Stall

This is an absolutely true story. I swear.

It was a long day at work, and I needed a men’s room break for a few minutes. When I walked in someone was in the first stall. I don’t normally notice these things, but it occurred to me whoever was in there was very quiet and motionless. And he was wearing some very nice shoes.

As I said, it didn’t register with me at the time. It did the next day when I went in and saw that someone was again in the first stall, and I thought it was the same guy. Nice shoes. Silent. Motionless. The whole time I was in there, not a sound or movement. Weird.

But it gets weirder. The third day, he was in there again. At least, I assumed it was the same guy because I swear it was the same pair of nice shoes and, as had become usual, he made not a sound and not a movement.

I started thinking, “Is someone dead in there? Has he been sitting there dead for three days and no one’s noticed?”

I thought about it for a minute and then realized if someone had been dead for three days we would have started smelling it. But there was no smell. Not of a dead body, anyway.

But it was still awfully strange. I started thinking that maybe I should knock and see if this guy’s okay. It’s just so weird that three days in a row when I went into the restroom the same guy was in the same stall not making a sound.

I realized I was just assuming it was the same guy. But I wasn’t sure. It just seemed to be the same pair of shoes. But how would I know? I have no fashion sense and don’t pay attention to these things. But I couldn’t get it out of my head – it sure looked like the same shoes.

But then I thought, “It’s got to be a coincidence. Someone is just happening to be in the same stall when I come in three days in a row.” So, I was sure I’d feel awfully embarrassed if I knocked on the door and the guy was just doing his business. How would I explain my concern?

Still. Motionless. Not a sound. Three days in a row. That’s some coincidence. Something weird has to be going on.

But I wasn’t going to knock. It would just be too embarrassing. So I decided to wait him out this time.

And wait I did, for about ten minutes. It started freaking me out – this guy is making no sound and his feet haven’t moved. Maybe he’s one of the shy types – doesn’t want to do his business while someone else is in there.

But just then, he stood up and yelled, “What the hell? Hello? HELLO?”

Now it was my turn to be motionless. I thought of beating a hasty retreat, but before I could move, he opened the door and came out.

And my mouth opened in shock when I saw who it was.

It was President John F. Kennedy. In the flesh. Alive.

His eyes went wide when he saw me. “What the hell’s going on? Who the hell are you? I was just riding in a car in Dallas, and now I’m in a bathroom?”

I could not say a word. I couldn’t move.

Suddenly, he pushed past me, stomping out of the bathroom saying, “Where’s my Secret Service? Where’s the governor? Where’s my wife?”

And then he was gone.

I thought I must be hallucinating. Maybe I’m dreaming. Maybe I’m working too hard.

But the weirdness wasn’t over yet. There was a commotion in the same stall President Kennedy had just exited. Someone else was in there, and he came out, and at that moment I began to suspect I had gone insane.

“Hello there, Mr. Archer,” Albert Einstein said. “Whatever you do, do NOT eat spaghetti tomorrow! Trust me on this!” Then he went back into the stall and disappeared. When I finally found the will to move, I looked in, and it was empty.

I didn’t eat spaghetti the next day, and I don’t use that men’s room anymore.

 

Robert G. Archer, Los Angeles, June 2017

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