by Mary W. Matthews and Y.S. Pascal
Sherlock Holmes was puzzled. Who were those strange men with the pointy sideburns, and why did they seem to know him so well? . . . Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy have to travel back in time to 1890s England to catch an alien criminal, and they must keep Sherlock Holmes from figuring out who they are and thus changing the future. Primarily told in the voices of Dr. Watson and Captain Kirk, this light-hearted romp is an homage to Sherlock Holmes, Star Trek, and 20th-century English mystery novels.
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This work of fan fiction is free, and a labor of love. It was written in 1984, and submitted to Pocket Books, Simon and Schuster, via our agent--and accepted for publication! The plan was to publish the book in 1986 in hardback in conjunction with the film release of Star Trek IV, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes story, A Study in Scarlet, in the Strand Magazine. Unfortunately, Dame Jean Conan Doyle would not approve the publication of any more pastiches such as The Seven Percent Solution, and EMDS was shelved. We hope you enjoy this release of the free e-book, years later, or, in the case of Star Trek, centuries earlier.
A Study in Scarsdale
by Y S Pascal
The memoirs of James E Wilson, MD.
I hadn't seen Stamford in years. I might not have another chance. I swung the car to the right and skidded onto the gravel of the off-ramp from the I-95. Who knows when I'd be back this way again.
The town was as boring as I'd remembered. I suppose I could've taken the offer...but I owed something to Boston. And it wasn't settling for tree-lined streets and gray flannel houses. Nope, the Big Apple beckoned, with its serpentine avenues and concrete phalluses. It didn't take me long to get back on the turnpike. Good-bye, Stamford, good-bye, Connecticut. This boy's goin' to New Yawk.
Finding an apartment wasn't going to be easy. I'd been scouring the Times for weeks, but everything affordable was rented long before the ads came out in the paper. The scrap with my aunt's phone number was still crumpled in my pocket. But, I was now a free man—and I wasn't going to find the action I was looking for in Brooklyn.
NYU's housing office gave me a several generations' Xeroxed list of potential sites. I could probably mooch a couple of nights in one of the call rooms until I checked them out. The young man who'd given me the addresses had a word of advice, "Call before you go. They're probably all rented already."
I nodded as I looked at his nametag. "Thanks, uh, Bart."
As I turned away, Bart shot up from his chair. "Hey. I got an idea."
"I know this guy…"
This wasn't starting out well…
"No, really. He's a little weird, but…"
Score for me. I still waited.
"He's a doctor, too. Maybe you could hang with him." Bart handed me an address he'd scribbled on a post-it.
"Sure. Thanks." I stuffed the note into my pocket with Aunt Brenda's. I was going to be spending a lot of time in the call rooms, and not just for my heme-onc fellowship.
I got busted in two days. Apparently I wasn't the first house officer to use the hospital as my house. I was given an ultimatum to find a place to live before my next shift.
I was looking for quarters in my pockets for the laundry when I stumbled across the crumpled notes. I tossed Aunt Brenda into the trash with a perfect rim shot, and was aiming the post-it when the doctor's name caught my eye. "House". Now that's funny. "Is there a House in the House?" No wonder the guy is weird.
What the hell… As Thoreau once said, 'What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.' I put the quarters in the pay phone instead.
In less than an hour, I was standing outside Montague's Bar and Grill on 3rd. I searched for the side door and finally found it halfway down a dark alley that stank of roses and carnations. How much of our tax money was Giuliani spending on these beautification efforts anyway?
I rang the doorbell several times before I was buzzed in. I was panting well before I reached the 6th floor. The door was at the end of the hall. I waited a few minutes to catch my breath before knocking.
Expecting to hear the symphony of clicks that identify the column of bolt locks on New York doors, I was surprised to simply hear a gravelly voice shout, "Come in, it's open."
I gingerly inched the door and peeked inside.
A skirt. A black skirt, covering a firm, rounded- "You Wilson?" The gray haired woman asked in a deep voice as she stood back up and faced me, her broom poised to attack.
I hesitated. "Yeah…" A housekeeper's outfit…
She picked up her dustpan and nodded as she looked me up and down. "All right." Pointing to a recliner on one side of the room, she added. "Sit."
"He'll be out in a minute. I got work to do," she said as she turned and walked out of the room without waiting for my response.
I quickly gave up on the polite smile and settled back in the lounger to wait. The living room was large and completely dominated by an enormous grand piano in its center. To one side lay an acoustic guitar surrounded by confetti of picks. Over the fireplace hung a colorful display of assorted motorcycle helmets and a banner with the cryptic letters CUBC and the number '80'. The color TV to my right was muted on ESPN. Not being a fan of monster trucks, I got up and tried to change the channel, but could neither spy a remote, nor locate the missing channel buttons that seemed to have been pried off of the set.
I wandered over to the obligatory bookcase that took up one wall. Yes, there were the obligatory Harrison's Textbook of Medicine, Nelson's Textbook of Pediatrics, a book of collected Frank Netter illustrations, and, of course, Gray's Anatomy. What a great title for a medical TV show, I mused for a moment…"Netter's Models", that's the ticket.
"It'll probably be canceled in 13 weeks." The growl came from behind me.
I spun around, my mandible abducted. "H-how…?" I asked the tall, lanky man who now faced me.
He leaned against the wall and chuckled. He had a few inches on me at least, if not a few years. A full head of dark brown wavy hair, piercing blue eyes, and—well, maybe it was the jeans. I guess I could just describe him as lugubriously sexy, like a well-hung eel, but then you'd think I was gay.
"A magician never gives away his tricks, Wilson," the eel finally returned. He waved me towards a rickety stool as he slithered gracefully onto the recliner.
"Who's Wilson?" I asked innocently.
The eel sat up, seemingly startled for a moment. I couldn't keep a straight face. "Gotcha."
How the stool broke at that moment I'll never know. I guess I must've put on a little weight. I got up with as much dignity as I could muster and extended my hand. "House?"
The eel shook it firmly, and directed me to a more solid-looking folding chair next to the lounger. He grabbed a yellow tennis ball from the side table and started throwing it in the air and catching it with a syncopated rhythm. "You'll lose the baby fat after a few weeks going up and down those stairs."
I sat down more carefully this time, as he continued. "I'll have Ms. Hudson put you on the Zone."
"Your housekeeper?" I pointed towards the hallway.
