The Best Man

After the wedding reception, the cleaning woman was mopping up the pink-salmon vomit on the tiled floor of the men's bathroom when she found the body of a young man, dressed in a black tuxedo, in one of the stalls.

"Nobody's even called," said the manager when he arrived. He let the stall door fall closed. "Nobody's even been wondering where he was. Poor bastard."

The cleaning woman and the manager observed a moment of silence, or a moment of confusion.

"Did you check?" the manager asked suddenly.


"If he was alive or not."

She shook her head.

"You didn't check?"

"I'm not touching him."

"You clean up puke and piss and shit, and you're not gonna touch another human being?"

"I don't want my fingerprints on him," she said, backing up and shaking her hands.

The manager looked at her.

"See?" She wagged a finger at him. "You're thinking I did it! I'm not touching him. You touch him."

The manager thought. "I'm going to lock the door," he decided, "and I want you to stand outside and don't let no one in. Who knows who this guy is? We have to be careful. I'll make the calls. You stay put."

"Now you are on the track," said the woman, pushing her bucket of dirty water out of the bathroom.

Neither the cleaning woman nor the bucket were there when the hotel security guard arrived to discover the young man pounding on the door to be let out. He was screaming they didn't know who they were fucking with and he was going to sue the hell out of this place. In her deposition, Maria Sanchez said her manager had locked the door to protect the young man.

Q: But you thought he was dead?

A: Yes.

Q: What did you think you were protecting him from?

A: He was messed with his vomit, shirt and pants, and he smelled so bad I thought he moved bowel on himself. I would do the same thing if he was my own son. When they found my father in the alley, everyone talked about it for months and months, they never stopped, and Mama had to move us to Cleveland. . . .

About the author:

A writer in Michigan, David Barringer has published, The Leap & Other Mistakes: 35 Stories, and will publish his first novel this summer. His fiction has appeared in Nerve, Wisconsin Review, In Posse Review, Cross Connect, 3AM Magazine, Sweet Fancy Moses, Outsider Ink, Opium Magazine, Carve Magazine, Cenotaph, and many others. He publishes new work every month on his site Contact him at