The alarm rang three times at 6:45 before he carefully pushed the switch to silence it. Swinging both legs over the side of the bed, he stood up, stretched once, and loped towards the shower. He twisted the knob seventy-three degrees to the left, producing the eighty-five degree shower that ritually began each morning. Systematically, each body part was lathered with six strokes of the bar of soap, from head to toe, then he stepped forward once into the rush of water and felt himself cleansed.
One towel for the body, one towel for the head, and precisely thirty-six swipes later, he was dry and heading towards the kitchen. He heated a frying pan, opened the refrigerator, and cracked two eggs. Listening to them sizzle, countless sizzles, he felt anxiety swelling up until he reached into the jar on the upper shelf and felt the familiar calm wash over him as he clutched one cold slab of meat. Remembering the four slices it took to cut the meat from the bone when he’d brought it home, he dropped the slab into the pan, and counted each grain of the meat while it, too, sizzled. Noting twelve lines of grain, even numbers were always the sign of a good day ahead, he reflected for a brief moment on how much the meat resembled a tree stump. After closing the refrigerator, he jiggled the handle three times.
He slid the two eggs and one slab of meat onto a plate, the eggs above the meat in their given place. He broke the left yoke first, watched it trickle down and form a brief halo over the meat. “St. Meat,” he giggled to himself, and then divided his idol into six even bites to be eaten in turn with the eggs. He chewed each bite twelve times, took twelve mouthfuls of food in all, and dabbed his mouth twelve times with one napkin, just to round things out. He slid the pan and dish into the sink, added one drop of detergent to each, and wiped fourteen times around the pan, and six times around the plate, as usual. His knife and fork were each given one, thorough wipe, rinsed, and placed in the drainer alongside four other pieces of silverware and three dishes.
Before returning to the bedroom to get dressed, he opened the refrigerator again to take morning inventory of its contents. His eyes briefly scanned its more mundane offerings before settling on the various mason jars on the top shelf. There he counted six jars containing eight fingers, ten toes, eight more slabs of thigh, six chunks of calf muscle, and four slices of brain. Contentedly, he shut the refrigerator, jiggled the handle three times, and began his morning.
©2010 Ryan Feeback