The panic is stupid, but it comes anyway, during a moment of midafternoon drifting daydreaming, I take a turn through the hallway, twice around the cubicle island, and decide to call her immediately upon my return home from work, to put aside all thought until then, to pull the blade across the surface of my life and peel it apart into these two halves. I spend the afternoon cleaning up the accumulated clutter of the cache work, expunging the crossed i's and dotted t's, commenting the sleepless experiments whose secret purposes I am already straining to remember. I discover that Glenn and I have separately created a pair of bugs which almost perfectly cover each other's tracks, and which must be excised together or not at all. It's early yet; I take the plunge.

When I come up for air, the sun has set and the office has emptied itself. I stick my head out my door, such as it is; Andy is standing outside his cave, looking around and blinking. He sees me and his eyes light up. Dinner? It's dinner or go home, I realize. Sure. Where? We wind up at the Revolutionary Wrap Parlor, where Andy has a Blood of the Masses Burrito and I scarf down a Chicken Pol Pot Pie with a Shake Guevara. I have entered that state where motives must go unquestioned; I acquiesce as I drag my feet and prolong our dinner conversation. What was that deal with that other table at the IHOP? When you went back? He takes another bite and looks away from me, but he smiles. Oh. I took the money they left on the table. As we were standing to leave. I am confused; I ask But, so, when you went back, when, did you steal . . . and tail off, trying to squint at it properly so it makes sense. That's when I put it back, he says, Just breaking their security..

We stand to go. A coin is flipping in my mind, heads and tails, and a sense of the urgency of the time. But why? I ask Andy, but then, as he starts to answer, Some other time. For our next dinner out, my freshly-stuffed stomach is sending other signals to me now, speaking of prospects other than food. Andy ducks into his car with a strangely graceful roll of his knobbly shoulders; I duck into mine and drive home with forcefully empty mind and steadied breath. It is late, too late to call perhaps, I start to calculate whether tomorrow is getting too close to the weekend, and then a little of the residual euphoria over the whole cache job kicks in and I think screw it, Irene gave me that number in an IHOP parking lot at who-knows-when in the morning, and I want to believe that such things are not decided over mislaid half-hours and I call. After, I lie on the couch and Chester curls up next to me and purrs; I'm afraid to wake up from this dream, and I don't, because I fall asleep instead.