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 mysteriousness.

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 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 pockets.

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 own making.