Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Streak - 56

Evan apologized to Esteban and Esteban immediately reciprocated without reservation; all that mattered was that Evan do so first. In fact, Evan bore no ill will toward his ball-breaking teammate. On the contrary, the episode intensified and justified his self-reproach. He hated himself for losing, of course. He hated himself for fucking up. These emotions extended beyond the playing field: he hated himself for failing as a husband, for failing as a dad. But most of all he hated himself for hating himself. Because he knew this was his only problem, really. If he could liberate himself from it, he was convinced that the rest of his life and whatever lay thereafter would unfold before him as a dream.

Trouble is, Evan didn't want to stop. Self-loathing: this was his addiction. And though he labored to resist, he unfailingly succumbed to its furious and perverse temptations. Is this why he couldn't throw the ball to first? Because he didn't want to? This awful thought spawned two in quick succession: What kind of a cocksucker behaves like that? and I don't deserve to live. There you have it. Exhibits A and B, Benjaminson v. Benjaminson. The prosecution rests.

For it was sin that afflicted him, not mere neurosis. The sin of vanity. And if it's vain to love oneself, it's ten times more to hate. They say that suicide's a sin. Evan didn't give a fuck about religion, but he always understood that. Suicide is a petulant child who breaks his toy. You get a life, a body. Lungfuls of oxygen. And this is what you do? In fact, even in his darkest depths Evan had no urge for it. If worse came to worse, he figured, he'd make of himself a monument to failure, dashed hopes and disappointments; to promises unkept. He'd play the martyr for mankind. I'd be Jesus Christ, how glorious, he thought, laughing darkly in his head. But maybe – maybe – worse wouldn't come to worse.

He was broken. And the more he tried to fix himself, the brokener he got. This maddening conundrum; this damned, intractable reality. Evan knew it so well and so precisely, he could almost hold it in his hands. It was like an object in his brain. Might it be surgically removed? As absurd as it sounded, he believed it maybe could. Sure, there'd be side effects. Like forgetting how to tie his shoes. If they took too much off the margins he might be consigned to a life of happy, drooling idiocy. But the problem would be gone.

Fuck it, thought Evan. That's not what a man does. A man has a simple choice: cast off your burdens by determination or bear them in silence. No crying, no complaints. Fuck it.

Evan fell back into his room while the others hit the bar. He was hungry now. He ordered room service: the Angus strip with fingerling potatoes, a bottle of Cabernet. He flipped through the channels. He watched most of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He brushed his teeth and turned out the lights. There was another game to play tomorrow.

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