John Horner was always composed. He was very sharp and well-put together. Everyone felt they knew him, but no one knew too much about him. They knew that he was always kind and wasn’t much for the fancy things; he felt life was simpler without them. He walked almost everywhere.
Mr. Horner would have made a nice grandfather. He was very patient, extremely generous, and was always in the mood for a game or story of some sort, but never got carried away with anything. He was never overemotional or overbearing, and it seemed that everything in his life was in perfect harmony. He always gave the impression that he enjoyed the things he had, but that he would still be very happy without them. His happiness was not dependent on his possessions, and sometimes it seemed, on anything else, but he always valued everything.
He was an older man, and quiet; the type you would like to have as your local baker or barber, who was always welcoming and engaging, but not if you weren’t in the mood for it. He wasn’t easily noticed in a crowd; he didn’t stand out, and he liked it that way. You could tell he had had experience in life and knew what he was doing, but he was soft.
He and his wife had recently moved to the city, and they were renting a nice apartment from an Italian woman probably only a few years older than themselves. In their older age, the Horners didn’t need the upkeep a house would require, and the apartment was charming: the exterior wall was brick and had some solid wood shelves hanging on it between the windows that looked out across the street. You almost felt as if you could reach out across the street and touch the next building over, but it was quite a ways across. They were on the third floor, and the sounds from the street were muffled, although they could still be heard if you were quiet, or if the windows were open. They liked it that way, and the weather was usually nice enough that they could have the windows open, and the sounds that made their way up the walls served as background music, for they didn’t have a phonograph or television set. They didn’t need technology to entertain themselves, and Mr. Horner loved to read the newspaper. Mrs. Horner would knit or read, and she enjoyed her home so much she really didn’t have to do much of anything to be quite content for the day. She knew her husband would be home at the end of the day and they would have dinner and talk about what he did that day, or take turns reading out of their latest book.
It had been a nice evening outside and the windows were left cracked all night. Mr. Horner always slept better in a cool environment, and slept well he did. He didn’t have a hard time getting up, though, and was out of bed as soon as the clock struck seven. He was never lazy or groggy. Due to his level-headed nature, he never did things in excess, and was always able to have a nice balance: he was never up too early or to bed too late, and never overexerted himself, or was so lazy that he became groggy. This made for a healthy balance in his life so that he did not get burned out because, as he and everyone knew, he was getting older.
Mrs. Horner was already awake and was downstairs making her coffee. She had eaten breakfast and was on her way up when Mr. Horner was on his way down, dress pants in hand. He looked at her on the stairs, and, handing them to her, said, “Not too many today, if you please.” She smiled. He was downstairs by the time he heard the noise she was making. He was pouring coffee into his favorite mug, almost more suited for beer; it was copper coated, and it made your hands smell funny if your palms were sweaty. He heard the sound of clinking metal upstairs, and it made him smile. He hurriedly had his coffee and a wheat muffin, dry, and went upstairs to dress. His wife handed him his pants and she went into the laundry room to iron a few things. He picked out a shirt and tie, modest ones. They were blue and mild. He set them out on the bed and went into the bathroom to brush his teeth.
He was ready to go, and as he walked downstairs, his pockets jingled. He picked his car keys out of the small bin that lay next to the garage door. He told his wife goodbye and she stopped what she was doing until he left. His car used to be a high-end luxury automobile, and he was proud of it at one time. He didn’t feel that way now. He felt it was like him, a classic, something from the days when things were simpler and easier. He walked to the car, opened the door and sat down inside. The leather bench seat caught him and bounced a little. He opened the garage door and started the car. He stopped for a moment and reached into his right-hand pocket and shook it to make a noise. He turned the car off and put the keys in his pocket. He stepped out of the car and shut the door, walking out of the garage and down the driveway. He looked back at the house over his shoulder and waved to anyone who may be looking. It was almost like it was then.