Author’s Note

While writing this work of fiction, I pictured Tom Cruise as the protagonist ‘Jack,’ mostly because there is a part in the story where the character of Jack flashes an awkward and uncomfortably toothy grin at Lana. Tom’s odd three front toofus smile would just work great in that scene (Once you notice that he has THREE front buck teeth on top, you will NEVER be able to un-notice them.) In the role of The Conductor, I visualized the guy who plays ‘The Mountain’ on Game of Thrones for reasons which will become obvious. Finally, if I had my druthers, Eric the midget from The Howard Stern Show would play the story’s main antagonist (you’ll realize why that’s a great casting choice as you read the story.) As action thrillers are their area of expertise and my subject matter is what their films strive to be, who better than Michael Bay to direct and Jerry Bruckheimer to produce should my tale be made into film? But that’s the great thing about fiction, your mind can put anyone into any role it wants, so I’ll leave these choices to you, dear reader.

This story came about as the events in the beginning of it unfolded in my own life one day this past week. I wrote most of this story on my Android phone while riding the Pace bus and Red Line train to work. As is always the case, I don’t write anything unless I laugh at it first, and the thought of an audience sitting on the edge of their seat, biting their nails in anticipation of what’s to come next, all under the awning of THIS subject matter, made me titter like a 7-year-old (which, in turn, made me look like a lunatic to my fellow commuters.) However, who could spin such a yarn as this, who is not familiar with a little humiliation? That being said, I would like to thank you for joining me on this journey and I welcome you to my first fiction thriller:

 

The Shuffle

A gripping tale of suspense inspired by actual events.

Dedicated to Katie, who holds me firmly in her embrace and pushes me further into life every day.

 

Written by: Michael Allen Hempen

Edited by: Katie Hoffman

Brought to you by: Cous’n Hemp’n Entertainment

“Cous’n Hemp’n Entertainment: Blaming the dog for that smell for 40 years!”

 

Part 1: The Sabbatical Not Taken

Jack never saw the fog roll in; it just hung in the air as if on a coat rack in a dark saloon. A chill accompanied the fog, yet he kept his window down to enjoy the damp morning air while he drank his coffee and waited for the bus. Robin Quivers read the morning news on the radio, and Jack smiled at the absurd light cast on both trivial and serious news stories on The Howard Stern Show. It was 6:19 A.M., one minute to go.

Jack’s morning ritual began at 4:15 A.M. His alarm clock would roar a trumpet blast that could wake the dead, which is exactly how he slept. Jack would, more often than not, wake from his frightened 80-pound dog jumping three feet vertically from the foot of the bed and landing on his crotch, than from the fog horn-like discharge of the alarm, and I don’t know about you? But 80 pounds behind a clawed paw using your scrote as a landing pad will get your humble narrator out of bed every time.

Then it was time to take Chuff for out a morning lawn cigar while the coffee brewed. On this particular morning Jack stretched wide and yawned loudly as he contemplated the day ahead of him. Soon he’d be at the office in his cubicle, sandwiched between a woman who could not mind her own business and a woman who announced too much of her business, the two feeding off each other’s need to talk like leeches. His misery would fester throughout the day as he tried to ignore them both and decide which TV dinner he would eat while watching which reality show on TV. At least these thoughts of lonely contemplation made his day go by faster. Soon, he thought, he would have to put his… A sharp and nose-curdling odor broke his train of thought. Jack looked down to see his pet bloodhound Chuff folded into a near ball with her head pointing up to the still dark morning sky, neck muscles straining as she pushed out a steamy duke that smelled like the day to come…shitty.

Next in his morning ritual was drowning his sleepiness with a pot of coffee while checking his email and the weather forecast. No email of consequence, and a cloudy day without any rain in sight. Good, no need to lug his umbrella to work.

Finishing his coffee and giving Chuff a hug while avoiding her jowly slobber, Jack then checked his pocket—keys, work lanyard, CTA pass—check. “What am I forgetting?” he thought to himself. “Hmmmm…” he contemplated for a moment, “Fuck it.” And out the door he went, it was 6:00 A.M.

Jack drove himself to the bus stop and arrived at 6:10. At 6:20 he’d get out of his car and walk to catch the 6:25 381 Pace bus. At 7:20, the bus would drop him off at the train station, where if he ran, he’d just catch the 7:22 train getting him to the office with five minutes to spare, at 8:25.

Jack had a soulless corporate job working for a medical supply company. His boss was quick and decisive, which he liked, but his co-workers could play on his nerves like a cocaine-addled harpsichordist. He’d only been with the company three months and took pride in the fact that, as far away as he had to travel to get into the city, he’d never once been late. The company hired 44 people on the same day as Jack, and so far he was the only one with a perfect attendance record. Some of the drones who worked with him and lived mere blocks away had already been fired for being tardy on multiple occasions. Seen as ‘reliable’ by his bosses, and a ‘kiss ass’ by his peers, there were already whispers of a promotion. Hey, getting ahead isn’t a popularity contest.

