Had it been Death that had called that day everything would have been all right. After all, he had been waiting patiently on death for some time and, by his calculations, The Grim Reaper was well and truly overdue. All his affairs had long been in order, down to the milk money put aside in the saucer souvenir on the kitchen window sill, a piece of memorabilia from the past, once perhaps a vessel for an honourable purpose, but now simply where he kept the milk money. Not that he had a particular reason to die; he simply lacked a decent excuse to keep living.
Everything in its place and a place for everything. Or was it the other way around? He supposed it amounted to the same thing in the long run, but he couldn't be troubled thinking about it. For a man ostensibly given to an orderly life, his head was a fairly cluttered place with its unsolved problems and issues frequently swept under carpets of convenient forgetfulness.
A shining example of male utilitarianism, everything in his home had its prescribed place and its assigned duties: the cooker was there to cook, the seats to be sat upon, the doors to hide behind; paintings were there to satisfy some sort of aesthetic need, not to blend in with the bedspread. Hence his decision on taking over the flat to replace the tastelessly framed print of 'Poppies' above the mantelpiece with something more suitable of his own; it was clichéd in any case and clashed with the decor. Besides, it was a woman's picture and his life had been devoid of any hint of femininity for many a long weekend. For the record it should be stressed that Jonathan Payne was not in the least bit misogynistic. He liked women. Indeed they were a constant source of delight to him as long as the staples didn't get in the way.
Not that things had not always been so. Lives rarely are. People in particular seem to glean such pleasure from never being so as often as humanly possible; in no other instance is Nature so consistently contrary. But, drawing from the various episodes that comprised his life, he had learned the hard way (as if there were any other) what its essence was for him. Oh, he was no King Solomon and, if truth be told, he was quite vain. Everything though, he'd concluded, was a nuisance, not a vanity. Marriage was a nuisance as were children, chores and getting up in the morning; not vanity nor a striving after the wind. He'd always regarded himself as one of the lucky ones never getting caught. But it was more chance than circumstance. In the past he had been keen enough but it never happened and now, looking back on other people's mishaps, he was quite content to have remained single if not entirely celibate.
Really! For a while, as he grew up, he struggled to understand both women and algebra sure that there was a place and a purpose for all of them in the world. Though perhaps maybe not with him. For all that, sometimes he thought it would be nice (homey even) to walk into the kitchen to the sound of bacon crackling and with a comfortable wife bent over the sink begging to have her rump slapped affectionately. Sometimes. But not very often.
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