Morning. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, on the corner of Lincoln and Manchester, in the shadow of LAX. The Internet is down and people are feeling a little untethered. A woman saw me typing and sidled up.
“S’cuze me,” she says. “Did you get the code?”
“Are you on the Internet?”
“No, I think they’re having trouble—
“I know,” she says, already done with me. “I just wondered if you got the code before it went up on the screen.”
How would I do that, I wonder? Do I look to her like the kind of man who gets the code first? And if I had it, why would I give it up just like that, just to her? No, I would shout it out to the whole room.
The place is not busy. It’s Sunday morning. But it is dotted with people staring at their laptops waiting for something to happen. Not typing or doing anything but just waiting, like there’s no point if you’re not connected.
I don’t think I’m the only one who sees this as a harbinger
of the apocalypse. I believe I saw
my neighbor eyeing the pastry case, gauging how long we could hold out in here
were the long emergency to begin now.
I take a moment to look around me and locate the nearest emergency
exit. Side door onto Lincoln and
It would be a long walk I think I could do it. You just push forward. Walk during the day. Sleep at night. No fires. Stay off the main route. A thousand miles. Three months. Maybe two if I pushed and got lucky. I could be home for Valentine’s day.
But now here comes the woman from scene one, the Code Whisperer, heading out into the world, and as she passes by she gives me the sweetest smile and kind-of teddy bear wave (hand up, just the fingers move). There’s a connection, after all, thanks to the Internet.
And, as the man said, so it goes.