He combed through the personal sections during his lunch hour, circling ones he liked with a red ballpoint pen. “Saw you on the ferry, liked your jeans with holes in them. Maybe we could ride the ferry together?” “You were cute but sad boy in a striped shirt, I was the crazy girl in a striped shirt who asked to take your picture. Thanks for letting me!” The little romances, the wistfulness. He pretended, as he ate a meatloaf sandwich (no pickle), that the ads were written to him. He imagined himself breaking hearts all across the city, unintentionally, unconsciously. He drafted responses to the ads as he worked, as he walked the long floor between buildings, his eyes noting waste and inefficiency, his long hands taking notes. He never sent any of them.
Nights he watched old movies with a group of five other men. Sometimes they slept together, in varying pairs, voices light and laughing, repeating lines to each other, Fred Astaire to Edward Everett Horton, Claude Rains to Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart to Marlene Dietrich until grey morning slipped between them. Though they watched and loved, it was faithlessly. As they slept, they disbelieved in their separation.