When he saw the two shining drops of pale yellow liquid shimmering on the toilet seat, it stopped Brandon dead in his tracks as he prepared to sit and enjoy his mid-morning constitutional.
He stood still for a second, hovering above the porcelain bowl, observing the drops while various scenarios ran through his mind: ‘Okay’, he thought. ‘It couldn’t be my son Landon, because he is not here.’ Landon was now 19 years old, but was still sometimes disposed to leave the toilet seat down when he peed.
Brandon laid the book he had been carrying down onto the brown faux-granite countertop and unrolled a swath of toilet paper to wipe the offending drops from the seat.
‘Since here we are on vacation,’ he continued in his thought deductions, ‘Linda and I are the only ones in this hotel room, and I have not been to the bathroom yet this morning, still … could it have been me? No …’ Brandon was forgetful often; sometimes when he performed his routine tasks he tended to believe he remembered them accurately, but it was possible that he was only remembering them as false memories—the real ones having been supplanted by the memory of his routine actions and not the actual event itself. ‘… it had to have been Linda!’
This thought took him aback even more than had his first sight of the drops of urine. Linda was fastidious, clean beyond reproach, and quite willing to rip the face off anyone who left pee on the toilet seat, on the wall, floor or any other surface near the bowl but not in it.
Brandon was again struck still by this obvious contradiction and revelation. It somehow shifted everything he had believed to be true about his life with Linda—perhaps even of Linda herself. He paused, holding his toilet paper like a hammer above the toilet seat. A part of his brain recognized how odd he would have appeared to anyone else who might suddenly materialize in the tiny bathroom. That thought scurried off into a dark but possibly more humorous corner, leaving him with the single overriding thought:
‘What do I do next?’
A part of Brandon wanted to confront Linda, laying out to her that he was feeling very strange about this occurrence, and that perhaps he had been blaming Landon for 15-plus years, while the whole time the drops he had seen many times at home had actually been Linda’s.
Another part—his non-confrontational part—vehemently opposed that idea. Several times over the course of their marriage, Brandon had been absolutely sure that Linda was the cause of something untoward in their household: an argument between the kids or with the neighbours, a misplaced tool or book. He had at various times believed without doubt that certain occurrences had been happening for some time and that Linda must have known about them but intentionally neglected to tell him. The infestation of ants in the cereal cupboards, or the cat throwing up on the bedspread or in the shoe-closet came to mind. He had even agonized at one point over finding some evidence that Linda had been carrying on an affair.
Almost all these things, with the exception of the evidence about the affair, Linda had explained away in one or two lines in a convincing manner, or had shrugged them off as so unimportant that it would be simply silly for Brandon to pursue the line of questioning at all. Brandon had always felt contrite, ashamed and even somewhat relieved that he had indeed been a complete illogical idiot, and Linda was still the paragon.
Brandon had never broached the subject of the affair, precisely for the same reason he was now contemplating the non-confrontational version of his next steps concerning the offending urine drops. He had believed it would end up the same way as the other situations had, and deep inside himself, he really didn’t want to know the truth—if there was a truth.
Wiping the drops away with two furious swipes, Brandon threw the toilet paper into the water and sat down to relieve himself. But got no relief at all.