The Mystery of the Cucumber and the Shoe
It had been another busy and entirely unpleasant
day working as a toilet cleaner for the local town council. Market
day was always an extremely trying time and I had to deal with some
of the most appalling people that I have ever encountered in my
short life. Rude, ignorant and downright filthy individuals abounded
and the only respite I got during this was to hide in my tiny concrete
bunker. Not an ideal situation, by any means.
On this particular day, I had found a voluminous
foil bag full of cigarette stubs and a large misshapen piece of
paving stone. Hmmm, I had to wonder who that broken piece of stone
was for. I think that I may have received a new look courtesy of
some drug-addled jerk if I had walked into the toilets at the wrong
I was not in the habit of challenging anyone that
seemed to be up to no good. The job just did not pay enough for
me to tackle miscreants and, if they were not harming me in any
way with their behaviour then I couldn't give a damn what it was
that they were getting up to.
It was approaching the end of the day and I was
looking forward to getting away from the stink of other people's
business at last. I'd heard every kind of bodily function in action.
I had listened to every kind of lame, pointless and spoilt complaint
about the state of the facilities and the lack of toilet paper in
the cubicles... They made it sound like the end of the world, as
if we were all going to die horribly from unblown noses and unwiped
I had to apologise on behalf of the council for
their "post nasal drip" and hope that it didn't spoil
their enjoyment of the day too much.
So, I closed off the toilets and cleaned them out
as quickly as I could. It was a revolting and demeaning task. I
had to fish evil wet cigarettes out of the urinals and scrub caked
on cack from the sides of the bowls. There was mud and pee all over
the floors. It was utterly disgusting and I would swear and curse
all the way through the job.
I spat venom at everyone that I had seen during
the day and hoped that they'd picked up some sort of yeasty infection
from the toilet seats. I mopped and polished, wiped and sprayed.
Finally, I finished everything and waited for the
time clock to come around to "knocking off time". I stood
in the evening sunshine and took a good, deep breath of clean air
for the first time that day. Wonderful!
I headed back into my bunker to collect my things
and to drink the last of my bottle of blueberry water. There was
a knock at my door, which was odd for that time of the day. I answered
the door as if it was my private residence.
"Yes?" I asked of the old lady that stood
directly before me.
"I wondered if you could help me?" she
said in a quivery old lady's voice.
"Well, I'll try. How can I be of assistance?"
"I wondered whether you had a bag handed to
you today? You see, I've lost a bag and it had a shoe in it."
"Yes," she said, "just one shoe.
It's my husband's shoe. I had it repaired, you see and I think I
left the bag hanging in one of the cubicles. I wondered whether
you could go looking for it?"
This was not the sort of thing that I really wanted
to hear at this late hour. All I wanted to do was go home and make
myself a cup of tea and have some dinner. I entered my concrete
bunker and there was no bag with a shoe in there. Again, this was
not good news because I knew what the next request would be.
"Do you think that you could go into the ladies'
toilet and see whether it is in there?" she asked.
That was the very thing that I was dreading. The
floors were clean and wet and I did not want to go tramping across
them making foot prints which would need to be cleaned up again
if I wanted to remain in gainful employment.
I told her that there was nothing in there and that
I couldn't really go back into the toilets, as the floors were wet
and slippery. She started to get really agitated, so I gritted my
teeth, opened the door and went back into the ladies' toilets.
I wandered across the skiddy wet rink of a floor,
looking for a stupid bag with a shoe in it. I was sure that none
would be found, but to my great surprise, there was a bag in there...
Ahhh, so maybe she was right after all.
I tiptoed across the tiles again and came out to
her. I locked the door and turned to face her. At this point, I
looked into the bag for the first time.
In the bag, instead of the single shoe that we were
all hoping for, was the last thing I would have expected to see.
I looked up at the old lady with a kind of lop sided grin. I looked
back into the bag and wondered how to break the news to her.
"Er, it's a cucumber," I said.
"Sorry?" she asked.
It was indeed, the biggest cucumber that I'd seen
in many a year. She peered into the bag for herself and looked slowly
up at me.
"Well, I'm vexed," said the old lady.
She slowly walked away from me as if I'd deliberately
swapped her footwear for salad. I had to turn on my heel from the
whole scene and shut myself in the bunker. I laughed like a lunatic
for the rest of my shift. I hope that she went home thinking that
she'd met the most bizarre and pointless criminal in the world.
I have no idea what happened to turn the shoe into
a cucumber but I hope that she had a tough time explaining to her
husband just what had happened to his shoe.
HÜMPHRÊ¥ J. ¥ÒGHÜ®T
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