It’s taking a small eternity for him to reach me. This is his play now and he knows it. His face is draped in darkness like he somehow has control over the elements of nature. How does he do it? Everything in this place seems to be working together to shield his identity from me and I’m unappreciative in a huge way. Why do we need all this secrecy? It’s like one of those big storylines that goes absolutely nowhere. I have to wonder what his endgame is here. What does he hope to accomplish by placing me in this extreme unease?
When he finally does emerge from the shadows, I recognize him instantly. It’s Henry! Wow, this is unexpected. Things don’t usually stun me but I think I may be stunned. Agoraphobics don’t cure, they don’t even attempt to change. Yet here he stands right in front of me on the outskirts of Skid Row, far away from the safety and comfort of his Century City loft. My ears don’t believe what my eyes are telling my brain; they are going to need to hear some proof to be sure.
Henry, I ask him tentatively, hoping to coax out of him some kind of identifying trait, a voice I can recognize as his own. He responds with nothing more than a smile. But this is not adequate proof in my book. Anyone with Henry’s face could smile like he does. It’s no impressive achievement. My ears are clearly unconvinced by this unremarkable evidence.
I want to ask him what he’s doing here but I’m afraid to know the answer. He has yet to speak any words and it’s beginning to concern me. For some reason I think he’s waiting for me to notice something or make some kind of introductory move. It’s like everything around me is waiting and watching with anticipation. I feel like I’m in the spotlight of attention right now. It’s eerie in a completely unsettling way.
This whole scene feels manufactured, like it’s trying to fulfill some kind of hidden and slightly irrational agenda. But I’m not into guessing games and I really don’t feel like exploring this any further tonight. Normally my curiosity would drive me to solve the mystery, but I am ten days past tired and coming down off a cocaine high. Sleep is a luxury that is always being withheld from me. Accordingly my mind is in no shape for critical thinking and problem solving.
I return my attention to Henry. He looks normal enough, but something in his demeanor is off. I can’t exactly put my finger on it but the red flags are flying everywhere. He isn’t acting like the Henry I know would act in a circumstance like this one. He is cool, calm and collected. The real Henry would be nervously eying a way out of here and popping pills to quell his rising panic. So who is this imposter and what does the one behind the strings want from me? I laugh. Sometimes I like to allow myself a few illogical thoughts in order to indulge paranoia. This is one of those times. I definitely should know better but for some reason I let it continue. I guess that's because somewhere in my mind I know how to make it stop. Or at least I’ve convinced myself that I do.
Henry is staring down intently so I decide to humor this situation. My eyes fall to the palm of his hand where two white, elongated pills rest side by side in a perfect harmony. I know what they appear to be but not what they truly are. They could be anything. He may have disguised them as a means to an end. But what end? Death would be too merciful for this much trouble; it has to be something worse. He offers them to me with a slight raise of his hand. This has got to be a trap. I see trickery and deceit everywhere, even in places it has yet to infiltrate. But this time I believe my paranoia is somewhat warranted. This offering is too good to be true.
Henry extends his hand further toward me. He wants me to take the pills and introduce them to my bloodstream compliantly. He has his reasons but I am sure they are less than noble. But in the end I know I am not one to turn down a free gift, especially when the package is vicodin. So without much further thought, I accept his offering graciously and throw them down my throat in one fluid motion. I know that was the right decision. If I come to regret it then I’m just being foolish. These pills feel like the missing appendage I have been searching for my entire life. They belong inside me always and I’m slightly in love with how they make me feel. This is nice.
I smile suspiciously at Henry and he returns it. I’m pretty sure this isn’t really Henry, at least not the Henry that I know. The numbers just aren't adding up. But the only important question that remains now is what will become of me. If this doppelganger has indeed laced those pills, and I believe that he has, I can only hope for a nice trip on the way to my demise.
An object nearly strikes my face. What the hell was that? I recoil back abruptly in shock. That will wake up the heart and possibly even kill it. Am I under attack? My eyes and ears are now on high alert. I turn my head in the direction the object must be continuing to travel in. There is nothing but darkness and shadows, a black monster with eternal bowels and a one-track mind. There will be no clues here. I start to wonder if I imagined the whole thing. The mind can be a powerful and dangerous force and I have nothing but distrust for mine, especially these days.
The person masquerading as Henry didn’t seem to notice anything, but that means mostly nothing. He is full of secrets and lies, stuff he doesn't care to share with me. I know he is far from what he seems but I won't be digging really deep for answers. In reality, he may actually be the one responsible for whatever it was that just happened. He could be calling all the shots from his humble position beside me. But if he is, he will surely deny it. No one wants to get caught red-handed in a twisted scheme like this. Of course on the other hand, he could be completely innocent. Unfortunately for him though, he is the only one around right now to blame. So by process of elimination, he is the culprit.
I eye him carefully for a tell but come up empty. I feel like the real Henry has a tell, a few in fact. This guy whoever he is, is making some seriously rookie mistakes. He is fooling no one. Another shiny projectile comes flying in my direction from a place behind Henry. I duck down out of misguided instinct and an unwillingness to be clobbered another time. What the hell is going on? I whip my head around fast in order to catch sight of the object as it regresses, but there is nothing left to see. It’s gone again into the folds of Skid
Row, almost like it never existed at all. But this time I was able to catch a fleeting glimpse. It looked like some kind of round missile, a blatant threat to my life and sanity. Here I thought all I had to worry about was the potential negative side effects of whatever drug I accepted from this Henry look alike, but now I must also elude a new enemy, a potentially dangerous one with some kind of alien catapult device that I cannot see and could hardly describe upon later questioning. It never ends...