Max peeped out his front door to discover the world outside was still functioning, and he felt reassured by this.
Most days Max resolved to venture out as he had convinced himself that if the world was going around, he should be doing all he could to help it to continue to do so.
But that was as far as he got. With one eye looking through the crack he observed the traffic going by, his neighbours, Betty and Jim, heading off to work, and the postman dropping off mail.
Max had all but eliminated the mail. In his confinement, he had mastered the Internet, and every bit of correspondence was done in that manner.
There was still the junk mail that found its way into his box, but he was glad they had introduced recycling, so he felt he was doing his bit for the planet.
The reason Max had looked out on this day was his nagging thought that living as he did, shut away from the physical world, was not a healthy way to live.
The Internet did open up the world to him. If some part of him was in pain or ached, he was able to look it up and decide on the best treatment, which might involve ordering a drug or two and then awaiting its arrival. He had over the years become friendly, in a Max sort of way, with the post deliveryman, a grey-headed and friendly man called Steve who would always call out when he came to the front door. Max would go out and hurriedly sign for his package and then scurry inside giving Steve the briefest possible exchange.
He had read a lot about living secluded from the world. There were many like him if he believed the stories of people living and dying alone, though none of them helped him in any way.
He looked at his calendar and noted that today was his grocery delivery. He loved the idea of ordering on-line. He had so hated the weekly trip to the supermarket even though he went there early in the morning before it got crowded. Max was conscious of everyone looking at him, and he had long convinced himself that as he was an odd looking man he was constantly under judgemental scrutiny.
This was a conclusion he had come to from the perusal he made each morning of his face in the bathroom mirror. Max liked to shave each morning telling himself he looked less shabby for doing so.
The self-help books had told him it was important he like himself and even though that was a very tall order for him, he told himself the least he could do was keep his face clean. So the morning shave had become part of his starting the day ritual.
He could hear the noise of the world outside his door and concluded it was probably best he stay in today. On reflection this was his default position each day as he always told himself maybe tomorrow will be a better day to try and venture out.