It’s a dark and stormy night. The rain has subsided long enough to to see a bit of the moon but it is hardly visible because of the dark clouds still floating in front of it. A howl is audible in the distance but it is unclear if it’s a wolf, a child wailing for its mother or a waiter realizing that it’s his turn to wash out the salt and pepper shakers. It is Halloween; a night where witches and goblins make their presence known and they take turns dancing with demons and sparring with spirits. Is there anything more frightening than a restaurant onOctober 31st? Yes, actually, there is: a bathroom attendant on Halloween. What the fuck?
I step into the restroom to bleed my lizard when I am greeted by an older man who is sitting on a wooden stool. In his lap sits a small transistor radio that is playing a baseball game. The man smiles at me revealing teeth as yellow as corn.
“Good evening,” he tells me. He has a slight accent that tells me he comes from one of those vague Eastern European countries like Yugoslavia or Transylvania. “Welcome to the men’s room.”
I make my way to a urinal and immediately wonder if I have any small bills in my wallet, for this man is going to expect a tip. In the stall beside me, I hear another man making the most of his time on the toilet. I don’t know what is happening on the other side of this wall, but it sounds like something he wishes he could do in the privacy of his own home. Noises and smells make their way over to me. I look over at the old man who is eating one of those small individual sized Baby Ruth candy bars that you get for trick-or-treaters.
“How the fuck does somebody eat a Baby Ruth ten feet away from someone who is giving birth to a bowel movement?” I wonder.
I just want to pee and get out of here, but between the baseball game, the Baby Ruth and the trauma happening in the stall, I can’t seem to get things flowing.
“I need more toilet paper,” the man in the stall says.
The old man reaches under a cabinet to retrieve another roll and then shuffles over to the stall where he reaches under the door to hand it to the man in need.
“Is there anything else you need, sir?” asks the old man.
I am hoping to hear the word “privacy” but the man just grunts instead, either in satisfaction or for some other reason that I need not know about.
Having completed my task at hand, I make my way to the sink to wash my hands. There is the bathroom attendant holding the soap dispenser for me like I don’t know how to retrieve it myself. He squirts it into my hand (the word “squirt” is never good when talking about bathroom goings-on, but that’s what he did.) I wash my hands and then the man gives me a paper towel in case I had forgotten how to pick one up myself.
“Beautiful night, isn’t it?” he asks me.
“Well, it was raining pretty hard earlier and it’s kinda chilly. Really windy too.”
“A perfect night for Halloween, wouldn’t you say? Beautiful.” He smiles again and I notice that two of his top teeth are misshapen giving the impression of fangs. “I love a stormy night for Halloween. Nothing makes me happier.” He laughs a deep throaty laugh not unlike Vincent Price. “Would you like some cologne or a mint, perhaps?”
I look at the counter and see Polo, Drakar Noir, Pierre Cardin and CK1 and politely decline. I don’t see the point of having a mint or using the mouthwash since I am returning my table to continue eating.
“No thank you.”
“I’ll take some gum,” says the voice behind the stall.
“Listen, I don’t have my wallet so I can’t tip you. Thank you though for everything, I appreciate it.”
As I head out of the restroom, I turn back to see the old man handing a stick of gum to the man who is still sitting on the toilet.
“Do you have a newspaper? And do I smell a Baby Ruth?” the man asks.
The door closes behind me and I know I have seen the most disturbing thing I will see all Halloween.