the procedure


the procedure

It’s raining outside. Your brain recognizes this fact before you actually wake up, as your eyes are still closed and you are continuing to focus your attention on the dregs of the last dream you had.

It was a strange one where you were a circus performer for the UN counsel and you’re making the landing would decide whether Russia and USA would go to war. You realize that your job is both absurd and also pertinent to the protection of the human race. You wonder how you never questioned your employment in the past.

The moment you actually wake up, you feel a sense of relief. Luckily, such matters don’t depend on your physical skills. Not that you aren’t in shape. You exercise. You just don’t really have the energy you had when you were in your twenties. You think back and wonder how you could ever have had such energy. It is slowly retreating.

Now you hear it. The rain is pattering. You grab your phone and swing your legs over the bed. You look and see the window pane is streaming with a deluge of smashed together rain drops.

You wonder, how many raindrops does it take for a window pane to flood like that? Some scientist has likely already solved this problem and written about it. How odd what people write about and do in their lives. Though, you say to yourself, you were just a trapeze diplomat. One thing you noticed was there were no elephants in the ring. You are proud of your subconscious for keeping things ethical.

You look at your phone. It is wrenched from the plug without you thinking and the cord drops to the floor with a slap. You do this too often. You see that the time is 6:51. So early.

You hoped to get up at 7:05. Those extra five minutes always give you a bit of satisfaction. Like when you are walking and the squares on the sidewalk are so perfectly set apart that you never even have to think about avoiding the cracks.

It is odd that childish games still drive the way that you ambulate, you think. Of course you would never say ambulate out loud. Such a pretentious term.

You notice you have a message. An email. You open it.

“Dear ___,

Your proposal has been reviewed. Please come in at 10am tomorrow for our response.

Sincerely yours,


What an annoying response. Why not just tell you what they think? You have already met with them twice in the last three months. You were hoping that the negotiations were over.

Do you have time to shower? Yes. Eat? Maybe. Food is not really that necessary for us sedentary 30-somethings anyways. Sometimes you think it is just a habit. Eating. You always have a little bit of a belly. Not a lot. But a little. You never go beyond that either. What would happen if you stopped eating for a few days.

You go to the fridge. Almond milk and oatmeal. Uncooked. Good enough. Time for tea? No. But you wish there was. There isn’t much of a life without tea. You strip off your pajamas and turn the water heater on. It is a bit chilly now that fall is coming. You are satisfied with this cooler weather. Of course, you can’t forget your umbrella.

You look in the mirror naked. It looks good today, this body. You feel like a narcissist. Who cares, everyone else does it. We all care too much about our bodies. We are happy or sad based on what we think when we see it. If only this, if only that etc. There must be some people out there who look at their bodies and say, “now that is a great body.” Anyways you feel good about it today. Toothpaste is almost out. No reason to replace it now. Maybe in 2 weeks. You can stretch it. The soap is getting so small that soon it will go to the drain forever.

The water feels warm and nice. You wash away your dream and start thinking about the meeting. Will I dress up? Maybe something simple and professional? You think you should. Nothing too showy. But, you know those black pants make your backside look great. You wish that the world always demanded that you wear black pants. Then you could always have a nice looking backside. Shorts are soon to be something of the past.

Suddenly, your phone is ringing. Oh wait, no it is the alarm. It is so loud. Why didn’t you turn it off? Now you have to let your phone go off for 4 minutes while you dry off after stopping the shower.

Your neighbors must think you are one of those people who can’t wake up from alarms. Or worse, one of those people who has multiple alarms. You wonder why people even do this. Just put one alarm at the end. It makes no sense. How can you fall asleep after waking up? Life is filled with anxiety.

You get out of the shower. In fact, you did miss a call. The alarm masked it. You see the number is unknown. Well it doesn’t say that, you just don’t know the number. You think about calling back, then wonder who would call at this time. Can’t be good.

You ignore it, throw on the black pants, black socks, and a white button-up and grab your light jacket. You put that on and put your computer bag over your shoulder after putting necessary items in. The last thing you grab is your umbrella.

Outside is pouring. Your umbrella opens up and you see the streets are white with the impact of raindrops. There is someone running to their car. Someone running from their car. They are using their computer as a way to protect their head. That makes no sense.

You walk briskly to the nearest bus stop. Now you wait. It is a 2 hour ride of busses with changes in the middle. You need to allow at least 2.5 hours because you never memorize the bus schedule. As you are waiting, you notice someone watching you.

It is an older man. He has a briefcase. He is just standing by his car. It is very strange. This city is strange. City life is filled with weirdos. You join a city and then you are allowed to act more strange. You would think that more people living together would have better social standards. I guess not.

You get another ding. They called again. You missed it. You decide to call them back as you get on your bus.


“Yes, Hello, you called?”

“Yes, sorry, is this ___?”

“Yes it is.”

“Oh, we thought we could just call you with the meeting details. We saw that a typhoon might be coming in.”

“What? A typhoon?”

“Yeah, so anyways, we decided to accept your proposal. However, there is one condition.”

“What is that?”

“You have to do it without pain meds.”

“I don’t know, that sounds scary.”

“Well sure, but we think it will have a better chance of succeeding this way.”

“Yeah, but still… what if I can’t handle the pain?”

“Well, we just think it is best. Can you do it?”

“I’ll think about it. I mean, I’m sorry, I need time to think about it.”

“That’s fine, please let us know by tomorrow.”

“Ok, I will. Thanks.”


You hang up. The bus already is a bit down the road from your apartment. You get off and decide it is better to walk back. On the way back, you notice the newspaper. It does say something about a typhoon. Who reads newspapers?

You get back to your apartment soaked and take off your clothes and crawl into bed. Today you don’t have to work, and you need to think.

It is just pain, you think. But it is a big request. You decide you don’t want to do it. But you need 24 hours to build up the courage to say no. Maybe you will change your mind later, but you enjoy saying no right now in your head. This makes you relax a little. A false balm.

You look out the window next to your bed down to the street. The man from before is standing there. Suddenly he looks up at you as if he could feel you watching him. You close the curtain and think about the procedure.