For a weeks the whole office was in hysterics from messing with Frank's head. Frank was embroiled in Majestic, that conspiracy adventure game that calls you on your cell phone or sends you email and messages. In hindsight, maybe it was a bad idea. I mean, a guy plays a game like that long enough, and suddenly there are no boundaries. You never know WHAT he might do. He's a loose cannon with a disjoint sense of reality.
You recall from last time that we had left Frank stranded in Portland without a clue as to why he was there while one of our guys called him from Mexico and started screaming into his cell phone. We thought that was a riot. That monday at the morning staff meeting Reggie and Murray were in tears recounting how we kept slowly stealing the fish in Frank's office aquarium and leaving post-it notes on the tank saying "back off or Mr. Flippers is the next to go." We kept expecting Frank to walk in fresh from his trip to Portland, but he never showed up.
The next morning he finally arrived back to work. He was covered with seaweed and his clothes were white with salt. He clearly hadn't showered for three days. Puffy black rings lined his eyes. We all stared at poor Frank, unable to comprehend what his paranoia had gotten him into. Then he pointed at us: "I'M ON TO YOU!" he said. "It wasn't Majestic! It was YOU guys, the whole time! The blimp! The train tickets! The screaming Mexicans! The Military Police and the hookers and the strip searches!"
We stirred uncomfortably in our seats, recalling that none of us had anything to do with MPs or strip searches.
"Well, I'm not fooled any longer," Frank said, still waving his finger, his crackling eyes making contact with us until one by one we lowered our heads. "I'm going to GET you. Oh yes. When you don't expect it. I'm going to GET YOU." With that, he stalked out of the room.
A few minutes of silence followed before Crenshaw finally spoke. "He can't get us!" he said, finally laughing his chortling, indefatigable laugh. "Look at us. We are like the prank masters. It's just Frank! There's one of him and like ten of us! He'd never get us."
At this, we all agreed, finally laughing it off. Reggie offered everyone a soda, and the room buzzed with relief. Then Crenshaw added: "...unless he got a couple of us in on it." Suddenly, it was as if someone had dropped a giant pillow on the room, it got so quiet. The fear that his last remark instilled became tangible.
"What makes you say that, Crenshaw?" Murray asked, staring across the table. "Was that ... maybe to throw off suspicion?" All eyes turned to Crenshaw.
"Why ... why so eager to deflect the blame?" Crenshaw stammered. "Are you hiding something, Murray? Maybe you and Frank were out of the office planning to pull of the 'big one' yesterday, was that it?"
I rose to my feet and spread my arms. "C'mon guys, calm down, calm down. Just because we worked over Frank doesn't mean we have to get all edgy here-"
Crenshaw interrupted, yanking his white shirt sleeves up over his elbows. "Worked him over? WORKED HIM OVER? We sent him on a six hour train ride to get boosta-fazooed by MPs and prostitutes -- possibly simultaneously -- while Marcus had Mexicans dropping plates at him over his cell phone! If I were him, I'd be out for BLOOD!" He pointed accusingly at me. "Don't try to get me offa my guard, prank boy! I bet you're in on it. You're gonna try to get me. Well, I've got news for you. I've got news for you all. YOU WON'T GET ME! DAVID CRENSHAW IS UN-GETABLE!"
Quivering, he paused to take a drink of the soda that Reggie had handed him. Suddenly, he stopped himself, glared accusingly at Reggie, set the can down, and backed slowly out of the room.
Murray suddenly spit out his soda, all over the conference room table. He was visibly sweating.
The day passed slowly and surreal. It was the polar opposite of last week. Frank spent the whole day peacefully humming to himself (he'd taken a break in the morning to go home and shower). Frank was in a happy haze while the rest of us were hair-pulling wrecks.
Wherever Frank went, we cringed in fear. We glanced over our shoulders. We spoke to no one. Who was in on it? What was Frank planning? We prayed for something terrible to happen, just so we would know that it was over. But it didn't end. Frank kept happily to himself, and we lived in fear.
Murray barricaded his office door. He rescheduled all of his meetings at the last minute and told nobody where he was going to be.
Reggie refused to answer any ICQ or email, and at lunch he asked the IT department for "some really advanced virus detection software." When he saw I'd overheard, he asked if they could just remove him from the 'net entirely.
An hour later Harry's phone rang continuously for ten minutes. At first I thought he wasn't in his office. Then I realized he was. He was simply staring at the phone, his hands hanging limply over his keyboard, shaking. Finally each ring drove me deeper and deeper into madness, until I busted into his area and demanded that he answer it. "Oh, is that SO!?" he wailed, flashing his red-rimmed eyes at me. "And what vested interest do YOU have in making sure I ANSWER that phone, hunh!?" As we stared at one another angrily, Frank strolled by, happily dropping a copy of Wednesday's meeting agenda on Harry's desk, humming to himself. Lips quavering with tension, Harry pushed the sheaf of papers into his trash can with the end of his pencil. Then he threw out the pencil.
That night, I walked in a slow circle around my car six times. I stared inside the windows trying to see what Frank and his cohorts might have done. I crawled under it to see if anything was there. As I crawled back out, I startled Crenshaw, who flung himself backwards across the darkened parking garage and struck a kung-fu pose while his briefcase clattered to the ground. "What are you doing under your own car?" he stammered.
I hunched up on the grungy cement floor like a coiled animal. "And you expect me to believe it's co-incidence that you appeared just as I was about to get into my car?" I pointed an accusing finger at him, but the echo of approaching footsteps cut me short. Our eyes flickered at one another, and then Crenshaw and I both stepped to either side of the garage to hide behind concrete pillars.
A lanky shadow grew across the floor, and just as it neared us, we simultaneously popped out to see who it was. It was Murray. At our sudden appearance, he screamed with such inhuman terror that I had no choice but to scream back. Then he maced Crenshaw. It was too much for me; I dove into my car and gunned the engine to life. The noise freaked Murray, who jumped over a parked BMW to get out of the way.
As I sped out of the garage, I spotted Reggie, disheveled and covered with parking lot grunge, fearfully staring at his car. He was too terrified to get inside.
The next day the conference room was silent at the morning meeting. It was clear from the dark eyes and disheveled hair that none of us had slept a wink, but we all feared the coffee, not knowing who had made it. Reggie asked aloud if anyone else had disconnected their home phone, but the mere question threw such suspicion his way that he shrunk in his seat. Frank, however, was calmly sipping some coffee, smirking and eager.
What was he up to!?
Crenshaw was the last to arrive. He was wearing the same clothes as the day before, except one shoe was missing and his pants cuffs were shredded. He glared at each of us fearfully. He audibly gulped when he saw Frank, who was looking back at him, eager and expectant. Slowly Crenshaw moved toward his regular seat at the table, not taking his eyes off of any of us.
As he sat down, the silence of the room was suddenly shattered by an enormous farting noise. Crenshaw looked down to find a deflated whoopie-cushion between his legs.
Frank pointed at him and started giggling a high pitched little mouse-laugh. "I got you!" he said. "Hee hee hee!"