Curtis stopped typing, much to his own surprise. Every other set of fingers around him, cubicle by cubicle, proceeded in the cacophony of clicking, bounding noisily from key to key so that the song reverberated against the concrete walls like a heavy hailstorm as the letters and numbers dropped onto their screens, etched into an intangible slate, existing nowhere but in the lights before them.
He rubbed his fingers, moist enough to squeak softly, against the polyurethane coat of his narrow desk space, reminding himself of actuality. His tie felt tight around his collar and the room began to shrink around him as his chest grew with anxiety until he burst, ripped free; from his clothes, from the room, from the whole damn performance.
So, I always stop for a few when Curtis asks me for change, not just because his stories are interesting or because he manages a certain intelligibility atypical of underpass dwellers, but because every now and then when he whispers wildly about the Machine and the Trap and the System, backward as it may be, I start to feel a little less crazy.