“He pooped in your living room?” my friend Bryan asked, carefully. He knew I had a history of schizophrenia, and he was always on guard against signs of remission.
Still, it did have to be seen to be believed.
So we left our favorite board-game venue and traversed the town of Austin and its traffic. Twenty minutes later, we were staring at a very large pile of turds sitting on a newspaper on my living room floor.
“Look at the girth on that thing,” Bryan said, almost admiringly. He was a naturalist by trade and training.
I had dismissed my own earlier shock at the size – had thought maybe it was a guy thing. Apparently not.
But still, that wasn’t the point of the viewing. My roommate had crapped on my floor. Something must be done.
“I can’t believe Norris used a newspaper. Like he’s a good puppy,” I tried to move the convo along.
“He’s a bad, bad guy. The rape was not an easy mistake or the result of miscommunication. We gotta get you away from him. Out of this place,” Bryan asserted.
Me move? I didn’t think so. Away from my 18” ceilings and the closet big enough for a queen-size mattress? No, no, no.
Besides, Janis Joplin had lived there. It was special. The apartment was made for me, down to the tie-dyed french doors.
The next day I started therapy for the first time. I had been having awful panic attacks for awhile, but no therapist in Austin wanted to counsel someone as sick as a schizophrenic. Finally, I found a hubristic elderly PhD. Double PhD, in fact. And he knew what he was doing.
I told him my most recent story of woe.
“I fell asleep watching a movie in my roommates’ room with him and a friend,” I ventured.
“When I woke up, the room was light. My friend had left sometime during the night.” I continued carefully. “Norris and I were alone.”
“Yes,” said Dr. X. He did not ask me how I felt about it. He understood the flow of my speech.
“Norris was inside of me! I mean, his fingers were. But still.” I struggled to stay in the moment, to not dissociate.
“You must stop seeing your roommate immediately,” said Dr. X. “You must not cohabitate with him.”
I resisted. He had been a good roommate up until that morning.
“He says that he thought I was awake. He thought it was mutual, consensual. For god’s sake, he is a gender studies major!”
And I did, I allowed, have memory problems. Sleepwalking problems even. Hypnagogia problems. He may have been telling the truth.
Dr. X allowed as well – that may have been the case. Even so, the poop on the living room floor changed things, as Dr. X delineated. Norris was way beyond the margins of what was acceptable as a roommate no matter what had happened that morning. No matter what I felt or felt, that I wanted to believe him, there was still the poop. The poop had definitely happened.
“Norris must move out,” he asserted. “Then your hallucinations of spiders may stop.”
I was so happy to have a psychologist who actually offered advice. I wanted desperately to follow it. I spent the night on a nearby porch, plotting and scheming to get my apartment to myself.
Living there seemed somewhat hopeless since I could barely go there without feeling electricity shoot up from my feet and burn its way to my crown. Spiders did sometimes emerge from the ceiling. But there was just one more perfect thing about the place – when I needed to sit on the grass to ground myself (schizophrenia maybe made me take things a little too literally), well, there was a courtyard.
I had to keep my apartment. I knew what I had to do.
This was back in the time of landlines exclusively, so using the phone for long-distance was somewhat restricted to one’s own home. I bravely entered mine. Focusing on my goal, I called my mom and filled her in.
“I woke up with his fingers inside me,” I burst out.
“What? What?,” she tried to follow. She wasn’t yet in her fifties, but she had grown up in the nineteen-fifties.
“I was asleep and he manually penetrated me,” I tried again. “Then he pooped on my living room floor!”
“Wait, let me get your father,” she said, gone before I could protest.
“I’m coming down tomorrow on the 11:42 out of Indy,” my dad said. He was a pilot and had all the flight times between my college town of Austin and his hometown in Indiana memorized.
“You tell that boy that he better be gone before I get there,” he said. “Do you need me to bring my gun?”
“I guess my dad is coming down,” I reluctantly told Norris. When faced with the villain, I felt listless.
Until terror suddenly seized me, thinking of my dad’s arrival.
“OH SHIT, my car is a mess. Will you help me clean it?” I pleaded with him for mercy from my father, who hated any type of disorder.
“Sure,” he said. “But why’s he coming so suddenly?”
Norris knew what he had done, I reasoned to myself.
Rather than start from the beginning, I hurried to excuse myself.
“I told him NOT to bring his gun,” I blathered.
“You told HIM what happened.” Norris assessed the situation.
Norris had traveled all over the world and was quick on the uptake. Within an hour, all his stuff was gone from the back bedroom.
His absence was a relief, but I still had to clean my car all by myself.
“How do you find these people?” my father asked the next day when I picked him up from the old airport. Judging the question rhetorical, I mumbled a bit in response.
As it turned out, my dad had business in Houston. He had just stopped in to check on me. It was a quick lunch.
“Your car looks good. When’s the last time you changed the oil?” he asked.
And nobody ever mentioned Norris again.