Steve, as his name tag implied, was bent over the toilet, working the snake down into it. He looked more like a Hank, Sheila thought. She was watching him work, suspicious of any plumber that didn’t have a belly hanging over his belt and his butt crack peeking out the back. He was also good looking, which was another reason she wanted to watch him. It had been a long time since she’d had a good looking man in her house. Lord knew Thomas tried, but age and gravity was working against him, just as much as it was working against her.
“You’re the third house on this street that I’ve been to this week.”
“Really?” Sheila asked, curious. “Is that odd?”
“No, not really. There’s been a lot of rain lately, sewer’s backing up. Causes a lot of problems in older neighborhoods like this.” He glanced up at her and smiled. “The city really should invest in a new system, but they won’t… which is fine by me.”
She was dazzled by his smile. “Really? Why’s that?”
“Old plumbing keeps me in business.”
“Of course it would be nice if the rain lifted some. I heard on the news this morning another child’s gone missing. Mother put him to bed and when she went to check on him in the middle of the night, he was gone.”
“How horrible!” Sheila’s hand fluttered to her chest. She couldn’t imagine the pain the parents of the missing children were feeling. She was glad hers were all grown, but still, if anything were to happen to them, she’d be devastated.”
“All this rain is hindering the search. There’s some areas that are flooded, they can’t get to.”
“I wonder what they’d expect to find anyway,” Sheila wondered. “If they can’t get there, neither can the children… or kidnapper, since it’s not likely they wandered off on their own.”
Steve shrugged. “Probably bodies. I know everyone wants a good outcome, but little kids stolen out of their homes in the middle of the night, it’s not likely to turn out well. There’s even some crazy story going around about something in the sewer. One woman claims that a rat came out of her drain and pulled her dog in. Crazy.”
“That is crazy,” Sheila said, rolling her eyes.
“Hey… what the…” A puzzled look crossed his face and he adjusted the screen attached to the snake.”
“Did you find the clog?” Sheila asked. She was vaguely disappointed, that would mean Steve would leave, after taking her money of course, but it also meant she could use the toilet again. She’d been holding it in for quite a while. Thomas of course had left a huge turd in the toilet before going to work. So classy, that man of hers.”
“Yes, but… it looks like a foreign object.” He tugged on the snake and then reversed the snake, pulling the line back out of the drain.
“You mean like jewelry or something? I lost a ring down the sink once, but I don’t recall anything ever going down the loo, well, that wasn’t supposed to.”
“No. Ma’am, you may want to leave the room. I’m not for sure what’s coming up, but I know what it resembles.”
“Oh no,” Sheila said, her hackles raised. Mr. Hottie Plumber might be good eye candy, but if there was anything valuable stuck down in her drain, she wasn’t leaving him alone to pocket it. “Whatever’s in there, I want to see it.”
Sheila leaned closer to Steve, watching the line as it backed out. He had to stop a few times and tug on it. And then it broke free of the drain and landed in the bowl. Sheila wasn’t sure if she was seeing the thing right. It was flesh colored, but bloated, a tiny, swollen hand with five fingers… five tiny fingers. It was a child’s hand. Sheila screamed. She tried to turn to get out of the bathroom, but her feet got tangled and she tripped. “Oh shit,” she thought, right before she fell face first into the bowl.
Police were crawling all over the neighborhood. Sheila sat on her porch, watching. They had tried to talk her into going to the hospital, but it was embarrassing enough that she’d hit her head on the porcelain throne, cracking it open in the process. She didn’t need to explain it over and over again to everyone at the hospital. Besides, if she went, she’d miss out on the excitement here. So they settled for butterfly tape and left her to herself.
They’d already torn up the septic tank. Now they were going for the sewer. She could have told them that wouldn’t be a good idea. There were rats down there, some big as dogs. She’d seen them and Thomas had once shot at one. Missed, but they knew to steer clear of their place after that.
She’d seen also seen them carry off dogs… cats… the odd child. She’d warned people, keep the lid down on your toilet. Does anyone ever listen to her?