By Dan Leicht
There should be more people like Walter Franklin in the world. Who knows what would happen if everyone lived their lives just like Walter.
7:00AM — The coffee timer goes off and the morning starts brewing.
7:15AM — Walter gets out of the shower and gets dressed
7:30AM — The dog dashes into the front lawn to retrieve the paper
7:35AM —Walter reads through the comics section while sipping his coffee, two sugars, one cream, a dollop of honey
7:55AM — Walter puts on his sports jacket, picks up his briefcase, gets in his car
8:00AM — Walter leaves the house
The work day for Walter doesn’t start until nine however, and living just a block away, he has some time to spare. Every morning he’ll make a stop at Lauren Anderson’s house to drop off some canned cream corn for the kids, she runs a daycare from her home — the kids love creamed corn. As a thank you Lauren always gives him a peck on the cheek. He’ll often blush and tip his hat.
For his second stop he grabs coffee with his friend Kelvin Lenningsworth at The Ugly Mug Cafe. Kelvin always waits for Walter, and is usually on his second cup by the time Walter arrives. For twenty minutes the two will sit and tell stories about their work the day prior. Kelvin loves hearing about Walter’s job at the publishing company, often listening with his head held up by a balled fist as he sips from his brown ceramic mug. Walter would sip his coffee in awe whenever Kelvin told him about his day’s driving the garbage truck. Walter often shakes his head and laughs when Kelvin describes some of the ridiculous things people throw away — a couch with a plastic dummy wearing a rainbow afro shoved between the cushions.
After a cup with Kelvin he’d be back in his car and, this time, on his way to work. He arrives fifteen minutes early to meet with Carol in the break room. Carol would have a cup of tea waiting next to half a bagel smothered in strawberry cream cheese for Walter. Grinning ear to ear upon seeing her he’d take a seat and chomp into his bagel, expressing his satisfaction through humming while eating. She’d laugh at his childish mannerisms and tell him about the night she had with her book club, or what her kids were up to, or who her ex husband was dating — he once dated a woman from the circus who could fit her entire fist into her mouth.
A couple minutes before nine Walter would take his final bite and clock into work. He’d smile at anyone else walking into the building, nod, and walk over to his cubicle. At his desk was an old computer he’d found at a garage sale, still operating well enough to get some of his work done (the green text on the black background would have given any other employee a headache). Every half hour or so his neurotic boss, Peter Bupplin, would make his rounds and check in on everyone. The reason he liked Walter, despite his poor flair for new technology, was that he’d always be working on something. Most every other worker didn’t take Peter seriously and would be playing solitaire or looking up recipes, but not Walter, he’d be knee deep in a new project writing down notes hand in hand with typing headache inducing green text into his computer. Peter would sometimes stand at Walter’s cubicle just taking it all in, the perfect employee. With Walter’s indifference towards technology he’d end each day usually getting less done than anyone else, but that wasn’t what mattered to Peter. Before it was time to clock out Peter would make another round and drop off a paper cup filled with french roast to Walter, two sugars, one cream.
After work every day Walter would stop at a local grocery store, the florist waiting with a preprepared arrangement right at 5:15PM. Walter would pay ten dollars before leaving. On his way towards his last stop before heading home he’d play the same song. He’d park in the same spot once arriving, in front of the large oak tree. He’d walk the same path, nod to passersby, wipe tears from his eyes, and then stop. He’d set the flowers down, pull a dry paintbrush from his pocket and use it to clean off the headstone. He’d recite the engraving aloud, choking up each time, “Here lies Rachel Franklin — A beautiful wife who would have made a wonderful mother”.
Walter would then get back into his car. When he arrives home he feeds his dog before taking Rocket for a walk. He’ll then eat a dinner with microwave instructions on the back, watch three episodes of a TV show he recorded, and set his coffee maker for the next morning.