One would think that someone like me, productive member of society that I am, would be worried about important things, like the recent surge in the price of olive oil, or why is most paper white and most ink black? But there is only one question in my mind right now.

What is that smell?

Smells like... salami?

Eddie is sitting next to me, on a chair that he stole from somewhere. I have been telling him everything that�s happened to me in the last day or so. I was just finishing with my story when that godawful smell interrupted us.

Eddie looks up, sniffs and says, What the hell is that?

I say, Let me see.

I stand up halfway and raise my eyes just above the cubicle walls, and I see everybody else doing the same, a sea of heads, silent, we all look at each other but no one says anything because there is no need. We know we all are looking for the soulless creature responsible for this criminal behavior.

Eddie says, Do youseeanything?

No, I say, But I have an idea of who it might be.

Who? Eddie says.

The Tony Odor Broadcasting System, I say.

Tony? Eddie says. Who'sTony?

Nevermind, I say.

I leave Eddie and the cubicle behind and I walk to Tony's cubicle. When I get there, I find a small crowd surrounding it, and behind the bodies I can hear Tony saying, Fog-gedaboudit!

I make my way through and I am finally face to face with Tony, who has a half eaten sandwich on his hand. Things that can�t be named without risking eternal damnation are dripping between the slices bread into the floor, the blots camouflaged with the dark carpet. As he chews, something red and greasy leaks out of his smile. UGHSBUDJASHOIN, he says as soon as he sees me, and I can see some horrible goo greeting me from inside his open mouth.

Tony, please, I say, Finish chewing before you talk, will you?

He gulps, then says, Okay.

What the hell are you doing? I say, and I point at the remains of the sandwich in his hand. Don't you know these things have been outlawed by the Geneva convention?

He-hem, he says, It's a ge-nu-ine I-ta-lian Salami sandwich.

Where did you get it? I say.

Tony smiles, and says, Starbucks!

Genuine indeed.

I turn around and I'm alone. I see people standing in their cubicles getting ready to leave, half-bodies moving their arms and shoulders, looking down at things I can�t see. Everyone has arrived at the same conclusion: there is no way to weather this, the only solution is to leave.

I go back to my cubicle. Eddie is still sitting there, doing something with my computer.

Hey, I say, We have to leave.

Eddie says, Okay, and gets up.

We can finish this over lunch, I say. Eddie shrugs.

As we are walking to the elevators I say, So, now you know everything I know. So can you tell me now what's happening with you?

Eddie says, No.

I stop, Eddie keeps walking.

What do you mean, no? I say, starting to walk again faster to catch up with him. No?

No, he says.

Okay, so what's up with these things we found, we should start to go over them... where do you have them? I say.

Idestroyedthem.

You did what? I say.

I don�t believe this. On which team is he? Who�s he playing for? Is he hiding the ball? Who has the ball? Is there a ball? And why can�t I stop thinking of sport metaphors?

I�destroyed�them, he says again.

Why? Why? I say.

Not here, he says, looking to one side, then to another, narrowing his eyes.

Later? I say.

Later.

We reach the lobby, and there�s a long, long queue waiting for the elevators, everybody fleeing the floor like the plague. It will be a long, long time before we get down.

I grab Eddie by the arm and say, I know a better way.

Down the stairs.