Thoughts of the money and possible transfer to an office closer to home filled Jacks head as the clock in his car changed to 6:20. He begrudgingly turned off The Howard Stern Show, grabbed his shoulder bag, and walked through the fog towards the bus stop. On his way there, at 6:22 A.M., on that foggy Tuesday morning, Jack was suddenly and shockingly reminded, of what he’d forgotten at home…and his life would never be the same.

Part 2: Boiled Hot Dogs

“SHIT!” Jack thought, “I forgot to take a shit!” A sudden pressure hit Jack’s anus from inside like a football player throwing all of his weight into a door. Jack clenched tightly and slowly Frankenstein walked the rest of the way to the bus stop, which was about 20 feet in front of him.

Usually, taking a healthy dump was part of the morning ritual. Jack was regular as clockwork in that department, but the NEED to go always reminded him TO go. On the rare occasion that he didn’t have to go, Jack would just sit on the toilet until something came out. However, this morning there was no urge and, being honest with himself, Jack just completely forgot. And even when THAT had happened in the past, he’d just take a dump at work. Was that the ideal scenario? No, but if you don’t gotta go, you don’t gotta go.

But this? This was an urgent calling from the depths of his bowels. Jack suddenly felt as if there were a softball bat corkscrewed up his lower intestine, being pushed forcefully into his asshole. There was no ‘waiting’ until he got to work; as women have insisted many times, “This baby is coming NOW!”

Even if he made it there, the thought of using the bathroom at work gnawed on Jack’s mental fortitude like a dog with a bone. He hated going in those work bathrooms. Not only was there ALWAYS someone in them, but they smelled of hot dogs, and not the GOOD kind of backyard grilled hotdogs. You know the good ones, they split open and start to char right as the juices spurt from them, their smell making you slaver in anticipation of throwing them on a bun with grilled onions, mustard, and sport peppers… No, these bathrooms smelled like the boiled hot dogs parents cut up and put in their kids Spaghetti-O’s. In a word: nasty.

In his struggle to hold back this colon jumper, Jack was forced to use the up/down clench technique. This was a rarely needed maneuver in the human lexicon of shitting, in which one would have to clench both ass hole and ass cheeks at the same time. In 9 out of 10 cases, a simple, if not somewhat uncomfortable asshole clamp was enough. However in the rare instance that it was needed, this maneuver required a deep, Zen like, concentration of its user in order to maintain BOTH vice like clamps at the same time. If the INNER ass clench let go for even an instant, a piece of the user’s swaddled brownie might not only slide out, but be violently forced out and the tapered end chopped off at the head, in the very instant that the pod bay door violently reasserted its grip. The tootsie roll sized severed head would then be trapped in the decompression chamber, created when the outer cheeks held firm their secondary line of defense.

As Jack contemplated his next move, his circumstances brought him out of that needed Zen like focus and a crack formed in the inner dam. He felt a small but noticeable turtle head poke out of his anus and into the embrace of his ever tightening buttocks. The cheeks clamped around this early arrival and grabbed it tightly as Jack instantly tightened his balloon knot, guillotining its hapless victim. Jack hoped the resulting nub could be used as an act of contrition to keep the rest of the sin at bay—a cork in the bottle, a finger in the dyke, a plug in the drain.

Jack narrowed his eyes and peered thoughtfully through the fog at the Dunk’n Donuts directly across the busily trafficked street, already brimming with people; no hope of an empty bathroom there. Even if he could somehow Frogger himself through the morning traffic, clenching his ass cheeks together, hand over his ass crack, palm out, he’d most assuredly miss his bus, which would make him miss the 7:22 train, in turn making him an HOUR late for work.

Jack would NOT shamefully walk into work late with his head hung low, losing the confidence of his bosses, the justified ire of his peers, and a promotional opportunity…because of a shit. He’d made up his mind: come hell or high water he would carry this shit to its logical conclusion; he would venture forward, into the unknown, and fulfil this pushy passenger’s destiny to be flushed into the vile watery wastelands where it could float amongst it’s people. DAMNIT! Jack told himself that his shit hand was STRONG, and soon his poo package would be delivered to the crowded, boiled hot dog-smelling bathrooms of the Chicago Medical Supply Company! (Cue exciting music.)  

Part 3: Speed 3

(Seriously, THIS should be the plot of Speed 3)

Jack stared west into the dense fog, waiting to see the headlights of the east bound 381 Pace bus. Time seemed to stand still, and just as one always notices liquids everywhere when one has to pee, Jack couldn’t help noticing cracks everywhere, constantly reminding him of the cracks forming in his chocolate starfish. There were cracks in the sidewalk in front of him, cracks on the side of the brick building behind the bus stop, Cracked magazine sat on the newsstand to the right of the bus stop, a crack-head slept on the bus stop bench, crack, crack, CRACK! As much as he tried to guide his thoughts away from the growing fissure at his backside, they kept returning there and each thought was like an extra weight pushing on the glass door.

Finally, in the distance, Jack saw the headlights below and the sign above the giant rectangular windshield of his bus. “95th & Dan Ryan,” it proclaimed. “All you have to do is get on this bus,” he thought “and you’ll be that much closer to work, Jack.” Damn! “Jack” rhymes with “crack.”

