I just got out of the elevator, into dim light, and a pile of black filing cabinets is collapsing. And I'm in their way.

This is a timeless instant, one of those rare moments when you realize that nothing matters. It's what some people call a near-death experience.

But you call it that only after the fact, because in that moment there is nothing but death staring at you right in the face, asking for credentials. And instead of life flashing before your eyes you have a simple, innocuous thought in your mind, like What? or And I left the door open!

You should be thinking about what you accomplished in life and the only thing you can think of is your cable bill. Inane words wrapped in recognition of something, like the flash in your head when you see a long-lost friend walking down the street, and then it's gone. The philosophical pretensions follow. The analysis. That's when you say, That was close. I will change my life. I will enjoy it. I will do what I really want.

And then you just check your clothes for dirt spots and walk on, back home or wherever, back to a living room to watch tonight's baseball game or your favorite sitcom, or back to your office and the two-hour meeting that had just been rescheduled. Slowly, the moment fades away. Then it's just a memory. One more tale to tell.
But not right now. Right now, it's just me and this heavy hunk of metal that is falling on me and I'm looking at it, noticing little details, like a scratch on one of the cabinets or the drawers as they slid open while the structure falls, head first so to speak.

Something, I don't know what, breaks my deer-in-the-headlights phase and I jump ahead. Behind me, the cabinets hit the floor in a loud series of bangs. It's over.

I turn around, and look at the heap of painted metal, paper and binders that now exists between me and the door to the elevator. I imagine that something had been holding this mountain of filing convenience against the elevator door, and when the door opened everything came crashing down.

A trap.

Where I am now is in the basement. I came here looking for Eddie, and I found myself facing Death By Crushing.

After the bathroom I went back to my cubicle, and I saw the unopened package that Eddie had received. I opened it. Inside were some reports that discussed Action Plan B, and a memo. The reports appeared to be just like the others I'd seen, but the memo was new. The memo said that I should be consulted on this, and that I should be able to lay the groundwork.



I have trouble getting right the order of the buttons on my shirt, how can I provide the groundwork for anything?

The memo was addressed to all the department heads, including my manager.

The sender was the CEO.

It had to be fake. Who would go and do such a thing? Who would care?

But then I remembered that Eddie had ignored the contents of the package. Eddie knew. I had to ask Eddie. He would probably tell me off, or come up with some bullshit story to appease me. But I had to try.

Eddie was nowhere to be found. I walked all over the floor, something I had never done before. I walked past Little Bernie's cubicle, desk covered with open cereal boxes and tupperware. I walked past Marge's cubicle, some seventy square-feet with so many plants it looks like a greenhouse with no glass ceiling. I even saw the common printer for the first time, lonely inside its own cubicle, merrily spewing reams of memos and documents, charts and everything, secure in its job.

I couldn't find him, so I looked for Kathy.

Kathy said that she didn't know, but that she'd heard him say something about the basement as he was leaving the office. So there I went, and here I am.

I assume that the trap, if that's what it was, was for me, but I can't be sure. I can also assume that it was Eddie, but who knows? Many people take revenge on their peers as random recreation.

Even me.

I call out for Eddie, but there is no reply except the echoes of my voice, dilapidated for a moment between the old furniture and the silent computers. Eddie's not here.

I retreat, carefully, over the metal and the binders and the forgotten memos. I call for the elevator, and wait. Next stop: Eddie. Wherever he is.