As he left the Tesco Express he reached into his pocket and thumbed his key fob, clicking him access to his driver’s side door. He pulled it open and dumped his plastic bag onto the passenger seat. Standing between the door and the interior, Shaw took a glance around, feeling more guilty party than hunting policeman. No one saw him, and he fell into the car, pulling his body around with a practiced swing from the steering wheel. With the key stashed in the ignition, he took a sausage roll from the bag and let the greasy pastry sit between his lips, the thick smell drift into his nostrils and even stared at the brown food down the length of his nose. As his teeth delivered his first mouthful, his eyes fell shut and dopamine flooded his brain, satisfaction his mood. For a few nanoseconds Shaw was nothing – gloriously void, nothing, an atom in an infinite universe. But the feeling was like greased lightening, and Shaw finished the rest of the junk in less than a minute, fruitlessly chasing that initial feeling. He pulled a Pepperami out of the bag, and pushed it clear of its sheath and down his throat equally quickly. A briefer, sharper pin prick of pleasure accompanied this snack, and Shaw began to rationalise.
The journey back into town was about 20 minutes, studded with patches of immobility at traffic lights. This meant that whilst the thick milkshake was gripped between his thighs, on the passenger seat the coleslaw could sit against the backrest and a couple of sandwiches could remain within reach nearby. The pouch of chicken bites were opened and placed back in the plastic bag, as was the plastic tray of assorted sliced meats; chorizo, prosciutto and salami. Bags of pork scratchings, Mini Cheddars and Twiglets were opened and allowed free in the plastic bag. A small bucket of rocky road bite-sized treats sat next to the coleslaw, without its lid. Finally, a packet of premium tortilla chips was prised apart, to be used as a fork for the mayonnaise heavy coleslaw. This was the one flaw in the meal, and Shaw resolved to only consume this dish when stationary. It needed two hands, after all. He felt dreadful already; on the near horizon was a sugar crash, dragging his guilt further under to depression. Then there would be the firm, utter commitment that that was the last time. He was getting ahead of himself however; how was he to enjoy this moment with fears of the future. What did it say in Desiderata? “But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.” Not really the future, he thought, but appropriate. Or was it? “Imaginings” can be regarded as the future, he decided. And his were dark; the darkest times were always before a session. Some crap about the darkest time of night being before the dawn sprung to mind, but almost without realising, Shaw was on the road and pushing a large slice of salami into the shape of a flower as his mouth enveloped it.
Shaw wiped his fingers on the chamois cloth that he took from the door pocket. He had to reach across his body with his left hand, but kept his eyes on the road ahead, keeping the car to the correct side of the cat’s eyes. Not one bump. The brightening of the red tail lights ahead bought a terrific surge of excitement to him. He palmed a handful of chicken bites into his face, only one spilling free and rolling the length of his tie before lodging in the fold of his trouser fly. He found it, blindly, and after depositing the errant strings of flesh into his moist cavern. As he braked, the absolute control of the car was the complete reverse of Shaw’s ability to control his appetite. Stopped, he took a handful, too large, of tortillas. He half dipped, half poured the coleslaw onto them and crammed them in. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and Shaw’s eyes darted from the rear-view mirror to the massed red lights ahead. Three cars ahead of him, Shaw could see his wife’s car, the back door adorned with the distinctive legged-fish symbol encasing the name Darwin. He just looked at it for a few seconds, checking, re-checking and then breathed in hard. Tortilla dust tickled his throat and coleslaw got pulled so far down his windpipe that he coughed like a first time smoker. Saliva flecked the windscreen, chunks of carrot hit the dashboard and corn-based chip went everywhere.