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A Perfect Routine

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Joseph Marigold had never been a man for wasted words. He knew of many like-minded colleagues who tried to get to know their clients whilst doing business but he preferred precision. Indeed, Joseph Marigold was a very precise man: he awoke at 6 AM every morning, allowed himself ten minutes for his morning sanitation ritual, five minutes for breakfast (the same high-fiber cereal every day) and then a thirty minute jog. The next hour was designated for 'recreation' but at 7:45 exactly he left to meet his client for the day. He was usually finished and home by 8 PM upon which he retired to bed. Joseph Marigold was a very, very punctual man.

Today was no different: dressed in his rather unremarkable Tuesday brown suit and carrying his prized leather suitcase under one arm Joseph left his suburban home and walked fifty seven paces, upon which he turned and waved to his elderly neighbor. Allocating himself his Tuesday morning smile he strode the rest of the six hundred paces to the bus stop. The daily fifteen minutes waiting time later he shrugged (to the regulated five degrees of elevation) and made the daily decision to walk to work.

This walk comprised of a five hundred paces walk (eastward) until reaching a park. Stepping on to the path Joseph stepped aside to let the cyclist past, nodded congenially and went on his way. The walk was the usual ten minutes with five minutes deducted spent on enjoying the beauty of nature. Leaving the park Joseph would find himself on the busy thoroughfare leading in to the commercial district of his city. Stopping in awe of the monolithic towers (thirty two seconds, precisely) he switched the suitcase from his right to his left hand, as per custom, and continued on his way.

This part of the walk was one he genuinely enjoyed: the regular angles of commercial architecture, the uniform grey colors and, indeed, the uniformly grey people bustling on the same pathways they had trod every day for years. Everything planned. Everything regulated. Everything… controlled. Assembling his facial features in to the scheduled Contented Smirk he walked the routine eight hundred steps, turned ninety degrees and walked in to a small cafe.

"Good morning, John," he announced (as always) and strode to the counter. The owner gave Joseph his usual bemused smile and replied in the same way he had for the last three years.

"Good morning, Joe."

"It's Joseph," was the accustomed response. This accomplished Joseph performed the two minutes and thirty seconds scanning of the menu (remembering to hum Yankee doodle dandy to himself and making the regulated two mistakes), he asked for his daily black coffee, no sugar. The proprietor obliged, asked if (as always) he wanted it to go. Nodding his assent Joseph waited the fifty one seconds, took the cup and, waving, left the cafe.

Finding himself on the street once more Joseph walked the twenty three steps and then stopped to take a sip. Too hot. Seventy three steps: pleasantly warm. Drinking as he went Joseph enjoyed the allocated five minutes for pondering the nature of the world (deciding, again, that if one couldn't know the future one always had to live in the present), stumbled the scheduled three steps on the scheduled loose paving stone and split the scheduled five milliliters of coffee on to his suit.

"Damn," he stated (for damn was the Tuesday Curse) to no one in particular and finished the walk to his place of work.

This was Joseph Marigold's daily morning routine and, if a little obsessive, seems perfectly normal. Perfectly precise. As Joseph himself thought (every day at 8:47 exactly, precisely) one had to live in the present; one cannot plan for the future. This is a sentiment you will hear on a regular basis, however, Joseph knew that it is a sentiment that is incomplete. For all time is unreliable: the past, present and future cannot be tamed by plans or gears. The only thing that can be controlled is the perception of time which Joseph, upon making this realization, set about doing one day at a time and, of course, precisely.

It was Wednesday morning. Joseph was, par the course, wearing his Wednesday grey suit and holding his prized leather suitcase under one arm. Again Joseph went about his routine. Walking, stopping to wave to his neighbor who for her part had stopped waving back two years ago when she died. Wearing his Wednesday Morning smile he walked once more to the bus stop. Waited the fifteen minutes in vain for a bus service that had changed its own schedule four years ago and walked to the park. Moving for and nodding at a phantom cyclist Joseph strolled through enjoying the regulated admiration of the beauty of the trees and grass.

Emerging on to the busy thoroughfare Joseph, contemplating the joy of uniform colors, angles and people, traveled to his cafe and ordered the usual coffee. The proprietor, Edward, had gotten used to this charade since buying the place a year ago and simply went about serving his customer.

First too hot, then pleasantly warm Joseph enjoyed his coffee; recycling his scheduled thoughts. Stumbling once more on a paving stone long since repaired he spilled it once more, cursed once more ("blast!", for it was a Wednesday) and then paced the rest of the way to his place of work.

Here he reached in to his pocket and produced a golden pocket-watch. Stroking it tenderly he opened its face and giggled quietly, his eyes following the sumptuous curves and valleys of the cracks in the glass (a path his eyes had never stopped following for the last thirty years), lingered ecstatically on the broken hands haloed by a suspicious brown stain. This part of the routine completed he walked in to the crumbling, dilapidated building. Stepping over the remains of the police tape and placing his feet in to the same pattern of steps through the thick layer of dust he walked to the rotting receptionists desk, greeted the receptionist and wrote his name on to a mildewed ledger. His name the only entry, each day at the same time. The time his pocket watch always announced.

Walking to his office Joseph hailed, nodded and waved at his long deceased colleagues and stepped in to his office. Hanging up his jacket and placing it on the rack that had long since rotted away Joseph turned to greet his client for the day and placed his prized leather suitcase on to the desk. Pausing, just a moment, to enjoy the regular angles of the lock with his finger he opened it and basked in the metallic shine that illuminated the dark, moldy room. Yes, he thought to himself as he took out a scalpel, it is very important to be precise.

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