Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Sewers

The room full of somber city council members stared at the mayor.

"Mayor, a city worker recovered this from the sewers while they were drilling through a hairball in the Barber District," said the police commissioner, handing a three-ring binder across the mahogany table. The mayor fiddled with a phallic letter opener as he took the binder.

"What, they found some fuckin' kid's fuckin' school papers and you're all shitting bricks?" the mayor asked as he fiddled with one of the many phallic letter openers that littered his desktop.

"Open it," said the police commissioner.

The mayor opened it. Each page had been soaking in sewer water. The ink had smeared in places, running together with the brown coastlines and mountain ranges left behind when a page is dried after soaking in effluvia. The edges were tattered with the teeth marks of rats. The letters were written in a careful, elegant script, gradually descending into a rough chickenscratch.

This is what it said:

"I was sent here by the Census Bureau to cover the uneducated, sweaty hordes in the southern portion of the city. They were crammed together tighter than the insects that inhabited their buildings. They possessed air conditioning units that were universally broken. At each door I'd hear the strains of the lowest common denominator television blaring, then the sound of uncouth voices yelling. Inevitably they'd come stomping to the door, frowning around the doorjambs, in their stained tanktops or threadbare housecoats. If I was lucky, they'd be wearing fetid slippers. If I wasn't, their hooked toenails would click against the broken linoleum on the floor.

I didn't come away from university with a degree in rhetoric to talk with people who could barely form a sentence without some sort of barnyard euphemism, despite their relatives having infested this district for decades. Or at least I assumed decades, from the ingrained decay that collected around them like the layer of dust in an abandoned tomb. Only time could produce that.

I would always arrive at lunch time, or supper time, or dinner time. God, these people were always eating. And the most disgusting things. I learned from one sturdily obese man, named Milton Edgar Luchmann, what ingredients went into what he called 'trailer park Porterhouse.' One stick of margarine, left out for an hour to soften, mixed with a cup of dry cat food. He pressed the mixture against his gums without removing the gummy brown chaw from his mouth as we talked and I gathered information on his employment (self-employed), his family geneaology (two parts racial slur, one part religious), and the other residents of the apartment (at least six others called this place home, and all of them were in prison).

Milton was my last stop in the building, and my last stop for the day. It had taken longer than I had expected and the sun had already set by time I folded up the census form and bid Milton a good night. He implored me to stay.

'It ain't safe for a fella outside, not in this neighborhood, not at night.'

I assured him that I had learned plenty of self-defense manuevers at university. He eyed me dubiously and watched me as I walked down the stairs, where I felt the real danger was. I swear that even the termites that had caused their instability kept off of them.

I walked outside and tried to breathe deep enough to use the air to rinse the smell of trailer park Porterhouse out of my sinuses and lungs. I felt light-headed and disoriented, and didn't notice anything was amiss until I felt hands grab my ankles and yank my feet out from beneath me.

One moment I was standing, the next my vision flashed white as my head collided with the concrete sidewalk. I saw the census forms and papers fluttering in the in the orange light of the sodium lamp on the corner. I still hadn't seen my attacker, but I saw my savior. Milton emerged from the apartment building with a kitchen knife.

'What'd I tell you?' he said. He leapt towards my feet and grunted as he stabbed. His belly jiggled angrily with each stab. Regaining my senses, I sat up as quick as I could and fought the waves of nausea crashing over my tender skull.

I'll never forget what I saw. A human, or I should say humanoid, trying to flee from Milton. He'd grabbed it around the neck. It had the appearance of an egg held up to a powerful light. You could see every vein running beneath its translucent skin. Its eyes were blue, whitish orbs, and it had rotting lips that peeled back to reveal teeth like that of a cat, except much larger, longer and sharper. They were for rending flesh.

Flesh that would've been mine, filling its jaws, if it wasn't for Milton and his kitchen knife. He filleted the horror and sent it skittering back into the sewers.

'I warned ya,' Milton said, pulling me to my feet.

'What was that?' I asked.

'We call em the drainmen, because they come out of the drains. None of us live in the basements round here anymore, used to be popular to dodge the leaky roofs, but it's better to have some drops falling on your head than having spindly fingers reaching out of a sink to grab you while you're doing some dishes.'"

"That's it? Some fool's delusions?" the mayor said, dropping the binder into the trash. "That's why you're all stinking up my fucking office?"

"We've lost the Barber District. The hairball was all that blocked these...drainmen."

"What do you mean, lost?"

"It's gone. The workers, the residents..."

"Send in more cops!"

"The SWAT teams were dragged into the sewers," the police commissioner said, "and my men and women more afraid of the drainmen than they are of you or me."

The Moral: don't flush monster's eggs into the municipal sewer system.

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