Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pee's Ostrich

by Lisa Kwan


Written for: The Writer's Tower
Theme: Ostrich Pee (April)
Deadline: 2nd May 2014



The phone rang while I was on the toilet, and I cursed under my breath. “Can’t a man take a dump in peace?” I muttered, as I hurriedly sprayed some water on my buttocks with the bidet and pulled my shorts up. I considered for a second whether I should wash my hands or get the phone first, but when the phone rang again, I decided on the latter.
“Hello?” I answered, breathless from my short sprint from the toilet to the living room.
“Pee, my boy! How’s my favourite nephew doing?” my uncle’s booming voice reverberated even through the phone. And I hated that nickname (Pee for P). Of course, my actual name—Purushothaman—wasn’t that much better, but...
“You there, Pee? Can you hear me? Pee? PEE?”
I blame my parents.
“Yeah, I’m here,” I sighed.
“Damn this place, lousy reception, can’t even get a decent signal.”
I wondered where my uncle was at that moment. He was a weird one, my uncle. Always had weird tastes, weird hobbies. I never had a clear idea what he did for a living, but he was earning the big bucks. Travelled all over the world—Europe, Asia, Middle East. My mum never really understood him but she cared for him anyway, like an elder sister would. He was always grateful for that; which is probably why he calls me his favourite nephew, although I’m his only one.
“Anyway, I got a present for ya, you’re gonna love it!” His voice literally shivered with excitement. Inwardly, I groaned.
“No, no, Uncle. It’s okay. I’m still....enjoying your last gift. Really.” He had sent me a life-size stone statue of Pope John Paul II from his visit to the Vatican, whose creepy stone-eyed face stares at me in the yard every time I come home. I’d hide it in the basement or give it away to the garbage disposal people, but Uncle Das has a habit of dropping by uninvited and taking offence when his gifts are not “appreciated”; which was why I was forced to accept the Mayan god salt and pepper shakers, now sitting cheekily on my dining table.
Why can’t he just get me generic touristy key chains and fridge magnets?
We bounced back and forth on it for a while before I finally gave in. I didn’t really have a choice anyway, unless I wanted another set of weird salt and pepper shakers to join the Mayan-god ones in addition to...whatever present he had in store for me this time.

***

The crate arrived on a Saturday morning.
The delivery guys seemed almost gleeful to leave the massive box with me as they got into the truck and drove away, leaving me gaping in shock and clutching the sealed envelope my Uncle Das had so kindly left me. What, it comes with instructions now? I thought miserably.
I cautiously walked towards the curious thing, afraid of what was contained within it. Was it another life-size statue? Maybe of Lord Ganesha this time? And that’s when I noticed the holes carved on the box, in three neat rows on each side. I froze.
Was it...alive?
Frantically, I tore open Uncle Das’s letter and read it, my hands trembling slightly.

My boy, my favourite nephew, P,

This is a gift I hope—no, I know—you will love. I got one for myself many years ago and it changed my life. Ozzy is a magnificent creature whom you will come to realize is one you cannot live without. She makes a great companion, and if you treat her well, she will do the same for you. Take care of her.

p.s. Ozzy requires a lot of water, and her urine is very important. Make sure you collect it, and keep it safe.

Love,
Uncle Das

Even after reading the letter over and over again, I had no clue what on earth Uncle Das was talking about, or why he had sent me some live “creature”, magnificent or otherwise. Was this some belated April Fools’ joke? What, Ozzy? And her pee was “very important”? The hell?!
I finally looked up and spied a very large, very black eye peering at me through the breathing holes of the crate. It blinked, showing off long lavish eyelashes.
I didn’t know what to do. But I grabbed some tools from the garage and started prying open the crate door, all the while conscious of the movements Ozzy was making inside, as if she were anxious to be let out of the confined wooden prison.
When it was finally open, and I stepped back to give her some room, Ozzy emerged from the darkness within and stood proudly, at more than a head taller than I. She had strange black star tattoos on each of her eyes that reminded me of KISS’s Gene Simmons. Her neck was long and slender, her feathers almost sleek—a majestic, regal ostrich. She stared at me, batted her eyelashes and cocked her head, as if saying, “So...”
Now I wish Uncle Das had sent me a life-sized Lord Ganesha instead.

