After my mysterious instant messaging incident, I had to go out for a while. I picked up some folders, put some random printouts in them as necessary cover for my escape, and I ran. Past the cubicles, and the sweet-smelling fabric. Past the phone chatter. Hallway. Waiting. Elevator. Movement. Lobby.

The sun.

The street feels surreal every time I arrive in it. Any street. Day or night, out of my apartment or out of the office. Nothing belongs to me, but nothing is distant. The sounds, the people, the asphalt, everything is immediate and close. I want to hold it all in one hand, then hide it in my pocket.

Or toss it away, maybe. As one would do with a penny, one of those that seem to persist in their attachment to pockets.

Throwing something away is the ultimate act of ownership.

I walk slowly. Suits and faces blur past me as in a dream. When I reach the corner I look into the pub I never enter since it's too close to work, and I dive in. As the door closes behind me, the noises and sounds of the street morph into a low rumble and the world becomes a tv show seen through tinted windows.

I sit in a corner and I call out for a coffee, the barman nods. By the time the coffee reaches me, a cigarette is already in my mouth, lit. As I taste the coffee I read the warning label on the package. SMOKING CAUSES CANCER, it says. Then comes a faint voice inside my head: thank you, come again!

The instant messaging window comes back into my head, blinking incessantly. What was it that Sally said? First of all, after the niceties were exchanged, two hellos typed away like so many dir commands, she said, I'm not sally.

Yeah, that stood out.

Then, I'm looking for a package, and then, are you sure?

Of course I was sure, I said, as I looked back at the package.

Then, abruptly, Sally went offline. No more Sally. Which led to my panicky escape, and this moment of solace at the bar.

The smoke paints tiny pools of turbulence in the air. Wasn't Sally on vacation? I don't know, and I start to wish I wouldn't nod off at every meeting. And if it wasn't she behind the screens, and the cables... I wonder...