Everybody out of the Laundromat, I need to think!, of which the first chapter is here partially excerpted, is a novel Phil G Glenn, published by TWCS books

For most people, the transition into a hypnopompic state is difficult. In other words it’s hard to wake up. For Virgil Blaine it was particularly difficult; on a number of occasions it had taken him two days. ‘It’s your body fighting off reality’ his Asian G.P. had said.

Virgil Blaine called it ‘The Virgil Reality Syndrome’ though the people at the Welfare office said they’d never heard of it. One day, when he was seven hours and eleven minutes late for his appointment, he asked the Welfare Officer ‘Have you not ever had trouble waking up?’ When the Officer nodded he said, ‘There you see, you probably suffer from ‘Virgil Reality Syndrome.’ The following week, his welfare money was not transferred into his account.

Reality had been Virgil’s age old enemy. Just this morning, as of many other mornings, he entered the hypnopompic state with one eye open, straining against it. He had hoped that the reason for his exhaustion this day was the concert he had performed at Wembley Stadium in front of sixty thousand people the night before, or that he was an Alien from the planet Galecia sent to study the mating habits of bipedal lifeforms.

None the less, despite his efforts, reality had set in. He was not an Alien nor was he famous. There was some good news however – though he was completely unaware of it – he had achieved some degree of fame, albeit at the welfare office being the record holder for the shortest career known to mankind – nineteen minutes. As we have already stated, Virgil Blaine was not a morning person and it was arranged that he be allowed to start his new career at ten o’clock; he had arrived ten minutes late, but by twenty nine minutes past had resigned, right in the middle of his ‘emergency exits’ tour. The next day at the welfare office a pool was set up as to the reasons why such a promising career could be cut so short. When asked he simply said ‘It was not part of my reality’. The following week, his welfare money was not transferred into his account.

The problem was Virgil Blaine’s achievements were not recognised. On the odd occasion that he was completely awake, he had achieved greatness. No one recognised him as ‘Blaine1’ the man who sat for two years, three weeks and four days at number one on Donkey Kong at Bruno’s Fish and Chip Cafe. He pioneered ‘Owling’ in his local community, which was the act of perching yourself on any ledge or precipice, as an owl would, knees under your chin, staring plate eyed into space. He made page three of his local paper when he ‘owled’ high on the turret of St Peters Cathedral. The headline read LOCAL IDIOT. He now included the news clipping in his resume, pasted under the heading ‘Ability to concentrate for long periods.’

Like most unemployable thirty-nine year-olds Virgil Blaine was a poet. He was not so much unpublished as unrecognised. He considered his poetry so important that he had offered one of his best poems to his landlord as part payment for next week’s rent. It was politely declined. This is part of the poem:

‘You see me, I am your reality
I am an owl perched on the turret of life,
Oh clouds I see your nimbus,
Your despot does not touch me
For I am.’ [1]

This poem was later pasted in his resume under the heading ‘Writing skills.’

For most people, being one hour and four minutes late for anything would send them into a spiralling panic, but for Virgil Blaine’s reality it was well within the boundaries of his ‘roundabouts’ time. When he arrived at the Welfare Office at four minutes past twelve for his eleven o’clock appointment, there was no panic in his eyes; he simply sat on the back of his heels and went into an ‘Owl’ trance.

Unusually, Cleve Cummins had no desire to be famous at all, and it was an obvious conclusion people made when they met him. When a small opportunity of fame had presented itself, Cleve kept walking. He had simply said ‘no comment’ to the cameras when it became known that one of his clients ‘Dalai Lamason’ had turned out to be a Welfare trickster. Cleve had started off at the Welfare agency as a Client Services Officer level two and in twenty-two years had worked his way through to the same level.

Cleve Cummins was a routine man which is why he rolled his eyes in a very dramatic fashion when he looked at his work-sheet and saw the name ‘Virgil Blaine.’

As the routine went, and this day was no different, the first thing Cleve said to Virgil when he sat down was, ‘Would you mind taking your feet off the chair?’

Virgil did as he was asked by leaning further back into the seat, still with his knees under his chin, raising the soles of his shoes an inch from the fabric.

‘I’m going to cut you off for a week.’ ‘Oh?’ ‘Yes well the computer has matched you up for some bar work.’ ‘You know I’m allergic to alcohol.’

‘Yes, yes I do,’ said Mr Cummins, he thumbed through Virgil’s very thick file, ‘The orderly job; that was cut short by an allergy wasn’t it?’ ‘No that was psoriasis.’

‘Quite, but you’re aware the consumption of alcohol is not a requirement of this position?’ ‘Yes but the smell of it makes me nauseous.’ And to add to the drama of this statement, Virgil took from his pocket an Asthma spray and gave himself a quick squirt.

‘Oh well anyway, would you roll up for the bar work position if there was no allergy?’ ‘Ah I see where you’re going with this, no probably not.’ ‘Exactly so let’s cut out the middle man and save me some phone calls in organising something you'll never roll up for, cut you off for a week and everyone’s happy.’

‘Great,’ said Virgil though he could see no advantage to himself. ‘By the way, how did you go in the interview we sent you for the Game Keepers position?’

Virgil could think of nothing to say but ‘Ah’. He thought for a moment more and said, ‘Ah.’

‘Well the amount of time you waste when you don’t roll up for a position is roughly the same as when you do roll up.’

Virgil was not really sure whether this statement was a compliment or not so he nodded in an agreeable way.

‘Better make it two weeks, eh?’ said Mr Cummins. ‘I think that’s best,’ said Virgil, totally confused.

With that Cleve stood up like a car salesmn who had just sold a minor for the price of a major.

‘So what are you going to do with your two weeks off?” asked Mr Cummins.’ ‘You mean apart from starve?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Poetry.’

‘Good.’ said Mr Cummins. ‘Well, let us know if there is anything we can do for you.’ ‘Could I have that writing pad on your desk there?’ ‘No, of course not.’

1. There are forty one more verses to this poem.

Everybody out of the Laundromat, I need to think! has been released by TWCS Publishing House, and is available for purchase here: http://ph.thewriterscoffeeshop.com/books/detail/112.

Born in Adelaide, South Australia, Phil G Glenn is a married father of one, who looks forward to paying off his healthy mortgage, if all goes to plan, by the time he’s 102 years old. A part-time hospital orderly, he is passionate about the environment. He may only have time to place recyclables into their proper bin now, but one day he aspires to chain himself to a tree and shout obscenities at loggers. He has written a sitcom for the ABC, which if they are consistent with their time frames so far, should be made in the year 2052, long after he’s dead.