The bus pulled up and opened its door. Jack looked up at the little old white man behind the wheel and waited a heartbeat as he looked down at the veritable hurtle he would have to jump to make it across the one foot up and one foot across chasm created by this tiny man’s inability to stop his bus at the curb. The waiting carriage, whose only purpose this morning was to take Jack halfway to his expectant, gape-mouthed porcelain babe, stood directly in front of him, yet they were miles apart, this bus and man.

This was NOT his regular bus driver. Jack’s regular bus driver was an African American lady of largess who frequented the local hair repository known as “Because of You Wigs.” Jack never quite knew if the purveyor of the finest in horsehair toupees and braided extensions was suggesting that it was the FAULT of some individual that wigs were needed, as in “Because of YOU…we wear wigs”, or if he was admonishing wigs and just forgot the comma (i.e. This happened because of YOU, wigs!).

Whatever the case, Yolanda was not conducting Jacks egress through the thoroughfare this day. Not only did this mean there would be no pleasant conversation between the two of them, but more importantly, it meant that the gaping ravine between bus and curb would need to be Evil Knievel’d. You see, because Yolanda was both nice AND a pro at bus driving, she not only pulled up to the curb, but lowered the front end to meet it. Jack never asked, and Yolanda never gave him cause to. Normally this chasm would pose no threat to Jack as he worked out quite regularly and stayed in top form, but in this instance, the slightest lapse in concentration – the tiniest deviation from a strictly maintained focus –could cost Jack, not only his shorts and possibly his pants, but his dignity as well. Meanwhile, Captain High ‘N Away over here kept his bus at a distance like a nervous first date.

There was nothing for it, Jack awkwardly pulled himself into the bus, not so much stepping into it as grabbing both sides of the doorway while thrusting himself up, all while maintaining the highest caliber of grade-A ass clenchery. Even in the chilly morning air, a sweat broke out on his brow as he passed his Ventra card (a monthly bus and train pass) over the reader and stared blankly at the tiny old bus driver who wore a Ralph Kramden bus driver cap, which Jack had NEVER in his 12 years of riding the public transportation roads and rails, seen a bus driver don. Before he turned to find his seat, Jack said to the bus driver, “That’s a stupid fucking hat,” then clenchingly made his way through the bus.

Even though they most certainly weren’t, Jack felt every eye on the bus staring at his ass. Like Superman’s heat vision, he felt them trying desperately to pry his cheeks open the slightest bit to see the contained explosion as the duke shot out and tented the rear end of his pants, bringing the commuting masses to heights of pointing hilarity as to make the gods weep.

When the extreme need to shit first exploded onto him, the immense pressure in his rectum built with such immediate force that it could have instantly turned a piece of coal into a diamond. Any arrant pockets of gas trapped inside the turd, trapped inside his ass, trapped inside this horrible circumstance like a dookey turducken, were unceremoniously and immediately forced out, affording Jack no fart cushion with which to rest his indignity. In a normal situation, Jack would start knocking out a few rounds of harmless airy farts an hour or so before the final product needed to come off the assembly line. This was his body’s way of politely tapping him on the shoulder and saying, “Pardon me sir, but in about an hour you’ll need to take a shit.” As that hour progressed, Jack’s body would become more insistent and his burgeoning eruptions would become more jagged and volatile, while still offering a buffer arrangement between poo and pants. This was not such a situation.What Jack needed was a seat.

As he staggered to the back of the bus like Michael Clarke Duncan walking ‘the green mile,’ Jack swung his head from side to side with a pleasant smile broadening his lips, looking for a sympathetic face or a seat in which to help him contain yon Kraken. With a seat underneath him, half of the work would be done for him as the stinky beast could be nestled tightly against four walls: his body weight in the aft, cheeks at starboard and port, the seat in the bow position.

It seemed that every walk of life was represented on the bus as Jack continued his stunted hobble of shame down the tightly packed middle aisle. There was the filthy ponytailed 40-year-old trailer court resident holding a brown paper bag containing a Coors Light. Jack felt a pang of sorrow for this gentleman as he was so obviously and so recently attacked by the ‘Shirt Sleeve Bandit,’ a character Jack invented to help explain to himself why so many Americans wore sleeveless shirts: the sleeves were stolen in the night by the toothless, ironic baseball cap wearing… Shirt Sleeve Bandit ™. There was the young African American mother talking so loudly and so ebonically on her cell phone that if she was just a touch prettier, Jack would have thought he was at a Steve Harvey concert. She was accompanying her two young children to school; ALL 3 of them wore their pants down to their knees and lumberjack boxers pulled up to their collar bones. The tan mom was represented in the form of a woman whose skin held both the leathery texture AND color of ancient unoiled saddlebags on the carcass of a horse lying somewhere in the unrelenting sun of a desert and who must have smoked a carton of unfiltered Marlboro Red 1000s before delighting all the passengers with her presence on the bus, because she smelled like a cigarette’s asshole. A 13-year-old Hispanic girl sat in the handicapped seat, although bad decisions seemed to be her only handicap. Her make-up was so caked on that Jack thought it looked like she had just got done blowing the Cake Boss. Also, her all terrain mountain tread monster tired dreadnaught Hummer baby stroller blocked the aisle like a Boeing 747 double decked jumbo jet parked on a sidewalk, it’s writhing and wiggling content as a bean on the surface of the moon.

