This is this story’s first time appearing to the public. It will be included in the forthcoming collaborative collection The Latham-Fielding Liaison.
The Infinite Error
by Jon Padgett and Matthew M. Bartlett
“Everything exists; nothing exists. Either formula affords a like serenity. The man of anxiety, to his misfortune, remains between them, trembling and perplexed, forever at the mercy of a nuance, incapable of gaining a foothold in the security of being or in the absence of being.”
—E.M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born
Of course, I would have preferred to defecate at home in the privacy and comfort of my own bathroom, but my bowels refuse to move for the first two hours I am awake. I suffer from insomnia and can achieve a deep sleeping state only in the very early hours of the morning. Forcing myself awake before 6am is a misery, so I simply wait to use the office facilities.
As you know, the office has only one lavatory, which is miniscule. The entrance has a swinging, louvered door that cannot be locked, and it contains a single stall. A unisex facility, there is no urinal present, so if the stall is occupied, one must wait. Each weekday for years now, I have arrived at work fifteen minutes early so I can enter and use this toilet without disturbance.
Why? I don’t like beginning my day in a negative frame of mind. It is not rage that I feel whenever I enter the lavatory to find the stall door closed, but it is a proximal feeling. Also, I cannot abide sitting on a warm toilet seat, let alone being assailed by the stench of another body’s recent evacuations. And then there are the particles that they so often leave behind in the toilet’s bowl.
You would think it a simple courtesy: a second flush. Why, I myself have been known to wait until the water recedes, and wipe at the leavings with a wad of toilet tissue sufficient to provide an unbreachable border between my hand and the porcelain. To leave behind any trace of my presence would be simply out of the question. (Continue Reading…)