“PENIS!” One of the crazy people loudly screamed, cutting off Michelle before she could finish her sentence. After the one word outburst he didn’t say anything else, he just looked around the room confused, as if he was wondering who had just shouted.
“Well,” Michelle said, “That was most certainly random.”
“Yeah, that’s Cameron. They put him in here for some incident involving hot dogs on a subway train, It’s a long story. He screams out cuss words from time to time. You get used to it.” Josh said, “But what the hell, Shelly. I haven’t seen you in six months! Why am I still in here? Did you find the Ticket?”
She reached across the table and took Josh’s hand. “Hun, I’ve been working to try to get you out of here since day one. The doctor’s say you’ve had a complete mental break down, and that you are stuck in you own little world.”
“I’m not crazy!” Josh protested, “I purchased the ticket! I won! Ask Kelly at the liquor store, she sold it to met! She’ll tell you.”
Michelle sat there, silent.
“Call her, call her right now. They’ll let me go. We’ll find the ticket and be rich,” Josh said.
Michelle took a deep breath, and said, ” Oh Josh, this is exactly why the doctor’s haven’t let you have any visitors.”
“What?” he asked.
“They thought that if someone told you the truth,” She said, with tears in her eyes. “you might dig yourself deeper into your fantasy.”
“There is no fantasy. The doctors here are complete idiots. I Won the jackpot. Come on, let’s call Kelly,” He begged.
“Josh, I know this is going to be difficult to hear but you need too… You didn’t win a lottery. There is no ticket.”
Josh pulled his hand away. “Yes there is. I’m telling you.”
“No Josh,” She said, “The day you left, remember you had moved out all the furniture to the front lawn?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry about your stupid couch, I’ll buy you a damn couch factory once I get out of here.”
“Remember what you said to me? You said it was in your wallet. I checked, there was no ticket. I thought that maybe, just maybe, what if you were telling the truth. I looked all over the house, then finally I called the liquor store. I did talk to Kelly.”
“Yeah, so she told you I had bought the ticket with the winning numbers 1-2-3-4-5-6. right? For the mega millions jackpot.”
“What the hell do you mean, No?”
“I’m sorry Josh, She said there was no jackpot. She said you had came in to buy your beer like you always do, and then just zoned out at the register. She said she called your name a few times until finally you snapped out of it and paid for the beer.” Sadly, she said, “So you see, you never bought a ticket and there never was a 900 Million dollar jackpot.”
“That can’t be,” He said, “I bought it, I went to work and everyone was talking about it. What about Dan call him, he’ll tell you.”
“I called Dan too,” She said.
“And?” He asked eagerly.
“And, he told me you had came to work acting strangely that day. He said that out of the blue you turned pale and ran to the bathroom. He said he heard you screaming to someone, but that there was no one else in the bathroom with you.”
“I was on the phone with the lotto people!”
“He said that you burst out of the bathroom, knocked him down and ran out the of the front door.”
Josh stared at his hands in front of him shaking his head back and forth, muttering, “No no no. That isn’t how it happened.”
“The doctors say that they can’t let you out until you can admit that it was all in your imagination. You simply had a breakdown. It happens to people sometimes.”
“I’ll Never admit that!” He said, defiantly, “I won! I’m a damn millionaire!”
Michelle patted his hand and said, “I known you won’t ever say it was in your head, and that means they won’t let you out.” She smiled, trying to make him feel better.
“But I don’t like it here,” He wined, “I don’t feel safe around all these crazy people.”
“It’s perfectly safe,” She said, Reassuringly, “The institution hasn’t had an incident since that mass murderer got loose, killed some staff members, and then committed suicide.”
“What?!” he said, shocked.
“Oh, that thing happened years ago.”
“Fine. I still don’t like being here. I just want to go home.”
“If they let you out, all you would do, would be search for a ticket that doesn’t exist.” She said, “That isn’t going to help anything. At least here, you can get the help you need to get better.”
“Would you please tell Dan and Kelly to come visit me so that I can here this from them directly. I think that would help me a lot if I heard it directly from them.”
“I wish I could,” She said, disappointed, “While you were in here, someone had bought out the company and moved the business to England. They offered the current employee’s a great deal of money if they relocated with the company to London. So Dan, and the rest of them are all gone.”
“And Kelly from the Liquor store? Could she come see me.”
“I haven’t seen her either,” Michelle said, “Believe it or not, Dan hired her to fill your position when it became clear you were not getting out of here any time soon.”
“So I got fired?” He asked.
“Yeah, Pretty much.”
“And she got the huge raise that should of been mine.”
“Yeah, she moved to London with the company too.”
“Great, Just great.”
“It’s O.k. Just try to get better for me.”
“I’m sorry Shelly.”
“I f I hadn’t had a break down, I would have gotten that job and we could have moved over seas too. I know you would have loved that.”
“Trust me,” She said, “I’m not mad.”
“Now I’m stuck in here for god knows how long.”
“Listen Hun, I’ve been working with the new doctor. I think we can find a way to make your time here a little more enjoyable.”
“How, I’m in a mental institution.”
