Francis Cosine woke up from a nightmare way too early on a Saturday in August, and discovered he'd forgotten to make the list. Without the list, he had no idea what to do. What else could go wrong? Plenty, in this shopping saga of a personal apocalypse told in subway-surface style.
He woke up too early on a Saturday in August, with an emotion he was sure he'd never felt before. He sat up in bed and tried to classify it, but the mood eluded him. He yawned and stretched, looked at the clock, yes, eight o'clock too early. He could not go back to sleep. He sat up in the bed, and looked around the room. The clock was digital, it glowed in orange corners, resting on the dresser top beside the bed, next to the bending imitation bronze bed lamp. The walls were white, and there was nothing on them, except over by the door a poster of the General looking calm, austere, and confident. The sheets on the bed were white, the blanket green like neon green, the afghan patched in patterns of pastels. His furniture was wood; a desk, a chair, the dresser, all painted chocolate brown to match the princess model phone.
There was nothing on the desk, the chair was neatly tucked beneath, the closet door was closed, thin carpeting covered up the floor, a sort of not quite brown, it was immaculately clean. Francis yawned again and blinked. He was vaguely troubled by a dream, but it was gone, no memory remained of it, and he was up again too early, on a Saturday at that. He knew from long experience that there was no going back to sleep. Now he was awake, he might as well get up, won't get anything accomplished sitting here in bed. He climbed out and made the bed, he smoothed the sheets, and neatly tucked the blankets in, carefully arranged the pillow in the middle, inspected it, then padded off into the bathroom, in his flannel blue pajamas.
Francis felt the cold tile on his feet and disapproved. I forgot my slippers. The bathroom light was bright, the room was sparkling clean, white tiles and silver mirrors gleamed. One hair was lying in the sink, not too far from the drain. He picked it up and dropped it in the basket on the floor. His feet were cold. I'd better get my slippers, Francis thought, so he turned off the light, and padded back into the bedroom, opened up the closet door, bent down, and picked them up. He took them over to the bed, sat down, and put them on. Standing once again, he smoothed the bed where he had sat. Returning to the bathroom, he turned the light back on, and observed his image in the mirror. He saw a well groomed man.
His short blond hair was cut just so, suggesting slanted bangs. His mustache was thin and starkly outlined. His eyes were pale blue, his face was thin and pale between a small mouth and a high forehead. He appeared to be quite calm, and he was pleased. I'm still a handsome man, he thought, age hasn't ruined me yet. He pulled down the pajama pants and sat back straight upon the toilet seat. He let the functions function, not contributing an effort. He listened to the piss fall in the bowl, he heard a piece of shit plop in, he stood and wiped and flushed, and there she goes, he thought, she's off. Removing the pajamas, he lay them neatly folded on the purple chest, and stepped out of the slippers. He turned the faucets on, thoughtfully adjusted them, then let the shower run, and then stepped in.
The water falling on him did not soothe, he took no pleasure in it, it was wetness falling on the skin, and dripping off, no more, warm wetness filling up the pores, and falling on the head. He soaped up rapidly, and let the water rinse it all away. He shampooed and rubbed it to a lather, and let the water wash it all away. As soon as this was done, he turned the shower off, and stood there, dripping wet, uncomfortable. The towel was conveniently nearby, he reached for it and began to dry. He dried each water drop away. He stepped out of the shower, and put the slippers on. There, he thought, that's over with for now.