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The Drain Man

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Well, I guess you could say it all started with the germaphobe math tutor Cameron and I had when I was twelve and Cameron was eight. We trudged into the tutoring center on our first day looking glum. Math tutoring was the least of our excitements in life, especially when we were dumped into a gray building that looked like it had been built with prisoners in mind.

“Open Catastrophic Differential Equations to page 1,023. You have ten minutes to complete all the problems. If you have any questions, hesitate to ask,” muttered a middle-aged man wearing cracked glasses. A partial wig to cover his bald spot in the middle of his head was clinging on to him by only a few strands of hair.

“Oh, and one more thing: I’ve placed Purell sanitation dispensers all around the room as you can see. I would encourage you to sanitize your hands before and after you touch a pencil, before and after you sit down, before and after you touch paper, and most importantly…before and after you turn in anything to me. Germs are highly toxic and if they get on you…” here he shuddered, “you could die.”

I rolled my eyes and opened my book to page 1,023. This is what I saw: jkri+++dkrje{DFD}=&^%*&?????

I took one look at the problem and shot my hand into the air. The teacher sighed with exasperation and stomped over to my desk.

“Um…where do I start?” I asked the tutor.

“Right here. At the beginning,” barked the tutor, jabbing at the p at the beginning of the problem. He then marched back over to his desk, squirted two dollops of Purrel into his hands, and sat down.

“Right,” I murmured under my breath. “Thank you for that illuminating suggestion.”

“If ever in doubt, Purrel,” he murmured.
This was going to be a long summer. I stood up and got some Purrel. At least it would give me something to do.
“You know, Margaret—” he began.
“MaCall,” I corrected.
“—whatever. Purrel is the only thing that can protect you from the ‘Drain Man.’”
I raised an eyebrow.
“The Drain Man. He lives in everyone’s drain. If you’re not clean, he’ll slink out of the drain and eat dirty children.”
“Huh?”
“THE DRAIN MAN PUNISHES ALL WHO ARE NOT FLAWLESSLY HYGENIC!” Baldy roared, his already pink face turning a deep shade of purple.
I jumped back a little. A few of the other kids looked up with glazed eyes. Cameron just glared at me with a sit-back-down-before-you-embarrass-both-of-us look. I scurried to my seat, prim and Purrelled.
As I attempted to finish the math problems, a bizarre bathroom daydream ignited my imagination. My sister and I were standing over the sink, brushing our teeth. All of a sudden, a ghost-like creature oozed out of the drain, and when I looked up in the mirror, it was right behind me, baring its razor sharp teeth, its blood-red eyes glaring at me with terrible hygiene vengeance. I screamed.
Everyone in the math class stared at me. Sweat was pouring down my face and my hand was trembling. Even the indifferent math tutor had a whisper of concern on his face. How embarassing.
“I…saw a spider…” I stuttered, quickly diving back down to stare at my sheet.
I could feel everyone’s eyes still on me, but I kept looking at my sheet of math equations as if they were riveting. After a few long minutes, Baldy called time. We turned in our papers. He then “taught” us how to properly apply Purrel and we all went home.
As Cameron and I were trudging out, we complained about Baldy’s so-called “class.”
“It’s such a joke. I don’t understand why we even take that class. And I was so lost on those problems!” I wailed.
“I know. Hey, MaCall, do you think there’s anything to that ‘Drain Man’ story Baldy mentioned? It’s just kind of weird for a middle-aged man to believe in monsters.”
“I don’t know. It’s kind of creepy. I hope it’s not true,” I said.
“Whatever. He was probably just trying to scare us into using more Purrel. I think he’s kinda off anyway,” Cameron concluded.
“Yeah.”
*
*
*
When we got home that day, I made my usual trip to the restroom. As I walked in the bathroom, I felt an unusual draft.
“…um…Cameron! Can you come here please?!” I cried, trying not to think of the Drain Man.
“Why?”
“Just come here!”
Cameron came running into the bathroom wielding a flashlight.
“It’s the Drain Man isn’t it?” she squeaked, flicking on the flashlight in the already fully-lit room.
“Yeah…I think the story is true.”
“That’s what I was afraid of,” said Cameron, yanking me out of the doorway.
“We should use the bushes,” I said, backing out. The bathroom had never looked this foreboding. Even the clothes lying on the floor had an onimous appearance.
Cameron and I went to the bathroom in the bushes. We told our parents that our bathroom was broken, and besides, the tile was cold. They thought this was weird but decided not to ask any questions. Sure, it wasn’t very comfortable out there, but at least we weren’t going to be attacked by the Drain Man.
*
*
*

