The Long Thin Rod

by Pung Worathiti

Between the time when NATO bombed Yugoslavia, Bill Clinton had an affair with an intern, and the Perseverances rover landed on mars, one of my classmates decided to let himself go. He jumped down from the 28th floor of our dormitory. The noise when his body hits concrete sounds more like a mattress dropped from a high point.

Quiet, and loud at the same time.

As I looked down from my room, the sky was clear, the crowd formed a circle around him like a group of ants around a sugar cube. I can only imagine what went through his head during that four-point three seconds.

They said life flashes before you die.

“He’s still alive,” I overheard someone talking about him. “He’ll live, but probably as good as a plant.”

Things are simpler when you reduced them to an inanimate object.

I walked through the corridor and went into the shared toilet where there was only one urinal there. I stood tall, let it all out, and aimed at the side of the hole so that it didn’t make so much sound. Then sometimes the flow stops and starts with no patterns. At that moment, I thought of how we are all the same and that most things in life are both beautiful and pointless all at the same time.

How could we make a point if we all wanted to live so loud?

I finished up and turned, someone was waiting to use it. He looked at me. I glanced back at him.

“Hi,” he said “I was waiting and heard how you go. I think you should go check your thing.”
“Go check my what?”
“I heard it, how you go, it’s not good.”
“You meant—”
“You should at least go check. Could be something serious.”
“Are you a doctor?” I asked
“No, but my dad had the same problem. When I was young, my bedroom was next to the toilet and the wall was very thin. While I was reading, I would hear my family using it. Then I started to catch the normality of it every day. It’s always the same. That’s why, suddenly, when something is out of the ordinary, I noticed it.”

I paused. Not sure what or how to react.

“So what do I have to do?” I eventually said.
“Go to the urologist and tell them that you might have a frown inside.”
“And what they will do to me?”
“They will take this long thin rod and put it inside the hole where you pee.”

He made a finger gesture of a long rod and a movement of putting it inside the hole that he made with another hand.

“I don’t think I want to do that,” I answered
“Of course, it's up to you. It might be nothing, or it might be something. You can decide whether you would like to know it. Now if you excuse me, I need to piss too.”

I moved away as he went in. I heard him unzipping. Then right after, the sound of the flow follows. It’s strong, one stroke full like clear water running through a clean straw. Quiet, and loud at the same time.


Worathiti Manosroi

First published in Arcana