The leak in the kitchen wasn’t surprising; my roof was shabby and it had been raining heavily. What was odd was the way my bucket had ceased to fill, having grown to three-fourths full and no further, though the leak remained steady. Thank goodness for my hoarding tendencies, which compelled me to snatch up every item on the side of the road I came across. You never know when a dingy, mud-caked bucket is going to turn out to be a magical water-absorbing pit.
When a salesman came around toting his line of feline-themed shower curtains, I invited him in to watch the bucket not fill. The slow drip of the leak caused a period of awkward silence as we waited for evidence of my claim to settle in.
“Very impressive,” the salesman said, adjusting his glasses to emphasize his astonishment. “For the man with the magic bucket, I offer a 50% discount on the kitten-with-ball-of-yarn design.”
I bought two, along with the matching rings.
It was my turn to host movie night for the nature-documentary group I’d joined in college. Our numbers had never grown past two, but we liked it that way. Amy arrived early, handing me a pair of 3D glasses. We were both discontent and I thought of movie nights simply as a medium through which to be discontent together, which seemed the underlying joy of most social gatherings.
My magic bucket had moved to the back of my mind, but Amy noticed it as we prepared snacks in the kitchen.
“Is this that weird bucket you were talking about?”
I nodded. Amy dropped in a piece of popcorn and it sank straight to the bottom, evaporating against the metal base. We flinched as the next drop from the ceiling took the form of a kernel, plopping into the bucket and resting stagnant on the water’s surface.
“Holy shit,” Amy said. “It’s the bucket of youth!”
In an effort to test the theory, we called the number on the card that the shower-curtain salesman had given me and asked if he could come back. His arrival was prompt, suitcase filled with paw-patterned bath accessories. I asked if he wouldn’t mind washing his hands or face a bit with the water in my bucket, ensuring him that our gratitude would be monetarily demonstrated. The salesman shrugged and entered the kitchen, electing the hand-washing option. He was drying his hands against his suit when his entire form vaporized, a puddle taking shape where he’d stood. Amy and I looked up in anticipation, waiting for a long moment before a baby fell down from the ceiling, landing in the bucket with a splash. Amy thwacked my arm.
“What’d I tell you!”
The documentary on schedule was about cacti and what their mating might look like if they mated. Amy and I ate popcorn and watched in the dark, taking turns cradling the suit-swaddled salesman-baby. We cringed at the simulation of needle-clad cacti getting all up in one another and I was happy thinking that whenever we saw a cactus from now on, our heads would go to the exact same place.
Timothy Day is a pun enthusiast and MFA student at Portland State. He really likes the word janky. You can find links to his other stories on his website: https://frogsmirkles.