Thinking About It
Copyright © 2013 by Michael Litzky
Sally had always hated outhouses. Even the best of them smelled bad and this one hadn’t been maintained very well since the vampire plague started. The lid had been left up and the reek turned her stomach. I bit a vampire’s throat out but this is about to make me vomit.
Breathing carefully through her mouth, an act that always made her feel like she were swallowing invisible poison, she pulled down her pants and perched her butt on the seat. Her “bright, perky little butt.” She smiled, then frowned.
She had really wanted Lavinia to punish her just now, to hurt her for real. That wasn’t okay anymore. Wherever that desire came from, she was ready to walk away from it.
She finished and discovered, to her relief, that there was toilet paper. As she reached down with the paper to wipe, some flicker of movement caught her eye from the cavernous space below. She froze.
Skin crawling, she let her eyes focus on that dark hole beneath her vulnerable nakedness.
She saw nothing, nothing more than the usual reason never to look between your legs in an outhouse.
Relieved, she realized that if the vampires had made this foul hole their daytime hideout, their clothes would have reeked of it last night.
That was good, she thought as she finished and buckled up her pants. If they had been in there, now that she had seen the remnants of their humanity, the spark that perhaps could be rekindled, she couldn’t have dumped a chamberpot on their heads. She started to empty the portable toilet.
Later, she would always laugh at the image of Sally Yan standing there pouring a stream of chemicals and piss and shit into a stinking public toilet, surrounded by flies and having the big revelation of her life.
But so it was. The course of her life was suddenly clear to her. She saw, as in a mystic revelation, what she was to do. And she also saw something about the vampires, something so basic and obvious that the whole world had missed it.
But she had to stay focused so she didn’t spill sewage on her foot. The symbolism and the humor of this did not escape her.
She felt calm, serene, and well aware that, like Levin in the novel, she probably hadn’t really solved all her life problems. But who knew? Maybe twenty years after the novel ended, he went to the outhouse one morning and that’s where he really figured it all out.
She self-righteously closed the lid of the outhouse toilet, and stepped outside into the fresh air with a lighter load and a lighter heart.
The sun was just touching the parking lot. There were still no signs of any vehicles except one car far in the distance just rounding a corner. She puffed all the air out of her lungs before taking that first breath of fresh air in through her nose. She looked at the body once more – and saw with shock that it was moving slightly!
Snapping into battle mode, she edged cautiously closer. Fresh blood had pooled and horrible faint gurgling sounds were coming from the destroyed throat.
The creature was actually a handsome black man, perhaps in his late 20s, quivering in the sun. Was he in ecstasy? She couldn’t tell from the awful sounds he made.
With her new resolve she chose to risk approaching dangerously close. Not sure what to do, she knelt and laid a hand on his upper arm. He was bleeding, but vampires didn’t have blood. He had been in the sunlight for a few minutes; was that it?
His eyes opened in his helpless, lolling head. He had once had a scholarly face, more accustomed to making daring arguments in the courtroom. She looked in the eyes (which looked naked, as if he usually wore glasses) of this man who had tried to kill her and who she had killed instead. He was feeling intense emotion but she still couldn’t tell whether it was orgasm or anguish. If there had been tears she would have been sure he was crying.
She said to him vaguely, “It’s alright,” but the light in the eyes went out at that instant and he was truly dead.
I won’t be able to help everybody, no matter what, she reminded herself miserably.
The hum of an approaching engine blossomed into a roar as the car rounded the nearest curve. Sally stood, realizing that she was alone with a body which didn’t look like a vampire anymore. She thought wildly of dragging it out of sight, of dumping it into the outhouse (but she couldn’t do that now that she’d seen its humanity), then realized that she didn’t have time to do anything.
A putt-putting little car, fifteen or twenty years old, drove into sight. To Sally’s relief, it drove past without even noticing her and started laboring up the next hill, putting out bluish smoke. As soon as it was gone, Sally dragged the body into the tall bushes at the edge of the lot, promising herself that she’d report the death by phone later.
Then she walked up to the camper’s rear doors and pulled them open, knowing exactly what she needed to say to Lavinia.
Lavinia, for all her tough act (and how well Sally knew about the tough act) was watching her with big eyes, waiting for her answer.
Charity Claire walked to the window where Walter stood basking in the morning sun. His eyes were closed. She touched him shyly on the shoulder.
He turned and smiled at her. Jesse was bustling around, setting the breakfast table for two. Charity wasn’t sure how to put what she wanted to say. But Walter’s face held such understanding that all she said to him was, “You’re welcome in my home, any time you want to come visit.”
“Thank you, dear,” he said quietly. “I know how much that means to you.”
“You too, of course,” she said quickly to Jesse, embarrassed.
“We’re a package deal,” Jesse grinned, not offended in the least.
Charity smiled shyly and rehearsed the words she would say when the sun went down.