In the offline world, where I am notorious only for my boring ties, a strange thing happened. Two strange things, actually, but dollars to donuts they're connected:
1.) When I pulled into the parking lot (ten minutes early), my space was already occupied...by a police car. A second car was double-parked across Mike and Darren's spots. The office had been burgled in the night. One complete computer was gone, and an assortment of components and peripherals. Some old personnel files were missing, but no current ones. In addition, almost everyone claimed to be missing a knick-knack or two from their desks. Oddly, there were no signs of a break-in. All the windows and doors were okay.
2.) Jim was nowhere to be found.
He must have gone insane. He was probably insane for a long time, and we just didn't notice. They make movies about that kind of thing. In any case, I feel a little responsible. I was the one who told him to stop stealing. I don't think I could reasonably have been expected to foresee this, but I might have been a little more sensitive. Now that I think of it, I did rather milk the confrontation. I got smug. Nobody likes smug middle-management.
Not a lot of work went on today. Everyone wanted to poke around and play amateur detective. We let them, on the understanding that business as usual resumes tomorrow. The police were floating about all day, anyway, doing interviews and inventories. It would have been hard to settle down to work, even if anyone had been so inclined.
On the Gaiman side of things, I had a more successful day. Breakfast was American Gods omelette, garnished with fresh parsley and basil. That was my last meal as a non-burgled man. (Oh, yes: I lost something in the burglary, too. I didn't notice it at first, but my bowler hat was gone. I wore it at last year's Hallowe'en party, and it's been hanging on my hatrack ever since. Had been hanging, anyway. It isn't any more.)
For lunch, I had pea, cauliflower, and book pakoras, with mint sauce for dipping. I was glad I had brought something inconspicuous. It meant I could eat in the break room, and absorb the gossip. Although Mike and I had agreed not to say anything if nobody else did, everyone suspected Jim. They were talking as if he had already been caught, charged, and found guilty.
"Next thing, that copy kid is going to find a million bucks in Jim's desk, and burn down the building."
"Who, Jackie? Why him?"
"That's his name?"
"I thought so. Isn't it?"
"Who cares? Didn't you see Office Space?"
"Yeah, but that guy was, like, old."
"But nobody knew his name, either."
If I hadn't been sitting right there, I wonder if I'd have been the one burning down the building? Probably not. I have reason to believe I'm well-liked. I get lots of treats on my birthday. People are comfortable talking in front of me (and, of course, to me).
I stayed a little late, in case anything else transpired, but nothing did. Mike and I left together, just after six.
"You think this would still have happened if we'd decided to invite him?" asked Mike.
"Hard to say. If you're crazy enough to do something like this...." I let the thought go unfinished. We exchanged perplexed headshakes, and went our separate ways.
For dinner, I had leftover vegetables from last night, and some tasty vegetable-Gaiman sushi. I don't think I could live with a wholly vegetarian diet, but I do enjoy a good veggie feast once in a while, especially after a day filled with fried food.
As I ate, it occurred to me that Jim had maybe wanted to go on an epic quest, as well. Maybe the only difference between him and me is that my quest is legal.