{HERP} {ERMT} {PBT}

He asked her where she’d found them. She’d said it didn’t matter. She said she could guarantee it wouldn’t happen again. Not for them. It’s once in a lifetime, she said. One person in this house got it in their lifetime – it’s more like one in 3 million lifetimes.
They’d had a fight. It was nothing big. They had been irritable and stressed from life in the city. She’d gone for a walk.
She was feeling drained about him and winter and her. For days the sky had been filled with gray static, as if the whole city was frozen between channels, the roads and footpaths coated in a constant layer of thin cold slush.
There were five in the house and they lived for the evenings, when they would crowd into the tiny living room, sitting on and around the dining table, closing the doors and waiting for the closeness of their bodies and the tiny goldfish-orange lattice of the electric heater to heat the room.
He had told a story that his mother and her five siblings, in their childhood, would each put a brick in the fireplace before stuffing it under the sheets of their bed.
She had said it wasn’t very ergonomic.
In the mornings, they stretched themselves out of positions assumed around furniture and each other, onto which they had melted like candle wax in the night. Each day was bookended in this way, of folding in and out of the house and each other.
The fight had been about what they were. She wasn’t the type to talk about such things. But he had said he wanted to be together. She had said she didn’t know what that meant. He had asked what she meant, that she didn’t know what that meant. She laughed. He got upset.
It was just a walk a few blocks away. She often walked there. It was a street she liked, where men sat on stools out the front of the café all day long, punching out jokes and smoke in plumes.
Except for two ladies sitting at a bus stop, the street was empty. She continued past them and completed the length of the street, then began to come back on the other.
There was a duffel bag. She’d thought it was probably clothes. At first, she saw the zig-zag, comic-book explosion type patterns, faded fluorescent greens and pinks and oranges, and thought it was a bag full of 80’s clothes.
Holy shit, she thought. I’ve hit the jackpot. That pattern is amazing.
She unzipped the bag a little more, and realized what she’d found. She picked one up out of the bag, squeezed it,
{FLOOP}
and fell to the ground in fits of laughter. And cried. She was bent down with her legs beneath her, and her head on her knees.
This must be a joke, she thought. She saw only the old women at the bus stop looking on, staring at her as if she were a crazy person.
It seemed too good to be true. They were self-inflating whoopee cushions, with a piece of foam inside that automatically expanded. Skipping home, she threw whoopee cushions on front porches, put them in letter boxes, clamped them under car windscreen wipers, squeezing as she went.
{HERP} {ERMT} {PBT}
It just seemed like fun. It just seemed like so much fun. Winter was so cold, and life was so serious, and fart sounds were just so much fun.

Two weeks later they were still finding them under cushions and beds. One let out a ripper replacing a light bulb, the ladder wobbling.
She hadn’t gotten over it yet. None of them had. Now she felt strange when she wasn’t around a whoopee cushion. It was like a hole inside of her anytime she couldn’t make a fart noise.
As she began to notice in herself and those around her the warning signs of a problem, she began to consider alternatives. She considered Chinese finger traps, imitation ice cubes with flies caught inside of them. These wouldn’t do. Snakes in a tin appealed, somehow.
But nothing could beat a whoopee cushion’s dynamism: hilarious, abundant, non-finite. And so the problem went on unaddressed, wasn’t thought of as a problem any more but as normal, and once fart noises were normalized, they were indulged in more than ever.
The household began to replace words in their sentences with fart noises. One would ask someone to clean the {BLURP}. Another would say he was going to {PHERT}. One would say she thought that {EPEPEPEP} was {BARP}.
He and she would lie in bed together, but instead of making love like they once did, would exchange fart noises from their whoopee cushions.
They wondered when it would get old.
At night, in the living room, it became impossible to sleep. After lights out, and after the housemates had said goodnight, each would keep a whoopee cushion at the ready, unable to resist the urge to push one last fart sound into the dark and quiet room. Eventually, they would make it sleepless to the morning in this way.
The yard became overgrown and filled with broken whoopee cushions, but the supply seemed endless, and with a toy shop around the corner, why worry? People in the neighborhood began to tell their children to avoid the house. There was never anyone going in or out. Just the sporadic eruption of whoopee cushions all day long, every day of the week.
It was a church minister who finally waded through the long grass, unable to hide a smile as a fart noise came from below the bumpy doormat. He knocked but heard no answer. The door opened with a light push.
Somewhere inside he could hear the timid squeaks of whoopee cushions being weakly pressed. He strode down the hall and entered the living room, the door letting out a belch of warm air that smelt so stale and plastic he nearly fainted.
The housemates inside had isolated themselves to various sides of the room. Only he and she were together, him holding her in his arms. They were both dead, eyes empty but for a bawdy shadow, with a glaze of saliva yellowing below their mouths. Each with arms extended to their sides, a whoopee cushion clutched compressed in their hands. A few were still barely alive, pressing with the last of their energy to make weak and squeaky honks.
It never got old, ever.

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