"The Tranquil Peace of the Alley Smoker"
The way was only lightly traveled. The building had no loading dock and no delivery trucks coming and going, with the traffic limited to the occasional taxicab shortcutting through, from one one-way street to the next. From where she sat, on a narrow concrete ledge behind the building, curled over a paperback with a cigarette clenched in her fingers, she was only vaguely aware of the cars that flashed past at the far end of the alley. Their colors flicked by, barely seen at the furthest edge of her vision, their engines growling suddenly before silencing again. For her the street and the rest of the world were far away.
The smoke wisped upward from the dimming ember of ash, the cigarette close enough for the next quick puff while keeping the smoke from her eyes. She pored intently over the words, devouring them, flipping page after page with the thumb of her left hand, unconsciously waving the cigarette in midair like a baton. Soon she would return to the office and work, but for a few moments more she would linger, deep within the mystery, inhabiting it, living alongside the other characters, transported back decades into the past.