Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Michael C. Keith


A blocked bowel will make you howl!
–– Anonymous

Elliot Connors began to experience intense abdominal pain on his return flight to Providence from the Midwest. For the twelfth time, he’d attended his annual HVAC convention in the Windy City, where eating exotic foods had become a ritual among his cohorts. Bet the damn roasted garlic enchiladas brought this on, he thought, clutching at his gurgling belly.

He tried his best to deal with the off-putting discomfort as he sat in a middle seat between two very large people. Is this done by a maniacal reservation system that tracks body size before allowing customers to choose a seat? Elliot pondered, feeling the thick arms of his fellow travelers press against his sides.

Finally he decided that it was necessary to take his intestinal issue to the restroom. Fortunately, there was no line and as soon as he was inside the narrow cubicle, he quickly dropped his pants and sat on the commode.

There he remained for what seemed an eternity while attempting to expel the inner demon that was causing him such distress. Why doesn’t something happen? What’s keeping it from moving? Maybe I should call a flight attendant. This might be serious. Could be a sign of something really bad. I don’t think I can take it much longer, thought Elliot, grunting and wiping the sweat from his brow.

Before making a desperate call for help, he decided to give his gut one last fierce squeeze. Here goes. Oh, hurt, hurt, hurt! Elliot moaned, as he scrunched his solar plexus. Breathless, he then peered into the commode and his moan turned into a groan of frustration and despair. Nothing! Goddamn it . . . empty! Okay, time to call in the cavalry.

Standing was out of the question in his current condition. Try that and God knows what will happen. Man, this is embarrassing, but I have to get assistance before I die right here. Not exactly membership in the Mile High Club.

Suddenly a stab of pain of such extraordinary force caused him to shriek, and he grabbed at the metal water basin fearing he may topple over. He expected his anguished howl would bring a flight attendant running to his aid, but that was not the case. Adding to his misery was a growing sense of claustrophobia. “Damn it! Are you frigging sky-waitresses deaf?” he blurted, as he formed a fist.

Just as his knuckles made contact with the folding door, the plane encountered violent turbulence, causing Elliot’s body to launch upward and then slam back down on the toilet seat. This occurred several more times in rapid succession, and he could hear the distant screams of his fellow passengers.

Like them he feared the plane was about to crash. But then the aircraft regained its stability, flying straight and level. To his surprise and great relief, Elliot noticed his pain was gone. Whatever had blocked his lower regions had been purged by the compassionate intervention of Thor’s hammer.

“Thank you for that . . . thank you,” he muttered, slowly standing and pulling his pants up.

Upon leaving the restroom, he was met by a flight attendant.

“Are you okay, sir? You look very flush.”

“Of course, I flushed,” replied Elliott, shakily returning to his seat . . . a stream of gastric eruptions trailing him.


Michael C. Keith teaches college and writes fiction.


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