“But dearie,” the woman said with concern, “where will your friend sit?”
Henry’s eyes when wide in panic as the gravity of his lapse in judgment hit him. “Oh, uh, He prefers to stand.” Henry quickly lied, praying she’d believe him.
“Oh what a coincidence, so does mine.” The woman said with a smile. Henry internally sighed in relief as the woman sat down next to him. That was too close; you need to be careful next time. Henry thought to himself. “My name is Maria H. Delbloom,” Maria said extending a hand to Henry who in turn politely shook it, “and this is my friend Jiffy Havensacker.” She added as she gestured to open aisle between the two rows of seats.
“Pleased to meet you, my name’s Henry Johnson.” Henry said as he brought his hand out into the aisle. After withdrawing his hand Maria continued to look at him strangely, as if he were supposed to say something.
“Well, aren’t you going to introduce us to your friend?” she inquired.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Maria, Jiffy, this is my dear friend, uh, Herald, um, Herald…-son.” Maria reached her hand into the open air with the same enthusiasm as she did with Henry and mimed the same shaking motion as before, as if there was indeed another hand grasping her own. Henry spent the rest of the bus ride nervously looking out the window as Maria talked to “Herald Heraldson” about their recent trip to Madagascar. Finally arriving at his accounting firm, Henry quickly said goodbye to Maria and tried to get to his private and often unvisited office before anyone else and their friends decided to talk to him.
Quickly walking to his office in the corner of the building, Henry noted what everyone else was doing in their relatively large cubicles: each one of which were furnished for two people. One portly man was in an heated argument with an empty chair, another appeared to be correcting some error on a computer screen that wasn’t even on. Just before reaching his door Henry was cut off by a short but strongly built man who wore a torn flannel shirt and had a muzzle of stubble around his mouth. “Hello Henry, how are you?” He said. The man’s head violently spasmed to the right, and said, “Sup Henry, how ya been?”
“Hello Joshua, hello Eric. I’d love to stay and talk but I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on,” Henry replied.
“Don’t worry about it.” Joshua/Eric responded. Another spasm, “I understand, perhaps later then.” Joshua/Eric then turned and walked back to his double cubicle and sat back to work: every few minutes spasming and switching work stations.
Henry let out a very relieved sigh as he finally closed the door to his private office. He had worked extremely hard to get the promotion that entailed this bit of privacy and it was definitely worth it. Henry sat down behind one of his two adjacent desks and set to work typing out the usual forms and registrations that he always did. Every once in a while he’d look up from his work and turn towards the empty chair beside him and take on a disappointed, but not surprised expression before returning to his work.
It was almost the end of the work day when the intercom to Henry’s room went off and an uninterested secretary’s voice came through saying, “Could Henry Johnson please come down to Mr. Crackerbox’s office?” What could the boss possibly want with me? Henry asked himself as he quickly made his way to the other end of the building where the head of the small accounting firm presided. Entering the waiting area, Henry made a motion to sit down but was promptly waved in by the secretary beside the door.
Opening the door, Henry was first met by the sight that he had been expecting, Mr. Crackerbox sitting back in an executive chair behind a beautiful desk, (also furnished for two occupants), in the black suit that match the color of his slicked back hair. As he walked in however, Henry was met by a very unexpected sight. There was another man in the room, one that Henry had never seen before how wore horn-rimmed glasses, and was sporting a beige suit. “Um, you wanted to see me sir…” Henry asked apprehensively.
“Ah, Johnson, just the man we wanted to see, please take a seat.” Mr. Crackerbox said in a friendly tone as he gestured to the two empty chairs in front of the desk. Henry was put a bit at ease by his boss’s friendliness and complied. “Now Henry,” Mr. Crackerbox said in a more serious tone, taking away most of the ease that Henry was just given,” you’re aware of this company’s policies concerning surveillance equipment correct? It’s in your employee contract after all.”
Now a bit more confused than worried, Henry replied, “Yes sir, you maintain the right to put of security cameras at you own discretion, you implemented it just last week when you were concerned that someone was embezzling.”
“Right on the money, now yes we put up a few cameras in the normal office areas but we were more concerned about some of the higher-ups who had the privacy to pull off such a thing.” Henry’s mind immediately went to his nice private office that he had worked so hard to get, he also though back to the day that he came in to his door already unlocked a little less than a week ago. “As such we felt it was in the interest of our company to set up some hidden cameras in some of the private offices to perhaps catch the criminal in the act. As of this moment this goal has been left unattained. However, we did receive some rather interesting film in other respects.” With that he nodded to the man in beige who turned on a television set to a grainy, black and white recording of Henry sitting at his desk as normal. “As you can see, this is you diligently working at your desk as usual, now let’s speed this thing up.” With the push of a button the Henry on the screen began flying a hyper speed through his daily routine, barely ever looking up from his screen. “Now at first this looks like nothing more than a hard working employee, but we, well mostly Fred here,” Mr. Crackerbox said while acknowledgingly nodding at the empty executive chair beside his own, “notice a peculiarity, you’ve never once spoke to your friend.”
Panic began to set in as Henry realized that his secret very well be found out. “Oh, well, uh, we got into a fight a while back and haven’t been of speaking terms.” Henry lied, hoping, nay, praying that he could salvage this.
“Yes, that’s what I suspected at first to, but Fred insisted something else was going on. So, I decided to gather a little more information from your fellow coworkers, and in doing so found some disturbing implications.” Henry’s heart dropped; there was no way this was going to end well for him. “It would seem that of all 49 people employed here, not a single one can confess to having seen you ever mention, interact, or even acknowledge your friend’s existence. All of which begs the question; do you see your friend?” Mr. Crackerbox inquired with genuine concern in this voice and eyes.
“Of course I… Who doesn’t have a… I-I” Henry stammered as his brain rushed for an explanation, an excuse, anything that could get him out of this situation. Finally he gave up. “Yes, I don’t have a friend. And as far as I can recall, I never have. And to be perfectly honest, I’m beginning to question whether or not they exist at all.” Henry said with his head hung low in shame.
“I was worried about that, but buck up old boy, that’s what he’s here for.” Mr. Crackerbox stated as he pointed at the man in the beige suit. “This is Dr. Gabriel V. Wesker, a very accomplished Psychiatrist.”
“Thank you,” spoke Dr. Wesker “now conditions similar to yours are not to uncommon, but rarely exist to the point where the subject denounces the very existence of our friends. However, I do believe it is treatable with therapy and a medical regiment.” At this the Dr. reached into his pocket and produced a small bottle labeled, “Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, 500 µg per tablet” and handed it to Henry. “This is a new drug that has recently been developed that should counter-act the effects of your psychosis, at least temporarily.”
Henry studied the small bottle with hopeful amazement. “Will this stuff make me sane?”
“In the traditional sense, no. However, with this and some psychiatric treatment, I believe you can indeed be made sane, just like the rest of us.”