The true story of an intruder, some mushrooms and a massive turd
Every time we brush our teeth in our house we are standing in the exact spot where, a few years earlier, I found a man, in our shed, off his tits on mushrooms and covered in shit.
I kid you not.
It all started rather innocuously. It was a normal Saturday and it was about lunchtime. I was going out to the shed as it housed, among other detritus, like the recycling and the kids’ bikes, our freezer and our tumble dryer.
The shed is attached to the back of our house but only had access from outside.
Many years ago it was the main entrance to the house itself. The shed, let’s call it that, had a fireplace in it with a flue on one side and a bread oven on the other. It was proper old fashioned and spoke of our cottage’s industrial working-class heritage. One of the main reasons why we bought ourselves a money pit of an old house.
Where the shed joined the house, there was an old doorway that had been bricked up and on the inside of the house, turned into a recessed bookshelf.
Years after the incident that I am going to recount to you, we knocked through the bookcase, reuniting the shed, or back scullery as it would have been, with the back of the house. After a new roof, roof lights, insulation, plumbing etc, my father in law and I turned it into a large family bathroom.
Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah. I was going out to the shed.
Now we live in a quiet rural area called the Forest of Dean in the south west of the England. It’s a lovely place. It’s a little run down but the landscape and views are to die for. If you like mile upon mile of coniferous forests, hidden ancient woodland, walking, cycling, photography – anything outdoorsy then you’d love it here. The people are a bit weird but don’t let that put you off. Sadly, it does with most visitors.
As a result of being quite a small rural community and the fact that, having taught in the area for almost 20 years, I have taught most of the petty criminals so they kindly leave my house alone, we don’t lock our sheds. Not consciously – just out of pure laziness.
So, with the scene set, there I am, on a Saturday lunchtime, going out to the shed to sort out the washing in the tumble dryer.
It’s a lovely sunny Autumn day. One in a long line of the closest we get to an Indian summer. ie 4 consecutive days where it isn’t raining and the sun shines, a bit.
I go to push open the shed door and, even though it is unlocked and the door is ajar, it is blocked. I push again, but the door won’t budge.
Pushing harder on the door, I manage to create enough of a gap to get my head through to see what’s going on.
Before I even get my head through the door, I pick up a vaguely familiar but very funky smell.
Unperturbed I poke my head through, focused on discovering the blockage.
It takes me a little while for my eyes to adjust to the dim light in the shed, but when they do, they survey the scene, taking in the mess and eventually, the prostrate figure of a young man on the floor.
Now I’m nearly 50 so a young man to me is a guy in his early 20s.
He is lying on the floor of my shed and it is his outstretched leg that is preventing my access, blocking the door.
His head is propped up slightly and I notice that he isn’t asleep as I had first assumed; his eyes are open but firmly fixed on the wall. And he shows no sign of noticing that I am trying to get into my shed.
So I say the first thing that anyone would if they found someone had entered their shed uninvited.
“What the fuck are you doing in my shed?”
“What the fuck are you doing in my shed?” I said again, slightly louder this time because he still hadn’t even acknowledged my presence let alone answered my question.
Still. No answer.
This time I repeat the question but back it up by kicking the bottom of his foot.
“WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING IN MY FUCKING SHED?”
A man has to defend his castle, or his shed, right? That’s how I reconciled myself with the shouting. And the extra ‘fucking’. I thought it communicated the right amount of anger for when you find a stranger in your shed who isn’t answering your question.
This time there was a reaction, albeit one I was not expecting.
Slowly, painfully slowly, his gaze, which had been fixed to the wall in front of him, crawled up the wall until it eventually met with my shocked and angry visage.
And he spoke: “What the fuck am I doing in your shed?” He had a look of shock and incredulity on his face.
I have to say, that threw me a little. I expected a series of excuses, none of which could actually justify him being in my shed but I was not prepared by how shocked he was to find himself in my shed.
‘What am I doing in your shed?’ He just kept on saying it, while slowly looking around the shed, as if taking it in for the first time.
Was he a time traveller who had no control over where or when he glitches back and forth in time? But he wasn’t naked and I’ve read The Time Traveler’s Wife (by accident actually, I got so far in before realising that I had been duped into reading a romance novel; it wasn’t the sci-fi novel I was expecting) and he wasn’t near a stargate, or sat in a Delorean, phonebox or any other time travelling machine.
Was he a groom that had been dumped in my shed as a stag do jape? The way he was dressed, in dirty jeans, a big coat and scuffed trainers didn’t imply that this was a drunken prank.
I could think of no other reason why he wouldn’t know why he was in my shed. I mean, if you’re going to sneak into someone’s garden at some point overnight and steal into their shed, you have to have a reason, right?
Then I looked more closely at his eyes.
Or the holes in his face where his eyes should have been. What I saw were two glassy, almost lifeless eyes that looked exhausted from a night of activity. His eyes had clearly been very busy.
