Bathroom Rituals: Oz
Detroit smells odd in the fall. He has been there before in other
seasons, but only fall carries that odd smell akin to weeds and sweat
through the air. It seeps in through the windows, follows you through
every room, and assaults your nose as you awake in the morning.
Dirty city--but also dirt cheap rent--the two told him last night in
the greasy-spoon diner on Cass Street. That is where Oz met them. Over
cheap tea and with bad paintings lining the wall behind them. "It's
supposed to make it appear artistically hip." Said the woman. She talks
as if she's a judge of such things. Art, and hippness, and other
things she does not allude to. A carefully cultivated air of trendy
Oz can't even afford dirt cheap rent right now, though he doesn't tell
them that then. He can't afford to leave the city, even. They can
tell, though. The streets are filled with the homeless and unlucky this
close to downtown. They know the look.
They keep looking at each other and back at him, and Oz knows. He knows
he'll be propositioned by them. He has whatever the look is that calls
out to those who want a...pet. Funny in the irony, less amusing in the
truth. He gets such offers often.
He wakes the next morning to the scent of Detroit fall in the air.
They come into the bathroom while he's showering. No modesty, but they
are Artists, they say. The human form is art personified, and should be
enshrined, not hidden. They talk about art a lot, and use the term to
wildly collect trappings of a lifestyle they think is fitting to such a
station in life.
They make him an offer to stay for a short while. They'll pay for his
van repair, and for gas, and send him off with some money in his
Oz doesn't answer, and so they return to the bed. They are Artists,
and they control the time clock for sleep, they say. Not society.
Oz steps from the shower and instead of toweling off, he moves over to
the old, cloudy mirror and uses the back of his hand to swipe at the
moisture. It doesn't help much. Just pushes it around in steamy beads
and Oz is left staring at a melting, streaked reflection of himself.
He notes his hair has lost all dye. It lays against his scalp and drips
water into his blinking eyes. He amuses himself for a bit pretending
they are tears, scrunching his face up to heighten the performance. Is
that how he looks when he cries?
Sound of sheets sliding as someone shifts in sleep in the other room.
Crisp white linen, cool to the skin except where he had been bookended
by two forms last night, male behind him and female in front. Very
demanding owners, but he had owed them for the place to crash. To owe
is to give a power of ownership. They were kinky in their tastes, and
Oz has to wonder now if that is their nature. Or if it is the nature of
the Artist, as they would say. Sex transformed into performance art.
A social commentary on himself, Oz thinks. Donations accepted by a cup
at the door, please sign the guest book on the way out.
Oz sighs and leans over to pick up the towel. Nice imagery to amuse
himself with, until he realizes that these people might actually be the
type to have sex in a gallery and call it art.
But they have a nice collection of CDs, and a very good system to play
them on. They also have food in the fridge, and cable, and they know of
good clubs. They have large fluffy towels for when one is done with a
shower such as he is, and nice soap. And a washing machine. And money
for him, if he is willing to earn it.
Oz is nothing if not practical, and simple pleasures go a ways to help
soothe the soul. At least when all one can hope for is simple
pleasures, life's easier...less complicated.
Oz finishes drying himself off and wipes his wet footprints off the
floor with the towel. He thinks about dropping the towel in the hamper
by the sink, but decides it will probably be needed.
He flings it over a shoulder and walks into the other room nude, to
crawl into the bed. He eases himself between the two figures sprawled
there and mumbles a Good Morning to them.
They wrap themselves around his body, and a breeze from the open window
throws the scent of fall over them. A reminder of passing time, and
then they are too entwined to notice other smells besides that of their