no strings attached: the way out

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

The weather keeps getting heavier, the snow keeps falling, the roads and sidewalks keep getting slipperier. The street car stops to pick up more commuters. Harry, still seated, puts his palm against the glass and waits for a few seconds. He removes his hand and watches his palm take shape in the dew. He draws an octagon to enclose the shape of his palm.

For a moment Harry considers giving up his seat to someone else, but he doesn’t. He puts his elbows on his knees and his palms on his forehead. One of his palms is still a little wet. The level of the street car seems to sink with each climbing passenger. The doors close and one commuter, running as he tries to get to the doors, slips and falls. The street car moves on.

Harry reaches for his phone, one of his palms still supporting his forehead.

“You’ve reached Sam, and if you’re calling you probably know who I am”, says the recording, “Wait for the beep and leave a message, your odds might be better if you call again.”

“Hey, uh… it’s me. I know I said a few things today and I umm… I just wanted to…”, Harry pauses to take a deep breath and that very moment a giant, out of control construction truck collides with the street car in the spot where Harry was sitting.

Harry did not know what hit him.


no strings attached: 1 year ago – the way around

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

Samantha opened the door that now read “Fire Ex”, but everyone knew what it meant and everyone knew it wouldn’t set off the alarm. She found Harry to her right.

“Hey Sam, what’s up?”, said Harry, letting the ashes from his cigarette hit the ground.

“Don’t start with me! I’m furious right now. Harry, you can’t just mouth off like that in a meeting. You just can’t.”

“I think I just did.”

“Yeah, you did. We’re going to have to try real hard to dig out of this one. You’re making things difficult.”

“You know what? You’re right. I’m sorry.”

“Are you really?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Good, and can you blow the smoke in that direction?”, said Samantha as she pointed away.


“I had a dream about you the other day”, said Samantha, in a calmer tone.


“You were trapped, in chains.”

“Hah, doesn’t feel like a dream.”

“But then you got out. You broke out of the chains.”

“What do you think that means?”

“I don’t know. I think it means you’ll be fine. I think it means you’ll find a way.”

“I hope so”, Harry pulled a cigarette half way and held the pack out toward Samantha.

“No”, said Samantha, with a slightly irritated look on her face, “You know I quit a while ago.”

no strings attached: 3 years ago – the way up

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

It was another late night at the office for Harry, another tight project.

“You know why I’m here, right?” said Samantha, as she walked up to Harry’s desk.


“So you know what to do.”

“I don’t want to.”

“That’s nice, and I want a second season of Firefly, but that’s not going to happen. But this, you can make this happen. All you have to do is add the analysis to the proposal and they’ll probably approve it.”

“I shouldn’t have to. That’s time wasted doing analysis that should be obvious.”

“Listen kiddo, I’m on your side here. You give a little, you get a little. Hell, you might even get a lot. You just have to make the extra effort, even if it obvious to you. You don’t make the effort, you get nothing. I assure you that.”


“So you know what to do. Don’t make me come back here.”

Steve Steeples was the man to convince at the proposal presentation.

“Hmmm… yeah, I think it’s doable. Great analysis Harry,” said Steve, everyone in the room started to loosen their grips on the chairs and slowly emptied the room.

Samantha approached Harry with a smirk on her face.

“You can say it, say ‘I told you so’” said Harry.

“I won’t,” replied Samantha.

“They’re all idiots anyway.”

no strings attached: 5 years ago – the way in

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

There was no street car in the distance; a daily occurrence of absence. Harry was getting impatient as he fiddled with his token. It was his last token from the batch. The winter weather was making him all the more anxious.

A sense of relief could be felt in the air when the street car did approach. All the frowns of the waiting commuters had been normalized to nothingness. Harry lost his grip on the token as he walked towards the street car. The token found its way down the gutter. The perfect start to a perfect day, Harry thought, and momentarily considered going back home. He started to fiddle with his change while climbing the steps of the street car and stood there as he counted for a while. The commuters’ nothingness quickly converted to frowns again as they pushed and slipped past Harry to get the empty seats. Eventually, the change was counted and deposited into the box. There were no seats left for Harry.

“Hi, it’s my first day here,” said Harry to the receptionist.

“Okay, what’s your first name?” said the receptionist, he had already started to peruse the new employee list.

