I came to to find I was kind of slumped over the corpse with my chin resting on his shoulder, my limbs trailing across him, one knee in his lap is such a position that it was squashing his pegged testicles against his mottled paunch. My face was next to his – and not for the first time I was thankful for the gimp mask that saved me from having to look at his, no doubt, hideous features. The stench was fierce, and – this close to the body – I was starting to hear faint but ominous cracks and fizzles coming from inside, the quiet work of enzymes and bacteria beginning to dismantle a human.
I was paralysed from the neck down. I could blink and swivel my eyes, sniff, clear my throat and when I said “Oh for fuck’s sake” found that I could both speak the words and hear them. I wondered briefly if I should try to call for help, but if the idea of having to tell the world why I had a naked man in my flat was embarrassing, then having to explain why I was now a naked quadriplegic piled on top of him in the shower would probably be worse. Almost definitely, the only way to get out of this with any kind of dignity intact was going to be to quietly starve to death – which was the most likely outcome here. There wasn’t a lot of fear at this point – I could almost see a funny side to the situation. I decided I would write a book about the experience, in my head. Ruminating in the Ruins came to mind as a working title. Maybe Ruminations among the Rotted. As I said, the smell was awful and unavoidable so close. Maybe I’d go noseblind after a while. I wondered if he might putrefy to the point where most of the foul smelling flesh would slough off and drain drown the plughole. I wondered how long it might take me to die. I think it can take a good few days to starve to death.
I started to feel vaguely peeved that I hadn’t actually murdered him; the gruesome, Edgar Allen Poe, Penny Dreadful style denouement would feel like a fairer judgement on a murder than on an unscheduled heart attack in a man who’d probably lied about his age, coronary health and ability to withstand the excitement of a sordid sexual encounter with another friendless old bloke who’d never managed to turn into anything even vaguely recognisable from the dreams of his youth. Then I started to think that getting angry was not going to help. Nothing was REALLY going to help – but even now, I had a few choices concerning how hideous slowly falling inside a dead man’s ruptured, rotting body cavities might or might not be. Being angry about it wouldn’t make the experience less challenging. I’d been trying – sporadically, and with limited results – to embody the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, recently, and tried to imagine Eckhart, chuckling little goblin radiating goodness and wisdom, meditating on this position: “There is nothing INHERENTLY bad about dying, paralysed and starving, next to a rotting corpse. You are not having this experience – you ARE the experience. You may be worrying that in a few days, maggots will start appearing in the liquefying fats and meats of this naked dead man, maybe his swollen scrotum will burst like a balloon, but in this moment – inhaling the fishy stench of human decomposition – these things are not happening. This moment – if you don’t project into some possible future which may see you choking to death on another man’s fermenting intestinal contents – is not, in itself, THAT bad. Embrace the power of now”.