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He only just caught the bus as it left Iraklion. Sweating brow and cramping gut added to the discomfort of the seat shared with a malodorous hulk. The aisle seat meant a flow of Cretans bartering and exchanging gossip, dunts from baskets and hips. Twenty minutes passed. His anxiety about his rucksack, lobbed onto the roof by the driver to take its chances amongst cases and live chickens, transferred to his colon where colic threatened sphincter failure. He tasted vomit and smelled garlic. Gripping the chrome rail, again he regretted last night’s salad. He’d hoped he was empty: no explosions since 4am when he awoke on cold tiles, head below a toilet, having fainted. The rail cooled his forehead; crushing it seemed to strengthen his anal defences. A four hour journey with one momentary stop, Rethymnon. Hopes were dashed by the queue for the town square ticket office toilet; the bus barely stopped and he had to board again still clenching. Two more hours to grip rail and sphincter. At the first cafe in Chania he demanded a stop, fellow passengers tutting greekly while his rucksack was retrieved. Blessed relief: a sit-on toilet and a two mile trek to town.

Postscript: sadly, this is not really fiction, but happened to me exactly as related on a solo holiday to Crete in 1983 when I had a week off from my 100 hour per week junior doctor post in a Scottish hospital.

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