Thousands of emails stacked up in his in-box – offers of no money down mortgages and discount Viagra, online catalogs for Oregon pears and solicitations from the panty-of-the-month club – these along with the newspapers piling in the grey carpeted hallway of his Jersey City rental, and the over-stuffed mail chute, were the only clues that our hero was now missing.
Evan’s life had been unencumbered by the complications of connectivity from friends or family. He worked at home and so no cubicle playmates or lunchtime colleagues to feign friendly interactions. His disappearance from the real world was gradual; and his leaving went seemingly unnoticed.
After coffee and his morning constitutional, days were spent banging away at the keyboard – sending and receiving scores of meaningless email correspondence; surfing the internet for news and porn; and mostly building an alternative life online at virtual community Second Life. Second Life – tagline should read: for nerds who don’t have a first life!
Living in the greater New York metro (having lived two decades in ‘the city’ he hated to admit he was now from Joisy) it was easy to be anonymous. There is no loneliness more complete than the solitude of being alone in a crowd. All around you people gabble away, sit at tables stuffing their cheeks full of fast food and mocha lattes. Kids too big to be in strollers being pushed by passive aggressive matrons over the heels of the inattentive; huge waist-ed shopping bag people meandering slowly through the congested mob; subway cars stuffed with girls wearing too much musk and hair gel; sidewalks clogged with tourists stupidly staring star-ward toward tops of Chrysler Building, Empire State, and downward where once Twin Towers stood. Ground Zero.
A hole where once the World Trade Center sprawled, where construction is just now starting — five years after the fall. Commuters scurry like rats, protected and directed by Police with automatic weapons; stenciled flak jackets patrolling conspicuously past pictures of the dead and missing. “Metro. Get your free Metro,” hawk the newspaper vendors, a rhythmic chant punctuated by the staccato of jack hammers and the burst of demolition horns, “Fire in the hole.” The crowds stream unperturbed past search stations, oblivious; hurriedly running the Path Station gauntlet to subways, sidewalks and work.