I saw the grin on his face when he walked through the door. At first I thought he was just a happy old fellow.
A short conversation later I realized that he was slightly lost and considerably reality challenged. I pointed him towards his correct destination on the opposite side of the parking lot.
He took two steps away then turned back.
“You’re sure a nice lady,” he approached. “My name is Ernie. What’s yours?”
“Pamela.” I told him as I shook his extended hand and attempted to smile; I hoped it did not reveal one of those “Oh dear, this is inevitable” grimaces.
His eyes brightened – and he slipped into the chair beside my desk.
“Oh, that’s a beautiful name,” he gushed.
Then he put his hand over his heart.
“Pamela is my soul-mate’s name,“ he said with a serious face and a deep sigh. “She’s in the Looney Bin. She shouldn’t be there, though. Someone was just jealous of her and that is why they put her there.”
He added a few more sorry facts, and then looked at me expectantly.
“I’m very sorry that happened,” was the best I could muster
His demeanor switched abruptly to the original wide grin and he leaned in closer.
“Have you seen Indiana Jones?” he asked in a conspiratorial undertone.
I was somewhat startled by the subject change but responded appropriately by shaking my head ‘No.” I also mentioned that my husband wanted to take me to see it and then I began to shuffle things on my desk.
He bent his head, arched his eyebrows, and darted his eyes back and forth in a secret agent impersonation.
Very loudly he whispered, “Well, I know that loose lips sink ships… but I just have to tell you … I’m in it!”
“The movie?” I kicked myself for even giving him another opening.
Excitement required him to draw a deep breath before he nodded his head in self-congratulations. Then he excitedly tapped his pointy fingers on his chest.
“I’m him… Indiana Jones.”
“Wow!” I recovered from a brief speechless moment and added, “Imagine that.”
There was more posturing before he eventually shook the hands of two of my younger co-workers, tipped his hat, and walked out the door.
When he was safely away, we all laughed – especially about Pamela in the Looney Bin.
A week later I was away from my desk when I saw him again walk through the door. .
“Hi Ernie,” I called from the opposite end of the room, “you’re on the wrong side of the parking lot again!”
A bewildered expression crossed his face and he was clearly puzzled.
“Have we met?” he queried.
“Yes…. You were here last week,” I clarified.
He seemed more at ease then, and promptly asked for my name. I couldn’t help being somewhat playful with him.
“Aha!” I giggled, “My name is the same as your lost soul-mate.”
Befuddled once more, he scrunched his eyebrows in concentration.
Then he broke my heart with his next revealing words.