"The Head Nutritionist." House shook his head. "Come on, you're a fellow—you actually think you'll have time to eat any meals here?"
Score for him. I shrugged, "Just looking for a place to rest my head."
House studied me for a moment, then smoothly tossed the ball into a helmet lying upside down under the piano. "Okay, Wilson, you're in."
I got the nickname "Black Cloud" after only two weeks on the service. It had nothing to do with my heritage-1/8th Cherokee-but with my demonstrated talent in attracting torrents of patients on my ward every night I was on duty. I managed to wend my way home after midnight-on the days I wasn't on call. I wasn't doing much head-resting in House's house-or anyone else's, for that matter-my expectations for an active social life having been dashed as I dashed from patient to patient trying to stay afloat.
I found myself longing for the relative sanity of my workload as Chief Resident in Medicine at Mass General. 110-hour weeks were looking mighty good. The one occasion Beth and I had time to ourselves in the call room, Harrison crumped and we spent the rest of our shifts thumping his chest. No score for me...
I woke up Monday morning with a headache. And a fever. That hasn't stopped me from going to work in the past-but the terrible vertigo was a deal-breaker. I lay back down in my bed and waited for the ochre walls of my bedroom to stop spinning.
I quickly ascertained that I'd be spending at least the next few hours in bed. Alone. I reached for a journal, but found that my burning eyes turned the words into gibberish. So much for reading... I've got to get a TV... One that gets channels beyond ESPN… House's tastes in shows were certainly…eclectic, that's for sure. I'd perused the videotapes on his bookshelf in a moment of insomnia earlier this week, and seen not only archives of monster truck meets, baseball games, and motorcycle races, but Jerry Springer shows, Steve McQueen movies, and something called Blackadder which must've been one of those hideously dull nature programs they always run on the Discovery Channel.
I snorted. Over a week rooming with the guy and I didn't even know his specialty. I shook my head-and instantly regretted the action. My eyes focused on the dingy ceiling light until the nausea faded. Maybe he's a gastroenterologist—-that would certainly help now. Or a neurologist. . .who'll cure my headache. . .if it's not a brain tumor. . .with mets. . .like Harrison. . . Stop it, I scolded myself, reminding myself of the old med school adage, "if you've read about it this week, you don't have it." It's just a virus. And you're getting delirious. Enough.
Fuck! House is probably a psychiatrist. Great. I wonder how long it'll take him to figure out my—
The phone on the night table jangled loudly.
I groaned and reached for the receiver. "Yeah."
"House?" said a raspy voice on the line.
"Not home," I answered, not particularly brightly. "You can page him at the hospital."
"I don't have an hour," the voice continued, "just tell him I want to consult him on a case."
"And you are?"
"Less. With one 's'." The man hung up before I could ask for his number.
I was truly stunned. It was unheard of—-doctors usually guarded their home phone numbers with their life. To give a patient those precious digits. . . I had to find out what House's game was—and quickly. Mustering all my strength, I endeavored to sit up in bed. Nope, bad idea. Better idea…I pulled over the phone and dialed.
"You've reached New York University Hospital. If you have a true emergency, please hang up and call 9-1—" I hit 'O'.
"You can't bypass the voicemail, smart-ass, so if you want the Operator, press the 'star' button and wait for the menu to finish," was the response.
Five minutes later, I pressed 7 and asked for the Hospital Directory, Dr. Gregory House. I could hear a keyboard clacking on the other end of the line before the Operator gave me the extension.
"And his department?"
More clacking. "Infectious Disease."
I lay back in bed with a broad smile. Ah, the benefits of modern technology. At the task of psyching out my roommate, I'd beaten Watson by at least a week.
I must've slept for hours—it was dark when I finally realized I was awake. My head was still throbbing, but, I was happy to note when I gingerly sat up, I was no longer dizzy. I stood slowly, and, wearing only my tattered Brown T-shirt and Pikachu boxers, shuffled out of my bedroom in search of a glass of water.
"I commend your fashion sense, Wilson. Your dance card should fill up quickly. "
I winced, but kept aiming towards the kitchen. "I'm sick, you know."
"Not for me to judge." House cleared his throat, and added. "You may want to say hello to our guest."
Damn. I instinctively ran a hand through my hair and turned slowly, my face flushed.
Sitting across from House was a small, ferret-faced man wearing a herringbone tweed suit. House turned to his visitor with an apologetic shrug. "You'll have to excuse Wilson, Inspector. He's usually the epitome of couth."
I favored House with a withering gaze, then extended my hand. "James Wilson. You're a c—policeman?"
The visitor didn't seem eager to shake—instead, he reached into one of his pockets and, making sure to avoid any skin-to-skin contact, handed me his card.
It read: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Inspector Les Trade, Food Service and Restaurant Sanitarian.
Les—with one 's'! "You're the one who called—nice to meet you, Mr. uh, is it 'trayde' or 'trahd'?"
"I've heard both," he didn't answer. "But most people pronounce it 'trah-day', like the Marquis de Shaday."
I nodded politely and decided to be more direct. "What do you prefer to be called?"
"Inspector." With a curt nod, he turned back to House. "The concierge found the body at 10 am. The ME puts the time of death at between midnight and 3 am. Sir Geoffrey insists that she was feeling well when she went to bed around eleven."
House frowned, "And you're certain the stomach contents were—"
"Body? What body?" I interrupted.
"Much of the salmon hadn't been digested. It seems open and shut." Les Trade insisted.
"Uh, excuse me?" I tried again. "Body? Dead? Hello?"
House looked at Trade and sighed. "86 year old female, found dead this morning at the Plaza, several hours after eating at the Lauriston Garden at the Park. The Inspector suspects the cause of death was," House coughed, "salmonella in the salmon."
"You obviously don't agree," I deduced without difficulty.
"It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the test results, Wilson." Referring to the old diagnostic saying about hoofbeats and horses, he added, "Think of all the zebras you'd miss."
"Then what do you suggest, Dr. House?" The Inspector's frustration was visibly growing.
"That Wilson put on some clothes." House stood up, signaling an end to the consultation, and directed Les Trade toward the door. "We'll meet you at the Plaza in half an hour, Les. I'll need to learn a lot more about Dame Jean."
I waited til the door had closed behind the Inspector. "That's the victim's name?"
House clapped me on the shoulders. "Wilson, your astuteness never ceases to amaze me."
