The police were in and out all day, again, but the general atmosphere had quieted down significantly. There was still a lot of gossip in the break room, but it was confined to people who were actually on their breaks. At Mike's suggestion, I circulated for most of the morning, dropping in on everyone in their offices and cubicles. I didn't learn much that we didn't already know, but a few people claimed to have seen Jim heading for a breakdown. In some cases, I chalked it up to twenty-twenty hindsight (and maybe a showoffish streak), but it seems there really might have been some warning signs.
Jim had been skulking about a lot lately, ranging between the break room, the first floor men's room, and the color copier. In January, when the glass was broken on the fire alarm, he was already outside, drinking coffee, when everyone else started filing out. Some people thought he broke the glass. (I never heard about that. I wasn't there that day: it was one of my rare Saturdays off.) There were also a lot of reports of him "acting weird," "looking at [people] funny," and "just freaking everyone out."
One thing everyone can agree on: he hasn't been seen since Wednesday morning, maybe Tuesday afternoon. The police have been by his house several times, and nothing. No sign of the stolen property, either. I guess I won't be going as Oddjob for this year's Hallowe'en bash.
Today's breakfast was a tasty fruit mélange, topped with cream, sugar, and paper confetti. I ate it on the front porch. It was my first porch breakfast of the year. Spring is really here!
I had wanted to do something fun for lunch (maybe another cranefold on the bench outside Barnes and Noble), but with all the goings-on at the office, I didn't feel right stepping out. I settled for a discreet ham-and-Gaiman on pumpernickel, wolfed down between cubicle visits.
I spread my wings at dinner, instead. I was beginning to feel I'd hit a plateau in my quest: I was eating books in a routine manner, as I might once have downed bread or lettuce. I needed to do something new. With that in mind, I drove home, got a TV table, a picnic basket, and a folding chair, and headed for the park. I set up under one of those old-fashioned lamps they have along the main trail. There, in the gathering dusk, I fixed myself a tasty egg-and-paper sandwich. I got my first real-world comment, from a man walking his dog:
"Funny place for a picnic!"
"Mm-hm." (My mouth was full of egg.)
"Funny time, too."
I swallowed hard.
"What can I say? Spring has sprung. I had the yen."
The man laughed, and went on his way. I don't think he noticed what I was eating, but at least
he registered my presence.
Maybe this kind of performance would work better in daylight.