Looking at these people and the many others on either side of him, squeezing him down the long aisle towards an unknown future, Jack couldn’t help thinking of the grapefruit sized poo baby ready to be birthed any moment from his anal canal.

Before Jack could find a seat, the bus lurched into motion, causing him to grab the handrail which ran along the roof of the bus from front to back. His inability to loosen his cheeks kept his feet close together and planted firmly on the ground. When jack grabbed the rail above him, the g-force created by the abruptly moving bus caused his body to bow forward at an awkward angle making Jack look like the letter ‘C.’ After a moment, Jack straightened himself and shuffled forward; just ahead of him, like a beckoning oasis, there was an empty seat.

Jack sat down with all the rigid grace of a two by four climbing into a hammock. He was finally in the best position possible for containing the brute inside, which afforded him a moment to contemplate. Jack wiped his brow and took a deep breath. “What am I doing with my life?” He thought. “I’m a single, 29-year-old man commuting two hours to a crappy job that pays nothing, and I’m about to shit myself. I have to make some serious life changes… at least in my diet.”

Jack barely got this last thought out when he was violently tossed up in his seat. Even though he only went up slightly in the forceful bounce, landing on the seat shook his concentration enough to turn his turtle head into half a Snickers bar. “The fuck?” he shouted indignantly and looked toward the front of the bus. “Sorry folks, pot holes,” the driver announced over the loud speakers.

Oh shit! Chicago, one month after winter, was riddled with pot holes. This winter in Chicago had been especially bad. A 7-inch snow fall would be closely followed by a 90 degree warm front, causing all the snow to melt into the cracks already formed in the pavement. Then, the weather would drop down to -27 at points, FREEZING the water in the cracks and causing them to expand. THIS is why Jack was a Democrat; the Republicans refusal to believe in global warming and help do anything about it was going be the cause of a man shitting himself on a bus in Chicago. Republicans never consider consequences.

The bumpy road got worse as the bus proceeded down 95th street. Jack grabbed the bottom of his seat with both hands on either side of his legs and held himself as firmly in place as he could. Even so, each succession of potholes jostled loose the tiniest bit of turd. Jack knew that even though the poo was being slowly squeezed out of him like a near empty tube of toothpaste or a Snoopy snow-cone machine, he wouldn’t have OFFICIALLY shat himself until shit hit drawers. Luckily, anything that made it out of his asshole was still contained in his cheeks, but Jack knew that it wouldn’t be long before the deluge broke through the clenched fleshy barrier. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? You shit yourself, that’s what.

For the first time today, Jack found providence in his favor as the busses mechanical voice announced its imminent arrival at the final destination: 95th street and the Dan Ryan expressway: Chicago’s Red Line CTA Train terminal.

Part 4: The Fall

The Red Line train is part of the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) “L,” or elevated train system. There are other colorfully named lines which run like veins through the city and suburbs, but the Red Line is the only one that operates 24 hours, meaning that it’s all the rage amongst Chicago’s indigenous homeless populace. CTA trains are stinkier and much less comfortable, but much more convenient than the Metra trains which only go to Union Station downtown. The Red Line train goes from 95th street through downtown, or “The Loop” as it’s called, to the north side of the city, which is where Jack worked. Most importantly, there would be no potholes.

The bus arrived early which afforded Jack a more leisurely shuffle to the turnstiles. However, as he rounded the corner to where they sat waiting, he realized that his dawdling was not buying him any time. Inside of him, the football player made another run at his asshole, and he brought the whole team with this time. It was all Jack could do to keep from logging himself. He staggered, putting all his leg muscles behind clenching, if he could have, he would have swiveled his thighbones all the way around in his pelvis like a Ken doll, pulling his naughty bits and belly down and in a tightly bunched dam with which to block this building mud flow.

Jack stopped, put his hand on the wall beside him, and looked down in concentration as people heading to the train bustled about him. Not realizing it, Jack was standing next to an old woman in a habit handing out pamphlets for the church to the passersby. “Are you all right son?” she said with concern. It took him a moment to register her remark, but when he did, Jack looked over at the nun and tried to smile. “Yes sister, just a bit gassy, thank you.”

“You know what I find to be more effective than Beano?” the nun inquired. Jack looked at his watch then towards the turnstiles ahead of him. “What’s that sister?” he asked as a line opened up. “Jesus,” she said as she reached out to hand him a pamphlet. “I dont think he and I are getting on the same train, but thank you anyway, sister.” Jack smiled warmly at her and headed off toward the turnstiles.

The gate where he would scan his Ventra card was just ahead of him, but before he reached the card reader on the turnstile, he heard a voice shout, “ALL ABOOOOARD! DOORS CLOSING!” FUCK! Jack shuffled furiously forward, looking like a stop motion animation character, while fumbling in his pocket for his Ventra card. He had JUST pulled it out as he reached the turnstile when a staggering early morning homeless drunk bumped into him and the card loosed from his grip.

