Part One: Dedicated to Karen Eiffel.
Douglas Mann woke up at six-fifteen in the morning.
Not really. He actually woke up at about eleven minutes past; but, as he did every morning except for Sunday, he spent those four minutes thinking about the day ahead. Things he had to do, what he'd have for lunch, whether the shirt he'd laid out the night before was the right one.
So, really, he got out of bed at six-fifteen. As he did every morning except for Sunday.
The shirt was the right one. And his shoes were shiny, too. And the tie, while we're at it, matched his eyes perfectly.
His suit, however, a dark blue (navy, actually) pinstriped number which would today, as on every other day Douglas decided to wear it, be just fine for the job he needed to do, but let out a horrible odour only whiffed by his subordinates. The common people, the blue-collared hoi polloi.
It reeked of haughtiness, left the smell of disdain for his perceived inferiors wafting behind him.
Not that it mattered. Douglas never noticed it, neither did his colleagues, and his lovely wife, Kath, picked it out for him. And she was the sophisticated one.
Anyway, the suit was fine; not great, but fine. And in any case, the tie, which matched his eyes, probably made up for it. And the shirt was the right one.
So Douglas got out of bed, and headed to the bathroom. The toilet. In front of which he spent just over two minutes and fifty-six seconds waiting for the urine to exit his urethra, finally watching it hit the porcelain bowl, and then shaking his penis several times before tucking it back in his briefs and giving his crotch a final scratch while on his way to the basin.
The face he saw in the mirror was, as he mused every morning, unfamiliar. A cacophony of wrinkles that stealthily crept onto his face during the night, rheum (eye potatoes, or sleep sugar, or sleepy-dust, or eye cheese, or eye crusties, or eye boogers), the corners of his mouth tinged with the remnants of drool, and other signs of humanity's immortal mortality.
The face unfamiliar, the unrecognisable man in his late thirties a day older.
Water and the foam of his fancy, expensive soap ran into the drain; while Douglas watched that face staring back at him, his hands rid the dead skin cells no doubt transferred from his penis to his fingers during those two minutes and fifty-six seconds.
The shirt is the right one, isn't it? Yes, it was.
Douglas wiped his hands with the small towel Kath, his dear wife of just over eight years and two months now, placed by the basin specifically for the drying of hands - and nothing more. Yes, that shirt is the right one. And the tie is perfect; it goes with his eyes.
Douglas sat on the bed. And left his mind to cogitate for a moment... he would have a simple BLT sandwich today. He hadn't had one of those in several weeks, months possibly (actually, it was June 2nd, an average Monday with the most interesting occurrence being the fact that, if this is indeed the correct day I'm recalling, Amy did well on a test or something). Maybe he'd have a glass of orange juice, no, something else, but Douglas didn't know yet.
He snapped out his little preoccupied frown and realised the time. It was already twenty-two minutes past six.
He slid open the bottom drawer of his bedside table and took out a pair of black running shorts and a white vest. They were, the black running shorts and white vest, folded neatly and placed in the bottom drawer of the bedside table three days earlier. The Monday he came home an hour early to perform the various tasks he neglected on Sunday evening.
One such task (designed to prevent Douglas from having to nudge Kath awake at six-fifteen - or six-twenty-two - in the morning asking for his black running shorts and white vest) was putting four pairs of black running shorts and white vests in the bottom drawer of his bedside table.
The logic was simple: every Sunday Esperança, their maid from Portugal (not Spain or Mexico, as the Manns' first and second guesses were), would wash four pairs, Douglas would pack three in that bottom drawer having already worn one on Monday, and on Wednesday Kath would take on the chore of washing three pairs and thus give Douglas four to wear from Thursday to Sunday, at which point Esperança (the maid from Portugal, not Spain or Mexico or Poland) would wash the four dirty pairs and restart the process.
Anyway. Today is Wednesday, and Douglas is on - and now in - his final pair. He dug his hand under his bed, took out his Saucony ProGrid Paramount running shoes (which were a silver and citron colour and only cost him £110), and got them on without delay.
Douglas told his wife, Kath, that he would be going now and she, with a slight crack between her eyelids and forced groan, acknowledged his words.
In the hallway, he stopped by a door with a clichéd but handy board indicating it was the bedroom belonging to someone called Amy. Amy was, of course, the little girl belonging (until she turns eighteen and can choose for herself just how much illegally-purchased alcohol is required to crash a Mercedes-Benz into the red brick wall of her future neighbours) to Douglas and Kath, born eleven months into their marriage.
And it was Amy that, like every morning at about this time except for Sunday, became the focus of his stare.
His expression would have been a familiar one to any man, regardless of his skin colour, creed, or planetary affiliation, had he been there to see it. It was the sight of a man that, like any other, loved his child very dearly; and then the sight of a man that, most probably like many other fathers, as much he wanted to stay here and spend time with his daughter, he had to go. He had something to do.
He had to go do his ever-important daily jog.
Douglas smiled warmly and closed the door. And headed downstairs.
Inside the kitchen, he opened the fridge door and took out a bottle of half-filled water. Downed it in one fell swoop, filled the bottle halfway up with tap water, and put it back in the fridge.