Drew Buxton 


Gordon smacked the bathwater with his pitcher and burped and pounded his chest. He won like always, and I poured out what I had left. We leaned back against the cool tile and massaged our chug lumps. It’s what we called our stretched bellies. I slapped his ripe lump, and he got mad and pinned my arms against the side of the tub with one arm and hit my lump over and over. I squealed for mercy and was about to throw up all that water when Dad’s angry head popped in the bathroom.

“Y’all quit! Get out, brush your teeth, and get to bed,” he said.

Eight forty-five was bedtime, and the summer sun was still hanging around. Gordon was already falling asleep on the bottom bunk and didn’t want to talk. I felt a big fart coming, and I was bored, so I spread my legs and pulled my knees towards my head so I could really hear it and smell it. But it was a wet crackle instead. I’d pooped myself a little, and I held it in and climbed down the bunk ladder and penguin-walked down the hallway to the bathroom. Dad’s room was on the other side of the wall, and I tried to let it out slow and quiet.

I’d hardly stepped on the ladder to the top bunk before I had to rush back to the toilet. I couldn’t keep it quiet, and it sounded like one of those cars that sounds like a gun going off when it starts up. Dad opened his door. “What are you doing?”

I thought about pretending to be Gordon, but I just said, “I’m sick, Dad!”

“Like diarrhea or what?”

“Yeah,” I said, and it was quiet for a few seconds. He went back to bed, and I stayed on the toilet that night and fell asleep with my head in my lap on my folded arms like I was sleeping in class at my desk.

In the morning I didn’t feel like having Cap’n Crunch or Waffle Crisp. I felt queasy and had a bad headache. I drank some orange juice, but my stomach divided it and sprayed half out of each end of me. I did this dance over the toilet all day. Sick as a dog during summer break. I couldn’t even miss school.

****

“My throat’s been kinda hurting,” Gordon decided to tell the doctor when she finally came in. Me and Dad looked at him like, Now you say something?

She said we both had the flu, but mine was way worse somehow. “People’s bodies react differently to different strains.” Gordon had infected me and gotten off scott-free. He smiled and patted me on the back, and Dad thought it was the funniest thing, and you could see him trying to think of a joke.

“…Looks like…you got a raw deal here, huh?” He said and laughed and elbowed me. The doctor giggled too, and Gordon couldn’t have been happier, and I wanted him dead. I wanted to throw him out of the third-story window, but he was so much stronger than me.

My head only hurt when I moved, so I laid still on the couch, watching judge shows. Gordon came in through the patio sweating from playing football down the block. He nuked a pepperoni Hot Pocket, and the smell almost made me throw up. He bit into it and went, “Ow ow ow,” and cupped water into his mouth from the faucet. He took another bite and burned himself again, but I didn’t have the energy to call him an idiot, and he ran back outside.

             My fever got down to 99 after sweating on everything for two days. I didn’t feel like I was gonna throw up anymore, but I still had to go to the bathroom every half-hour. Dad fixed cheeseburger macaroni for dinner. I barely had an appetite, but I plopped two good scoops on my plate and forced it down. It was the first real food I’d had in days. My stomach freaked out but I kept eating.

            “Feeling better, I guess?” Dad said.

            “Uh-huh, yeah. 100%,” I said. I didn’t have to take baths alone anymore.

That night I scooted to the end of the tub and hugged my knees so Gordon could lay back and wash the shampoo out of his hair. His head was inches from my crotch, the head with the mouth and the spit that had poisoned me, and to be honest I wasn’t feeling like my usual self just yet.

 He sat up real fast and said, "You’re gross,” and laughed. He thought it was just a fart because sometimes we would see who could make the biggest bubbles. But it wasn’t just a fart, and he saw the dark cloud crossing into his side. He jumped up and slipped and fell out of the tub and crawled out of the bathroom like a commando or something.

He came back a few seconds later still naked and slapped me in the face. "Jerk!” he cried with red eyes and turned to walk away. Then he came back and went to smack me again, but I kicked at him with my poopy legs, and he backed off. "You’re sitting in your own shit, nasty ass! I'm telling Dad!"

“I’ma tell him you said shit and ass,” I said.

“I don’t care!” He said and ran out. The bath water had become an even brown. It looked really bad, and I knew Dad would probably curse too and not care that Gordon had said shit and ass.