This was a moment that would haunt Jack’s dreams for years to come. In his mind, the card flew up in the air in slow motion, turning end over end. He reached out with just his arm as he was unable to stretch and contort his body in such a way as to catch the card in mid-air. A long slow motion “N-O-O-O-O-O-O-O!” came from him as his hair blew slowly in the breeze created by the uncaring masses ambling briskly in slow motion around him. As Jack stood there, straight up, the very picture of good posture with his hand stretched out as far as it could go, he watched helplessly as his Ventra card was swallowed by a jumping shark as big as the train he was sure to miss.

Again, all of this happened in Jack’s mind. In reality, his Ventra card unceremoniously fell straight down, making a slap against the pavement as it landed between his feet. This scenario had the same outcome as the one which played out in his head, because either way his card was lost. The moment he bent down to pick it up was the moment his pooey prisoner would escape its biological confines into the cottony desert of his briefs. Once that happened? Game over. He’d be forced to go home, shower, change, and head into work late. If his Ventra card had fallen from his grip on the OTHER SIDE of the turnstiles, Jack wouldn’t have given a shit, literally. But on THIS side, he was behind enemy lines. Jack shuffled back a step looking at his Ventra card below him. “Jesus help me,” he thought in vain AND in vain.

Just then the little nun with the pamphlets filled his vision as she reached down and picked up his Ventra card. The nun handed it to him, and Jack looked at her feeling such thankful elation that he couldn’t speak. “Now go catch your train son, and remember: Jesus might not be on the same one as you, but he got you through the gate.” Jack smiled a proud and teary smile at this touching display of humanity by the nun. Although he didn’t believe in a higher power, Jack had to respect the dedication it took for the old woman to devote her life to helping people, and the sacrifices she must have made that led her to that train terminal where she just saved a man from being late for work because he shit his pants. Jack nodded at her, passed his card over the electronic reader, and slowly shuffled off to catch the 7:22 Red Line to downtown Chicago and beyond.

Part 5: The Conductor

The corridor ahead of him was a poorly lit and roomy side entrance into the tunnel which held the waiting train. Nineteenth century architecture adorned the archways and grey concrete demons festooned their facades. Jack shuffled through the portico and onto the platform, beyond which the Red Line train sat like an uncoiled snake waiting to strike. The hum of electricity vibrated the air and a lone bird screeched somewhere far down the tunnel in which the train would travel to the city, the echo of its terrified wail sliding over Jack and fading in the distance, sending a chill up his spine. Jack really had to take a shit.

The train sat perhaps 30 feet ahead of him, stretched out the entire length of the terminal. As it was the end or beginning of the Red Line, depending on how you looked at it, there was a wall near one end of the train, and the open tunnel that it would glide through on the other. “ALL ABOARD!” he heard the conductor shout in a deep James Earl Jones voice. Did Jack hear a smile in that tone? A light demon-esque chuckle meant only for his ears? Jack could see he was the only person left on the platform, throngs of vacant faced morning commuters looked at him from dead eyes, hollowed and dark in their skulls, made terrifying by the dim lights that shadowed more than lit the space around him.

Jack clenched tightly again, as tight as his ass would allow as another urgent wave pushed against his asshole. “DOORS CLOSING! (hee hee)” The voice carried over him. Now he was certain the conductor was mocking him. Jack looked toward the front car of the train and squinted to see the source of that voice. Outside of the booth in which he would drive the train, The Conductor looked back at Jack and the two locked eyes like gunslingers at high noon. Jack could swear the man at the front of the train was eight feet tall and made of solid muscle. His red eyes burned through Jack as he gnarled his finely pointed teeth. Jack stood his ground, unfazed by the fright in front of him; it was the fright inside of him that held his attention. A newspaper rustled loudly on a breeze and blew between them like a starting gun. The game was afoot!

Jack had maybe 20 feet left to the train car doors which waited to swallow him like a gaping maw. The Conductor had two feet to duck inside his compartment, pull the lever which closed the doors, and race off into the black chute ahead. Jacks eyes never left The Conductor’s as he began to shuffle furiously forward, using his right hand to reach behind and attempt to assist his inner clench with an outer vice clamp.

The Conductor crossed his arms over his massive chest, threw his head back, and laughed a loud, foul, and triumphant laugh at Jack’s meager efforts to board the train. Fifteen feet to go. Now the huge conductor put his ham hand out and leaned on the front of his train, chuckling to himself at the inevitability of his victory. Ten feet to go. Seeing that he was ever inching forward, The Conductor decided he’d had enough; he pushed his head forward, neck muscles straining, forcing a long red tongue through his filed teeth, and hissed a hateful and derisive curse at Jack. 5 feet to go.

In his peripheral vision, Jack could see the people on the train mindlessly shuffling left and right to create an entrance for him, as if they were beckoning him to come aboard – to join them – so that they might consume him. Jack saw The Conductor’s evil hiss and watched in terror as he turned towards the entrance of his booth on the train. However, as he hurriedly went to enter the compartment, his head bonked loudly on the metal door frame sending a loud bell gong echoing down the corridor. Pigeons flapped furiously in fear of the sharp noise which was almost immediately followed by “SHIT!”

“I will,” Jack thought to himself, “but not here.”

