As a form of distraction Dave took up his notebook and began to write.
In the bathroom, his wife fills the tub to a level that is dangerously close to overflowing. After twenty minutes or so, she turns the silver wheel that releases the plug.
For want of anything better to write about Dave tries putting down a few words about the water going down the plughole. Spiral and gurgle were two of the words written in spidery handwriting. He notices that these two words rhyme and the fact pleases him greatly. Then he pictures the silver bubble that forms in the middle of the whirlpool. This silver bubble looks like an eye that stares back at him unblinkingly.
He puts down his pen and repeats the words spiral, gurgle, then adds whirlpool and leaves the room with no idea of what to do with these words.
In all likelihood, nothing will come of it. What good are random words plucked from the ether without a good storyline to go along with them, a bit of dialogue and a measure of drama? If only a ghost would haunt the bathroom and frighten his wife or a car chase would ensue in the street outside.
He reads for a while before going to sleep. His mind is only half on the words. Considering that he is stoically wading through The Idylls of the King while trying to quell a sense of rising panic that tightens a knot within his chest, it is perhaps hardly surprising that he didn’t manage too many pages before giving it up as a bad job and turning the light out.
As he falls into sleep, his thoughts going round and round like Arthur’s table, he realises that he is repeating the words spiral, gurgle, whirlpool inside the sink of his head.
At 6:15 am the phone alarm shrills and Dave’s hand automatically reaches out to squash the button on the screen before the bleating noise wake his wife. Without pausing to think about it he rolls out of bed and heads for the bathroom. He turns on the tap and starts splashing cold water onto his face. The water turns warm then hot which is a cue to put the plug in. He continues running the water until he has cupped twenty handfuls onto his face.
Inside his head, he counts the handfuls. When he reaches twenty he pulls the plug and rapidly scoops up as much as the water as he can onto his face. As usual, he has to remind himself that it is okay to stop counting at this stage of the proceedings. The silver eye stares up at him unblinking. Once the sink is empty he pats his face dry before turning on the tap again to brush his teeth. This time he counts to thirty before spitting out the fennel flavoured toothpaste. Rinsing the paste out requires more water and another count of thirty.
He pulls on his black dressing gown with the white stripes and pads downstairs to make coffee, pausing to note the time that blinks from the bedside digital clock: 6:28. He is bang on schedule.
The coffee is made. He drinks two cups and takes further steps to wake himself up by punctuating the sips with drags from his electronic cigarette. He doesn’t feel that it is necessary to count these as the cloud begins to fill the living room. The caffeine and nicotine quickly go to work and give him enough energy to go back upstairs with a fresh pot of coffee to wake his wife. By now, it is 6:58. Still bang on schedule.
Dressing only requires a quick consideration of the day and the date. A new shirt if it is a Friday, fresh trousers if it’s the start of a new month.
The next hour passes like Its A Knockout. A series of infuriating tasks that can’t be cut short and have huge scope for going wrong. Somehow, the clock panicking towards 8:00, the children are seen safely onto the school bus with the correct books and lunches packed into their bags. Now it only remains for him to get on the right bus and head for work, the anxiety of what the inbox might contain spreading through his brain, the booby traps that might lie in the office to set his otherwise ordered life out of kilter.
By the time the bus reaches the city he begins to feel calmer. He gets himself lost in a reverie that involves the smell of the inside of a wardrobe and a heart shaped Wedgewood jewellery box. How to describe that peculiar shade of green that made the box? A sort of chalky olive green… and the smell inside the wardrobe turns into a tune, The Last Train to Clarksville… He snaps out of the tranquil state that he has inadvertently fallen into and realises that his stop is miles behind. He is even more surprised to discover that he doesn’t even care.
Meanwhile the sun sits in the sky, a silvery gold unblinking eye.