Timothy Carter was not the sort of man anyone would call remarkable. In fact, it was only the presence of his imperfections and oddities, which elevated him beyond a bland mediocrity of appearance and character that made everything else hardly worth mentioning. Even his morning routine, like everything else about him, seemed like a deck short of a few cards.
Every morning he would wake, alone, promptly at 6:30, and he would descend the stairs at exactly 6:35. He would consume exactly one and a half cups of black coffee with his breakfast which consisted of three scrambled eggs, two, three or four slices of toast which were numerically dependent on a complicated calculation whose variables included his emotional well being, the day of the week, and his horoscope from exactly a week prior. After breakfast he would partake in his daily devotions: a strange concoction of yoga, mixed with Himalayan throat singing and christian ecstatic experience – as one might expect, Timothy was noticeably absent from God’s life. With the closing of matins he would remove his two piece pyjamas and enter the shower to scrub his back and rid his body of impurities. Ten minutes later he would emerge from the steam chamber pink and raw, at which point he would delicately towel off his delicates, put his thrift store suit on over his second hand silk underwear, and walk out the front door.
From his house he would travel three blocks north, eight blocks west, and one block south in order to avoid the juxtaposed streets of Farthington and Oak on which lived each of his legally separated parents.They were both profoundly lonely individuals and while his father experienced his loneliness through genuine solitude, his mother experienced hers through her new lover, Claus. Unbeknownst to him, Timothy also experienced this loneliness – primarily through his goldfish, Leonard, but also through the birds which prefer the feeder in his neighbour’s yard to the small painted birdhouse he hung from the wilted pine tree located in the exact center of his back yard.
As a brief aside, it can be said that Timothy pretended not to care about his parents; that he was content to believe they were both decrepit individualists, deserved of every moment of loneliness they encountered, but this was a farce. His heart was only somewhat closed, and he visited each of his progenitors precisely one and a half times a month – three if it was a month containing a holiday.
The circumvention of this problematic geography would signal the return to his daily monotony, and Timothy would then travel by bus to his downtown office job, where he would walk past the secretary who watched him cross from the elevator to his office door. To her he would speak a combination of the words “morning,” “mumble,” and “good.” She was a peculiar kind of pretty and they might have fallen in love if it were not for the speed with which he would transverse the front office, as well as her inability to make eye contact.
His job warranted little description and it will suffice to say that it involved the filing and categorising of paper, the pushing of keys on a computer, and an intricate avoidance of any and all phone calls. It is a testament to his character that Timothy enjoyed his work immensely and it was usual for him to put in a significant amount of overtime. Once his work was finished he would leave by the same door he entered, take the same bus to the same bus stop, and walk the same route back to his house.
After entering his house he would feed Leonard while believing that the goldfish felt gratitude for his gift of sustenance. Reality was somewhat at odds with this assessment, as Leonard was so bored with his unfortunate circumstances that he had been thinking of retiring from his bowl for quite some time. In addition, the goldfish regarded Timothy with a convoluted mixture of apathy and hatred, which, as any apathetic person can attest to, is a remarkable feat because it is difficult to feel both of these things simultaneously – and harder still to harbour suicidal tendencies while maintaining a calm and rational perspective on life. In short, Leonard was a remarkable creature, and it should be noted that he far exceeded his owner in complexity and emotional depth. Timothy was completely unaware of any of this, however, and still believed in his own singular uniqueness, as well as his evolutionary superiority to his carassian charge.
After this dabbling in philanthropy, Timothy would settle into his evening, and a cup of tepid tea, a single graham cracker, and ten pages of the most recent New York Times bestseller would signal the close of his day, and as he settled into bed he would come to expect the beginning of the next day…
In this moment Timothy would transcend his essence with a surprising combination of anticipation and indifference. To him, it was as if the coming day was nothing more nor less than the current day, and as if the coming act of sleep was just a wall between identical fields of human experience. The present and the future would meld together until the world would begin to silently slip away.
As he drifted from consciousness into that vast, unknown, quiescent ocean, his mind would fill itself with images of vigorous life and passion. He would follow the dreamful currents to a wonderland of colour and sound, where conversion and variation swirled like storm clouds on a painters canvas. Time would pass like thunder and space would stand fixed to the very pillars of creation. In sleep he would experience a remarkable unreality, unfixed by routine or character in which his only limitations came from the monsters that dwelt along borderlands of his imagination.
As morning approached Timothy would remain in that place,
he would forget,
he would wake alone promptly at 6:30, and he would descend the stairs at exactly 6:35…