Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana
'Wormold felt an enormous bewilderment.'
It started on Monday. In the whole regrettable affair that was the only thing that made any sense at all. Mondays jarred and jolted, they were jagged around the edges. If the world was to end - as The Crazies and Hollywood would have you believe - it will certainly happen on a Monday. All for the better.
Wormold woke up fifteen minutes late. It was inconceivable. He woke up at seven on the dot, every morning, Monday through Friday. His alarm clock was set to seven, it was loud and obnoxious, and Wormold was a light sleeper. There was no possible way he could sleep for full fifteen minutes under that high-pitched beep-beep-beep. Yet there he was, staring at the digital display stubbornly glowing 7:15.
The horror of the situation made him lurch out of bed, and stumble hurriedly into his kitchen. He had led a measured, meticulously timed life that was now thrown into disarray. His brain was feverishly counting minutes and seconds that could be excised from his morning routine to make up for missplaced time. He decided to skip breakfast. However when he stepped into the kitchen the context of his existence turned upside down.
Wormold felt an enormous bewilderment. His favorite coffee cup that he had left on the drying rack the night before was now sitting dirty in the sink. A plate, lightly dusted with toast crumbs sat on the kitchen table, where it had no business being. The coffee maker was switched off, but still warm, moist grounds sitting in the filter.
Wormold watched incredulously as the plate floated to the sink, joining the cup, and the two washed and rinsed themselves off. Suddenly, the sound of running water from the other end of the house drew his attention. He rushed to the bathroom and found the shower on, filling the small space with steam. With a shaking hand he touched his toothbrush – it was wet. He stumbled back to the bedroom and slumped down onto his bed.
For a few minutes the only movements in the room were the shudders running through his body, but then the closet door flung open and his grey suit marched out. Wormold watched agape as his Monday suit teamed up with one of his twelve identical white dress shirts, and affixed a somber blue tie under the collar. The suit joined company with Wormold’s Oxfords and headed for the door. He trailed behind as the suit picked up Wormwold’s briefcase and walked out of the house exactly at 7:45 - precisely the time Wormwold was supposed to. He stood in the doorway staring after his self-determined clothes.
To his amazement, nobody seemed surprised at the sight at an empty suit walking down the street. Staggering back to the house he finally understood: he was out of sync. Somehow he slipped fifteen minutes behind, and the world went on without him. At this very moment his suit was undoubtedly sitting on the bus, headed for the office.
4 weeks ago