“Well for starters. All your office friends had left a donation. So with all that money, I bought you a nice recliner, it even has a built-in heat and massage.”
“Yes, and we also got you your own large screen T.V. Plus you now have a section of the activities room reserved just for you.”
“Well that will make things a little easier.” He said, a bit more cheerful, “But how did you manage to reserve a section just for me, and how are we affording all of this? I don’t even have a job anymore.”
“The hospital agreed to cover the costs as part of my benefits package for being an employee here. It really is a great plan.”
“Oh,” He said. “Still, it isn’t like home.”
“Well wait a second, that’s not all!”
“Whats the one thing you enjoyed most when you came home after work?” She asked.
“I don’t know?”
“You come home, sit it your chair, watch T.V. and drink….”
Josh’s Eye’s Lit up. “Beer!”
“You managed to get me Beer?!” He was ecstatic.
“Yes, the new Doc is very reasonable. I’ve arranged for the orderlies to supply you with One 6-pack a day.”
“Wow, this is going to be just like being home.”
“I just wanted you to be happy hun, you can sleep in, don’t have to stress over anything.” She said with a smile, “Now lets go see your new T.V. and chair.”
Michelle and Josh were escorted to the activities room by Bruno and Clevis, oops, I mean, Mike and Tobias. They walked hand in hand, Josh and Michelle, not the orderlies, and for the first time in 6 month’s Josh was smiling. He sat down in his chair. Mike, turned on the massage feature, while Tobias turned on the Television, tuned it to the sport’s network, and handed josh the remote. Michelle popped the top on Josh’s favorite beer and handed that to him.
“Wow, this is great.” Josh said, “Thanks, Shelly.”
Tobias and Mike smiled at each other and then at Josh, the orderlies then walked to the door and waited patiently.
Michelle kissed Josh on the forehead and said she had to go. Josh had already tuned out the world and was focused solely on the T.V. screen. She smiled and shook her head, she knew he would be happy. As she walked over to meet the orderlies to be escorted be escorted out of the building, A commercial break occurred, breaking his attention away from the T.V. he turned to look at Michelle leaving.
“Hey Shelly?” He said.
She stopped and turned to meet his stare. “Yes, Josh?”
“How did you know the jackpot was 900 million, if it wasn’t real. Did I tell you that?”
Michelle cocked her head to the side, “Oh Josh, You’re going to need to let that fantasy go, that is, if you ever want to get out of here.”
He smiled, “You’re right,” he said, “I’m just going to sit here and relax, drink my beer, and watch some T.V. Good night Shelly.”
She smiled back and said, “Good night, Josh. I’ll come to visit again as soon as I can.”
Michelle continued out the doors followed by the orderlies. While walking she said to them, “Make sure he stays happy. That’s you’re Job, remember that.”
“Yes Ma’am,” Mike and Tobias, said at the same time. The two orderlies went one way,heading back to their nursing station while Michelle headed for the front door. She reached into her purse and pulled out a cell phone and quickly dialed a number. It rang and finally someone answered.
“Hello,” Michelle said, cheerfully. “Yes I’m fine. I am just leaving the hospital now. Josh is fine, don’t worry he’ll be happy. Did you receive your package today?” She waited for the answer. “Good. So I won’t be hearing from you again?” The person responded. “Great,” Michelle said. “Well, I got to get off of here. Enjoy London, and don’t spend it all in one place.” Michelle Laughed at something the person said, And she replied, “Yeah well I still got to give Ted’s Agent a call. He’s expecting his share too. But take care Kelly, Give my best to Dan and the rest of the guys, it was nice working with you.”
Michelle closed the phone and dropped it back in her purse. She grabbed her car keys and hit the remote start. In the parking lot a 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB roared to life. With a smile she jumped in to her new sports car that she had just saved a ton of money on the insurance by switching carriers.
She picked up the expensive jewelery that she had laid on the passenger seat before going inside to visit Josh. One by one, she put on a ring, each worth more than most people make in a year.
After she was finished putting back on each of the pieces, only two items remained on the passenger seat. A business card that read: Axis Investment Group. “Invest your unexpected large Sums of cash with us!” and a pair of designer sunglasses. She put on the glasses, adjusted the rear view mirror so that she could see herself. She smiled, blew herself a kiss, and then slammed on the gas peddle of the Ferrari, peeling out of the Parking lot.
She dove towards the sunset, passing a sign right outside the facility that read: NEW NAME! NEW OWNERSHIP! SPRING GROVE IS NOW THE JOSHUA HARRIS INSTITUTION. VISITORS ARE NOT WELCOME.
Josh had heard a car squeal out of the parking lot. “Show-off.” he muttered to himself. Just then, a new commercial came on. It was a commercial about a product that helps prevent the spread of genital herpes. In it, a man was horse riding next to a lady, they were both smiling with a voice over that said, “I’ve got herpes, but I won’t let it control me.” Josh leaned closer to the T.V. Squinting his eyes.
“Hey, Wait a minute,” He said to himself, “God damn, that guy looks exactly like my new doctor.”