He picked a paperclip off the floor and placed it precisely on her desk. He also sighed as if she had nearly thrown away the company’s annual profits. With as much restraint as she could muster, she said ‘thank you, Albert! Nearly lost the Crown Jewels there.’ The irony was lost on him as was why people could be so untidy. To Albert, tidiness was next to godliness.
He walked back to his cubicle of perfection scouring each workspace for carelessness. For such is the vigilance of the missionary.
His bus was late and crowded. And so, he hated each moment of the journey home more than usual. Worse still, clearly the seats had not seen a cleaner in months and Albert was, therefore, glad to stand. But only to a point, since the vehicle’s floor was strewn with sandwich packets and paper cups. He felt his anger mount at first slowly. Yet as he alighted he was ready to scream out at the enveloping ‘mess’ and its perpetrators. He was ready to lose control for the sake of control.
As he turned the key in the lock, he shouted as usual, ‘Hello, mother, I’m home!’ He never knew why he did it – she couldn’t understand. She had forgot him years ago. Occasionally, she addressed him as his dead father. But mostly, she stared up blankly as if he was a total stranger.
Her chair by the one bar electric fire stank as she was very nearly incontinent. The carers did what they could in their whirlwind 10-minute visits. But it wasn’t enough… He would spend the evening cleaning her up and cooking her meal all the while talking of the office and non-existant friends. He would put the television on for her as she goggled ‘cow-eyed’ at anything that was on. He would get her to bed in clean sheets that would need changing in the morning.
Then he would sit alone in the dark dreaming.. dreaming of running along a warm tropical beach in careless even wanton abandon. Dreaming in being care-less.