The government contract monitor had berated me over and over in the meeting.

"Your solution doesn't scale," she said.

But she was quiet again at lunch, concentrating on her food,
twisting oily fettucini noodles onto a fork, while the rest of us talked and laughed.

After lunch, I steered the group, styrofoam coffee cups in hand, back into the conference room.

"Can I quick use your machine to telnet?" she asked.

I left her alone in my office to read her email.

Later, after I'd escorted the group from the Xerox PARC building,
I couldn't resist: I scrolled the shell window she'd left on the screen.
She'd cleared the text from my immediate sight, but I knew her words still lingered
just out of view. She'd have closed the window if she really cared, I rationalized.

Love letters, that's what they were. To Snooks. He called her Snooks,
referred to himself in the third person, and spoke of the banal:
the weather, a nice cafe, a recent migraine, a lecture he would be giving soon.
She loved him madly, she'd declared to him. He had no pet name, not even a nickname,
just migraine symptoms and a longing for his Baby Snooks.

Her pale eyes seemed as if they were behind the window on my computer screen,
looking out at me through thick CRT glasses. Snooks. My solution doesn't scale.
I suddenly felt guilty for reading someone else's mail.

There would've been no such evidence in the basement.
Even our used typewriter ribbons went into the burn bag.


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