The cubicles in our Cupertino office were labyrinthine,
a maze of dead ends,
the partitions only five feet high. My office: a desk, a table, a phone, a Silent 700 terminal,
and a microfiche reader.
I hunted for assembly language bugs in the Fortran compiler.
The compiler listings were printed on microfiche;
the customer's broken Fortran program was printed
on a thick stack of green and white fan-fold paper.
I escaped from work midday
when the rest of the group headed off
for nachos and a pitcher of margueritas
at a favorite good-time franchise called Friday's
at the Valley Green Mall.
At home in San Jose, Tony'd never made it to school.
He was sitting on the couch, smoking a Marlboro,
watching cartoons on TV with the sound off.
He asked, "You really think Mike lost a red in this chair?"
It'd been days ago; I was surprised he brought up the missing Seconal.
A red from out of the blue.
"No," I said, "I did. I lost one. I had four in my hand,
then I had three."
Tony dropped his cigarette butt into a half-empty glass of milk.
"Here," he said, one hand under the bottom of the chair,
one hand over its back. "Help me turn it over."
I took the other side. We turned the piece of furniture upside-down
and shook it. Rattled it. Nothing.
Nothing fell out. Not even change.
Dust clouds billowed as we patted down the chair. Frisked it.
We sneezed almost in unison.
No red capsule was forthcoming.
"What's on TV?" I asked him, even though it was obvious.
"I don't know." He smiled, sat back down on the couch
and lit another Marlboro.
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