Can it really be that bad? I mean, it´s only a few minutes, to let your focus go, to let the mind drift, your eyes close a bit, and at least for a short while, you really don’t care about your surroundings. You slowly relax, your muscles go slack, your blood pressure drops, but you aren’t quite asleep either. You are dreaming wide awake. Background sounds do not disturb you, and other people and places invade your waking dream–a street in another town, a sunlit terrace in another country, a foggy mountain meadow, a neon-darkened subway, a busy county fair, a smoke-filled bar in an eastern port, an air-conditioned kitchen with an apple pie cooling on the counter, a rainy Sunday afternoon in May, a dark alley in a small Midwestern town. You tumble through time and come out in another life, a dingy office that smells of stale smoke and sweat. You don’t know the raven-haired beauty that just walked into your office, but she spells trouble. You can smell her perfume, lilacs and roses, and you don’t like it. That skirt couldn’t be tighter or shorter and still be a skirt. She wants to smoke a cigarette, and she fidgets with a lighter, but you have no ashtray. Her voice is husky and rough and you have no idea what she is talking about, but she reminds you of a case you solved in Chinatown, and you’re already thinking you want no part of this fiasco. A stiff drink would go down pretty well about now. The siren of an ambulance haunts your conversation. Something about her little sister, something about an older man, but none of it makes much sense. A sad song that plays too well on the mean streets of this city of angels. I recognize the surname and wonder what she’s doing slumming here in my office. Dirty work is only done by a dirty detective. She’s the daughter of a retired oil tycoon, she needs help, but this can only end badly…and the phone rings. “Hello, no, this is not the ticket office, no, I don’t know the right number. Yeah, bye.” And it’s over.