He then slid onto the piano bench and began a syncopated riff, to which he soon added the somewhat off-key and very astonishing lyrics: "She shuffled off this mortal coil, the victim Dame Jean Conan Doyle."
I made a beeline for the bathroom. I wasn't going to let House know that my nausea had returned in full force.
House parked his bike in the hotel loading zone, and, keys in hand, flew past the valet who futilely began haranguing me about calling a tow truck.
"No hablo Ingles." I shrugged, pulled down my visor, and, gathering my jacket around my hunched shoulders, followed my roommate up the steps into the hotel.
The lobby of the Plaza was strangely quiet, save for the sporadic yapping of an occasional overfed Shi Tzu. The few self-absorbed Peers who wandered about the marble stoa seemed oblivious to the fact that one of their peers had met her maker within these very expensive walls.
House had already found the concierge desk, and seemed to be getting directions to the victim's room. He waved me to the elevators, and we boarded for the 7th floor. The doors opened to reveal a cacophony of chaos. Yellow police tape lined much of the hallway, through which a horde of blue-uniformed investigators paraded back and forth carrying what looked like portable toolboxes.
I snorted. "We'll never learn anything here. If a herd of buffaloes had passed along there could not be a greater mess."
My words floated unheard into the humidity. House had already sped down the hall towards a tall, bearded man sporting a Hasselbad. "Grissom!"
"House!" The man turned and greeted him warmly. "You were right on the money. We just ID'd the strain as Salmonella schwarzengrund–-non-pathogenic."
House did not look surprised. "So the cause of death…?"
"Gel permeation chromatography of her stomach contents identified an L-isomer protein isolated from the stems of the Lavandula agustifolia."
House nodded. "English lavender…"
"And we got a couple of microns of carbon polymer on flash."
"Poisoned." House shook his head, muttering. "20,000 allopathic physicians in this town, and people still take homeopathic medicines."
A grave-looking middle-aged man with a receding hairline walked past and interjected solemnly, "Hilda Doolittle once said, 'The elixir of life, the philosopher's stone, is yours if you surrender sterile logic, trivial reason'."
"Gideon is always such a ray of sunshine," Grissom chuckled. To House: "You'll want to check out our books?"
House shook his head. "No. I want to see hers. Come, Wilson."
To my amazement, House seemed to show no interest in the area where the victim's husband had discovered her body. Instead, he dragged me from room to room throughout the suite and had me note the contents of every drawer, medicine cabinet, suitcase, bookshelf, and desk.
I had diligently documented four paper clips, a pair of tweezers, three empty bottles of herbal medicines, a Soft and Dri deodorant stick, five letters from solicitors, a letter from her lawyer—-six letters from "solicitors", House joked—-a tube of Ben Gay, a roll of Tums, and two unopened packages of cinnamon-flavored Trident sugarless gum. I could detect no possible value to the items on my list, though I was tempted to pop a Tums to settle my still-churning stomach.
The small bookcase held an unusual collection of texts, however. Among them were August Derleth's "The Adventures of Solar Pons", Maurice LeBlanc's "Arsene Lupin vs. Herlock Sholmes", and "The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" by Adrian Conan Doyle. "That's odd," I opined. "Every one of these books is kind of a Sherlock Holmes pastiche."
"Write that down, Wilson," House ordered. "Even the smallest item may end up being of profound significance."
I opened one of the books and leafed through it quickly. Then another, and another. "That's peculiar."
"Put it on the list."
"No, I mean, each of the books has a gold nameplate on the inside of the front cover. These books all belong to a Mister Thaddeus Wilde…"
House froze for a moment, then with forced casualness added. "Thanks, Wilson. You have effectively proven my point."
It took us about 20 minutes to get to the Village. House found a space to squeeze in his bike just north of Pieces on Christopher Street, and we set off on foot to find Wilde.
"We really should hold hands here, Wilson," House teased, after we'd passed more than a few affectionate same-sex couples along the sidewalk.
I glowered at him, and stuck my freezing fingers deeper into my jacket pockets. "How much farther is it?"
"Ah, Wilson, think how many slash writers you've disappointed…" House finally stopped outside a renovated brick building with a large red door. "Here we are."
Our bell was opened by a tall, gangly, goggle-eyed butler, who, in a musical high-pitched English accent, advised us to call him "Wooster". I found it difficult to conceive of any situation in which I would call him at all. Wooster led us up a narrow flight of stairs to the second floor, which for some unknown reason he called the first floor. "Mr. Wilde is in the study," he finally squeaked, and pointed us in the direction of another red door.
Yes, you can guess where this is going. (If you can't, please read the title of this essay again.) Our knock was answered with a twittering "Enter, gentlemen", and we walked into a room that was enveloped in every shade of red known to man—or woman, since I, as a man, refuse to learn anything more than the names of the primary colors.
In the center of the room, sitting on a settee—Gosh, I like the way that sounds—was a large man. A very large man. His hair was brown and lay gently on his shoulders in soft curls. He was dressed in, well, a long silk dressing gown, whose hem tickled his hairless ankles. From his accent, or was it the scent of his soap, I determined that he was probably Irish.
"Welcome to my humble abode, House," Wilde favored me with a warm smile, "and thank you for bringing me your adorable little friend. What's your name, son?"
"This is my r-colleague, James Wilson," House responded politely.
The man nodded and gushed, "Thaddeus Wilde, at your service."
I chose to ignore the invitation. "What kind of a name is Thaddeus, anyway?" I muttered, not sotto voce enough.
"It's Austrian for Sebastian," Wilde replied, then waved his arm to one side to indicate that we should take our seats on a nearby fushcia ottoman—I mean, a red ottoman. "Would you like some tea?"
House yawned, "Coffee, no cream, no milk, no sugar." He looked at me.
Not wanting to be impolite, I hesitated. "Coffee would be good, but tea is fine, too."
"Wooster!" Wilde shouted, then wagged a thick finger at House. "You always pick submissive ducklings, ducks, tsk, tsk."
Wooster, leaning precariously like an unstable Gumby, appeared at the door. House eyed him up and down with a look of distaste, and nodded to Wilde, "And the company you keep…?
"Wooster, run down to Pieces, dear, and get Dr. House a cup of American tea." As the wide-eyed butler clambered off, Wilde added, "That's the last we'll see of him tonight."
House's voice hardened, "Okay, Wilde, quit stonewalling. You know why we're here."
