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Robert Roth P-5

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Martin H. Levinson P-8

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Patricia Carragon  P-10

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                     by Thaddeus Rutkowski

When I enter a stranger’s apartment, I hear an ungodly sound, something between a snarl and a moan. I wonder if it is coming from a person, someone who has lost touch with a higher power—someone in touch with the Devil. Then I think, no, it is an inhuman sound; it must be coming from an animal, but what kind of animal? The sound is foreign. Is this a new kind of animal—a gargoyle or a grotesque come to life? Will it spout hot oil when it finishes moaning? Or will it just sit there, like a stone on a wall?

Presently, a gray cat emerges from another room. It plants itself on the floor and emits the sound. It seems to be saying, “Wow!” That’s it—one word, with a sustained vowel.

The cat is large, but it isn’t the biggest cat I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what it will do. When it spots me, will it run at me, then sink its teeth into my skin, all while keening, “Wow”? Or is the exclamation the prelude to some uncontrolled bodily function, some sudden digestive upheaval?

Fortunately, the pet owner appears and picks up the cat, and I wonder why he has a cat. Is he some sort of witch? Or more of a wizard? In any case, he is on good terms with his cat. He puts the animal in the bathroom and shuts the door, but from behind the closed door comes a long, loud “Wow!”

The owner opens the door and picks up the cat. He must feel the rise and fall of the cat’s ribs, the skin tight as a drum, the vocal cords vibrating like cello strings. He carries the animal like a football across the apartment, with the cat all the while yelling, “Wow!”

The owner puts the cat in another room and shuts the door.

I imagine a broomstick will come out later, and the owner and his familiar will ride away. The cat will balance perfectly on the handle, looking out ahead, happy and silent, as the two fly through the night.


                     by Thaddeus Rutkowski

I’m supposed to be cleaning the bathroom—erasing stains, picking up hair, scrubbing tiles—but I’m more interested in seeing how water goes down the drains. Does it exit in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction? I’m assuming it circles the same way in all of the bathroom drains. I’m talking the sink, the tub and the commode. But I mean more than that. I’m talking all of the drains in the Northern Hemisphere, my hemisphere.

I haven’t ever really paid attention to this phenomenon before. I’m no drain-physics nerd. I haven’t traveled to the Southern Hemisphere to see if water goes down the other way—counterclockwise to the North’s clockwise. And would that be a good use of my time, if I traveled to the Southern Hemisphere—to look into a toilet and study the flow? I wouldn’t want that to be my main activity south of the Equator. I’d want to be doing something more interesting, such as observing the behavior of proboscis monkeys in Borneo. That would be more valuable than observing the behavior of wastewater in Borneo.

But here’s my opportunity, while performing my cleaning duties, to discover the properties of filthy water exiting drains—assuming the water actually goes down and doesn’t stop because of a clog. I wouldn’t want to have to bring out a plumber’s snake just to complete my experiment. I don’t have a plumber’s snake anyway. All I have is a belt and some wire hangers. I doubt they would help in the serious work of freeing up drains. Believe me, you can’t poke very far with a belt or a hanger. It’s no use exploring “where the sun doesn’t shine” with these tools, if you can call them tools. They are more like accessories or utensils, in the same category as spatulas and wooden spoons.

But I’m straying from the main topic here: the properties of drains in the water closet. I’m looking for the Coriolis effect, caused by the rotation of the Earth, the same effect that causes hurricanes to spin clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Is this effect obvious in household drains? Is taking a shower like being caught in a small cyclone? Does flushing the toilet create a tiny typhoon? Is this the kind of question we should ask when we splash and flush? I think not. I think that comparing the spray of a shower to the deluge of a cyclone, or the flushing of a toilet to the rotation of a typhoon, is relevant only to a bathroom nerd, someone with a warped sense of science, someone whose mind is in the sink, the tub, or the can.