Do you get claustrophobia in tight places? Do you have nightmares about being locked in a box with no way to escape? Have you ever been trapped in a vulnerable position where you’re at the complete mercy of someone else?
Possibly by your best friend?
Have you ever been somehwere that was so nasty that the “ick” factor made you gag? Perhaps you were forced to be in close proximity to a substance that made you nauseous just thinking about it.
So there I was……….
I was working as an investigator for the Sheriff’s Department along with my very good friend, Mark. The case was actually very serious because it involved domestic violence and child abuse. As part of the investigation, we decided to interview the child’s teacher.
The family lived out in the country. The child rode the bus to school in a small town located in a county nearby.
Like so many towns in rural Kansas, this town had lost most of its population and business as people migrated to the cities. About all that was left seemed to be the school, post office, a convenience store, and a church.
We looked around town because we weren’t sure where the school was located. Mark pulled into the convenience store and we went inside. We each bought a soda pop and got directions from the friendly lady behind the counter.
We left the store and followed her directions up a hill and around a corner to where the school was hidden behind a bunch of trees.
It was early afternoon, so the kids were still in school. It was somewhat surreal going into a grade school after being grown up for so long. The things which I noticed the most were the smells. There was the ever-present odor of baked rolls from the cafeteria mixed with the universal scent of cleaning chemicals and wood polish. The school was kept immaculately clean for the kids so the smell from the constant washing, mopping, and buffing overwhelmed you in passing through the front door.
We went to the office and told them we had an appointment with one of the teachers. It was scheduled during a period when she didn’t have students in her classroom. They told us where the class room was and we followed the hall and upstairs as directed. The halls were covered with colorful construction paper decorations and projects by the different classes. It brought back a flood of good memories from my time in elementary school in a small town.
The teacher ended up being very friendly and helpful. She’d known the victim for several years and was able to talk about his behaviors and interactions with his parents. We stuck around until it was time for her class to return. I thanked her and we left the large red brick building.
I got in the car and sat there quietly……………. I just knew what was coming. Mark got into the drivers side of the car and I didn’t have to wait long.
“So…….you gonna call the teacher?” He innocently smiled as he started the car. “She was pretty cute and I could tell she was ‘into’ you!” I told Mark that his imagination was getting the best of him. He just laughed and continued to give me a hard time. I told him it would be completely inappropriate and unethical to ask out a person involved in one of our cases.
Mark knew this……but still couldn’t pass up the chance to tease me. I had recently been divorced, so he felt that part of his duty was to get me back into circulation. It was a sort of mission for him.
He continued with the usual teacher jokes about how they would just make you do something until you got it right and the stories went downhill from there.
She really was pretty, I had to admit. And yes, we sort of had a “good vibe” going at the school, but that didn’t erase the fact that I was very dedicated to maintaining my own personal ethical behavior. I’m pretty sure that is why Mark gave me such a hard time. He had the same ethical compass in law enforcement and knew full well that I would never call up a witness and ask to take her out.
Apparently, though, that compass got a little skewed when it came to each other……
Things work out as they’re supposed to sometimes, because it wasn’t much later that I met Andrea, who I’ve now been with for about 16 years. Happily, I can say she had nothing to do with work.
As we pulled out of the school parking lot, Mark continued to give me a hard time about the teacher. I told him I was just fine with things as they were. I did, however, need to go to the bathroom. I’d drank that entire soda before interviewing the teacher, so my bladder was beginning to hit the full level.
Mark told me I should’ve gone while we were at the school. I thought about it and told him how creepy it would be, standing in the boys restroom with a bunch of second graders. I’d been in law enforcement too long. That would set off a warning bell.
Besides, their urinal was set very low because they were little kids. I’m not that good of a shot on a good day, let alone with little boys milling about.
I could just see little Johnny going home and telling his mother that he was in the bathroom with this strange old man. That had nothing, but red flags on it.
As Mark drove through the small town we spotted something we hadn’t noticed on the way into town. There was the local baseball field. And low and behold there was a porta-potty sitting beside the ball field fence in the parking lot.
It was one of those we’ve all seen at construction sites, public events, or in this case, the ball field.
I had Mark pull into the parking lot so that I could run into the porta-potty and relieve myself.
Of course I knew that Mark was in an ornery mood already, so I looked him in the eye as I opened the car door and said, “Don’t you drive off and leave me!”
Mark smiled and said he had no plan to leave me stranded in this little town out in the middle of nowhere. I have to admit I knew better, but I really had to pee, so I jumped out of the car and went over to the porta-potty.
It was made completely of plastic. I got inside and the smell of chemicals and “other stuff” was overpowering. The “ick” factor was really in play. I hated touching the door and wished I’d brought latex gloves from the car. I knew that I had to quickly lock the door because opening it suddenly while I was doing my thing might be considered funny by some folks, especially Mark. The structure was very cramped. It was like standing in a small closet with nasty walls and bad smells.
I carefully pulled off a square of toilet paper on a partial roll hanging on the plastic wall. I used it to touch the handle and lock it shut.
I could hear the Ford Crown Victoria idling just outside the porta-potty and was beginning to relax because I hadn’t heard him drive away. I also hadn’t heard the car door open, so I figured he’d decided not to mess with me.
I’ve known Mark a very long time and we are very close. He was best man at my wedding, stood with me through my divorce, and had my back on countless occasions. We’ve wrestled bad guys to the ground, learned to fly airplanes together, and stood shoulder to shoulder.
So knowing all these things about him and having all this history should have given me at least some pause………..
I was too busy relieving myself in that smelly little porta-potty that desperately needed emptying, to think about how vulnerable I actually was.
I stood there feeling the relief of finally emptying my bladder. I was facing the plastic urinal with my back to the door.
Suddenly, without warning, the porta-potty lurched forward. I lost my footing and fell down to one knee with my right hand holding me as I grabbed the plastic toilet seat.
I yelled a string of profanity at him, which he couldn’t hear inside the car. He was busy laughing as he crept forward with the car until it was touching the plastic door. He then revved it a little bit and managed to tip the porta-potty to a steep angle.
The worst part was that as I was clawing my way up from the floor, the purple chemical and waste products began to slosh around and splash. This was soooo nasty that I lost my composure. All I could think was to get my pants zipped up and avoid the creepy purple goo that was sloshing around in the holding tank. Every now and then it would splash up through the toilet seat and onto the floor.
This went on for what seemed like an eternity,……… but then, apparently, he decided to tip it completely over. The problem though, was that it was too close to the ball field fence and would only tip so far. It didn’t have enough room to tip completely over, but leaned against the fence.
Unfortunately for me this didn’t deter him because he gave the car more gas and since the porta-potty was plastic it was very pliable. It would bend without being damaged.
Mark ended up pushing the car into the porta-potty causing the plastic wall to cave in and pin me against the back wall.
After several minutes of yelling profanity and banging on the door to be let out, he finally backed up and the porta-potty righted itself. The wall then popped back out. It was a very tough little structure, but it now had purple goo on the floor.
……and there I stood…..in the goo!
I got revenge by getting back into the Ford and getting the goo on the floor of his car. It was issued to him, so he had to clean it out. Oh did he grouse about that!
As I got in the car he was laughing so hard I thought he might pee his pants. He pled his defense that it was an irresistable opportunity. He was powerless to keep from doing it.
You know…… I have to admit…..I would probably have done the same thing to him.
We had just spent an hour interviewing a teacher about child abuse on one of her young students. The best thing Mark could do for me was to break the tension and get our minds off the stress.
Because, thats what friends do………..purple goo and all.