known that he made a valiant attempt to mask his disgust).
“You have fallen for my ruse,” the urinal declared. “And now… you die.”
And though it is an uncommonly strange place to leave you, the hour grows sevenish, and there is leftover pizza I needs must microwave and cola I must guzzle as the gods guzzle… mead, I suppose, so leave you I must, dear reader. But take heart, dear reader, for next week we’ll return to this horrible tale and see whether I best this toilety fiend and his campfire friends or if… heavens forbid… I die!