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Mr Hendrickson - A Short Story by Alex Alcock


Photo by Alicja Ziajowska (licensed under Unsplash Licence)


For those with a recent identity change, there is nothing more strenuous than a conversation with a bank teller.


You see, these individuals, paid fairly good wages but subjected to the repetition of manual labour, see excitement where it shouldn’t belong; a large deposit is suddenly dirty money, or the pensioner cashing in a check first claimed it by killing their spouse. The hunger for the extraordinary imbued the daily routine of the cashier with a peculiar lens in which to view their customers, and a case of identity change would likely be assumed immediately, even if the evidence to support such a conclusion was circumstantial and vague.


Alongside this concern, there is the obvious security of the bank; cameras, wires, security checks, an endless list of numbers to memorise before your money is technically yours. Face and body are in the open – sunglasses and hats are not permitted – and combined with a delusional, suspicious bank teller, the evidence could amount to little and still doom the visitor.


For Graham Carlyle, now Jorge Hendrickson, these concerns emerged at the forefront of his mind, invasively conducting his behaviour in the isolated midwestern branch of Changelot Bank. He’d chosen it for the location, mainly; there were very few other businesses around, and no residences. Hendrickson was painfully aware of the black domes mounted into the ceiling as he entered, and the lone security guard who stood calmly in the space between the exit and the stall. He wondered if the man had military training, or if he was a trigger-happy cop dismissed to the private sector. The concerns piled further and further, until he was speculating such ridiculousness that only an external source could snap him out of the panic-


“Hello Sir. How can I help you today?”


The teller was youthful; perhaps it was her summer job, her work experience, or a sprinkle of nepotism; Hendrickson could not make up his mind. He became aware of his silence, and quickly blurted out an answer to appease her inevitable suspicions.


“I’m fine, thank you very much. Just looking to make a deposit.”


I’m fine? The response was automatic – what a fool he must look like! She would surely press the big red button underneath the desk, and the security guard with his hand on the gun would quickly end the perceived threat.


The teller remained unaware of Hendrickson as his breathing became faster.


“Certainly. In what name will the money be deposited?”


Sweat rolled down Hendrickson’s brow. The million dollar question. That million was actually a crumpled two hundred dollars, clenched in a tense fist and made up from a littering of notes. It was still a lot of money, and he knew that as soon as the teller caught wind of his mystery, his two hundred dollars would evaporate, as would his freedom.


“The name I would like to make the deposit in…”


He trailed off. It looked suspicious, he knew. There was a clock in his head, ticking down, and he knew the longer he took to answer, the worse it could possibly get.


He must have paled from the overbearing responsibility, for the teller made a comment on his appearance.


“Sir, are you quite alright? You look a little sick.”


Hendrickson waved a hand of assurance. “I’m fine, sorry. Can you make the deposit to-”


Again, he felt the sickening pressure. A dozen speculative outcomes launched into his head, playing scenes of violence and confrontation over and over. It was as if the discovery was inevitable.


Hendrickson fought the urge, and spat two words to the teller, whose eyes had widened at the sight of the sweat-covered man.


“Jorge Hendrickson.”


In an instant, a wave of relief spread over him, though it did not yet wash away the fears. Hendrickson carefully spied the teller as she entered the relevant information, and hesitantly, he gave the numbers of his account with more cohesion than his name.


“Sorry this is taking so long Mr Hendrickson. I see you’ve changed your name recently.”


Hendrickson was suddenly winded. How could she be so calm? The teller was likely speculating as tellers do – she was thinking of his possible crimes, or his reasons for changing. His breathing became fast-paced and his chest tightened. Hendrickson felt as though he was ready to collapse.


“Cool change. I like this new one better. It sounds Scandinavian.” The teller let out a chuckle.


Hendrickson’s panic evolved into confusion. The teller seemed genuinely unbothered by his new identity. Why though? There was no reason for her to know it was an innocent preference; she should be considering whether he was a criminal in hiding, or something more, but instead, she’d chosen to look over such dark reasons in favour of optimism.


Hendrickson felt his breathing slow as the anxiety left him. The teller handed him his statement with a smile, and he slowly left the bank with a sense of renewal.


Not everyone thinks as I do, I guess.


He’d go to lunch, probably a diner. It was likely that Jorge Hendrickson would be plagued by the anxious expectation of a gun fight or a bullying waiter, but for now, his sense of overthinking departed, and he whistled a mellow tune as he walked back towards his car.


 

Edited by Lara Mae Simpson, Literature Editor

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