Over the past weeks, it had become common knowledge that something was wrong with Stephen. Since beginning his job at the engineering firm last March, he had only arrived on time to work a handful of times. Stephen’s lifestyle was the prototype of disorder, disfunctionality, and utter disarray. On any given day in Stephen’s apartment, there would be a growing pile of dirty laundry piled up on his living-room couch, and another on the kitchen table, shrinking proportionately. He never bothered to hang his clothes up, put them away, or iron them. Although in terms of personal hygiene, Stephen’s manner of life was comparably commendable–that is, he showered and brushed his teeth daily–his bathroom was in a style of even greater anarchy, if that is imaginable. A stench, far too familiar to Stephen personally, rose from his toilet vengefully, while soap scum and filth lied his tub like a group of conspirators, huddling to exchange their venemous plots of chaos. The kitchen was a grade better, on account of the daily inevitability of eating, but upon a closer examination of his grocery receipts, which lay scattered in the corner by the overflowing trash-can, anyone of even the mildest sense would realize that the kind of food Stephen most typically consumed was hardly fit for the human body. Altogether, Stephen lived as if he had never had a mother.
The first sign of a fresh wind of change blowing into Stephen’s life was three weeks ago, to the day. Marcus, Stephen’s boss, came into the office holding his hot cup of Starbuck’s coffee in one hand, and his laptop case in the other. Coming through the door, he mechanically reached out to turn on the lights. When his hand reached the switch, he realized that the lights were already on. “I’m going to have to have a word with Phillip, the new janitor. He must have forgotten to turn the lights off,” Marcus thought to himself. Marcus was walking down the prematurely-lit hallway to his office, when he passed Stephen’s small cubicle, and to his surprise, a well-kempt, nicely-dressed man sat in Stephen’s chair, typing away at his computer. “Who are you, and what are you doing in this office?” Marcus inquired. The figure swivelled around as he straightened his tie and looked up into Marcus’ puzzled face. “I just thought I would come in a little early today, boss, to try and get these reports in order for the big meeting next week,” articulated Stephen. Marcus almost dropped his coffee when he realized that the man sitting in front of him was no stranger, but that certain misfit and protagonist of this story, who was surely going to be “laid off” when he went up for review next month. To use the old familiar phrase, he hardly recognized him, but in this case, Marcus really could hardly make and concrete connection between the Stephen he knew and despised, and the collected, business-man in front of him now.
Although Marcus was utterly shocked at the morning’s singularity (which was on its way to becoming a plurality), having grown to be disgusted by the disheveled appearance and disgusting habits of his underling over the past months, and justifiably so, the greater shock lay in the fact that back at Stephen’s apartment, his dress shirts comfortably lined his closet next to his freshly pressed black pants. The bathroom glistened with freshness, the carpet bore the striations caused by the comb of the vacuum cleaner, and the refrigerator was filled with food that was palatable, healthy and unexpired. Marcus had never visited Stephen at his home, nor would he ever have dreamed of doing so, but if he had, reality would have been in such incongruity with his perception of reality, that the shock would have more than just caused him to drop his coffee. I will now try to explain the cause of this rather queer metamorphosis.