Summary – Ahh, the men's room. That sacred domain where ne'er a woman shall step, unless, of course, you're Amanda. Another episode in the Amanda and Jamie series.
Author's Notes: This story unfortunately reveals to all my prejudice against public washrooms, especially those in places that are frequented by large crowds e.g. malls, zoos, amusement parks etc. Only a dire emergency will find me entering one. I don't know what the European experience is with regards to public washrooms so this story might only make sense to North America readers. I readily acknowledge that SOME clean public washrooms do exist...somewhere. It is just my misfortune that I have seldom encountered them.
Disclaimer: Scarecrow and Mrs. King and its characters belong to WB and Shoot the Moon Productions. No infringement is intended. This is written for entertainment purposes only. Please do not redistribute or reproduce this story without my permission.
Timeline: Season 2
Rating – general
Title: The Men's Room
Amanda stood in the mall by the food court waiting for her boys to come out of the men's room. They still had some shopping to do which she hoped wouldn't take too long. She was supposed to be meeting Lee at five o'clock to be part of his cover for a drop. At least the mall wasn't very busy so there shouldn't be long line ups at the registers, she mused.
Someone tugged on her sleeve and she looked down to see Phillip standing beside her, gesturing wildly for her to bend down. She leaned over and he whispered urgently in her ear. Frowning over the strange string of non-sense words, she repeated what she had just heard, "Shame knees who.... Phillip, I have no idea what that means."
Phillip gave his mother an exasperated look, stood on his tiptoes and whispered the message again, his excited breathing tickling her ear and continuing to garble what he was saying.
Once again Amanda repeated the muffled words in a puzzled tone. "Shame knees who ease duck...Phillip, sweetheart, that still doesn't make any sense. Why don't you just tell me out loud?"
"Okay." He took a deep breath and then shouted at the top of his lungs. "Jamie needs you. He's stuck!"
"Phillip!" She clamped her hand over his mouth and smiled weakly at the frowning shoppers passing by. "That's not what I meant." She admonished him before removing her hand. "And what do you mean, Jamie needs me? Where is he stuck?" She looked around but didn't see her youngest anywhere. A small flutter of panic raced through her.
"He's stuck in the men's room, in the toilet stall. He can't get out."
"In the stall? But you told me you just had to do a 'number one' and nothing else."
"Then why didn't he use the big boy urinals like your dad showed you?"
"They were all busy and he couldn't wait so he went in the stall and now he's stuck and can't get out."
Amanda walked quickly over to the men's room door, questioning Phillip the whole time. "Didn't you ask one of the men in there to help?"
"Mo-om! You said to never talk to strangers, especially in the men's room."
"Oh. That's right, I did and it's a very good safety rule to follow but..." She bit her lip wondering what to do. "Is anyone in there right now?"
"Nope, just Jamie. The door won't open."
"Well, go in there and tell him to crawl under."
"I did but he won't 'cause there's germs on the floor. You told us public bathrooms are full of germs."
"True, but this is an emergency....Are you sure no one is in there?"
Amanda opened the door a crack and yelled inside. "Jamie, crawl under the door."
"No! It's germy on the floor." A little voice called back.
"It's okay. We'll just give you a good washing up when we get home."
"No! They showed us germs at school with a microscope. They're gross and I'm not going near them." This time the little voice had a faint quaver to it and Amanda knew he was getting ready to cry.
"Don't cry sweety. Help will be right there." She looked around for a security guard or a male store employee but none were in sight. Her mind raced trying to find a solution but only one came to mind. Spying her mother walking down the aisle, she made her decision. "Phillip, do you see Grandma, way down there, by that shoe store? You go down there, tell her what's happened and wait with her. I'll go into the men's room and get Jamie out."
"You're going in the men's room?" Phillip's voice was filled with a combination of disbelief and awe at the idea of his mother entering such sacred territory.
"Well, do you have a better idea?"
"Then go wait with Grandma." She gave him a gentle shove to move him on his way, then turned to face the men's room door. Taking a deep breath, she bounced once on her toes and then barged in.