“That’s odd, you have the list sorted by first name instead of last? My name is Bond. Harry Bond,” Harry took a deep breath after looking at the receptionist’s blank stare, “No, that’s not my real name. Uh, the name is Harry.”

“Okay… Harry… Harry… Harry… there you are! You’re to report to Sam and you’ll get your intro session when you two meet. Take the elevators to the third floor, it’ll be the third door to your right. It’s a shared office, so just ask for Sam.”

“Thanks,” Harry smiled, his toes had warmed up.

Harry walked into the shared office and up to one of the desks.

“Hi. I’m looking for Sam,” said Harry.

“Oh, you’re the new guy. Harry, right?” said John, “Sam’s not here right now. Probably taking a smoke break. You know what? You should just go there. You can get your office tour on the way back up. Go back down to the first floor, and look for the fire exit door with the ‘t’ a bit torn off. Don’t worry, it won’t set off an alarm. You should find Sam right there.”

He looked right and then left as soon as he opened the door with the ‘t’ a bit torn off. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted smoke.

“You… are… Sam…” said Harry, pausing slightly after each word.

“Is that a question or a statement?” said Sam.

“No, it’s just… I thought that… you would be…”

“A guy? You were expecting a guy?”

“No, I thought you would be… shorter.”

“Hah, a clever one. You must be Harry,” Sam extended her right hand for a handshake, “That was a statement, not a question. I’m Samantha.”

“Right, of course, Samantha,” Harry was slightly embarrassed.

“Would you like one?” Samantha held up her packet of smokes.

“No, I don’t smoke.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s an awful thing. I’m trying to quit myself,” said Samantha, as she threw the cigarette butt into the bin, “Come on, let me show you around.”

no strings attached: the way home

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

“I’ll need the keys to the car back as well, do you want me to call you a cab?”

“No John, that’s fine. I’ll find my way home,” replies Harry as he puts the box down and starts to rub his hands on his forehead. “Ummm… can you hold on to this shit for me?”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, uh, in fact, keep it.”

“Whoa, dude, some of this shit is expensive.”

“Yeah, I know. Ebay it,” says Harry, as he starts to walk away.

“Well, I’ll split it with ya!”

Harry didn’t want to head home immediately. He started to walk on the snow along side of the sidewalk, this is where the grass would have been. You walk on directly on the snow and you slip less, he thinks to himself.

This is not the one of the larger malls. As Harry approaches the entrance a homeless person opens the door for him, holding out a coffee cup. Harry takes a deep breath, reaches into his pocket and empties out the coins into the cup. The homeless man smiles, the shape of his teeth resemble that of a crumbling mountain range. Harry nods, avoids eye contact and walks into the mall.

The tree is fake, the Santa is fake and that beard is fake, thinks Harry. He walks into the major retail store and spots what he’s looking for. Sitting on a shelf, a Nintendo Wii. He approaches it, grabs it and heads towards the counter.

“Hey mister!” says a child in his early teens, “That’s mine!”

“Hey kid, I found it on the shelf. First come, first serve.”

“I put it there and was standing right next to it, I was waiting for my dad,” the teen slowly starts to tear up.

“Hey buddy, give that back,” says the father of the teen.

“Don’t call me buddy, I don’t know you,” says Harry.

“Listen pal, we had the Wii and we were buying it. It’s ours.”

“Hah, listen ‘buddy’, it was on the shelf and I took it. Tough luck.”

The teen starts to cry and more shoppers gather around to see the commotion.

“Will somebody shut the kid up!” says Harry.

The father of the teen, visibly angry, walks towards Harry and gives him a shove.

“Guys, please don’t fight, it’s Christmas time!” says the cashier as he calls both, the manager and security, on the phone.

Harry shoves the father back. The father swings a punch at Harry. Harry dodges the punch and in the same motion pushes the father down to the ground.

“Hah, take the damn thing,” says Harry, his palm on his forehead. “Merry fucking Christmas, kid,” he puts the Wii in front of the father’s face and walks away.

It has been forever since Harry has taken the street car. No longer having exact change, he inserts a five dollar bill into the box. He finds a place to sit and the phone rings.

“Hey Harry, I’m afraid I don’t have good news,” it’s Harry’s financial adviser. “Both your portfolios are down, I really think you should sell.”

“Hey Sameer. I got fired today.”

“Geez man, that’s awful. What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know. Sameer, listen. I… uh… I need you to do me a favour. I need you to find me a Wii.”

no strings attached: bullshit

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

“Harry, I had no idea!”