Wilde looked intently at House's azure eyes—I mean, blue eyes—before sighing, "Poor dear Dame Jean…"
House picked up several medicine bottles on the settee's end table with a practiced sweep. He read, "Gingko biloba, hoodia, horny goat weed, Tomkat Suri—-sorry, Tongkat Ali—-Tribulus, English lavender, passion flower." He looked up at Wilde with a smirk.
Wilde brushed aside the implication. "My ignition is fine—these just help me recharge the batteries more quickly."
I didn't want to think about either analogy. Fortunately, House continued his offensive press. "She was poisoned."
A single tear rolled down Wilde's puffy cheek.
"When was the last time you saw her, Taddy?"
Wilde's expression was suddenly cold. "1975."
House looked surprised. "And the books?"
Wilde hesitated, before answering softly. "Gifts."
House frowned for a moment, then broke into a chuckle. "Did you give Sir Geoffrey the English Lavender, too?"
Wilde looked insulted. "Certainly not! He gave it to me!"
I can't say I was too unhappy to be weaving my way through traffic back to mid-town. Even though House's motorcycling skills seemed to have been adopted from Evel Knievel. I just grabbed him around the waist and held on tightly. On second thought—-maybe I should've just taken a cab.
We arrived at our alley near Montague's to find Inspector Les Trade waiting at our door.
House disappeared into the kitchen while the Inspector and I caught our breaths. He came out after a few minutes carrying a tray of sugared jelly doughnuts and placed them on the table in front of us. I noted a little white powder was still adherent to the stubble on his maxilla above his upper lip, and handed him a napkin, gesturing for him to wipe.
House pointedly said, "Thanks, Wilson, the strawberry jam is especially delicious!" He then turned to Les Trade, and quickly continued, "You talked to Grissom?"
"Yes, but he still insists on moving back to Vegas. Mac, his new deputy, just let us know they identified English lavender in the dishwasher drain at the Lauriston Gardens. Dame Jean had dinner there with Sir Geoffrey and their attorney last night."
"You think she was poisoned at the restaurant, then?" House added, with renewed excitement.
"Well, isn't it obvious?" the Inspector sneered. "We've arrested Sir Geoffrey—and confiscated his bottles of the herb." He folded his hands and gave us a self-satisfied nod.
To his dismay, House burst out laughing. "Really, Les, you have outdone yourself this time. Were there no other patrons at the restaurant?"
The little man looked quite angry. "Well, of course, but none of them had motive or means. Or opportunity."
"And what about the staff?"
"Ditto. We interviewed and searched everyone and everything that evening, from Head Chef Sophie Witherspoon to Manuel, the Waiter. They were very busy-and never alone. And, none of them even knew Dame Jean was there, much less had the poison on hand." He glared at House. "Anyway, why would they want to kill her?"
"Why would Sir Geoffrey? That, my dear Les, is the correct question." Without another word, he ambled over to his piano and began playing a medley of what sounded like Keith Jarrett tunes. We had been dismissed.
I checked my watch-almost one. Time for me to go to back to bed.
'Black Cloud' was on call the next two nights—I spent most of Tuesday catching up on the wards, and Wednesday at Billingsley's bedside. I took his death harder than most—-he was close to my age, and the islet cell carcinoma had metastasized far too quickly. As the sun came up on Thursday, Beth found me in my call room, staring at the wall, my eyes red.
I covered my face with a pillow. "How's the NICU?" I mumbled through the linens.
"Haven't slept all night," she observed, "And, apparently, neither have you." She pulled the pillow off my face, and gently stroked my hair. "Would you like me to help?" she cooed.
I was a little slow shifting gears, but I soon convinced myself that I could best honor Billingsley's death by celebrating life. I sat up and smiled eagerly. "I'm ready."
"Great." She walked over to her purse on the desk, and opened it. To my dismay, instead of a condom, she pulled out a bottle of pills and poured two into her hand. "Melatonin. They had a special at the health food store. Should I go get you some water?"
I lay back on my bed, put the pillow back over my face, and growled, "No thanks, I'll get to sleep by myself." Literally. No score for me...
I had to escape. The gas was filling the OR and I only had a few moments left. The smoke detector was beeping louder and louder. My eyes were tearing, and my breaths were coming in shorter and shorter gasps. If I could only make it to the door in time. Drawing on my last reserves of energy, I lunged for the door, landing squarely against it with a grunt of pain. It didn't give. Desperate, I wiped the ashes off the door's window-and froze. Beyond the danger, on the other side, I glimpsed my ex-wife's sneering face. The last sound I heard was my own scream.
I finally identified the beeping as my pager. I lay quietly in my bed for a few minutes, shivering and drenched in sweat, then reluctantly opened my eyes to find my call room bathed in sunshine. Uh-oh. I was supposed to get up at 6 to check in on my patients before morning rounds. What the hell time was it, anyway?
9:30! Great-I was in deep shit with Shore, for sure. Some attendings tolerated the occasional lapse in discipline. Shore, unfortunately, wasn't one of them. I bounced out of bed, and made a quick run to the can and the sink. Shaving would have to wait til my morning break.
Still dressed in yesterday's scrubs, I ran to the ward and slid into Guerboian's room without being spied by the team of fleas gathered at the other end of the hall. If I could look occupied by some aspect of the comatose man's care, I might be able to convince the group that I'd been busy at his side all morning long.
The rounders reached Guerboian's room fairly quickly. Shore was leading the heme-onc team, along with a few stragglers. I recognized Siva from GI, McKesson from Pulmonary, and, for ID-House!
I greeted Shore confidently and took a deep breath, ready to launch into a professional summary of my dedicated morning duties with Mr. G, when House piped up, "Hey, Rip Van Winkle, did you snore through my page?"
I tried not to look at House's smirk-or Shore's frown-as I attempted-not very successfully-to continue my presentation. House later told me I had turned redder than a kid with scarlet fever. After I'd started talking to him again.
Shore's lecture about the virtues of timeliness and integrity was mercifully brief, albeit public and humiliating. I was beginning to see that House shared a couple of unpleasant traits with my ex-wife, so I wasn't exactly thrilled when he pulled me aside after rounds and insisted I meet him in his office.
House's office was a small room at the end of one of the hospital's yet-to-be-renovated wings. A dirty window filtered in some shards of sunlight to brighten the room's dingy, flaking walls. An unvarnished wooden desk near the far wall was smothered in books, papers, and journals. The center of the room was dominated by a large portable whiteboard whose tray precariously held towers of erasable markers.