Slapping his forehead in pain, The Conductor had just enough time to look up and see Jack give him a sarcastic smile and wink while flipping him off before disappearing into the train. Clenching his fists, The Conductor leaned back and roared, “NOOOOOOOOOO!” using all of his gargantuan strength to push the defeat out of himself and into the cold electric terminal air, where it would be shot out of the train tunnel like a megaphone, rattling the skyscraper windows in the city of Chicago.

There are people in this world who never ‘look’ at their surroundings. They view society as a group to be ignored and are unobservant of the individuals around them—of their body language and facial tics, with which one can glean a great many facts. One has access to an unlimited wealth of knowledge concerning the human condition if one were simply to pay attention. A smart person could act on those observations in furtherance of their own needs, be they monetary, glory seeking… or revenge. Jack made a powerful enemy that Tuesday morning, as The Conductor was not only a muscular giant who worked out daily, but a student of observation as well. Before ducking to board his train, The Conductor could be seen flashing a secret smile; he knew what it looked like when someone had an emergency shituation, and he knew that the man who flipped him off was in that shituation right now. That man had just climbed into a soda can that The Conductor was in charge of shaking up.  

Part 6: ‘Anal’ Backwards

Never had Jack moved so little to traverse so great a distance in so short a time. But now that he was safely aboard his train, he could take joy in the surprised anger plastered on The Conductor’s face as he shot him a silent “fuck you” with his middle finger while boarding the train. These were the little moments of glory that made life worth living. However, Jack’s elation was short lived as he scanned his surroundings.

There were no seats with which to help him keep his inner turmoil, well, inner, and the crowd pushed in on him from all sides. Bad cologne, body odor, and various meaty breakfast smells surrounded him and breathed on him, overwhelming his senses which he desperately needed to hold in his bomb dump which was ever counting down to explosion.

Jack’s face contorted in worry as the train doors closed. Just then, The Conductor’s voice boomed from the overhead speakers in the car: “THIS IS RED LINE RUN 234 FROM 95TH TO HOWARD, MAKING ALL STOPS, HOLD ON TIGHTLY… IT’S GOING TO BE A BUMPY RIDE, AND THANK YOU FOR RIDING THE CTA RED LINE!” Jack knew that the sarcasm dripping from that seemingly innocuous statement was directed at him. Then, a sneering: “WELCOME ABOARD! BWAHAHAHA!” boomed from overhead. Yep, Jack thought, that was definitely for him.

The train leapt forward into motion, pushing everyone in the car backwards. Jack had no choice but to spread his legs just 4 inches apart while trying to maintain an inner asshole clench as his outer cheeks were now at parade rest. However, the inner clench wasn’t enough, and Jack felt the shit inside push forward like a crowded Wal-Mart storefront line when the doors open on Black Friday. Jack SLAMMED his legs shut just as the train’s balance was restored, crushing the gooey mass that escaped into a spackle he could feel run from his taint to the top of the crack in his ass. That was close. It was all still contained outside the asshole, but inside the cheeks—barely.

Nothing had escaped into the thin barricade of his Fruit of the Looms, but this episode would cause a great deal of wiping later—of himself AND the back of the toilet seat as the brown spackle rode his crack as high up as it reached. Jack knew that even if the tiniest bit more were to escape, the jig would be up. He reached overhead and grabbed the hand bar, holding on for dear life, waiting for whatever The Conductor threw at him, which as it turned out was more than he expected.

Jack quickly realized that the train was speeding along faster than normal. At this pace, anytime there was the slightest curve in the track, the train would lurch violently from side to side, throwing everyone into each other. The train would make its normal stop, and then speed off towards the next, swaying violently as it went. However, because the train became so crowded during the morning commute, the packed car was actually a blessing for once. Although the occasional sway would jostle Jack left or right, the crowd of people on all sides acted as a buffer keeping his body straight. There was no need to spread his legs to keep balance. As long as he held the hand rail above him, Jack thought he would be alright. Suck it Conductor, I win again!

But as was always the case that morning, Jack’s seeming victory was short-lived. As the train entered downtown Chicago, passengers started pouring off of the packed train, leaving just enough commuters to still fill all of the seats, but putting Jack in the precarious position of standing with less support at each stop the train made. All Jack could hope for now was the poo/pee transference™.

Yes, the magical and sometimes lifesaving poo/pee transference™. There were times in his life where under the right circumstances, this mystical and mysterious preponderance would occur, saving Jack from his interrupting turds. He might be at a girl’s apartment, waiting in line at the grocery store, or about to go down a water slide at an amusement park when BAM! He’s gotta take a shit. Nothing as volatile as his current need, but uncomfortable none the less. After a few moments of clenching there would be a sharp drop in cabin pressure followed by an urgent need to piss, which was a much more manageable need (ESPECIALLY on a water slide). However, the poo/pee transference™ was not to come this day…

At the Clark & Division stop, a man finally stood from a seat and exited the train. Jack lumbered over to where the now empty seat was and uneasily sat down. Now that he was stationary, The Conductor was defeated entirely; there was no more need to worry. Jack breathed a sigh of relief and looked directly across the aisle from him at a buxom blonde in a grey business suit reading a book. Springtime in Chicago brought out the best in Chicago breasts. As the weather improved the dresses became shorter and the necklines plunged deeper. The woman sitting across from Jack displayed an ample rack through her professional white blouse, which was buttoned up just enough to still pageant a 5 inch cleavage. This was something that would normally raise an eyebrow if not a boner for Jack, especially early in the morning. However, with all of his concentration focused elsewhere, Jack’s only thought was, “Please don’t let her look at me, please don’t let her look at me, please don’t let her look at me.” With his mind so sharply focused on his singular need, it was all Jack could do to not think EVERYONE around him must notice that he had to shit really badly. Surely his face was red, his posture was off, his legs were clamped together awkwardly, his neck muscles were strained, a vein bulged in his forehead, and his teeth were gritted together. The only thing he could do to try to avert attention away from his obvious withholdings, was to smile through his teeth at anyone who happened to cast their eyes on him. He did NOT want to flash such a smile at the beautiful blonde sitting across from him.

