It was amazing--or disturbing--how much time he spent erasing the evidence of what he just did.

October 22nd, 2013, 10pm

It was 11.1°C with broken clouds. The breeze was light.

When he did something of which he was ashamed—and he was doing those types of things more and more—he immediately set about destroying all evidence of that thing. He did not imagine he was alone in this—people snuck cigarettes and porn and cupcakes and liquor and did unspeakable things to animals—but like death, heartbreak, and childbirth, shame was one those human emotions everyone experiences and so is completely banal when you think about it, but which also feels—regardless of abstract banality—completely personal and profound when you go through it yourself. It is weird that we cry at things which people experience literally every day.

Unlike death and birth, however, shame is something you don’t want to share with anyone. You obviously feel shame when alone, but it grows and becomes more wretched the more people know about it; and thus the desire to destroy the evidence or hide the act: cigarettes, donuts, and murder all share this in common. Not that he wants to compare murder to donuts, but they do seem to exist on a spectrum of “shouldn’t and yet still did.”

His own personal murder scene tonight: multiple takeout Indian entrees, an entire order of Naan, a full takeout container of rice. So innocent sounding and yet looking at the carnage of the thing, he didn’t feel innocent. And it was not innocent, because it was disgusting. So much richness, so much bread, so much food. You do not get to eat like this and remain thin and in control. Already, he felt puffier. He felt the type of fullness one only attains when vast amounts of food are eaten very quickly, eaten up before the body realizes what is going on and trips the alarm. The brain is not so clever that it can’t be outsmarted by a marijuana-induced appetite and large bowl of veggie korma.

And so he stares at his plate and at the overturned takeout containers stained with whatever spices made Indian food so saturated in color; and through the detached perception of someone who is very very high, he realizes that about 70% of his life looks just like this plate and these containers; and feels about as full and guilty. It’s a silly realization, one fit for a Frank Capra movie in which a hero attains clarity and understanding in one brilliant moment, but these are the kind of realizations one looks for when unsatisfied.

She would be home soon—his wife—and the truth was that the Indian food was the tip of the iceberg or the loose thread which would unravel the whole sweater. If she saw the destruction of the Indian food she would very soon thereafter see the destruction of everything else, the stuff which was a lot less innocent than the Indian food, but which existed on the same spectrum just like the donuts and the murder.

And that is all he can do, he realizes: keep her and everyone around him off the scent. It is not the bad stuff you do which you need to worry about; you need to worry about the stuff that leads to that stuff. Unfortunately for him, there are more and more tips to his iceberg every day.

He mops up the last bit of korma from the bowl and almost immediately runs to the sink to wash and dry the bowl and then he puts it away. She will be home in an hour, so he sweeps through the house, looking for anything which would communicate how drunk he was when he returned home and how high he is now. He picks up the shirt he’d tossed on the floor by the door, makes sure he removes the flask from his backpack, confirms that he hasn’t left any weed on his desk, deletes any incriminating text messages, and uses the eye drops he knows he isn’t supposed to use because they got the red out by constricting the blood vessels in his eyes and while he isn’t sure why that was bad, he knows it can’t be good.

He finishes this and waits for her and practices what he would tell her about his night. At least he still practiced. He wonders: when would it get so bad he forgot to practice?

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Matthew Latkiewicz

A jack of some trades:

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