Paruresis – The Bashful Bladder

Twilight in the city – he liked this time of the day. The bustling crowds and the beautiful girls released like whippets from their office kennels scurrying through the streets on their way to god knows where. It was winter and during those extended evenings he would plan his journey in a carefully co-ordinated route in order to maximise his enjoyment of this urban frenzy.

Total darkness was looming and the full moon presided over the freezing metropolis. He considered as he walked each evening, how promising the delights of his stomping ground were, even though in a few hours he would feel the onset of disappointment that something anticipated yet again did not transpire.

But now was the overture of the evening, and he would enjoy the symphony. The crisp sound of his leather soled shoes clapped on the icy pavement as he made his way passed the bookshop. He compared the sound of his footsteps to those of others around him. To the left he heard the clicking of high heels reminiscent of a young horse about to break into a canter; another young wench trying to catch a tram that had unforgivingly closed its doors. He smiled to himself taking secret delight in her distress. Behind him moving at a pace slightly brisker than his, came the soft patter of children’s sneakers interrupted by an occasional scrunch of one child sliding along the icy pavement.

The street was lined on both sides with bright and busy shops. Pedestrians were abundant meandering like termites following unseen chemical signals that led them in and out through shop entrances, up and down pavements, and wayward ones that seemed to wander aimlessly. The sweet aroma of commerce filled the air!

He turned the corner towards the river and momentarily altered his pace, synchronising his step to keep in tune with the music emanating from a fashion boutique. Crossing the street his pace changed yet again when he fell into step with a woman going before him. This was a game he played while walking – he would pick a pedestrian close by and try to match their pace exactly. Then he would follow someone else who was going in his direction and match their pace. The goal was to see how many people he could seamlessly synchronise himself with before reaching his first destination.

He turned another corner and made his way across the cobbled street, mindful of the fact that slipping on this surface with his leather soles was a hazard to be wary of. This would be the first stop in his itinerary, ‘The Silver Spoon’ coffee shop; even better, there were free tables outside. He could smoke a fag and enjoy the world walking by. Here he ordered an espresso – easy on the bladder, he thought; ‘I still have a lot of stops before I get to Mavericks Bistro!

His breath emerged like steam from a locomotive as he sat sipping his coffee. ‘Bladder still OK’ he mused. Mavericks Bistro was where he chose to have his meal this evening. The toilets were secure, strong cubicle doors ensuring maximum privacy – he needn’t worry about interruptions there.

Sitting there, he viewed the roofline above the bustle of the street and stared at the full moon. Misty clouds traversed its face with haste, like they had somewhere important to go to. In contrast the roof tops stood like battlements, rigid, timeless and oblivious to the transient world below. ‘Perhaps I should start my story with that image’ he wondered as he stubbed out his cigarette and rose to continue on his journey.

He joined the dense crowd of pedestrians and with them crossed the narrow bridge to the far side of the river. He followed them through the narrow walkways that were lit up like oriental bazaars. The symphony was now reaching its crescendo. Music, human voices, laughter, portable generators behind stalls, the din of traffic in nearby streets, distant sirens and a busker playing a didgeridoo, all added to the pleasure he felt by being an anonymous participant in this extravaganza!

He wandered into a new bookshop he hadn’t noticed before. The unpainted MDF shelves were stacked with bargain priced rejects, a kind of ‘straight to DVD bookstore’ he joked with himself. He was beginning to feel the dull discomfort of pressure on his bladder, as he leafed through a book entitled ‘Al Qaeda, Brotherhood of Terror’. It was only €2 so he decided to buy it; ‘Good reading material while I’m eating in Mavericks’ he thought. ‘Maybe there is material here that I can use in my story’.

In Mavericks Bistro he ordered his usual, penne carbonara with a large sparkling water followed by a large latté. It was safe now to fill his bladder to the maximum. In fact it was mandatory that he stressed the organ to its limits because he intended going to the cinema after, and a visit to the loo’s there was out of the question. The reason being, that the locks on the doors were missing! He knew the condition of almost every public toilet in town- he had to, after all he suffered from chronic Paruresis, a profound fear of voiding in public toilets.

As he confidently emptied the copious contents of his bladder carefully into the inner side if the ceramic toilets bowl, behind the solid bolted cubicle door the idea came to him. ‘That’s it, fantastic! My protagonist is an Al Qaeda operative suffering from Paruresis who kills anyone who accidentally witnesses him urinating. The cops will take ages to find a link between the victims and any probable motive for the crime!’

He left Mavericks Bistro and instead of going to the cinema headed for home to scribble down the first draft of his story.




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