I was grateful that House didn't waste time with the niceties. I was still angry at his betrayal and in no mood for anything but business. "So, what do you want?" I said coldly.
"List time." He walked over to the board and picked up a black marker, drawing a line down the center and making two columns: Findings and Suspects.
Dame Jean. Wounded by my patient's death and my professional near-miss, I had totally forgotten the murder. Now where did I put that list...? I found the wrinkled papers among my scrip pads in the pocket of my white coat-in my haste to do House's bidding Monday, I had written my notes on the back of several prescriptions.
House jotted down the items we had identified first, then listed potential suspects. The letter from Dame Jean's attorney basically read "They're willing to settle." and the defendant's name. House wrote Attorney under the Suspect column.
"And the defendant?"
I snorted. "It's paramount."
"Obviously. Well, come on, who'd she sue?"
"Abbott and Costello." I threw up my hands in frustration before trying again. "Paramount Pictures."
House looked surprised. "Really?" He stared off into the corner, his brow creased. "Universal, Granada, MGM..." He shook his head. "Nope, I don't think they did anything with Holmes. A singularity. Okay, next."
English Lavender led to House listing "Attorney, Sir Geoffrey, and Thaddeus Wilde". House promptly drew a line through the latter two names, and asked me for the attorney's name and number. I looked back at my notes and identified the lawyer as Jonathan Binder, of Crane, Poole, and Schmidt's Manhattan office.
"Mr. Binder will see you now." Aimee's perky voice shook me out of my extended reverie. I gave her my warmest smile as we walked past her desk. Aimee Wilson...
House's olecranon seemed to find its way to my intercostal muscles. I quickly extended a hand to greet the dynamic attorney. Binder motioned for us to sit in two very expensive leather chairs across his very expensive cherry desk. Leaning forward, he folded his very expensive hands and rested them on his very expensive blotter.
"Billable or non-billable?"
I waited for House to answer that one. "We work with Les Trade."
Binder made a face. "Barely billable." He waved his hand around the plush suite. "Not exactly County rates..."
"Dame Jean." House said succinctly.
"I already talked to Grissom and Taylor. We had some matters to discuss, decided to get a bite to eat, chose the Lauriston 'cause it was close, ate, discussed, went home."
"You didn't see Sir Geoffrey...or another diner...?"
Binder shook his head.
"And you?" House kept firing.
"Dame Jean was very...billable. Wouldn't have been me."
"Matters...?" House probed.
"Not anymore, she's dead..." Binder returned. "We were expecting a pretty big settlement from Paramount for using the character Moriarty without her permission on Star Trek Next Gen."
"Which episode was that?" I jumped in impulsively. "Season 3 or Season 4-"
"Wil-son is a Trek-kie," House sung in a hoarse whisper until my elbow found his ribs.
I cleared my throat. "You don't think that Paramount could've..."
"Barry and I are like this," Binder crossed his index and middle finger. "No. Besides, they had plenty of warning after the book thing."
"The book thing...?" I interjected.
Binder turned to his computer and pulled up a series of files. "I think it was '85..." He pulled out a post-it and scribbled a name and address.
House and I looked at the note: John Stern, Editor, Pocket Books, Simon and Schuster.
I was very surprised to find that there was actually a Star Trek office at Simon and Schuster. And that under their Pocket Books banner, they published over a score of original Star Trek titles every year. These included not only new science-fiction stories, but spacecraft construction plans and dictionaries for Klingon and Vulcan. Apparently, I discovered, there was enough reader interest that most of those volumes became best sellers. I shook my head—it seemed unbelievable that fans of a TV series could be so obsessed.
Editor Stern was due out of his meeting a half hour ago. House yawned, then grabbed my wrist and pulled down my cuff to see my watch. "What does the big hand on the Enterprise logo say?" he grumbled.
Annoyed, I brushed him away. "It's not even 5:30. You know, 'A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.'"
"Not in my book." House reluctantly picked up a hardback copy of "Spock's Sacrifice" from the end table and started leafing through it with an expression of polite revulsion.
"Five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list," John Stern announced proudly as he walked up to us.
House snapped the book shut and threw it back on the table. "I'm more a Len Deighton kind of chap."
Stern shrugged. "I don't do 'Deep Space Nine'. That's Kevin Palmer's side."
The editor led us into his office. "So what can I do you for, guys?"
"Jonathan Binder suggested we talk to you about 'the book thing'." House explained.
Stern leaned back in his chair, nodding. "Ah. Sad. Very sad."
We waited. Stern finally sat forward and motioned for us to move closer. He whispered, "Damn Jean Conan Doyle."
Okay, I was lost. "What?"
Stern shook his head. "That's what they called her. It was a terrific manuscript, you know."
House's turn. "What?"
Stern sighed. "About ten years ago, one of the literary agents we work with gave us this great manuscript. It was a terrific story—Kirk, Spock, and McCoy meet Sherlock Holmes."
"Oh, fan fiction," I nodded.
"No, this was good." Stern continued. "The characters were really on target—no Mary Sue shit—the plot was exciting—Holmes, Spock, and Kirk chase Jack the Ripper in Victorian England. Who was really a Tellarite named Springheeled Jack. A little Kirk action with Irene Adler. Some great humor with McCoy and Watson. And, a terrific twist at the end. A great package. We not only agreed to publish, but thought we'd run a big campaign with Star Trek IV coming out in'86-the same year as the 100th anniversary of the first Holmes story in the Strand. "
"So what happened?"
"Damn Jean. There had been some great Holmes books out those past few years. Nick Meyer's Seven-Percent Solution—Holmes and Freud—Michael Dibdin, Holmes and well, himself, and even Holmes and Fu Manchu. All of a sudden, Her Lordship decides she doesn't want to allow any more pastiches—" Stern tapped the side of his head, "and no amount of begging—or cash—could change her mind. So, we scrapped the book." He threw up his hands.
"The author must have certainly been…disappointed," I suggested.
House looked pensive. "Name, please."
I was astonished. "I didn't know Ellery Queen was still writing in the eighties! Or were, you know, 'cause there were two-"
Stern held up a hand. "Hillary, not Ellery-"
House interrupted. "Names, please."
Stern checked in his file drawer and pulled out a yellowed paper from which he read: Liz Ambrose and Sofia Withers.
