Hubris

He is a bullrider, a live-life-on-the-edge kind of guy. So when he boldly strode down the aisle from the furthest forward seat of the double-decker bus to the stairs he did not once grab the readily available handholds. He is a grinning risk-taker, a mischievous bandit-type. So when a girl glanced up at him he smiled and winked and continued on his way to the cramped bathroom on the bus. He is a devil-may-care doer, an accidents-are-below-me sort of person. He didn’t lock the door on the bathroom when he entered it.  He appraises the situation. The toilet. A sign depicting a man standing crossed off and a sitting man check marked. Fuck that sign. He sinks his knees into the edge of the port-a-potty like surface and leans out over the hole, ignoring the mild discomfort the constant rattles of the bus bring him. They are on the highway. A reasonably measured risk.

He laughs to himself, his impeccable balance keeping him steady as he draws circles with his urine. A jarring halt brings him into the side of the cramped bathroom, causing his piss to splatter like machine gun spray across the bathroom and into friendly fire. The pain of his right shoulder is nothing to the terror of the warm, wet, sinking feeling he feels down his left inner thigh. He has successfully pissed on his pants, enough to soak through and leave a painfully obvious dark blotch. Should have worn the black pants over the light khakis. He regains his balance and his control. He evaluates the situation. A knock on the door.

“Are you alright in there?”

“Fine!” he calls back.

He scrambles into action. Toilet paper to wipe down the seat and additional spray zone. It won’t do anything for his pants though he futilely tries to soak some up anyways. What to do about the pants? He could wait for them to dry in the bathroom, which would take a while and still smell after. The smell has to go first. Luckily, there is hand sanitizer. Should overpower or at least mask the smell. But then that will take time to dry as well. He does it anyways, and although he doesn’t know it, ethanol evaporates more quickly than water. It’s hard to say whether it would have made a difference in his story if he had known. He sits down and applies a copious quantity of the hand sanitizer to the dark splotch. Then he cleans his leg. He still feels filthy afterwards.

He waits, and figures, as long as he’s here he may as well grab a quick smoke, disobeying the second of three signs. The third is a sign depicting two men in hats, one on the toilet and the other, standing x-ed out. He suspects it means that only one person may use the bathroom at a time. I like to think it means no secret mafia meetings in the bathroom. He is halfway through his cigarette when someone opens the door. He quickly covers his pants and crotch area with his hands, still holding the cigarette. The person apologizes profusely while closing the door. He breathes a sigh of relief. His pants are on fire. Ethanol burns very easily and he covered his left pant leg with a hand containing one lit cigarette. He curses violently as he tries to beat out the flames. The person outside the door is startled by how upset the man inside seems to be. She was only trying to go to the bathroom.

He looks dumbly at his pants. The lovely thing about ethanol is that it burns before your skin or clothes burn, typically speaking. Although there is still a small burnt hole in his new, expensive khakis, he is astonished to see that the dark splotch is now dry and gone and in the place of a urine smell there is only a burnt-ethanol smell, which is like a normal burnt smell but more clinical and abhorrent. He puffs on his cigarette one more time. He cannot believe his luck. He chucks the butt between his legs (the cigarette butt that is) and into the murky, man-made blue solution below. He sniffs cautiously. Just the overpowering smell of burnt ethanol. He examines his pants. No splotch. 800 degrees Celsius evaporated the water saturating the threads of his khakis very quickly.

He calmly stands, zips up, sanitizes his hands and walks out. He feels as if God himself has come down and produced a miracle; yet, even the devil helps out his own. He opens the door, smiles apologetically at the lady he rushes past in his quest to leave the lower level of the bus. He ascends the stairs and boldly strides back to his seat, smelling like he just smoked a cigarette and incinerated the hand sanitizer container. Fuck it. As long as they don’t know he pissed himself it doesn’t matter.

The lady he had smiled at on his way down the aisle glances over as he walks by, noticing that the inner back of his left leg has a few telltale dark patches on it. She laughs inwardly and judges him at the same time.

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