On the first day after the world ended Corver Telic arose at 6:18 am,
the same time he had every day for the past 23 years.
Corver slowly stretched his arms and legs while sitting on the side of the queen-sized bed,
reaching for Maggie Magoo by feel rather than sight
when he heard the soft jingle of her collar,
as Corver tried not to fully open his soft hazel eyes
(everyone remarked upon them; no reason we should not as well)
before he had to.
Maggie Magoo was Corver's pure-bred Alsatian,
in case your mind wandered far on that one,
which is commonly known as a German Shepherd,
but Corver did not prefer it for an animal he regarded as royalty
among the upper echelon of finer dog breeds,
and insisted on the more weighty description.
Perhaps this was to counterbalance the Alsatian's unfortunate appellation,
though Cover had to admit that "Maggie Magoo" fit that dog like a favorite pair of jeans,
welcome at any occasion.
Maggie Magoo led Corver down the stairs of of his
two-story three-and-a-half bath Tudor home,
and though Corver still had not opened his eyes,
and Maggie Magoo was close to legally blind
(you wondered if that's where her name came from, didn't you?),
neither bumped into the wall or tripped over a briefcase.
They'd been doing this same walk every day for almost 13 years,
and both knew the way
(literally in Cover's case),
in their sleep.
Normally the first six o'clock hour does not attract many curious eyes on Harford Street,
but this day was any day but ordinary.
this was the first day after the world ended,
which we mentioned at the beginning,
but it is worth saying again,
as you very well may have been distracted in the meantime by Maggie Magoo,
and who could blame you?
Eyes were everywhere,
peering out behind drawn curtains and fully verticalized blinds.
Normally these people would still be asleep,
or getting ready for work,
or pouring processed marshmallow nutrition into milk for feckless four-year-olds,
but not this morning.
If any had slept it had been fitfully,
and most had been up all night,
or checking ph levels and electrical charges on basement water tanks and generators,
tension pulled taut as a wire through the long still night,
but now it was morning,
and Lord knew what was going to happen,
but whatever it was,
it was going to happen now,
And there was Corver Telic and Maggie Magoo,
walking north on the eastern side of Harford,
crossing over where Poplar Lane intersected,
and traversing back south,
this time on the western half of Harford's contribution to suburban sprawl.
People knew Corver Telic.
Never married - there was talk, you know -
but most respected him,
and who didn't love Maggie Magoo?
Cover was an engineer of some kind over at Bigelow,
which manufactured electrical track for light-rail back East.
Folks knew Corver could be counted on to buy band candy and raffle tickets for the endless parade of community-subsidized high school extra-curriculars,
and it was known that as long as courtesy was kept Corver would not narrow a baleful eye come Halloween to those Trick-or-Treaters who long since should have graduated to fidgety dry-ice-bedazzled mixer parties where the ever-hanging threat of making out
(or not making out: which could be worse?)
kept all but the most clear-skinned and letterman-jacketed in a perpetual state of dry-mouthed near-terror.
And who didn't love Maggie Magoo?
Now the residents of Harford Street watched
Corver Telic and Maggie Magoo take their walk,
complete their accustomed morning circuit,
and know Not what to make of it the residents did.
There were no telephone calls back and forth,
east and west along Harford's tree-lined early-morning seeming placidity -
how could there be?
there were no texts,
or Status Updates,
and not once were the words
"just saw Corver Telic and his Alsatian Maggie Magoo outside taking their walk!"
with added WTF?s for emphasis.
But people saw,
and people who didn't see found out,
in that inexplicable way we have of collectively just knowing something we could not possibly,
and without any discussion,
or an army of support-augmenting Likes,
people reached the same conclusion.
Corver Telic was taking a stand.
Corver and Maggie Magoo arrived back home at 6:47,
Corver having managed to keep his eyes virtually shut the entire time he'd been awake.
Corver Telic was not an unobservant man -
engineering is all about the details -
but whatever powers of paranoia,
Corver possessed were dulled by the fog of and haze of sleep still hanging over him like a low marshland in late winter.
It would not be until almost eleven minutes later,
when on his second burning-hot segment of
Ice-cold/hot/lukewarm/hot/ice-cold shower he took every morning,
that Corver's eyes suddenly opened so wide,
that one might be forgiven for thinking Corver Telic was
practicing for a Marty Feldman Impersonation Contest down at the local Odeon.
It was at that moment that Corver Telic suddenly remembered
what no one would possibly have forgotten,
and therefore what so many had ascribed lofty motives to him for "taking a stand,"
as it would be universally
known in the days to come.
Corver Telic realized it was the first day after the world ended,
and there was no job to hurry to be on time for,
to make his lunch for,
to get dressed for,
to shower for.
Corver omitted the last ice-cold cycle of his routine,
and stepped onto the bathmat in front of the fogged-over mirror,
temporarily unusable for reflection,
which suited Corver just fine.
Drying off with a
(one of the few indulgences he permitted himself),
Corver wondered if there was anyway he could break his routine and fall back asleep.
It may not have been the Tienanmen Square stuff-of-legend
for which he was currently accredited,
but you have to start somewhere.
At 7:06 am,
Corver Telic climbed back into bed for the first time since....ever,
and took his stand,
(No word on what position,
by Maggie Magoo.)