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[personal profile] joegoda
What with all the painting and waking up early and life, I only got a few thousand more words done. Essentially NANO day 3, even though I had written most the day before on day 2.
So.. here goes day 2 and 3:

This morning, with the cheery sunshine flowing through the kitchen windows, John felt lucky. He ran through the things he had to remember and they were all there. Memories of feeling his wife get out of bed, to shower and to shave and to match his socks before putting on his shoes. He remembered what time he needed to be at work and had a bit of a panic there, when he couldn't quite remember if the clocks were right or not – they were, according to the clock on his computer. Daylight savings time played hell with John, and he didn't like it one bit.

He sat in his office chair and sipped his coffee, listening in to the chrome and brass grandmother clock tick away the minutes. The clock was important to him. It had come from another life, barely remembered. Snatches of cookouts and dirt and laughter and anger and hurt came to him in those moments when he thought about them at all. The clock was one of the things he had brought out of that old life, when he was still married to … whatever her name was. He had built the clock out of scraps and remains of three other clocks, none of them working. He had cobbled the broken pieces together and made one working clock, which he named Frankenclock. The clock never kept the correct time, and John felt it to be a small pleasure to pull the chains and set the weights and clean the gears and make sure the clock was level and to adjust the pendulum, all the while knowing that his working and care would more than likely never yield fruit. Frankenclock would remain a working monument to being just a bit out of step with the rest of the world. Sometimes ahead, sometimes behind, but still working, by god. Just like John.

In its cranky bonging way, Frankenclock's chime reminded John that it was 8:30. John nodded, got up from his faux leather office chair with the seat that had seen far too many rear ends to be more than just a platform to keep the legs together. Still, John kept it around because, you see, it was his. He bought it more than 12 years ago at a thrift store. The chair was one of the first pieces of furniture he had ever bought that didn't have any influence from anyone else.

When new, the chair was a high backed, soft padded black naugahyded, multi height, adjustable armed affair with the ability to roll wherever it was needed on it five, not four, wheels. When John saw it, sitting among the castaways of shirts and pants and desk and kitchen chairs and utensils and lord whatever else folks felt no need for any more, he felt a solid kinship for the orphaned thing. It had been well used, rode hard and put away wet, as his mother used to say, and sat slightly away from all the other things in the store, as if it, or they, didn't want to be really associated.

John, having just left his wife of thirteen years, understood the feeling. He didn't really want to be associated, either. He felt like a monster. The lowest form of life on the planet. He had LEFT. In actuality, he had gone to work one day and just never went back. There were nagging memories that John would have had trouble looking at, if he'd had a mind to look at all.

Not that it was all bad, mind you. His wife… whatever her name was… was a good person, just a bad mate. They had been friends for decades, him and her. She had moved away when he was but a boy of seventeen, and had come back to care for an ailing mother when he was but an older boy of twenty-seven.

They had dated for a while, had sex a few times (though it wasn't as good as he remembered – his memory was quite good back then), and on a whim, he asked her to marry him. She said, without hesitation, "Sure." And that was that.

She had two children, a boy and a girl. The girl had some emotional/ mental difficulty that back before the days of political correctness would be called retarded. Now she would have been diagnosed as Autistic, with a dash of schizophrenia and a helping of social clumsiness. The boy was not John's friend, being downright hostile at times to the interloper who was taking the mother's attention away from where it rightly belonged.

As step father, John had no rights, when it came to correcting the boy. The girl, yes, fine. It was all right to step in and punish or reward, to help with what school work there was to do, when she went to school at all. It was perfectly acceptable to be the 'dad' and laugh and have fun and tell bad jokes and watch movies and all the sort of things that parents do.

The boy though, was off limits. John found this out the hard way. One day, after coming home from school, the boy made some comment that was stated as fact. John, having lived a bit more and knew a bit more of the world, challenged the boy, asking where the information came from and were there any facts to back the statement up.

The mother, John's wife, stepped in and demanded that John apologize at once, admonishing John and asking him why he had to be such an asshole. This gave the boy no end of joy, because he had proven who was top dog in the household and placed John in the position of, not dad, not stepdad, but asshole. And so it went for the next thirteen years.

Back then, John had a job as a minor programmer, working in a tiny little sweatshop eight hours a day, writing software for inventory and payroll control. It was a job he got by default. His boss was one his father's old work buddies. John's father was one of the owners of the company. The company made little widgets out of metal using lathes and screw machines and all manner of hulking big machines.

The main widget the company produced was a small piston, about four inches long, and made out of aluminum. It was a part used in the master cylinder of brakes on semi-trucks. A trucking repair firm out of Kansas City was the only one in the country that used them, and was the only major contract the company had. John's boss was the president of the company and the company's only salesman.

And that is why the company failed.

Still, it was at this job, this number crunching, this data manipulating dead end job that John, one day, at 5 pm, turned off his computer after fastidiously saving his work, rose from his desk chair and started to leave. He placed his hand on the doorknob of his tiny office and broke into a cold sweat. He couldn't turn the knob. He couldn't leave the 8x8 confines of his office. It was something that was so foreign to him, that his mind just couldn't grasp the concept.