Later that week, a few of our friends came over for a pool party (including Cameron’s seven-year-old husband Nick. Don’t ask—they got married at recess).
Now, as you recall, a few days before Cameron had taken a little dump in the bushes. And may I add that she had been too lazy to dig a hole and cover her stuff afterwards? So, my dad was wrestling with my two little brothers, Jack and Heaton, and when Jack pinned my dad’s face to the ground, my dad’s gaze directly met a pile of fragrant brown poop.
“Hold on boys…Cameron!” cried my dad, standing up and dusting the dirt from his shirt as I took a cannonball off the diving board and splashed into the pool.
“What!?” exclaimed Cameron, hopping out of the pool and running over to my dad.
“Whose…poop…is…this?” asked my dad, curiously poking the pile with a stick. (Guys always like to examine things.)
Cameron gave a nervous chuckle.
“Bodie’s, of course…who else’s?” said Cameron, pointing an accusing finger at our innocent dog.
“But Bodie always goes in the back corner. I trained him after I watched those Ceasare Malone videos,” said my dad confusedly.
Cameron forced out a choked laugh.
“You think it was me? Like I would do such a thing. Ha ha,” laughed Cameron, peering over her shoulder to see if her husband Nick was within hearing distance.
“I know you and MaCall have been going to the bathroom out here, but I thought you were going #2 inside.”
Nick jogged up to stand beside Cameron.
“What are you guys talking about?” he inquired curiously.
“Nothing,” said Cameron shortly.
“We’re trying to figure out whose doody this is. So far, all the evidence points toward your wife. The smell, the odd location, and the fact that she has been avoiding the toilets ever since she went to math tutoring, for reasons unknown.”
“BUT WHAT ABOUT MACALL?” Cameron screeched.
“MaCall would never do such a thing,” reasoned my dad. “She is too sophisticated.”
“Ugh! That is so not true! I’m sophisticated too!” Cameron wailed.
“THEN WHY ARE YOU POOPING IN THE BUSHES?” my dad roared.
Nick was scratching his forehead.
“Um…I have to go. I just remembered I have an important dentist appointment,” Nick said, starting to edge away.
Cameron whirled around to face Nick.
“Nick…I know you don’t have a dentist appointment today! I checked your Palm Pilot!”
“What? You were snooping in my backpack again?!”
“I just wanted to know …”
“Know what?”
Cameron sniffled.
“If you were meeting Jessica today.”
“I’m not,” said Nick, looking highly offended.
“It’s too late, Nick, I already know.”
“Know what?”
“I know that you two were SITTING AT THE LUNCH TABLES TOGETHER!” Cameron exploded.
“Well…at least she doesn’t poop in bushes!”
Cameron whipped around to face my dad. She looked rabid.
“LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE!” she seethed.
“Hey, I’m not the one who pooped in the bushes,” my dad chuckled.
“Arghhh!” wailed Cameron, running up to her room.
Nick slunk off, probably to go visit Jessica.
That turd.
After my friends left that day, my parents made a decree that everyone had to use the restroom inside from then on.
“But…the monster lives in the bathrooms!” Cameron and I cried in unison.
“What monster?”
“The Drain Man!”
“I’m not even going to ask, but the point is, you two need to start acting like civilized young ladies and stop pooping in the bushes and taking showers in the pool, do you understand?” my mom declared, frowing at us.
“Yes, mom,” Cameron and I sighed, then slunk up to our rooms.

Unfortunately, we needed to take a shower.

“You go first,” Cameron said, ever the considerate one.

“It’s okay, I need to…do my homework.”

“No, I insist.”

“I insistedly insist.”

“But you insisted second, so…that makes me the winner.”

“Nuh uh.”

“Ya huh.”

“GIRLS! I DON’T HEAR THE SHOWER GOING!” my mom shrieked.

“Okay, let’s just both go together then,” I compromised, grabbing a pair of pjs and stalking determinedly toward the bathroom.

“Okay,” said Cameron, doing the same.

We stood side-by-side in front of the bathroom door. It looked haunted, and the vent above the door looked particularly suspicious.

“Alright. This is it,” I said, reaching for the door knob.

“Uh-huh.”

We both gulped.

Creeeeeeeeaaaaakkkk…

The darkness in the bathroom beckoned us with outstretched claws.

Oooooooooo…weeeee…oooooo!

“Aaaaaahhhhhhh!” we screamed in unison.

“JACK’S JUST PLAYING HIS NEW ‘SPOOKY SOUNDS’ CD, GIRLS! DON’T WORRY!” yelled my mom from the first floor.

“Oh.”

Cameron and I tip-toed into the bathroom and flicked the light on. It looked… suspiciously normal.

That was always a bad sign.

Cameron inhaled a shuddering deep breath and opened the shower sliding glass door. The glistening silver knob just waited for someone to reach out and turn it.

“Go ahead. Turn it on,” I urged Cameron, ever the helpful older sister.
I pulled off my shirt, but immediately felt too vulnerable. The fresh skin on my back would be a delicious treat for the Drain Man’s claws and teeth. I shuddered at the thought.

“No way Jose. You can turn on the water. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t taken a bath in around a week, so the Drain Man will eat me first!”

I didn’t argue. I knew where all arguments with Cameron went. I reached into the shower and pulled the handle, then yanked my hand out before you could say ‘monster.’

The process of crawling into the shower took longer than I can explain. There was a lot of pushing and shoving, and rock-paper-scissoring. We finally decided to completely remove the shower curtain, angle the shower head to the opposite side so water wouldn’t get all over the floor, and hold hands while hopping in at the same time. While I rinsed my hair, Cameron kept her eyes on the drain. The WORST thing that could happen would be the Drain Man making a surprise attack while I was blinded by shampoo.

We ended up making it out of the shower alive, fortunately, but brushing our teeth was a whole new episode. When I opened the medicine cabinent to get my toothbrush, I watched in horror as the mirror’s reflection slid across the bathroom to come to a terrifying halt at a black shadow. I screamed, my lungs expanding like frightened kid balloons.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….aaaa….”

Alarmed by my screaming, Cameron started screaming too. My parents dashed up into the bathroom, thinking we were being ax-murdered, only to find us staring at ourselves in the mirror, screaming as loud as we could.

“WHAT IS GOING ON HERE!?” my dad shouted over our high-pitched shrieks.

I closed my mouth, then cupped my hand over Cameron’s.

“Nothing! We were just rehearsing the Greek wailing scene of Oedipus Rex—you know the part when Oedipus finds out that he married his mother. It’s for school.”

“Jimminy Christmas,” my parents muttered, then stomped back down the stairs.

Once they were gone, I slowly wheeled around to see that the “BLACK MONSTER SHADOW” was just my mom’s tired old trench coat. I had officially gone into a state of paranoia. I blame Baldy.





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