a call for bayou justice.

in youth, our bladders send a signal to our brains when they are half full; as we grow older, this signal is less emphatic, causing our brains to receive it when our bladders are almost completely full. as we age our bladders become less elastic, preventing them from holding as much liquid. due to the union of these changes, i am sometimes forced to wake in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

on one such occasion, i awoke in an unfamiliar room to see a hazy shadow in the doorway. it disappeared before i could focus, blinking my eyes to erase the film that had collected during sleep. i sat on the edge of the bed for a moment and then stood up, testing my feet on the carpeted floor, advancing slowly. from the entrance i looked left, again seeing the figure — at this point i was certain it was human — at the end of the hall. he was partially hidden behind the corner of the wall, sporadically revealing his head to see if i was still present. once in the bathroom, i quickly locked the door and washed my face in the sink in an effort to wake further.

the only scenario that seemed possible was that i had risen, by coincidence, at the exact moment someone’s boyfriend wandered into the room while looking for the bathroom himself. walking in on us, albeit by accident, gave him an intense feeling of awkwardness, so he tried to hide. the next morning i told my theory to the girl who slept through it all, the girl to whom the room belonged, and she brushed it aside, ruling that i had probably been dreaming. after all, her roommates never had guys over.

honestly, in her defense, there were a lot of loose ends: most notably (and embarrassingly), why would i lock myself in the bathroom like a chicken rather than approach the stranger? also, we had to account for my vivid, childlike imagination: that is, it wouldn’t be the first or most outlandish story i had conceived.

still, the next day, details kept filtering in, details that could never be confirmed and didn’t lead us any closer to determining fact from fiction, like, he was wearing a green or brown t-shirt, or, he had straight hair, sort of long. it wasn’t until after lunch with one of her friends, who chided her for so easily dismissing my vision, that she confided and, thus, my grasp on reality was confirmed: hey, i know who you saw.

it was someone from work who had dropped her off near her house once. they had had an abbreviated relationship that she ended. she didn’t seem shocked by this revelation, even after remembering that, while i was in the bathroom, he had sneaked back into her room, lowered the covers, and fondled her.

her friend and i were nonplussed by her relative stoicism. she appeared bothered more by our complete bewilderment than by the fact a guy had forced his way into her house in the middle of the night to touch her inappropriately. she assured us this wasn’t the case, regardless of her tone in discussing the matter, and that she planned to confront him at work.

i wish this story ended with a degree of retribution. anything, from him being hit by a car while leaving her house to his open eye being seasoned with a mix of cajun spices, would have been better than the truth. honestly, i don’t even want to type it out.

so let us pretend that he never had the opportunity to ignore her when she registered her complaint, replying that he had no idea what she was talking about. let us pretend he didn’t later apologize for his transgressions, but only because the course changed, robbing him of that chance. let us pretend, obviously, that she didn’t answer that late apology feebly, with, well, don’t intrude on anyone like that again.

let us, instead, pretend that when he returned to work the afternoon following the incident he was greeted by the large alligator statue, miraculously come alive, that balances on her hind legs in front of the restaurant. picture her draping a limb roughly across his shoulders, in the process, letting a claw or two scrape against his cheek like an omen, and escorting him to the walk-in freezer where she slowly — and excruciatingly — gnaws off his limbs.

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