The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

And now for something completely different

The conversation was harmless enough. Vague pleasantries drifted back and forth across the room like dust, dancing carefree on shards of golden afternoon light. Barely noticeable at first, but ever so slowly choking the air.

“How was your weekend?” asked the faceless voice.

“Pretty good. How was yours?” came the faceless reply.

Jenny had watched a movie. Stan had watched the footy. Brad had weeded his garden. I wondered out loud if that was a euphemism, but no one seemed to hear me. Sharon hadn’t said anything yet, which was a welcome change. But Sharon always had something to say. It was only a matter of time before she crashed into the conversation with an obliviously inane anecdote designed to bore us all into oblivion. I started to wish that Sharon had a mute button.

“Is everyone here?” asked Brad.

I didn’t know. And why would I? I didn’t even know why I was there, let alone who else was or wasn’t supposed to be there. No one else seemed to know either, as Brad’s gentle riposte was variously parried with feigned ignorance and furtive glances. The normally ebullient Sharon briefly promised a response, but turned meek in the moment, merely mouthing her reply and remaining silent.

“Well I guess we can wait a few minutes for the late comers,” said Brad.

And so we waited.

I looked around the room. Why was I here? Why were any of us here? Are we being held captive? Will we ever be free? Am I the only one to harbour such doubts? These questions and many more quietly invaded my thoughts. But the longer we waited, the stronger came the invasion, and wave after wave of indignant doubt pommeled my meagre defences.

At some point, I noticed that Brad had started talking. For how long, I know not. But he was in his element now. An audience rendered captive and unable to speak. They were scorched earth, and his words were the storm. Loud. Drenching. Unavoidable. And they accepted the torrent, not only because they had to, but because they knew it would pass.

But I did not.

To me the storm was unending. Infinite. Inescapable. And the more it raged the more my mind cried out for solace, and my body cried out for shelter, and my soul reached and grasped and clawed for the light of faintest hope.

And I realised I was alone.

Completely alone.

But then a whisper reached my ear, faint and feeble, but emphatic and fierce. “You are alone,” it said. “But you are strong.”

And finally, in that moment, I knew what I had to do.

I staggered to my feet, and drifted slowly into shadow. Had anyone seen me? I glanced quickly around the room and saw that all eyes remained steadfastly on Brad. And that bloviating storm rolled on, apparently unaware of my small rebellion, or his own insignificance. But I needed to be sure.

“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds,” I whispered unto the storm.

But the storm answered not. And in that moment, I knew I was free.

I ran for hope. I ran for life. I ran until my heart gave out and I reached the gilded sanctuary for which I yearned.

And I found my release.

And that’s the story of the time I did a poo on a work Zoom call.

You’re welcome.

– Tim