There was an old grandmother clock in Mr. Foibles office. He had brought it to remind him of home. It was getting late in the afternoon now and Mr. Foibles was a little tired. The ticking of the clock began to call him home. There were so many memories in that ticking sound it remained in the back of his mind a bit like an inner prayer but also a reminder of time passing.
When his day at the office came to its close he knew that he would bring his whole life there gently to a close some day fairly soon and that his wish was to turn to living and working in nature with his family. At home he had his study, this could be his office. This is where the revolution must begin, he thought. It was time for man to leave the cities. The cities had estranged us from our bodies and become a deluded mental realm. In the forests and the pastures we must begin again to gather and to trust our neighbour. Symbolically he took the pictures of his family from his desk and put them in his briefcase. They don't belong here, he thought.
Still the clock was ticking in his mind, bringing a new rhythm and urgency to his heart.
As he left the office. Mr. Baltic, the security man, nodded to him as he approached the main door.
Mr. Foibles bid him farewell as usual, “Goodnight, my friend,” he said. There was no reply, as usual from Mr. Baltic. His little room was dark inside. The pictures from the security screens flashed across his face. His eyes were sad and vacant. Mr. Foibles left feeling a little melancholy wondering how ever he may reach poor Mr. Baltic.
His home was a short drive away in the suburbs. When his key entered the lock of his front door he realised he had been so lost in thought he had hardly noticed the journey so much was his sense of time predominant in his mind.
He felt unsettled.
His wife greeted him at the door with the customary peck on the cheek and update on dinner. She returned to the kitchen and Mr. Foibles headed for his armchair. Alone in the living room his mind was flooded with the past.
His attention turned to his old grandfather clock which had been in the family for generations. As usual it stood silent, its mechanism ceased up long ago. The tick-tock of his mind fell silent and his time-bound automatic mind fell silent too. Time stood still.
The old and gold grandfather clock remained like an aura in his mind, catching the light this way and that, still and mellow.
He cast this new light around the room, at the old family photographs, the familiar paintings on the wall, the souvenirs from many a journey. These were all the things that had made home for Mr. Foibles. He could still remember as he placed his mind on each in turn and thought about it but they no longer called to him from the walls and his home lay now in the heart.
His wife served dinner. It was usual for Mr. Foibles to be quiet and pre-occupied on his return home. She knew to give him time and then gently enquire as to his day.
“I love you, dear.” said Mr. Foibles.
“I love you too dear,” she said and placed her hand on his.
“I shall retire,” said Mr. Foibles.
“Very well,” she said, thinking that he would retire to bed.
Mr. Foibles did not explain his plans but returned to his armchair. His funny old head sat on his shoulders like a golden pumpkin on the shelf of his garden shed, rocking gently as life thumped by. His silence hung so softly in the air that summer evening that life simply came and went. He smoked his pipe and looked out of the window. There was a little forest behind the house. Mr. Foibles in his heart was at the cabin and his house had become a cabin too. The office, like a dream, faded in his mind. He nodded off a little and dreamt that he flew from the city with a chain of children holding his hands. He was so happy. He was home and there was a new peace in the air, as still as glass, as dusk approached. The silence was golden.
His family had gathered at the end of the day. A golden sunset poured into the room like an angel. His dear wife and three children sat in their accustomed places and Mr. Foibles spoke in a way that he had never spoken before:
“Please listen, my dears. I have something to say to you all. As I hope you all know I love you all very dearly, like my own life. I have realised something that I wish to share with you as best I can. For much of my life, as you know, I have lived in my thoughts and I realise now the extent to which I had become estranged from my own body. This last weekend at grandpa's cabin that changed and I discovered, in a very natural way, a truth, a love, a joy and a sense of freedom in the body I had never discovered before. At the office today I realised I had not been alone. All around the city I saw people lost in thought and unhappy. We are so lucky here that we have the forest to return to but what I realised this weekend is that the body is part of nature too. We belong there and not in the city. This realisation has changed my life. I shall retire from the office and work from home. I will be here all the more to love you and keep you safe. I will grow pumpkins and spinach and sing lullabies to the silly city. We will not be so rich but I believe we will be happy.”
Thus spoke Mr. Foibles. And this was just the beginning of a new life and love for the world. For the world would come to love Mr. Foibles, in the golden silence and peace of history, just as Mr. Foibles had come to love the world.
And Mr. Foibles was beginning to wonder about the future of the cities,
“It’s an unnatural way to live, I get the feeling something could go terribly wrong,” he thought.
The Mr. Foibles Trilogy