This new information coupled with his dishevelled attire and the funky smell aided my deduction that he was, how do I put it, fucked, mashed, monged, battered. Whatever you call a person who has spent a night consuming some kind of mind-altering toxins.
He had been tripping the night away. He had been dancing with Lucy.
I only knew this because I’ve seen it on a documentary somewhere, or something.
It was late September and someone told me that it was mushroom season. I wouldn’t know. Suddenly, it all started to make sense.
This process of deduction happened quite quickly. But when I arrived at this conclusion, I realised that he would need to be treated with kid gloves. He was obviously very fragile and any sudden movements, sounds or demands made of him might make him shatter into a thousand tiny little tripped out pieces.
I gave him a few moments to adjust to his surroundings and take in his current situation. While he was doing so, I had a quick scan around the shed to see if anything else was amiss, apart from a shroom head lying on the floor.
I couldn’t find anything so I returned my gaze to our star traveller, spotting something quite shocking that I hadn’t seen before. It just so happened that the mushroom man (that is how he has always been known since) spotted the very same thing at the very same time.
His trousers were at half-mast. They were around his knees. I hadn’t noticed before because we used to put cardboard in the shed for recycling and he had pulled some on top of him probably in an effort to keep warm or to hide under from the advancing aliens/monsters/unicorns, whatever his hallucinogen addled mind had created.
This changed the situation for me. I now had a half-naked mushroom man in my shed.
He pulled the piece of cardboard back over himself and while he did so, I pulled back the rest of the cardboard to give him a little room. There was a particularly large piece of cardboard, a box that had been flattened, and as I returned it to its upright position, we both recoiled in horror at what it revealed.
Stuck to the cardboard, like a sleeping beaver, was a giant turd. A huge brown log.
We were both disgusted. The mushroom man, in particular, looked horrified. He let out an offended, ‘Urrrrgghhhh!’, looking straight at me.
Completely put out, I set him straight. ‘Don’t fucking look at me. I don’t come in here to have a shit in my own shed. That’s your fucking shit!’
It dawned on him that I must be right, no one would go and take a shit in their own shed and leave it there, no matter how desperate, and a wave of shame swept over him.
I told him in no uncertain terms that he was going to tidy my shed up and dispose of the offending shit before getting the fuck off my property.
He duly obliged.
I fetched a bucket of water and gave him a bit of time to sort himself out before sorting my shed out.
By this point, I kind of took pity on the guy. He was in such a sorry state. We’ve all been there, wallowing in a bath of shame after a night of debauchery. A one night stand maybe, making some kind of spectacle of yourself, vomiting in your friend’s plant pot, shitting yourself. These are all things that I have heard people do when they have a night of excess.
I myself have been in some states, but I’ve never shit in a stranger’s shed. On a piece of cardboard.
Over the next 15 minutes, I helped him clean up a bit, but I left the turd for him. Before you ask, we wrapped it in kitchen roll to be disposed of.
We chatted a little but I could tell he just wanted to be as far away from this nightmare as possible.
It transpired that he had no idea what was going on when he stumbled down through our garden after consuming copious amounts of magic mushrooms. He told me that my shed looked completely different last night. No shit Sherlock!
I told him that in a way he had got lucky because if he had stumbled into my neighbour’s garden on one side, they would have called the police. On the other side, they would have kicked the crap out of him.
Eventually, the shed was returned to its former state and he was ready to leave.
‘Thanks, mate,’ he said before going to leave. ‘I’m so sorry.’
I could feel his pain and I really felt for him. ‘Don’t worry,’ I said ‘No harm done.’
He then put out his hand in an act of gratitude. I think he was trying to say thanks for not killing him, for not calling the police and for being understanding. I think he was also trying to seal some kind of pact that this would never be spoken of again, even if I saw him. We live in a small community, and although I didn’t recognise him, I looked forward to looking out for him and catching his eye, as if to say ‘Remember me? Remember shitting in my shed?’
I looked down, about to shake his hand, mostly just to make him feel a bit better.
But before our hands met, I stopped and went no further. The back of his hand was covered in shit.
I just looked down and said, ‘No, you’re alright mate,’ before withdrawing my hand.
He looked down at his own shit covered hand in a mixture of disbelief and disgust and just walked away. I think I heard him mumbling ‘What have I done?’ as he disappeared up the garden, shaking his head, carrying the shit wrapped in kitchen roll in his other hand.
So, every time we brush our teeth I think of the mushroom man, and his night that was full of wonder and woe, of shame and shit. And I smile.
I learned nothing from this. There is no life lesson here. I am kind of glad that he happened upon my shed in the end. Because we have all been the mushroom man at some point. And I’m just proud of the way that I didn’t beat him to death or call the police and I like to think, if something like that ever happens to me (again), that I meet someone understanding like me.
My only regret about the whole situation is: I have never seen him since. I have never had that opportunity to drive by and say to the kids, ‘Look, kids. It’s the mushroom man.’
But I remain hopeful.