Simon the secretary glanced up at Johnny Werd's appearance in the doorway. Werd was kind of tall and handsome behind his round spectacles. His red hair rose in a smooth pompadour, like a gleaming fender. His cotton suit hung from his tall frame, slouched in the doorway.

The secretary asked "do you like jazz?"

Werd had been at this company for a few weeks and he knew from painful experience not to let Simon back him into a corner first thing in the morning.

Werd blinked and came back at him like a cornered badger:

"Well what kind of jazz are we talking here? There's all kind of jazz. Solo vocal combo, Big band, bebop acidjazz, forties fifties sixties seventies eighties nineties, we got in jazz out jazz and way out jazz. And you got your standards. I mean, can you clarify the question? Otherwise I don't think I can answer it. Sorry."

Werd walked swiftly through the lobby, waving away Simon's response, and passed safely into the interior of the building. He blinked and caught his breath and thought the word "coffee" and looked down a very long corridor. At the end of the corridor the Administrator passed nervously across the hall from one room into another. Even at this great distance it was obvious from the intensity of her velocity that the Administrator was extremely nervous about something. In that instant and at that distance the Administrator was fractal, every movement swift and inefficient, crawling with anxiety, all over the map, scattershot, creating effectiveness through overextended effort. Adrenaline with a smattering of accuracy.

Werd moved quickly up the corridor and turned left at the door into the coffeeroom.

It was bad, it left a pitiful taste, as if a mouse had crawled into one's mouth and died, and eventually an aching dehydrated hollow constricted pain in the chest, and he drank it out of styrofoam, which was nonbiodegradable and released ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere. And he needed it worse than a blind newborn kitten needed a teat, and his groping was just as inept but persistent.

Coffee. Very good. Yes.

Time, then, to confront the Administrator and prepare the training tapes for the new Carbide chemists who were being reassigned to the Ziploc assembly line.

Then to the boardroom and the meeting with the confused technicians who had had trouble with their English ever since mastering Java. Then onto the powerpoint presentation in the cafeteria. After that perhaps a twenty-minute exodus for lunch, to eat a hot dog standing up on a busy sidewalk. And then there would be a reprieve for the checking of the email, which would likely flower into a magnificent bloom of additional work.

And then, and then...

  the Bartender serves up Melancholy Hour the Bartender serves Happy Hour putting it to bed the News, evening edition the News: morning edition the Secretary and the Administrator discuss a private matter pertaining to a possible problem the Secretary has a doctors appointment the Secretary does research on the Internet the Administrator stays at work late the Administrator goes to work about dawn the Administrator lies awake all night the Janitor gets drunk at night the Janitor goes to work in the afternoon the Janitor gets up in the morning Werd falls asleep at night Werd gets drunk in the evening Werd goes to work in the morning