The digestive seat

Recently heard this on the Geologic Podcast: Some bats use a carnivorous plant as a toilet. The bat gets to shit in cushy peace; the plant gets nutrients.

What I thought was, what if the plants get too greedy?

“I don’t care for this nutrient broth; I think I shall close the lid and eat the whole bat that’s so conveniently deep in my pitcher.”

And the bat will think —

“Okay. Flap flap. Time to poop. Zoom. Land. Snug snug into the pitcher, my snug nice toilet. Okay, time to extrude the — hey, who turned out the light? What? Hey! Help! There’s digestive fluids coming out of my toilet! Heeeelp!”

And that’s a thought: the plant wouldn’t need to eat such a scrumptious meal all that often. Nine times out of ten, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it could just let the bat poop in peace… and when the hundredth time came, SNAP, CRACKLE, DIGEST.

It’s very rare that any human being goes to the toilet and doesn’t come back, too.

But I bet there have been people. People who disappear from their homes without a trace. A plate left on the table, with slightly spoilt chili… a few empty water bottles… an empty tin of laxatives… and the person’s just gone without a trace.

No-one would think to look in the toilet, that’s for sure. Not if the seat was so spotless it seemed licked clean… not if the whole white beast was a few millimeters away from where it had previously been… if its shine was a bit deeper, glossier than before, and it seemed a little bit bigger…

And if a policeman thought to bend down, sniff at the occasional bubbles that drifted from the white beast’s throat, with them a very faint smell of blood…

Why, now there’s a vanished policeman, too. And the mystery deepens.

Let us assume a Poirot, then. Who comes in, casts an eye around, and thinks.

He knows the policeman didn’t walk out; there was a forensics team preparing by the door. There seems to be no place to hide in the toilet… and yet, should one think this is the way the first victim vanished, too? Where to, then? It’s a clean, tidy toilet, all glossy white and shiny steel; there are no secret doors or hidden cabinets, for careful knocks reveal nothing hollow, just the steel veins of plumbing, and the plumbing fixtures will not turn, key-like, no matter how you push or pull them.

Once the impossible has been eliminated, whatever remains, no matter how improbable…

And so our Poirot turns to look at the toilet, from a safe distance, and says to himself: “Ah, moi! It has finally come to this. I, Poirot, am investigating a bathroom. And I am drawn to investigate the… the throne of comfort! as an avenue of people going away! It is my suspect, and as I fix my implacable glare on it, it is as if it was staring back in return but it has no eyes! Merde! My little grey cells, why will you not let me rest for I, Poirot, am tired!”

He looks at the toilet from a distance, looks at the gaping open white maw, and the water that lies still at the bottom of it, in that gulf which seems slightly larger than it should be. Maybe just large enough…

And so he raises his voice. “Hastings! Bring the diver’s suit, and the harpoon, tout de suite!

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