House stood up suddenly, knocking his chair back a few feet, and startling both me and Stern. "Wilson, come on!" House shouted, grabbing my arm. "The game is a foot from the goalposts, and I just caught the ball!"
Les Trade and Mac Taylor met us at the Park. House had been very tight-lipped about his inspiration-any hopes that he would confide in me had been dashed when he put on his shades and earphones and turned on his Walkman. We'd spent an uncomfortable 30-minute cab ride looking out our respective windows at the abominable city traffic.
The ferret-faced Inspector seemed very annoyed. "I see no reason why you've brought us back here," he complained.
House merely said, "Motive, means, and opportunity."
We walked down the garden path towards the Lauriston's kitchen and entered through a side door used by the staff. The kitchen was bustling with a plethora of preparations for the evening rush—six pots a'steamin', five grills a'cookin', four ovens baking, and a partridge in a pear sauce…you know the words.
Supervising the chaos from the center of the room was the Head Chef, a full-bodied woman who was a bit too zaftig for my taste. No Sophie Wilson…
House headed straight for her, however, and we followed…well, like ducklings. "Excuse me, can we talk to you for a second? Privately?"
She looked around at the pending platters and winced. "Now…?"
House nodded. Shrugging, she led us to a storage pantry behind the main kitchen, and waited for House to begin.
She looked surprised for a minute, then burst out laughing. "I haven't been called that in a while. But, yes. Half of her, anyway."
"Author of the manuscript, 'Elementary, My Dear Spock'?"
"Yeah, well, the book was better than the title," she said ruefully.
Taylor favored her with a piercing gaze. "You hated Dame Jean, didn't you?"
She gazed back, then sighed. "Look. Sure. We were pissed. But it's been ten years. I've got a great gig here. I'm not even into Star Trek any more."
Sophie looked directly at each of us, one by one, almost pleading "I did not kill Dame Jean. I didn't even know she was here—"
"I'm starved—what's on for tonight?" came a voice from behind a door that opened to reveal a small bathroom. The occupant was drying her hands on a paper towel, and was visibly startled to look up and see that so many of us were in the room. But not as startled as I was—for right in front of my eyes stood my hospital colleague, Dr. Beth Ambers.
"Beth," I exclaimed. "What…?"
Beth had stepped back several feet upon seeing me and House—her expression a mix of anxiety and fear. Her eyes momentarily darted toward the exit door, by which Mac Taylor was now leaning.
"Liz Ambrose?" House inquired gently.
Beth nodded dully.
Les Trade narrowed his eyes. "You eat here a lot, don't you?"
Sophie jumped in, "We always have leftovers. Residents don't make a lot of money."
House said softly, "It wasn't the money."
Beth's gaze focused on her Nike's. "The road not taken?" House continued.
Beth nodded again, her eyes still downcast.
Les looked at House. "What, her?"
House nodded. "I don't think you planned it. But I think you came in that night, exhausted and famished, and saw Dame Jean. Dining luxuriously at a restaurant you can't even afford. And it all came back…"
Beth turned her back to us and began to cry.
"You must've had the Lavender with you. It would be easy to pour it into Dame Jean's soup. Give her a night of abdominal pain and diarrhea…less than she deserved…"
Beth's sobs grew louder.
"Maybe you didn't think it was going to kill her. Maybe you just wanted yours back…"
Beth spun around, her tear-streaked face now overcome with anger.
"I'll tell you what I wanted back. My book—out on the shelves, on the best-seller list." She laughed hoarsely. "We could've swung that book into a writing deal for the Next Generation. I could be living in LA, with a house like OJ's in Brentwood. My own TV series after Star Trek. Maybe the screenplay for Star Trek V—anything would've been an improvement. Nick Meyer did it after '7 Percent Solution'—and our book was even better! I might even have married and divorced Patrick Stewart! Instead, I have this—"
She reached into her purse—Mac eased out his gun—and pulled out a latex rubber glove and held it up wagging in our faces. "Poop, pee, rectal exams, prostate massages, pap smears, phlegm, and vomit!" she shouted. "I could've spent my days and nights in Hollywood—and instead I spend them in shit!"
Mac briskly took the glove out of her hands and pulled her arms back to put on the handcuffs. I stood motionless, frozen, only dimly aware of House's self-satisfied smile and Les Trade's expression of disgust. Damn! Another one like my ex-wife…
"Because, Wilson, eliminate all other factors and the one which remains must be the truth." House said obscurely as he downed the last drops of his vodka tonic.
I opened a new bottle of Heineken. "But—"
"Tut—the simple truth is that you don't have a type. You fall for every woman you meet that isn't a candidate for a retirement home or a fat farm." House poured some of my beer into his glass. "You just remember the crazy ones."
House took a swig of the beer. "I on the other hand have standards. I won't go out with them unless they're crazy." He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
"I haven't seen you 'living large' lately," I teased, before adding, "Or me…"
"Well, my dear Wilson, we gotta do something about that." House bounced off his chair and picked up a motorcycle helmet from atop the grand piano. "I have a front-row table with my name etched in it at Scores. Have you seen Angelica's show? Meetcha downstairs in 5 minutes, and we can stop at Artie's Deli for a bite on the way…?
Scores, huh? Sounds like a winner. Score for House, and for me.
Red John Revealed
by Y S Pascal
Fian Fiction Rated PG
"Jane should be here," Lisbon insisted as she held open the door to the conference room.
Rossi's expression softened. "And you know why he isn't…"
Agent Hotchner took the seat at the head of the table and nodded at Reid and Prentiss to sit next to him. "Calling us was the right thing to do," he added, pulling out the chair to his left for his host. "Affection is never a reason to hide from the truth."
Lisbon looked away, her tone even, "Respect, Agent Hotchner. Respect."
Rossi clasped his hands in front of him and rested them on the table, his eyes meeting Lisbon's.
"You disagree with our profile," she began. It wasn't a question.
"Not entirely, Agent Lisbon. You are correct, the serial killer Red John is obsessed with Patrick Jane."
"If only Jane hadn't gone on TV…all of this…"
Dr. Reid snorted. "Would still have happened. Such sadism, such hatred, reveal an obsession hardly triggered by a three minute sound bite—Red John would have applauded the attention, not seek to avenge it. The seeds for murder had been planted long before."
Noting Lisbon's frown, Rossi leaned forward. "You told us about the baseball."
