I know how Captain Kirk would have handled the overflowing toilet

Maybe it was Capt. James Tiberius Kirk, commander of the starship Enterprise, who said: “Into each life a little raw sewage must fall.”

At least now I know Capt. Kirk’s middle name, thanks to the mobs who descended by telephone, mail or on foot to gleefully jab forefingers into my chest with that “How could you be such a moron” tone of jab and shout, “IT’S TIBERIUS!”

OK, OK. It’s Tiberius. You hear that, Charles? Charles left a message on my voice mail: “IT’S THADDEUS.” Thaddeus? No, Charles, you Treknophobe. IT’S TIBERIUS. Consider yourself poked in the chest. And Charlotte called to say she didn’t know squat about “Star Trek” but wanted to discuss it. Well, Charlotte, why don’t you let Charles fill you in on Capt. James Thaddeus Kirk, Dr. Spock, Mr. Checkout, Snotty the chief engineer, etc., etc.

Somebody else said, “It’s Tee.”


You’re fired.

At this point you’re wondering, “What does Capt. Kirk’s middle name have to do with falling raw sewage?”

The connection is this: I was home, massaging forefinger stab wounds to my chest, when the upstairs toilet plugged up and overflowed onto the bathroom floor. I won’t go into details except to say it happened at the worst possible moment, and I was so stunned that for 10 seconds I simply stood there, my jaw unhinged, as this catastrophe unfolded before my disbelieving eyes.

Ten seconds. Then I stumbled into action, crashing downstairs for a bucket and sponge. When I returned, the mess had all but disappeared.

Where did it go?

IT WENT UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS, that’s where it went.

Because when I returned to the kitchen I could hear it spattering on the sheetrock, like thousands of tiny Esther Williams rats doing the breaststroke behind the walls, and I thought: Gosh, that could leak through into the kitchen.

Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy. Sewer water began dripping onto the counter, the Christmas presents, the telephone … INTO MY COFFEEMAKER!

I hurled stuff out of the way and hot-footed it to the damp telephone to call the plumber, who ran a snake through the pipes and told me plumbing horror stories (“Hey, you wouldn’t believe the stuff I’ve pulled out of these lines. Once, I found Jimmy Hoffa’s head!”).

Hours later, as I cleaned up the sewer spill, I heard a sound emanating from the hallway. It was the sound an inept home repair guy makes when he inserts a screwdriver into a wall outlet and discovers the full power of Mr. Ready Killowatt.

The circuit-breaker box was sizzling like a bag of microwave popcorn. Dad came over to check it for water leakage, but lucky, lucky me. It was an entirely unrelated problem that would necessitate all kinds of unrelated hassles.

About 7:30 that night I finished the cleanup. My joints ached and I was light-headed from breathing poisonous “fresh-scent” cleaner fumes. As I prepared to collapse onto the couch, I heard a sound: GLUK, GLUK, GLUK … GOOOOORK … GAAAAACK!

Oh, God.

The cat had tossed his kitty cookies in about eight different locations.

I looked heavenward and wondered how Capt. James Tiberius Kirk, orbiting way up there, would deal with these hassles. And then it hit me.

“Beam me up, Scotty.”

Cover image courtesy of Desilu Productions.

Author’s note: Contact me at [email protected]. To read more of my opinion and humor pieces, visit delstonejr.com . In addition to my humor columns and opinion pieces, I write fiction – horror, science fiction and contemporary fantasy. If you’re a fan of such genres please check out my Amazon author’s page. Print and e-books are both available, and remember: You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle e-book. Simply download the free Kindle app for your smart phone or tablet.

Image courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski by way of a Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/

As a homeowner, I have had my eyes opened to a range of marvelous new experiences, many of them requiring the absence of money. One such experience is a clogged drain.

In the halcyon days of my youth, a clogged drain meant waiting until 2:30 when Dad would come home from work to fix it. Now, a clogged drain means that I, as an adult male and, by default, the head of the household, am expected to flail at the accursed thing for at least an hour before calling Dad, who must come home from work and then drive across town to my house to fix it.

I was taking a shower recently when I noticed that my kneecaps were submerged. My keen powers of perception told me that water was not draining from the bathtub, and with my equally acute powers of deductive reasoning, I swiftly determined that something – probably a big wad of mutant hairballs – had plugged the drain.

Minutes later I entered the bathroom dressed for battle: a plumber’s snake dangled from my fist like a bullwhip. The furrows in my forehead, plowed there by grim determination, were dotted with beads of sweat, or perhaps bath water, because I had forgotten to towel off.

You are probably asking yourself: What is a plumber’s snake? Is it one of those things you read about that swims up into toilets and gives elderly ladies heart attacks?

No. Basically, a plumber’s snake is a long metal device that you use to damage shower tiles and small children if they happen to be in the same voting precinct when you are cranking it.

I began ramming the snake down the drain. I immediately encountered an obstruction, because the snake kept wanting to spring back out of the drain as if it were some mad jack-in-the-box. The obstruction turned out to be a bend in the pipe.

More of the snake began to slip into the drain. I could hear it clearly … so clearly that my powerful intellect was able to guide me to the conclusion that it had gone UP the pipe instead of DOWN, and would have inserted itself into my ear had it not been for a metal plate covering the opening beneath the faucet.

I reasoned that if I could remove that metal plate, I could force the snake DOWN, and it could go nowhere but into the drain pipe, unless it bored through the pipe and into Earth’s crust.

So I set about unscrewing the screw that held the plate in place. I did not know the screw hadn’t been moved since man developed metallurgy, and no sooner than I could say, “What hath God wrought,” the screw broke, the plate fell off and I was staring at a slime-encrusted hole that resembled a biblical description of hell.

Ever the opportunist, I inserted the plumber’s snake into the hole and began merrily plunging away, and half an hour later I had slime all over the bathroom, the drain was plugged worse than ever and it was almost time to go to work.

That’s when I called Dad.

I’m happy to report the drain is now clear and the lid to hell has been capped and you can all return to your homes. Except the kitchen faucet is dripping.

This column was originally published in a February 1988 edition of the Northwest Florida Daily News and is used with permission.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .