From my cowering vantage point on the plastic toilet bench the foreman's frame filled the entire doorway. His hand came forward and grabbed a chunk of my wool coat and scarf. He twisted it tightly against my sternum and lifted me to an upright position. My feet were off the floor; my face just inches from his. I smelled the tuna salad he ate for lunch and salt and vinegar potato chip fumes drifted up from his fingers just below my chin.
"How the HELL did you get in here?" he pushed through clenched teeth. I opened and closed my mouth several times but nothing came out. My chin quivered and my breathing came high and fast in my chest. I hyperventilated my way into a convenient faint and out of answering that question for the moment.
When I came to I was stretched out on a duct-taped vinyl bench seat with Ford logos on it. The vehicle didn't seem to be moving. Then I noticed that there were no doors and no windows, nothing car-like at all. I sat up slowly and found myself inside the foreman's trailer - safety yellow headquarters. Five men stood with arms crossed, blocking the door, as if there were a risk I might have energy enough to bust through the door at any moment. The clock above their heads said 7:45. The whole fiasco took only 15 minutes.
"Okay, now, tell us. How the hell did you get to the Bainvoige Transportapotty central station?" the Foreman asked.
"What do you mean, 'how'? You know damn well how, I'm the one who doesn't understand! All day yesterday I watched your men going in and never coming out! I just did what they did!" I accusingly flung my hands toward the men standing in front of me as if casting a spell on them. "I walked into that portable toilet out there and next thing I know, I'm stepping out of a different john that's strapped into the bed of a pickup and then I'm in some giant parking lot of port-a-potties before being whisked back here somehow. Now, how 'bout you tell me what the hell is going on here?" They looked at each other but their expressions gave away nothing.
"It's not for you to know about. You work at the clinic, right? You're the shrink who does the stuff with dreams, right? Well, you're gonna pretend this was some crazy-ass dream and you're gonna walk out of here in the middle of all of us so no one sees you leave this trailer. And you're gonna go to work, and you're gonna forget about this. Got it?" He pulled me to my feet.
"I'm not sure I can do that." I said as safety yellow surrounded me. The trailer door opened and I was squeezed unwillingly out the door. They ushered me right into my building and deposited me at my office door as they kept moving down the hall and then up the stairs to the second floor. Once inside my office, I immediately rang my secretary, told her I'd made a terrible mistake coming to work today and that I'd be going home right away so as not to get stomach flu germs around the office. I made a slight retching sound, dropped the phone clumsily into its cradle and hurried to the bathroom to complete my performance. She canceled my patients for that day and the next.
Which brings me to Saturday. I returned to the clinic campus with the thought that I might poke around a little more without interruption. I wasn't sure I wanted a repeat performance of Wednesday's unexpected travel, but I felt like there was something I could discover. To my surprise, the light was on in the foreman's trailer. I thought I'd try again to get an explanation. Maybe he'd be in a different mood today, willing to talk, explain what had happened. I walked up the metal steps, took a deep breath and just as I reached up to knock on the door, it opened. The foreman let out a strangled sound of surprise and just stood, staring for a moment.
"I need some answers." I said. "Please."
He sighed deeply, ran his hand through his gray hair, stepped to the side and granted me entrance.
He took my hand when I offered it. "I'm Eve. Eve Stigatus." We shook on it.
"Mr. Custos, the Foreman. First name's Reggie ." He gestured toward the Ford bench seat so I sat. He perched on the edge of his desk, just looking at me.
"I don't want to cause trouble Mr. Custos. I just need an explanation." I said.
"I'm sure you do. But we need an explanation, too. What happened on Wednesday was highly irregular. Everyone in the company is up-in-arms about it. No one outside the company has ever been able to pottyport like that before. Plenty of ordinary folk have used our johns with no ill effects. I don't understand why you were able to access The System."