I used to work with a guy.  He was fascinating.  He was bizarre.  He was utterly incompetent.  We’ll call him “Dennis,” primarily because that was his real name.  Dennis was hired to do, well, I don’t know what.  There were days when I thought Dennis might have been hired as part of a psychological experiment to see how people would react to having a Stanley Kubrick character roaming the corridors of their office. 

Dennis was likely his 60s, though he might have been much older.  He feathered his hair, hair which was long enough to make you wonder if he had ears or not.  I think he colored it with Nice and Easy™.  He stood about five foot zero.  He’d dress in black jeans and wear a black sports coat with a black mock tee under it. The hair and the outfit made him look like a very unsuccessful Vegas magician (from the old part of the Strip) who had reached into his top hat and failed to pull out a rabbit one too many times.  Then again, he could have passed for any mortician/coroner character from your pick of CBS crime shows.  It was hard to say.

top hat

Also hard to say was whether Dennis was brought on board to function in some sort of leadership role; it was never entirely clear what, if any, his title was.  The black sports coat, though creepy, sometimes gave him some air of authority.  But other days, he’d show up in sweatpants and a hoodie and Google shit all day.  That made him seem like he had no authority whatsoever.  And also that he was mildly retarded.

Dennis’s primary role seemed to be to tell us stuff we already knew: that the company needed more clients; that we needed clients because we had overhead; that we overhead because we needed to service clients.  It was like having a conversation with an M.C. Escher drawing, which, truthfully, I found fascinating.

bad hare

The other fascinating thing about Dennis was that he had no Google history; we could verify none of the stories he told us about his prior careers.  We even went so far as to scope out the physical location of a purported ad agency he used to run back in the 80s.  All we found were a few foreign workers squeegeeing the windows of a now vacant office space in the Chicago Loop.  The ghosted letters on the door to the office space did not match the name of the company from which his war stories originated.

I don’t exactly remember when Dennis came on board—he was just kind of there at some point.  The owner of the company used a lot of empty buzz words when talking about him.  “Holistic,” “Long View,” “Glide Slope,” and “Fisting” come to mind.  I don’t think it was inaccurate to use empty buzz words when talking about Dennis--even today we are still using empty buzz words to describe him.  “Mortician,” “Magician,” and “Mildly Retarded” come to mind.

One day he was just gone.

And, somehow, I feel responsible.  I got into a semi-heated argument with him the day before.  Basically, I was about six questions away from cross-examining him into a corner about all his lies.  After question five, he pivoted and stormed out of the office, never to be seen again.  Not much was said by the owner of the company about him.  It was as if he’d never existed, and perhaps he didn’t.


I have no idea what became of Dennis. Right now he could be counting a pile of money that he conned out of some rich, old widow.  Or, perhaps, he’s eating cat food.  Maybe he accidentally poisoned himself with an overdose of Nice & Easy™.  I just don’t know.  And I know that I will never know, for we cannot know the unknowable, and the fisting, magic mortician is infinitely unknowable.

© Richard Janney 2014