“Sure you didn’t.”

“That’s uncalled for! I’m trying to look out for you.”

“Yeah? You did a great job of that in the meeting.”

“You’re unbelievable. You can’t keep pointing fingers at everyone else. God dammit Harry, you need to step up and take responsibility for your actions and your inaction. I’ve been doing a lot of damage control for you.”

“Great good that did.”

“What’s your problem, Harry? Do you even realize the trouble you’ve got yourself into? You realize you’re out of a job now?”

“Look, I never asked for your help and sure as hell didn’t ask for your pity.”

“You know what? This is bullshit. Fuck you, Harry!”


Samantha storms out of the room. The door receives no mercy from her as it closes with a resounding thud. She pays no attention to John, who is walking toward the meeting room with a box full Harry’s personal belongings, as she walks right past him.

“This is all your stuff. All the stuff I could find,” John muddles around with the contents of the box. “Give me a call if you think I missed anything.”

Harry responds with nothing but a nod.

“Come on Harry, it’s time to go.”

no strings attached: the meeting

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

This is one of the smaller meeting rooms in this building. By the looks of it this meeting will be a short one. It’s always hard to tell.

“Harry, I don’t want to beat around the bush and get straight to the point,” says Simon Steeples, the Senior VP of Operations. He’s joined by two other high ranking VPs. Having found Harry, Samantha is also in the room.

“Does that mean you want to get straight to the point or you don’t want to get straight to the point?” you would expect Harry to ask a question like this, and he does.

“I… what?… no…” stumbles Simon, “I want to get straight to the point.”

“Then why haven’t you already?”

“Okay Harry, we’re letting you go.”

A numb like silence overtakes the room. Harry, perplexed, looks over at Samantha.

“Harry, I didn’t know,” she says, shaking her head from side to side. “Simon, at a time like this? You know we could really use Harry.”

“No, we could use to lose him. I assure you that. The decision is final. It’s done,” Simon turns to Harry, “Harry, someone is cleaning out your office right now. Stay right there, they’ll bring over your stuff and escort you out.”

“I know my way out,” says Harry, his hands made into fists supporting his forehead.

“Even so, goodbye.”

The VPs leave the room. The door closes smoothly. The room feels just a little smaller.

no strings attached: last night

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

I’m outside. I hear the bell ring. I did not press it and I am in front of it. How is that even possible? I open the door. Smoke flows out of the house, I can’t see anything inside. There is too much smoke. Against my better judgement I step inside.

I know only from the sounds that chains are falling all around the house. Are they meant to fall on me? Why am I here? What am I looking for? I must find it.

If I was looking for something, where would I go? The furnace, or maybe the attic. I have to choose one. I feel like time is running out. I have to hurry. The attic.

This rotating staircase, the stairs never seem to end. I can barely see anything. Have I been here before? Do I know this house? Do I know these rooms?

The room to the left. I can access the attic from there. I have to be careful. There is no floor board here. I’m here. What am I looking for?

Oh shit! I’m hit. What the hell is this? Hell, I forgot about the chains.

I’m falling.

I can’t do anything. I can’t hold anything. The weight of the chains… I can barely breathe.

I’m falling.

I’m falling.

I’m falling.


Breathe! It’s just a dream. It’s nothing. Sometimes you fly and sometimes you fall. It’s just a dream.

no strings attached: lost and found

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9

She looks right and then left as soon as she steps out of the office building. Out of the corner of her eye she spots smoke. She knows she has found him.

“I’ve been looking for you all over the place, where have you been?” exasperated, she catches her breath.

“Here,” he says nonchalantly.

“Smoking will kill you and it gives you bad breath,” she knows her advice is unsolicited and will probably be ignored.

“Okay, thanks for the unsolicited advice.”

“Fine, at the very least don’t throw the butt on the ground. It’s disgusting enough that you smoke. Throw it in a garbage bin.”


“You have to stop hiding.”

“I’m not hiding. I’m just taking a break.”

“You’re late for the meeting, they’re waiting for you. You can’t just disappear, you have to stop hiding. Are you listening to me?” she notices that he’s drifting away.

He takes a big puff and lets out a rush of smoke.

“Come on, we can’t keep them waiting for too long,” she turns around and starts to walk towards the building.

He takes his last puff, flicks the cigarette butt onto the road and follows behind her.