The Conductor continued to speed along between stops, shouting out the stations between each one and jarring his passengers aggressively at the curvatures in the tracks. At one particularly bad one, the blonde woman dropped her book on the floor in front of her. As she reached down to pick it up, her cleavage stretched out like a lazy cat lying in a beam of sunlight. When she leaned back up, her eyes met Jack’s as they came in line with what he was staring at. “I’m up here,” she said in a condemning tone. Jack looked away sharply, not of embarrassment, but in a desperate attempt to hide his need to shit. “I’m just kidding, they’re great, right?” he heard her say laughingly. Jack looked back to her, not believing what he’d just heard. The blonde assuaged him, “My tits. I’m proud of them so I show them off. What am I going to do, put them in the window and then bitch at all the window shoppers?”

“Holy shit” Jack thought, “this woman is flirting with me, and she’s doing it WELL…but at the WORST possible time.” On a normal day, Jack could keep up with witty banter easily, but this was NOT a normal day. Jack had NO game at the moment; it was all he could do to shoot the blonde woman a fake reserved smile. “My name’s Lana,” she said, offering her hand to shake Jack’s. Jack looked down at Lana’s hand with his toothy grin and extended his own. A foot of space separated their handshake. Jack couldn’t lean in to stretch further, so he sat looking like a robot with his back straight, hoping at the very least, that Lana wouldn’t be insulted. She wasn’t. She leaned forward and shook his hand. “I’m Jack,” he said through his gritted smile. “Are you okay Jack?” she inquired, turning her head slightly and raising an eyebrow. “Are you a performance artist or something? Doing a robot thing?”

Just then, The Conductor could be heard over the loud speakers, “NEXT STOP: ARGYLE!” That was Jack’s stop. As much as he was torn between wanting to get to his building to shit and wanting to talk up this funny and witty blonde woman, Jack had to choose the shit not taken. He awkwardly stood up and said “I’m sorry Lana, this is my stop. I’d love to…”

Before he could finish his sentence, the train viciously lurched to the left, throwing Jack forward to the right side of the train! He reached out to steady himself and his hand grabbed onto nothing. Jack had the wherewithal to keep his feet firmly planted and his ass clamped shut, but his body fell forward, bending at the hip, and before he knew it he was landing face first in Lana’s ample bosom. She shrieked and began pushing at him. Other passengers grabbed Jack yelling, “HEY! Whatta ya doing buddy!” and “Git the fuck off the lady!” Before he knew it, 12 hands were on him, pushing and pulling him, cursing and yelling him towards the door as the train stopped. The exodus was made more violent by the crowd as Jack seemed to be fighting against them, when in reality he was simply trying not to move his legs so as to avoid a mushy exclamation point from ending this terrible sentence. “HAVE A NICE DAY! BWAHAHAHAHAHAH” burst over the loudspeakers and as Jack looked up he saw that there were perhaps a dozen domed cameras on the roof of the train car. The Conductor had been watching him the whole time, waiting for his moment to strike.

Jack was thrown violently off the train amid incensed shouts of “PERVERT!” and “ASSHOLE!” He had no choice but to goose step out in order to keep himself from going down face first onto the concrete platform. The massive log inside of him pushed itself out a quarter of an inch more before Jack could clamp his legs shut like a hungry alligator. It was out. He could feel a thin bead of crackle running the length of his ass. Thankfully, Jack didn’t wear tight pants, so he knew that as long as he didn’t sit down, or a light breeze didn’t push against him from behind, the thin brown line that now adorned his crack would not touch his drawers—IF nothing else came out.

A loud questioning gurgle came from deep inside of Jack, booming in the outdoor terminal and bouncing off of its concrete pillars. A violent pain seemed to grab his taint and squeeze it with pliers. If he was lucky Jack had minutes left. The poo was imminent.  

Part 7: Catharsis

Thankfully, Jack’s building was but a mere two blocks away from the Argyle Red Line terminal. However, he would have to descend two flights of stairs to get to ground level—about 50 stairs each. One hundred fucking stairs? How would he ever make it down 100 fucking stairs? The minute he bent a leg, the shit was out. The moment he dropped a leg, his pants would rub the mud creak that equated butt world. If he bunny hopped down, it would be like turning a bottle of ketchup over and ramming the bottom of it with your palm to get the flow going. Meanwhile, the giant redwood perched, unrelenting, inside of him, typifying fate.

