Infatuation dropped by on a Friday Evening for a talk.
"How is going, friend?" he asked with those dreamy eyes he always seems to have on - anime eyes, any normal person would call them. He sort of waltzed in and simpered his way into the lounger that I kept for visitors with the big "sigh" he always - always! - seemed to have when he did any action.
"Oh, pretty well" I responded, finishing up what I was working on and turning around to face him. "Thanks for stopping by."
He smiled at me with the sort of smile that tells you he is precisely not thinking of where he is or what he is doing but dwelling on something internal that could not be seen by anyone else.
I sighed. This was going to be harder than I thought.
"Look" I said, "there is no easy way to say this so I am just going to do it the hard way. Your position has been discontinued. You are being retired."
The smile snapped off his face, replaced by the look of shock I had come to know only too well over the years from hearing the same thing.
"But why?" he stuttered. "It is not as if I am doing any real harm. I think you could make a pretty good case that I am good for morale. Better than those fools Duty and Obedience, always droning about how we "have" to do this or that. Good heavens! I actually a little zest to things around here instead of the gloom and morose feelings that those two spout off. If it was left to them, we would have nothing but gray days and an ultimate death."
I nodded -after all, I could make the same exact argument about Duty and Obedience. They did tend to be a little over the top when discussing every that had to be done. Still, ER (Emotional Resources) was going to throw a fit if something was not done.
I gave a half hearted smile. "What is or is not is not relevant now. The fact is that we have had a number of complaints - and yes, before your ask, you know I cannot tell from where. There is a sense that you running hither and yon is creating expectations that cannot ever be met and starting to force attention to a reality than can never be. It was perhaps allowable once, but now we are simply past the point where it is anything more than at best a danger and at worst a distraction."
Tears welled up in his eyes. "But what will I do? I cannot work in the Reality division and apparently Imagination will no longer have me. I am not aware of another place within the corporate structure."
I smiled gently. "We know. And that is why we are not asking you to make the move. It is a permanent traveling assignment - guaranteed income, health care, and even a travel stipend. Write some articles that we can put in the corporate newsletter from time to time."
I handed him the letter detailing everything. He took it with a faintly shaking hand, scanning its contents, then putting it down and sighing again. "So I have outlived my usefulness, then."
I shook my head. "Not that at all. You are right - you do give zest to things around here and your accessorizing will continue to be legend. No, it is just that we are all in a different place now. We need you to continue as a morale builder and bringer of joy and brightness - indeed, we cannot do without it. It is just that we need to focus our attention on other areas now."
He got up, taking the packet of papers and sticking out his hand. "I will clean out my office then" he sad, grimacing.
"Not at all" I replied. "Like I said, you are a correspondent at large. Go find us an interest to get excited about."
I could see him thinking for a moment, then the old smile returned to his eyes. "Now that you mention it" he said, "there is a great deal in Bulgaria that I have thinking needs to be investigated further. I could start with the Thracian tombs..." And with that he was out of earshot, already planning his next trip.
I sighed as I sat back down. He was right, of course - Duty and Obedience were a lot duller taskmasters than his bright, shiny face. But perhaps it was better that he got out now, before the real consequences of trying to have one heart in multiple places a came up at the Quarterly Review Meeting.
Hopefully he would enjoy the yogurt in Bulgaria.