It used to be all he had to remember was to check the burners, off off off off, and turn off the lights, shut the door, be on his way.
Water bottle. He has forgotten his water bottle. This would be the fourth time he turned around. He had forgotten his transit pass. He had forgotten his hat. He had forgotten his glasses. Now here he was, farther along, at the end of the block. No, he didn’t need the water bottle but it sure would be nice to have it.
Nice by itself wasn’t enough to turn him around. But what if he got dydrated? What if he got a urinary tract infection from not drinking enough water?
Oh come on Mr. Carton, he admonished himself, that’s not going to happen, but was he sure? One poor decision was inconsequential; however this was a pattern that could lead to misery and an early grave. Moreover, it would be nice to have the water bottle, comforting.
Mr. Carton turned around to retrieve his water bottle. People were going to wonder why he was walking up and down the block.
Nice was not a bad thing to ask from life. Like most people, Mr. Carton had had his helpings of grief and sorrow. He didn’t have to be told, though sometimes a little reminding didn’t hurt, how you lose everything you love and everyone too. So yes, what was the matter with nice?
It would have been nice when he returned to the house for his water bottle he had remembered his Chapstick. Sometimes his lips got cracked in the wind. How big a dent in his day would not having his Chapstick make? Would he be able to enjoy himself at Charlene’s party?
Not that big. He’d moisten his lips a lot. He could do that now thanks to his water bottle.
Thinking about Charlene’s party reminded him he forgot to bring his cloth shopping bag. He was going to pick up some fruit on the way home. He stopped in the middle of the sidewalk at the bottom of the hill. Now there were two things to go back to the house for, which would almost make the climb back up the hill worthwhile. Almost. He decided he could buy some Chapstick at the corner grocery store. And what did it matter, a few more plastic bags?
Mr. Carton had a low opinion of people who were wasteful, people who trashed the planet. His dirty secret was hidden beneath the sink. There were surely a hundred balled up there, bags within bags.
Mr. Carton, he said to himself, you are a hypocrite. Turn your ass around and get that cloth shopping bag.
Back at his house he rested for a minute on his couch and read his mail. He realized how nice it would be to take a nap. He was starting to wonder if he should go back out, whether he had the energy it took.