Jack had to think of something. Towards the stairs, Jack saw, what appeared to be a homeless man in a wheelchair rolling himself along the platform. “How the fuck is HE going to get down to the street?” Jack thought, and saw the answer to his question ringed in a glowing halo of white light. Angels sounded trumpets and pointed with their cherub fingers toward the opening. There, between him and the filthy man in the wheelchair, was a handicapped elevator. Jack looked down at his watch; it was 8:23 A.M., seven minutes to get to work.

Jack began shuffling towards the elevator. The man in the wheelchair got there first and pressed the button. As Jack shuffled up behind him, the man looked around at him. “Whatta YOU waitin’ for?” He asked. “Elevator. Same as you, buddy.” Jack said with a relieved smile. “Uh uh, you don’t look crippled to me,” the man said with growing indignity. “Well I’m not, but…” Jack looked down at him, realizing for the first time that the gentleman was being serious. The man in the wheelchair turned himself all the way around, and Jack could hear the elevator slowing grinding its way to the platform. “See the sign ‘BUDDY’?” The man pointed to the handicapped sticker on the elevator door behind him. “That means it’s for handicapped people ONLY!” Trying to reason with the man, Jack looked at him sympathetically “I’ve got… a problem. Gimme a break, will ya. Please?” The man pushed his wheelchair back slightly and raised his eyebrows along with his voice, “Oh YOU got a fucking problem? I ain’t felt my FUCKING legs in 20 years! I piss into a bag! I shit in a diaper!”

“Bingo!” Jack interrupted him, and leaned down whispering “but I’m not wearing a diaper.” He stood back up looking at the homeless man for understanding as the elevator door opened behind him. The man squinted at Jack, contemplating this new information, rubbed his dirty chin between thumb and forefinger, then pushed himself back and to the right of the elevator door. He welcomingly extended his hand in a broad sweeping gesture towards the elevator and bowed while saying in a British butler voice “After you, sir.” Jack smiled. “Thanks,” he said, and shuffled aboard the elevator.

At ground level, Jack now had four minutes to get to work. He shuffled along the busy sidewalk on Argyle Street towards his office building as fast as he could, deeply aware of how ridiculous he looked. He didn’t care. It was almost over.

It rained the night before so there were puddles to be avoided. As he couldn’t step over them, Jack had to turn his whole body as he shuffled around them. Up ahead the sidewalk ended as an alleyway went between the two buildings of this block. Jack could see that there was a particularly large puddle that muddied the entrance of the alley, which he would have to cross. Having no choice but to shuffle through this one, Jack had just made it to the other side, his feet soaking wet, when a large golden retriever came bounding out the alley behind him with its five small pups, all splashing through the puddle on their way across the street, sending a spray of dirty water up Jack’s backside. How could this get any worse he thought to himself? But no sooner did this thought enter his mind, than he saw his final destination and the means of his salvation just ahead of him. Jack shuffled forward; his quest was almost at an end.

The fog lifted and the clouds parted revealing the very building that held his sweet release. Staring up at the skyscraper in which he worked, its windows dazzling in the morning sunlight cast from the heavens at that exact moment he stood before it, Jack could only think of how hard he’d pushed himself to make it this far. A tear rolled down his cheek, and Jack knew that all he needed do now was enter the door, punch his time card, and head directly to a bathroom where he could relieve himself of this morning’s angry burden. But Jack stood there a moment, tightly holding back the tsunami inside, and thought of all the constrictions that had been placed on him this day, all of the obstacles he’d overcome to reach his destination—the crowded bus and its throngs of nasty commuters squeezing him tightly down the narrow aisle; The Conductor who jostled him violently as he sped down a long tunnel; Lana, whom he was held back from connecting with and pushed forward into; the homeless man who welcomed him to drop down to another level; the brown dog and its younglings that splashed into a puddle, wetting his backside—Jack thought of all of these things and his eyes opened wide in stunned realization… “I’m just a shit…” he thought.

Yes! Jack’s life suddenly came into focus! He didn’t need this job! He didn’t need the pressure of the assholes above him wanting to push him forward, making everyone else think that he was a waste! Jack could control his OWN destiny; he saw to that this morning. Only HE was holding himself back, only HE was stopping his pursuit of relief, and only HE should push himself out onto life’s watery crest!

Jack came to the conclusion that there was no longer a need to push so hard, and as he looked down at his watch, the minute hand turned over to 8:30 and Jack sighed in deep cathartic release. With that final sigh, he simply relaxed and let go.  

The End?

(Yes, that’s really the End)

 

 The Blurbs!

Not since Dickens has someone so vividly captured the absurdity of the human condition” – a guy on the bus

The fuck was That?” – The ghost of Roger Ebert

This story was written” – James Lipton

A man who has to take a shit coming to the realization that HE’S a shit? You just made your first successful film pitch. How do you feel about Jack being black?” – Quentin Tarantino

The author of this intrepid tale is obviously a brave man of consequence, his use of metaphor and prose to establish…wait what? No I’m not talking about ‘The Shuffle’, I was asked to write a blurb about the novel titled ‘The Shuttle’, a thrilling tale of space exploration in the 23rd Century. ‘The Shuffle?’ Never heard of it. Sounds horrible.” – A famous literary critic

 

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