Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Trouble with Henry

I had been working in Mental Health for awhile, few things surprised me, or caught me off guard, that was, until I met Henry. He was a new client at the Hudson House.

This was long time before, the Hudson House found its place outside the Fairview neighborhood on Woodrow Street. Although tucked in the woods the new modernistic building with its interior court, never had the charm of the old building.

Hudson House was originally on Denver Avenue, secluded in a quiet area, the house was once owned by the Hudsons and they donated it. A majestic white house, that was an ideal location, to meet with day clients in the mental health service. And that was where I met Henry the first time.

He had made himself at home in the rec room. Although, it was upstairs, someone had managed to get a pool table there. And Henry was playing himself a game of pool. The game went something like this:

Henry was leaning over the table, he had the cue in hand, assuming the pose of a pool shark, he deftly sunk a solid ball in the side pocket. Then he said, "Great shot Henry."

Then he put the cue stick down, picked up another cue and aimed for the stripes. He looked over to where he was standing before and said, "OK Henrick, I am going to really show you how to shoot."

And the conversations between himself continued.

And as time went on, he was always having these conversations between himself. He was becoming a very interesting client. Neat and immaculate, his bald head shined like a bare cue ball, he appeared almost monk like, who was ready to whip some devil, or maybe the devil inside him.

Hi Henry," I would greet him every morning. He would say. "Hi Bob, and Henrick says hi too."

The one thing that you would always notice about Henry that he was always clean shaved. He had what appeared would be a thick stubble that could shade his face, but for some reason even after a long day his face was immaculate. It would shine. Soon he shaved off the rim of hair that surrounded his monk like baldness.

Henry, or when he was Henrick, would make countless trips to the bathroom. I began to worry about him. I thought he might have some kind of medical problem, needing attention. Soon though I would discover what the heck was going on with Henry.

One day he came out of the bathroom with his eyebrows shaved. It was time we had a talk, this was getting out of hand.

"Darn Henry, where are your eye brows?"
"It was Henricks fault."
"What do you mean?"
"Henrick shaved them off."
"Why in the world would he do that?"
"He wants me to shave, I can't do enough, I shave ten times a day." "Henrick wants to make sure, we don't have any hair." "He wants me to be ready."
"Ready for what?"

It was then that he began to tell me the story:

"It all happened years ago." "There was a party, and met this girl, we started kissing on the sofa." "Henrick liked it so much he didn't want to stop."

But she said, "Would you mind going upstairs to the bathroom and shave, I can't stand that stubble."

"So Henrick and I went to the bathroom, I shaved so close my face looked like a baby's butt. "
"But she was gone when I came back."
"Henrick told me, we can never let this happen again."
"He makes me shave all the time, he wants to be ready, because Henrick says we are going to kiss another girl sometime."

No one understood Henry's compulsion to shave, til that day. Some knew of his compulsion, but never really asked why. It was only on the day that his eyebrows disappeared, that I later found out he shaved his whole body. Henry has not a hair on him, and Henrick was prepared for that next kiss, and stayed ready for years shaving every couple of hours.

Photo: The original Hudson House on Denver Street, Lynchburg Virginia: By bob.


At 11:26 AM, Blogger Melissa O. Markham said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Bob. And on behalf of Henry, thanks for taking the time to ask him what was going on.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger D L Ennis said...

This is a wonderful story Bob!

At 9:30 PM, Blogger B O B said...

Thank you for your comments.


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