*** 

Frustrated, I threw the porcelain statue of a Japanese shinigami that Uncle had given me against the wall, shattering it into pieces. I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain to Uncle Das when he saw it missing from my mantelpiece the next time he came around, but I sure as hell wasn’t in the mood to care. The crash startled Ozzy, who started pacing around in circles in the yard, going as far as her ankle leash would allow her. When she realized the sound was only momentary, she stood up straight, her neck stretched out as high as it could, glared at me, and grunted, as if annoyed.
I ignored her. She can grunt and glare at me all she liked. It’s not like she was helping any.
It has been more than a week, and I’d tried just about everything. And Uncle Das’s sudden radio silence was both suspicious and infuriating. His letter left nothing but Ozzy’s pee as the only clue as to what I was supposed to do. I’d done as he’d asked; I’d fed Ozzy, bathed her, gave her a whole lot of clean water to drink. I’d even speak pleasantly to her, in case that was what was meant to “treat her well”.
And of course, collected her urine.
Large 5-litre mineral water bottles containing the ochre-coloured liquid were arranged haphazardly in a corner of my living room. Various containers and several measuring cups were tossed around the room angrily after countless failed attempts. But they weren’t really failed so much as non-responsive, since I had no idea what I was supposed to achieve in the first place. However, nothing happening whatsoever couldn’t be what my uncle had meant. But with every failure, I wished my Uncle would die a different form of a horrible and gruesome death.
Like an obsessed scientist, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and had even forgone work while ignoring colleagues’ repeated calls and texts, desperately trying to figure out what is so special about Ozzy’s pee. At first, I was all over the place. Randomly dousing items with it, or dipping objects into it without caring about the amount or the manner in which it was done. When I realized I was getting nowhere, I decided to approach the matter at hand with a scientific eye.
I first decided on one method: dousing. The constant variable had to be Ozzy’s urine. The independent variable would constitute the amount of the liquid, which I varied using the different-sized containers, measuring cups and even droppers. Another independent variable would be the object or the material that I would test it on. I’d tried everything: everyday household items like my coffee table, my dining table, my plush sofa (I could cry thinking about getting it cleaned), my wooden chairs, the plastic stools, my car keys, my house keys, my favourite Oakley sunglasses; even paper, newspaper, cardboard, thick cards, recycled paper, envelopes; my clothes, which I tried with different materials too, like silk, leather, cotton, denim, cashmere, even my mother’s lovely batik (she is going to kill me).
I’d also left the liquid in a container on its own, hoping it might transform into...something, somehow. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to do anything to it or with it. Just, leave it be. But the little measuring cup containing it is still sitting by the kitchen sink, already collecting fine dust. Regardless, everything, I carefully and painstakingly documented in my notes.
Of course, I couldn’t rule out ingesting it, or dousing myself with it, could I? A true scientist had to consider all possibilities, and...those were possibilities. I had taken a pail of Ozzy’s pee to the bathroom with me, and shut my eyes and pinched my nose as I scooped it up with a koleh and let it rain “golden showers” over me. I kept repeating, “In the name of science, in the name of science,” but it comforted me none, because Nothing Happened.
Then, the last straw was when I had finally raised a full mug to my lips and drained it, after one sip and several sips of the liquid had achieved nothing. I spent the next couple of hours camped out by the toilet, throwing up. Each time I began to feel a little better, I’d only need to remember what I had just done to start gagging and dry heaving again.
What the hell am I doing? I’m drinking and bathing in ostrich pee, acting like a crazy, mad scientist, about to lose my job...and for what? For what?! I have achieved nothing but urea-scented belongings and a sick stomach. For all I know, Uncle Das was mad or senile when he sent me this ostrich, telling me her pee was “very important”. For all I know, Uncle Das might be rolling with laughter, somewhere, from the brilliant prank he’d played on his gullible nephew.
I give up.
My eyes began to tear up from the fatigue and the throbbing in my head was beginning to sound like African tribal drums. I collapsed onto my once-plush now urea-scented sofa, accidentally knocking over a measuring cup with Ozzy’s pee on the coffee table in front of me. I had no energy left but to stare as the dark liquid pooled on the table, soaking my research notes, and enveloping my favourite cork coasters. From the yard, I could hear Ozzy’s deep booming sounds as she called to me to refill her feed trough. But I just couldn’t care less anymore. I just couldn’t... My eyes fluttered shut and I welcomed the blackness.

***

Who left the blinds up? I remember thinking before I struggled to open my eyes. The light was like a stab to my eyes, they hurt so much. I tried to sit up, but my entire body felt like it was on fire. Days of little food, drink and rest had finally taken its toll. It was a feat even to lift my hands to my eyes to rub them. But when I did, and I blinked my eyes open, that blinding glare hit me once more. I groaned.
But the source of the light was not the furious sun, shining in through the clear windows opposite me as I’d assumed, because I could see that it was now pitch black outside, probably hours since I’d collapsed on the sofa. What was really shining, without a doubt, on my coffee table...were my cork coasters.
Wait. What? Cork coasters?
I shot up like I’d sat on something scalding hot, and grabbed my coasters. True enough, they were shining the colour of a delicious, mesmerizing...gold.
Gold.
I gasped.
I took the coasters in my hand and, tentatively, as I’d always seen in the movies or as athletes did with their medals, bit the corner of it.
I stared down in amazement at the marks my teeth had left behind on the surface of my coasters. There was no base metal underneath, and it was too soft to be an alloy. So it had to be...
Pure gold.
Coasters made of pure gold.
I gently laid my precious gold coasters down on the coffee table to rub my hands with glee. Gold. GOLD! So this was the secret to Ozzy’s pee! But why, how...? Cork. It was cork. The mysterious secret ingredient had to be cork! Soaked in Ozzy’s pee, cork coasters would turn into gold coasters. Therefore, in theory, blocks of cork would turn into...
My mind’s gears began to churn and grind, projecting the endless possibilities. Poor Ozzy started grunting again, famished. She even started pecking at innocent John Paul II’s head, who could do nothing to defend himself. Feeling lightheaded, I walked over to her and slowly stroked her long, slender neck, soothing her.
I’m rich, I thought.
I’m. Rich.
I’M. STINKING. RICH.
I smiled like a Cheshire Cat, as I cooed to Ozzy. She stared down at me with her tattooed eyes, batted her eyelashes and cocked her head, as if saying, “So...”



THE END

© COPYRIGHT OF LISA KWAN 2014

2 comments:

Hannah Koh said...

oh. i thought after the coasters turn gold, he will become gold too...along with his house, and everything...

so grim la me. but nice story!

Liz said...

Hannah, my stories tend to end in a twisted manner most of the time; so was trying something different xD But I would consider that, which you mentioned, a good ending! ;)