Lisbon looked confused. "We solved—you mean Jane's head injury?"
Rossi nodded, "The flashbacks."
Jane hadn't been too specific, Lisbon admitted, but he had revealed a few tidbits about his adolescence on the carny circuit. And how he'd run from going through with a psychic con to spare a sick young girl.
"A conscience," Hotchner stated.
"Bound to cause trouble sometime," added Rossi. "And yet it can be suppressed."
Lisbon felt the anger rise, "You're not implying that Jane—"
Prentiss' hand on her shoulder didn't reassure Lisbon. "A Jane."
No! Not a split personality. Yes, Jane had spent weeks in a mental hospital after the murders, but—not my Jane. Not my Jane!
Prentiss leafed through the file she'd laid on the table. "Patrick Jane was arrested at age 17 and spent a year in juvie for petty larceny. DUI at 19 in California. Nothing for 5 years until he's deported back to the US from Australia. Three years later, a wife and a baby, and a house in Van Nuys. A couple more years and he gets his big breaks—Oprah, Chopra, house in Beverly Hills, the Jag. Books, DVDs, six figure lecture circuit, self-improvement, the professional's con. It wasn't just one TV show.
"So you're saying the pressure got to him?" Lisbon ventured.
"Yes," Reid nodded, "to the other Jane, the repressed, bitter, angry failure, relegated to the shadows to watch his Pygmalion succeed."
"Wait—Pygmalion—you mean like My Fair Lady?"
"Bernard Shaw, really," Reid said. "Where Liza Doolittle never did come back to Henry Higgins."
"But Liza never dissed the sculptor that molded her," Rossi interjected, "she just moved on and married Freddy. With narcissism and sociopathy, that would have been hard enough to take. When Patrick Jane began denigrating the roots of his success, the trigger was pulled. The beast was set free."
Lisbon struggled to maintain her composure. She was a CBI agent, and she knew how to follow orders. Besides, she owed it to Bosco. Hadn't he given his life for hers?
"Does Jane know?" Her voice was a mere whisper.
"On some level, I think he does," Rossi returned.
Hotchner nodded. "That would explain the psychiatric hospitalization."
Helpless, Lisbon looked at her FBI colleagues. "So now what?"
Reid was already dialing on his iPhone. "Garcia, where is he?"
The voice on the speaker chirped, "In Los Angeles, we've got him narrowed down to a few flophouses near the Civic Center. JJ's on with LAPD and Derek's already on his way."
Lisbon turned to see Jane's shadow on the window beyond, his azure eyes trying to peer through the glass and the slit in the blinds. "Los Angeles-? Who?"
Hotchner leafed through the file in front of Prentiss. "Alex. About 20 aka's here, which one do you want."
"Patrick Jane's father," Rossi explained.
"Clearly a sociopath, as most con artists are. Charming, manipulative, and smart," Spencer Reid said, "Alex saw his son Patrick as a narcissistic projection of his own ambitions. When Patrick succeeded in besting his father-by miles-at his own game, the narcissistic insult was intolerable. Alex's rage led to the obsession to destroy his son through any means possible. For a man who couldn't truly love his son, what better way to kill Patrick than to kill those his son really did love?"
"Oh my God," whispered Lisbon, her face ashen.
"It was 'Chronos and Zeus', wasn't it?" Rossi said gently.
Lisbon met his eyes with a question.
"Sam Bosco's last words," said Rossi.
Lisbon nodded, and rested her head in her hands, her eyes brimming with tears.
The Musgrave Ritual
By Y S Pascal
Fan Fiction Rating R
The metal of the Colt's cylinder felt soothingly cool against Greg's throbbing jaw. He rocked back and forth on the edge of the bed, rhythmically stroking his cheek with the .22 for a few minutes, before falling back onto the mattress with a choking sob.
The blood spatter would make an intriguing contrast to the blue of his uniform, he imagined—he didn't know the word "reticulated" then. Patients with Fifth's Disease would always bring him back to the darkness of that room, and the desperation of his choices.
Greg slowly sucked the barrel of the handgun towards his mouth. He couldn't be sure if the metallic taste came from the gun or from his bleeding lip. This is a last meal, he thought, and almost smiled.
As his fingers moved to the trigger, the gun rested against his open wound, gifting him with a jolt of pain that radiated across his face. He allowed himself a small cry, but blinked back the tears that welled up in his tightly shut eyes. The second time, he pressed the barrel onto the wound with some force. It was important to fully experience the pain, and not to violate the silence.
It was now time. Opening his eyes for one last look at the dimly lit room, Greg adjusted his grip and positioned his index finger on the trigger. It was now time.
"Hey," Wilson asked as he shot his head around the door. "You could've answered the door."
House quickly stuffed the picture back into the drawer and looked up. "I knew it. You made a copy."
"No, I got it from your lock box, Sherlock." Wilson threw the key at the desk and headed for the kitchen. "Burglars love them, you know."
The key slipped through House's fingers and landed by his feet. Kicking it to one side, House reached for his cane and followed Wilson. "There is a code…"
"Leiden. Want a beer?"
Disgusted, House turned on his heel and limped back into the sitting room. He dropped into a chair with a snort, and glared at Wilson as he eased onto the couch.
Wilson gulped down several ounces before giving House a broad smile.
House said unenthusiastically. "The respiratory therapist?"
House sighed. "Is she bigger than a breadbox?"
"In some places," Wilson grinned.
House leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. Wilson would spill it all by himself. And quickly, as was his wont.
The creak behind him was unexpected. He sat up—Wilson was gone. "Hey!"
Wilson quickly closed the desk drawer, the photo in his hand.
House lunged from his chair, successfully tackling only his desk. Wilson had easily escaped to the kitchen. House winced as he hobbled over to his cane. He winced again when he heard the low-pitched giggle.
Wilson was still chortling when he inched back into the room, displaying the picture. The clean-shaven young man with the wavy hair and the piercing blue eyes was a grim, uniformed avatar.
House averted his gaze. "Navy. Junior ROTC."
"Ah." Wilson studied the photo. "The 'Cap'n' must've liked that."
House sat back down on the couch, his back to Wilson. "I was 16."
Greg gasped for breath. His chest racked with pain, his muscles screaming in agony. One more burst of effort and he could make it… He stretched out his arms as he fell, trying in vain to reach the undulating blue surface above him, to feed his oxygen-starved body. Hitting the ground, he coughed a geyser of bloody sputum, and then remembered nothing.
