Later on he took a bath. He stood by while the bath filled, unhappy. It was the end of a long and upsetting day.
The bath was one part of a remedy for the unhappiness. A moment before he'd eaten a fast food dinner. Later he would drink beer and watch a film. When the bath was almost full he took his clothes off, placed his book on top of the toilet cistern, and pissed into the toilet. Then he slid into the water.
The bath had all kinds of comforting associations for him. Foremost of these was the womb. It was a gentle warm annihilation that asked nothing of him.
He grew comfortable, then spent some time reading the book.
He melted into the warm water and after a couple of difficult pages was transplanted into the world of the story. It was a grimy and wretched world filled with unhappy people, he enjoyed it. He floated through the scenes as a spectator, intrigued by the characters and their suffering.
For a while he saw everything with vivid clarity.
But then the words began to tangle up, some of the expressions were too oblique. The author described a character as a “smudge” against the “grey black night”, and he found this too difficult to visualise. Specifically the night being both grey and black.
He closed the book and leaned back in the tub. Tired. It had been a long day. He opened the book again, but closed it a moment later. For some reason he balanced it on top of his head.
Fighting back sleep. But then he slept. He woke a moment later, the book still perched on his head – a close call, it could easily have slipped.
He set the book back on the cistern, and fell asleep.
Woke, blinked, looked about him. Then fell asleep.
His sleep was black, blank and dreamless.
Each time when he awoke, he found himself relaxed and at peace. Sleep hung around him like a heavy force, it couldn't be fought. It was as if he were being born, again and again, into short lives he could make no sense of, then swiftly obliterated. Born, to live for a moment, just long enough to realise he was slipping away.
It felt good. It was only afterward, as the bath drained, that the comparison with births and deaths occurred to him. Maybe Samuel Beckett would have liked that. The sort of thing he was often saying about the human condition. Good old Samuel Beckett.
What was I going to do next, he thought.
Oh - beer and a movie.
Another good idea. On days like this, the best you could hope for was to disappear.
NZ’s 8 most important vampires
3 weeks ago