Basic mall decor greeted her eyes. White porcelain fixtures, blue ceramic tiles, soap and paper dispensers... Urinals lined the one wall and beyond them was a row of stainless steel cubicles housing the toilets. Looking around, she wrinkled her nose in disgust. It certainly was a prime breeding ground for germs. The floor had paper towels, water and a few other debatable puddles on it. Soap scum lined the sinks and counter while the air had a decidedly bad odour about it.
Gingerly tiptoeing through the debris, she made her way to the back of the washroom, tapping on the door of each stall as she went past. "Jamie? Where are you? "
"At the end. See?" He stuck his foot out from under the door and Amanda hurried to his location.
She pulled on the door and it didn't budge. It was definitely stuck. "Jamie, are you sure it's unlocked? Did you slide the little bar all the way over?"
"Well, try again for Mommy please."
She heard a rattling sound and then the door jiggled but didn't open. "It's still stuck."
"All right. Thanks for trying anyway. Let me just think for a moment." She stared at the floor and agreed with Jamie that it did look like a hotbed of germs. Looking up, she considered if he could climb over the top but decided that even standing on the toilet seat, he'd be too short. Wondering what was keeping the door from opening, she pressed her eye against the crack and examined the area where the lock was located. Something seemed to be stuck in there...it looked like...gum.
"Jamie, I think I know what the problem is. It looks like there's gum stuck in the lock mechanism. I'm going to try to poke it out. Just let me find something in my purse to use." Amanda began frantically digging through her purse, finding and dismissing an assortment of items before coming up with a pair of tweezers. She stared at them for a moment wondering how they had got in there but then shrugged. It didn't matter, she was just glad to have found them.
Bending over, she set to work, her tongue slightly protruding from the corner of her mouth as she proceeded with the delicate operation. Twice she thought she had the troublesome treat in her grasp but each time, the tweezers slid off. Straightening she arched her back, wiggled her shoulders and bent down for third try. She wished the lighting was a bit brighter at this end of the room!
Suddenly a sound broke through her concentration. The outer door had oened, quick footsteps crossed the floor and the sound of someone urinating filled the room. She winced, covered her eyes and tried to make herself invisible.
"Hey Mom! Are you still there?" Jamie picked that most inappropriate of moments to speak.
"Shh!" She whispered while at the same time the individual at the other end of the room called out in surprise.
Knowing the sound of that voice, she lowered her hand and dared to look. Their eyes met, involuntarily hers dropped lower and Lee quickly spun around, arranging his clothes, while glaring at her over his shoulder. "What are you—?"
She gestured for silence, shaking her head and nodding toward the stall Jamie was stuck in.
Lee frowned and silently mouthed a question. "What are you doing in here?"
Amanda answered by way of talking to Jamie. "Jamie, I know you're getting tired of being stuck in there and I wish I could have found someone to come in here and help you but there was no one around. So I'll just keep poking at this piece of gum that's stuck in the lock and hopefully you'll be free in no time."
Lee nodded in understanding, appeared to think for a moment, then bent his knees and mimed grabbing the bottom of the door and lifting. Amanda frowned and repeated the gesture while watching at him. Lee nodded encouragingly. She looked at the door and decided to give it a try. Gripping the lower edge of the cool steel panel in her hands, she lifted with all of her might. Nothing happened. Glancing towards Lee, she shrugged. He motioned for her to do it again but added a jiggle this time. Once again she tried, jiggling the door a bit as she lifted. The door seemed to shift a bit and then swung open.
Glancing towards Lee to issue words of thanks, she just caught sight of him slipping into the first stall and quietly closing the door. Jamie stepped out of his makeshift prison, smiling in obvious relief.
"Thanks, Mom. I thought I'd be stuck in there forever!"
"I was beginning to wonder about that myself." Amanda gave him a quick hug and then prompted him to wash his hands.
Under the cover of the sound of running water, she whispered towards Lee's hiding place. "Thanks! I'll see you at five o'clock." Then, taking Jamie by the hand she hurried out of the men's room before anyone else decided to use the facilities.
(*FYI - This method of opening a washroom door does work, at least with the models used in our local schools!)