He wasn't trapped. He just couldn't leave. More to the point, he couldn't go home, and there was nowhere else to go. Something in John had snapped, something had broken and wouldn't let him make that trek back to the place where there was love, but no respect, where there was need, but no reciprocation. In all fairness, it might be better to say that something in John just said "To hell with it. I don't have to take this crap." And just turned off. Or on. Or whatever it was that caused John to spend the next three days in his office.

His wife called, of course she did. She wanted to know when John was coming home. John answered simply, "I'm not." His wife, a bit stunned, asked "Ever?" John's reply: "I can't." His wife then said words that never left his memory, that haunted him for years, and there are times when they still do. She said "Oh, that really hurts." And hung up.

It was years later John learned that the reason why his then wife was so upset was because she had gotten dressed up and they were going out for dinner. Not just his wife and he, but the whole family, because the next day was the boy's birthday. It was the first time in months that she had shown any interest in him, as she spent most of her time sitting in front of the computer.

Back then it was a new toy, and though not terribly technologically literate, she was savvy enough to play the multitude of games that were available, or strike up a chat with someone new, or find something, anything that would keep her occupied while John found himself more and more ignored and would go to bed alone, late at night, wrapping his arms around himself in a hug, because no one else would.

Did this make John weak, do you think? No. It just meant he was lonelier than he had ever been in his life. He was alone among those who had promised to love and cherish him. To say he felt betrayed would be an understatement. To say he was confused would be to downplay the issue. To say he was angry… well… that became the norm.

And that is how John ended up living alone in a tiny six hundred square foot apartment, inheriting all his mother's cast offs, and collecting Frankenclock. His relationship with is ex-wife didn't end there. In fact, she didn't become an ex for another thirteen years. John always said it was so that she could stay on his insurance, as she had no job and was unable to find work due to her disability. The truth may be that John didn't really want to leave his wife. He just couldn't live with her and survive.

And even though it was a turning point in John's life, and an important turning point at that, it was a situation that John rarely thought about because he didn't remember his ex-wife clearly, if at all. She was a part of his life that existed beyond the mists of solid memory. Like tying his shoes or left from right, unless he needed to remember, he simply… didn't.

The single chime from Frankenclock was not enough jog John's memory about work. He had also set the alarm on his cell phone, the alarm on the microwave, and the alarm on his computer to remind him that it was time to go to work. All three were set to go off two minutes after the previous one, which would give John just 24 minutes to get to work.

Rinsing his coffee cup in the sink, he grabbed his hat, which always sat next to the coffee maker, and his keys, which hung on a hook next to the coffee maker and his security badge, which hung next to his keys, which hung next to the coffee maker. He patted his back pocket to make sure that his wallet was in place, he patted his front right pocket, to make sure his cell phone was in place and he patted his breast pocket, to make sure his security badge was in place.

This was the routine he always went through. This was the routine he had gone through every day, Monday through Friday, except when he worked overtime or traded shifts with someone, but except for those incidents, this was what he did ever single work day, just to make sure he had what he needed to get off to work with the proper identification, the proper ability to communicate with his wife and the proper keys to start his car so he could get go work on time.

John wrapped his old black jacket with the deep hood and the large pockets around his body and shoved his arms through the sleeves. It was going to be too hot for the jacket, but John wouldn't mind, and he wouldn't even notice for a few miles. The jacket had been laying over the back of a chair for six months, as his wife wouldn't hang it up and John couldn't remember to hang it up. The jacket just wasn't important enough to matter.

He left through the front door, locking it and saying to himself, "I am now locking the front door." He did this also ever morning he left for work, or left to the grocers or left the house. It was the only way he could leave without wondering time and time again if he had locked the front door. Even so, once he closed the door to his car, he would stop and wonder if he had locked the front door. He would wonder three more times on the way to work and every time he would remember that he had said, out lout, the phrase "I am now locking the front door."

It was the only way he could get to work without having to turn around to check. It was the same with the living room lights, the garage door, and the trash cans. Each action required an equal and opposite reaction, each on required and off, each open required a close, and the only way that John could be sure that he had completed each action was to verbally tell himself that he had do that action. If the memory of that verbal clue did not exist, the John was doomed to live that entire day without know for sure. Thank goodness the coffee maker would turn itself off after 2 hours. It was one less thing he had to worry about.

The car he drove to work was one he lovingly called his piece of crap car. It was an 2009 Saturn three door, with a leaky sun roof and an oil leak and bad valves and in desperate need of a ring job. He and his wife had talked about him getting a new car, probably a new used car, and figured he could do it for around two thousand dollars.

The two thousand dollars ended up being used for things like house paint, or furniture, or something or other or something else. And so, John continued to drive his piece of crap car, which had replaced his less than crap car, an old dodge van that had served him well and carried him from place to place and even crossed the continent.

The reason why John had to replace his less than crap car was because a young woman neglected to not text while she was driving and so turned left directly in front of John, who had just entered an intersection. John's beloved van lay bleeding and broken because some young chippie didn't possess the presence of mind to get off her cellphone. Damn shame, too. He really liked that car.

He'd get another one, some day. When he could afford it. Some day.


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