After getting home from another hard day at the office, my pal Mitch invites me to join him on a sunset hike at Runyon Canyon.
I bike to the metro station at Vermont and Santa Monica, which must solely operate on a sort of honor system or something because in my experience no employees or anyone even remotely "official" ever seem to be there to check tickets or monitor the platforms. With the nose of my bike I nudge the plastic retractable bumpers of the handicap turnstile. The light stays red but the doors open anyway. I pretend it's an accident, but I still go through, I always do; honor system, my ass. I ride to Hollywood and Vine, biking the rest of the way down Hollywood Boulevard past the iO theater and the Rise and Grind Coffee toward Mitch's apartment. Once there, he decides he wants to break a sweat of his own, so we jog about a mile or so to the trailhead off Fuller Ave.
And that’s when I notice a curious feeling creeping into the pit of my stomach, the type that forces my skin to break out in a cold sweat and usually sends me clenching on the way to the nearest bathroom with a swelling wave of haste. It was the feeling of diarrhea. I take a deep breath, hoping to alleviate the tension with a few fortunate farts, and after some controlled contractions, I regain my composure and write off the occurrence as a fluke. Onward and upward.
We press forth toward salvation, soon reaching the top and gazing out toward the Hollywood skyline cloaked in a golden haze.
"Ah, can't beat LA sunsets," Mitch says, filling his chest with pride. "whattya say, kid?"
"What do I say? I say..." But before I can finish my thought the gurgling in my stomach returns, and with a splash, the unwanted houseguest sinks to the bottom rung of my lower intestine. "Shit." I stay frozen, caught like a deer in headlights, sphincter tight as a knot. I close my eyes and slow my breathing, focusing all of my energy south. In a moment of brevity, I'm able to shake it off and we begin our descent. Along the way, I start analyzing the depth of the bushes to see if I’d be able to hide away if I just duck slightly off trail. No such luck; Runyon is a place to see and be seen no matter where you are. The clock was ticking; soon, my body would triumph over my mind and purge itself, social suicide be damned. I just hoped I’d be locked away in privacy when that time inevitably comes. But for now, I have to press on, have to persevere.
We make it back to the entrance where I half remember seeing a Porta-Potty nearby, but of course it was just my imagination; wishful thinking. Back on Fuller, we now have another mile to trudge back to Mitch's apartment. Briskly, we walk along Franklin Ave, and upon nearing The Magic Castle I feel confident. I tell Mitch we should try jogging the rest of the way, so we do...at least we attempt to. Less than a block later, there is another drop lower into my bowels, and I remain drenched in panic. I trot down a side street and crouch behind some trees—No, not here. I turn and walk down an alleyway toward a dumpster thinking I could jump inside of it or maybe I could squeeze behind it and just fucking let it rip. But I don’t. I refrain from total and complete dehumanization.
Instead, I clamp my cheeks and speed walk back to Franklin, hastily trekking every painstaking block to Mitch's building, my forehead boiling and my skin infested with goose bumps. Three blocks, two blocks, one block; I could almost see it now, snow at the end of the rainbow. Outside the complex, inside the front door, racing up the stairs to level 2. Key in the hole, I rush inside and Mitch tosses me a bottle of Febreeze. I slam shut the bathroom door, drop my shorts, and for the first time in over an hour I relax--cleared for detonation, green light, Go, Go, Go! It's a cathartic cacophony of groans, grunts and panting followed by sighs of relief, joy, and then finally, elation.
Crisis averted. Mission complete. The demon is exorcised, and the house is clean once again.