November 24, 2005

The Shit House

By AlCantHang © 2005

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jack. I clean shit-houses for a living. Port-a-johns, outhouses, etc. Those tiny plastic shitters you see at campgrounds, concerts, and construction sites. Lovely job. As you may imagine, there are quite a few stories which I could tell but this one is the most important.

I think I recently killed my new co-worker and friend. I'm not saying that I murdered him, but I think my actions led to his demise.

Fat Charlie was neither fat nor was his name Charlie. His name was Bob and he was remarkably skinny. He'd made the mistake when he first joined the crew of trying to give himself his own nickname, like Brutus or Butch or some odd thing. Our drunken foreman decided that Bob's new nickname was Fat Charlie. The foreman was an idiot but he was the boss. I wish I was working with the foreman that fateful day instead of Fat Charlie. But it wouldn't have mattered because I would have been out in the heat instead of him.

Fat Charlie was an oddity amongst our crew. He was young, in shape, and college educated. No one could figure out why Charlie showed up every day to ride beside me from site to site cleaning up crap when he could be sitting in a nice comfy office doing accounting or lawyering or whatever he went to school for. He was tightlipped and we never did find out.

I had the easy part of the job. Being the senior man on shit detail meant that I drove the Honey Wagon while the other guy ran the suction hose from the crapper to the tanker. A good day meant going to a campground during the off-season. It's cool out and they're rarely used. Those days I might even get out of the truck to help. The bad days were in the middle of the summer. Particularly the day after a 100 degree day baseball game in August. The games don't have the same number of drunk tailgaters as the local pro football team, but what the stench lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. Imagine a shit sauna and you have a small clue. Those days you were lucky to get me to acknowledge the outside world as I paid more attention to a dog eared copy of Louis L'Amour and the pint of Jack stuffed between the seats.

Fat Charlie's last day on this earth was one of those bad days.

It wasn't our standard Monday morning. I started the day off easy by hitting the local construction sites that never got much action. The hard part would come that afternoon. The sports complex promised to be ugly. A Sunday baseball game with a heated rival, the first pre-season football game was played across the street, and one of those weird jam bands played the arena. Those freaks would have been in the parking lot all weekend. Who knew what kind of abominations we/he would see.

I'll give Fat Charlie credit. He never did ask for my help. He knew I'd earned the right to sit in the remarkably efficient air conditioning while he siphoned the human rot of a thousand people. The pattern was simple: I would pull up to a group of a dozen units and Charlie would hop out. He would grab the hoses, one for suction and one for cleaning, and start with the first one. My job was easy. Sit in the truck and make sure to move forward occasionally so Charlie had enough hose to do his part. I caught up on the latest masterpiece by Tom Clancy or John Grisham. I was hopeful that the pint of booze would last until the end of the day. If not, there was always the other two stashed in different spots.

Charlie gave a yell to move forward so then next unit could be handled and this is where I made my mistake. I was a little slow for a night of partying and the hair-of-the-dog might have dulled my senses. The clutch was tricky and the truck jerked forward a little harder then normal. I could hear the john move along the pavement and I had an instant sense of horror. I looked in the mirror and was relieved to see it still standing upright. Nothing can ruin a week like knocked one of those things over.

I went back to reading Clancy explain the intricacies of a nuclear explosion in 2,000 words and lost track of time. Finally I realized it had been quite a while since Fat Charlie had asked me to move forward. Not completely unexpected you see. Sometimes they fight back. After yelling his name a couple of times, I hopped out of the cab to check on my friend and co-worker.

There was a reason I couldn't hear Fat Charlie scream as the jerk of the truck caught him between the hoses and overflowing shitter. To this day they've never been able to explain how a human could end up in that position and the official cause of death, drowning, was too horrible to think about.

I made a silent promise to my friend that day. No more drinking.

At least on the job.

Al Cant Hang is an internet celebrity from Phoenixville, PA.

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