Keith Henty Photography
Warning: This story contains brief nudity.
By Keith Henty
Just after 7:30pm on Thanksgiving, Mildred Snifflebottom, age 57, got a phone call that changed her life. When the phone rang, Mildred's husband, Ferdley, was out for his evening walk. He was several blocks away on his typical evening jaunt that Mildred referred to as a “sniffabout”.
Ferdley had paused for a rest at the end of a driveway where the aroma of barbecue turkey wafted. Ferdley had an extraordinarily large nose and superior olfactory abilities. He didn't mind that his neighbors referred to him as “Mr. Nose”.
Mildred had just finished the last of the cleaning and was still wearing gloves. She delicately picked up the phone. “Yessssh?”
“Oh, Mildred, I'm so glad you answered!"
Mildred knew that voice. It belonged to her next door neighbor, Petunia Blob. They ran into each other every so often, and waved hello over the fence, but hadn't developed a friendship.
Petunia's voice had a tremor. “It's the weirdest thing, but I'm calling from the bathroom. Jim is here with me and WE'RE BOTH STUCK IN THE BATHTUB!”
When she heard this, Mildred took a deep breath and sat down. She thought of the first day she met them, and the odd way that Jim had introduced himself, as if he was a character in a movie. “My name is Blob. James Blob.”
Holding the phone, Mildred listened as Petunia poured out her story.
It seems the Blobs had prepared a large Thanksgiving dinner. They had invited two couples to join them and both had cancelled at the last minute. Mike and Karen Bugmuffin had a toilet backing up and couldn't get away. Blanche Biglip called to say her husband, Chaps, was feeling ill.
“Oh, Petunia said, Nothing serious I hope?"
Barbara said it appeared to be the flu. Chaps was spitting up the greenest mucus she'd ever seen. “More information than I needed to hear right then”, Petunia told Mildred. “I was thickening the gravy.” Petunia said she hoped Chaps felt better and thanked Blanche for calling, and wished them both a happy Thanksgiving.
After getting the news of the cancellations, Petunia turned back to her preparations. She was already so far along it was too late to stop, or invite anyone else. She thought of giving away food, but didn't know who to call this late on the holiday.
She told Mildred she had gone ahead with dinner for six. Six large people with big appetites and it was Thanksgiving after all and there was plenty: an enormous turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet peas, and relish. Plus a pumpkin pie and a marionberry pie; both with an even brown crust.
She and Jim had sat down and ate and ate, refilling their plates again and then again. Finally they stopped, moaned and looked at each other in stupefaction. They each ate several large slices of pie. Finally, they pushed away from the table. They moved slowly in the kitchen, cramming the fridge with leftovers.
They decided to take a bath, together. Usually they took turns, but all the food, maybe the tryptophan, had made them so sleepy and neither wanted to make the other wait.
So Petunia ran the bath, and somewhat shyly she and Jim took off their clothes and carefully squeezed in together. They relaxed and enjoyed the sensation, the first in memory, of sharing the comfort of hot water. They even kissed lightly once and Jim zoomed his tiny plastic boat in the small area of open water, jumping it over Petunia's knee.
The food and the bath had swollen them, and they were very tired. So when Jim tried to get up, he couldn't and when Petunia tried to get up, she couldn't. After sitting a minute they both tried to get up at the same time. But they couldn't and after a worried discussion they decided to call their neighbor. They had a surprisingly bit of luck, as their cell phone was right there on the toilet, within reach.
So could Mildred come over and help them out? Petunia didn't want to call 911; the thought of paramedics bursting into the bathroom made her queasy. Firemen might show up with painful tools, such as the Jaws of Life.
Mildred hesitated only a second, then said yes, she'd be right over. The hesitation was because she had never seen anyone naked in ….well, she couldn't even remember. Other than Ferdley of course. She faced the prospect with a combination of horror and fascination.
The Blobs were sizable people and she quickly dismissed the possibility of a... a what exactly? A menagerie? She knew that sort of thing happened in France. The French were athletic and youthful, and also liberal minded. There was such a long tradition of odd behavior there, like eating snails.
She decided to go over immediately, without Ferdley. Anyway, his practical abilities were limited and it was likely he'd get in the way.
Mildred went to the utility closet near the water heater, pushed aside the broom and mop, and picked out the larger of two toilet plungers.
"This might be handy", she said to herself---then she had a quick moment of regret. She hadn't offered Mike Bugmuffin the use of the toilet plunger. But he was a fixer kind of guy and likely had one of his own.
She left a sticky-note for Ferdley on the mirror by the front door. He regularly paused there when coming in from a walk, checking his face for remnants of small insects, bits of pollen. The note said, “Blobs stuck in bath. Gone to help”.
The Blob's garage was open, she went in there and to the back door, and out of habit knocked. Then she remembered and went inside and walked to the bottom of the stairs. She had been upstairs in their house a few years back.
"Hellooo" she shouted up.
"Mildred, is that you?, Petunia shouted back."Come on up. We're still stuck.”
Mildred climbed the stairs and peeked around the bathroom door. She stepped in. The mirror was fogged. The shower curtain was pulled back. They were both there, in the tub.
“Oh Mildred. Thank you for coming,” said Petunia, who may have been blushing.
Mildred inadvertently looked directly at Petunia's breasts. But only for a second. Then she looked at the towels, trying to clear her mind.
What could have prepared her for this? She had a vague memory of a first aid class, tipping a plastic head back, simulating the breath of life. Or what was the advice: dial 911 first? In case of sudden loss of pressure, put your own oxygen mask on. Then help others. This called for something else.
Jim held out a thick wet arm, “Give me a hand, dear.”
Mildred was a smallish woman, without much strength in her arms. She felt some fear, but also a surge of decisiveness.
“Let me try something first,” she said. She nimbly climbed on the toilet and held the plunger high with both hands. It was directly above Jim’s balding head. He glanced upward, and said, hesitantly, “Now, wait, wait....”.
Right then Mildred brought the plunger up and then down fast and hard, baring her teeth with the exertion. The soft, dangly part of her arms flew up and then down and the soft rubber slammed and squished onto the top of Jim's head. The suction held it tight and after a pause, Mildred gave it a small yank back, noting with satisfaction that it was a snug fit.
She stepped down from the toilet. Jim’s head twisted and pulled up, his neck extending. “Ohhhh,” he moaned. Petunia stared uneasily, then she reached out and grabbed the base of the plunger handle with one hand, and Mildred’s arm with the other.
“Ok, here we go,” said Mildred, “both of you, exhale all your air out!"
Jim held his head stiffly, and Mildred braced herself as she pulled Petunia up. Jim pushed. Petunia grunted and then she stood and they all let out a trembly cheer. Petunia grabbed a towel, and wrapped herself as she stepped out. Then they both helped Jim up. Once again Mildred tried to avert her gaze and failed. She glimpsed something that resembled a hibernating animal. Petunia quickly gave him a towel.
Petunia turned to Mildred and hugged her, saying "Wow, dang. Thank you".
"Yeah” said Jim hesitantly, “that was…..whew!” His face was deep red and he still had the wooden plunger jammed on his head. As he stepped forward, the plunger handle hit the bathroom light. There was a blue flash, the light went out. The last of the bathwater gurgled down the drain.
Petunia and Mildred's damp hug went on longer than either expected.
Finally, Petunia let go and leaned back and said cheerfully, “Well, now, how about some of that leftover pie…?”