I pulled my trench coat collar up and my hat brim down. Normally, I would wear my image inducer to hide my appearance in such a public place, but in this instance, looking different was an advantage. I had never met Dr. Courtney Ryne in person. Our communication before had consisted of being on the same email list. We had mutual friends, and I knew a bit about her. I knew that her husband had been an immanent sculpture artist before his untimely death of cancer a few months ago. I knew that Dr. Leonard Samson thought the world of her. In fact, when I had asked him to meet Bobby, he had practically insisted that I call Courtney.
Today was the first time that she would see me in person. It was just easier for her to look for a blue furry guy than to try and trade descriptions. Plus, I wanted to be completely honest with her off the bat, and that meant that she had to learn to take the Beast with the man.
The truth be told, I saw her first. She had just stepped off the train and had that look of confusion that travelers get when they're not quite sure who's waiting for them. Of course, I wasn't hard to spot. I'd been pointed and glared at for the past ten minutes.
"Samson was right. You are bluer in person," she said stepping towards me.
"I aim to please. Henry McCoy," I said by way of introduction, "but please call me Hank."
She had a nice smile that was reflected in her eyes. I've seen enough phony smiles at my appearance to know a genuine one. I went back over the situation in the car on the way to the mansion. We'd talked earlier about Bobby's condition over the phone. Courtney didn't know how she could help Bobby if he wasn't seeking the help himself. She said that she would try to assist me with the sculpture interpretation as best she could. I was just really hoping that her presence would get Bobby to open up.
I have faced Apocalypse, Sinister, and many other fates worse than death, but I don't believe that I've ever been as nervous as when I introduced Courtney to Bobby.
We had gone down to one of the old garages off to the side of the mansion. Bobby had taken it over as a makeshift studio. As his sculptures had gotten larger, his room space had become more and more cramped. His whole attitude and behavior was standoffish, but Courtney took this in stride. She immediately started looking at his sculptures. She asked him if he had tried doing any molds to make his pieces permanent. He seemed skeptical at first, but his love for his work won out. He was fascinated as she told how she had helped her husband do many molds and had developed quite a knack at it. She looked at each of his pieces and told him what problems he could expect to have when it came time to mold them.
I was pleased that Bobby was showing some interest, knowing how he felt about psychiatry as a profession. Courtney was just making friends and Bobby responded to this. I was only uncomfortable after they were finished. Courtney looked at me expectantly.
"Yes?" I asked.
"I'm done. How about we go get some coffee, Hank?"
Bobby went back to cleaning up. I simply nodded in surprise and followed Dr. Ryne back towards the mansion's kitchen.
"You only talked to him for about twenty minutes," I finally found the words to say.
"So? You didn't even ask him any questions about why he's not talking."
"Well, if he's not talking, he wouldn't have answered. Besides, I don't see anything wrong. He seems well adjusted. He is communicating, just not with words. His nonverbal is good. Yours, on the other hand, makes me wonder."
"What is that supposed to mean?" I said throwing open the kitchen door with more force than was needed.
"Don't get defensive, Hank. I just want to know why you're so upset about this. You are nervous as hell and it shows."
"He's my best friend."
"Your best friend seems happy. Why does it bother you that he's happy?"
It was a legitimate question and one that went unanswered as I poured the coffee.
To be continued.