That Men Do

“Once or twice a week I’ll think about all the evil I’ve done in my life; evil as defined by others, of course. I’ve managed to scrub away most of the concepts of moral duality by wrecking my brain both with chemicals and intense critical thinking. But sure, if you put my history under the lens of commonly held beliefs, a lot of it will be cast in the dark shadows of what’s known as evil. Sure.

“I think about that evil and I wonder if I’ll ever be made to pay for it. Along with the washing out of the bad and good, right and wrong, went most of the concept of guilt. There are still vestiges of it, though. Guilt and the fear it generates is a powerful thing. The dregs of it remain long after the surface looks clear, like dust in the micropores, bacteria thriving in the hairline fractures of the ceramic eggshell of the soul. And that guilt longs for absolution, for relief. For a mote of guilt holds as much crushing power as a whole bucketful. The physics of guilt work in ways that defy explanation. It’s a kind of energy, and as such cannot be destroyed, only converted.

“I think about my reckoning, about the payment I need to make to the piper, for all the ill I’ve done and gotten away with scot-free for yes, there’s been a lot of that. A life carefully lived, deeds done when eyes were averted, fingerprints wiped and all photographic evidence destroyed or misplaced.

“But you know what the cruel, bitter irony of it all is? It’s that this life that I continue to live constitutes the punishment for the sins. That I’m still confined to this meat-sack loaded with unfulfilled desires and unanswered prayers, ungranted wishes and forlorn hopes. You see? Life itself is the punishment, and short of a total memory wipe I’m confined to a perfect prison of my own design, and within I must dwell, for the only escape is a death I’m too cowardly to face.”

2014.09.07 – 2023.05.03

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