Consciousness returned slowly, with the blurred perception of light and sound before form. White walls, white sheets, white angels. Heaven as contemporary furniture design. Heaven as prison. Greg tugged against his restraints, but was only rewarded with a stab of pain from his right lower chest and his ipsilateral leg. His groans faded into a few more hours of sleep.
"How are you feeling?"
Greg opened his eyes to see them looking back at him from the face of his mother. The faint scent of alcohol tickled his nose, and he blinked several times to clear his vision before replying, "What happened?"
"They don't know," Mrs. House sat back in her chair, careful not to disturb the pristine white linens on Greg's bed. "Pneumonia is what they're saying, but…they don't know."
Greg tried to move his arms once again, to no avail. "Can you take these things off?"
"Commander Bennett said he'd be back this afternoon. We shouldn't…inconvenience him now."
Greg didn't bother to nod. "Is Dad here?"
"The doctors say you can go home by next week," Mrs. House continued lightly, "but they do want you to rest as much as you can."
Greg looked at her—she dropped her eyes, and clutched her handbag closer to her chest. For just a moment, her sleeve slipped back on her forearm, and she quickly pulled the fabric back over her wrist to hide the bruises.
Her voice had an angry edge now. "How could you!"
The tightness in Greg's chest returned. Armor for the natural question to follow. "What?"
She pursed her lips, now as white as her face, and said with more than a trace of sarcasm, "Your father's son."
Commander Bennett was even taller than Greg's father, towering over the prone young man who lay shackled on the bed, a stentorian judge and executioner. As Officer of the Day, he had the task of informing J. Gregory House, III, of the charges against him. Possession of marijuana, laced with PCP, found in his locker. Off base, probably nothing more than probation and a few months of group therapy. On base, likely a stint in juvie and permanent expulsion from Junior ROTC. You can forget Annapolis. And you should have expected your actions would have a significant effect on your father's military career. Was it worth it?
Greg stared, uncomprehending.
"Was it worth it?" Bennett asked again.
Under the sheets, Greg cleched his fists. He'd stopped smoking everything when he'd joined the track team—it cut his wind. How could they think he'd won so many meets using grass? How could they think he'd be stupid enough to keep it in his locker? Greg looked around at the accusing faces around his hospital bed, his mother's among them, and said tersely, "Fuck you all."
The discharge summary gave PCP intoxication as the primary diagnosis. The lung atelectasis was ascribed to fibrosis from chronic substance inhalation—the right lower lobectomy had successfully removed the damaged tissue. The urine drug screen had been borderline for cannabinoids—20 ng/ml. The doctors admitted they should have done the test immediately upon admission, not a day later after the stash was found.
Greg was processed and discharged into his parents' custody with a minimal amount of bail. His father could still call in some markers on base.
The family drove home in angry silence. The Captain's only words to his son were an order after their arrival home to go to his room and wait. Greg's legs felt leaden as he shuffled down the hallway to his door. Dead man walking, he thought, as his right hand instinctively reached down to massage a recurrent twinge in his right calf. Glancing back at the shadows of his parents, Greg stood up straight and walked the final few steps briskly. I'm not going to let him see me hurt.
In his room, Greg's eyes fell on his trophy shelf. T-Ball, Little League, Cross-Country. He stood in front of them for just a moment before sweeping them off the shelf to crash onto the floor. One hit the hardwood and shattered, the batter's head rolling off the statue and into a corner of the room. He let out a sound halfway between a sob and a laugh, and threw himself on his bed.
The hour lasted an eternity. Even his headphones couldn't drown out the shouts of his parents' "discussion"—nor stop the shivers he felt every time the house walls shook from his father's underscoring banging. Finally, too soon, it was quiet—except for the heavy footsteps coming down the hall.
Greg looked at the window, and thought about making his escape. His surgical scars were still aching, his muscles still stiff, but, if he went out feet first, he could probably make a run for it...but not off base…
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Better to get it over with now. He stood up and faced the door as it opened. His father stood tightly framed in the door jamb, eyes flashing, gripping in his right hand his heaviest leather belt.
"Skivvies, Mister," he barked.
Greg nodded and tried to steady his trembling hands as he unbuttoned his shirt.
The pain of his beating was nothing compared to the humiliation of seeing Will Bennett appointed the new leader of Greg's cadet class upon his return to school. Will would now also take Greg's place on the varsity track team, the baseball team, and probably in Cheryl's arms. It was all so fing unfair…he had tried so hard to be all they wanted him to be.
By day's end, eager to escape the intrusive questions and taunts of his classmates, Greg sought solace alone in a dusty, deserted corner of the schoolyard. He gingerly sat down on the dirt-covered concrete and leaned his still-tender back against the custodian's corrugated aluminum shed. He reached for a small twig next to his hand, and resting his head on his knees, began to doodle with it in the sand.
"Hey, there, son. Whatcha doin'?"
The tremulous voice startled Greg. He looked up to see a small, wizened man in a stained khaki uniform carrying a large broom.
"Hi, Mr. Musgrave." Greg smiled. "Throwing myself on the sand…"
Musgrave looked puzzled for a moment then said generously, "Well, let me clean it up for you."
Greg couldn't resist a chuckle. He stood up slowly, favoring his right leg, and gently brushed off his jeans. "Thought you were done for the day."
"Never done," Musgrave replied quickly as he swept the dirt onto the mud and grass next to the concrete. "Always something more to check." His sweeping became even more vigorous.
"Uh, it looks pretty clean…"
"Gotta make sure." Musgrave gave Greg another pointed look, "They think I'm nuts, but I check 'em all. Every door, every lock, every night." The man resumed his intensive sweeping.
"O-kay." Greg looked at his watch and decided to pack up his books and head for his Arctic home.
"See if I didn't check things, we coulda had a robbery last week."
"No kidding." Greg's stomach growled. What could I make for dinner tonight…?
"I swear that door was unlocked. Who knows what they might've stolen."
There was a can of soup in the pantry Greg was certain. Maybe even some noodles. "What?" Greg spun around to face the custodian.
"That door." Musgrave pointed at the side entrance to the north classroom wing. "Open. Unlocked. If I didn't double check-"
Greg grabbed the man with both hands. "When was this?"
Musgrave's voice shot up an octave. "A week or two ago, I guess."
"The date!" Greg cried. "What day?"
Greg didn't need to hear the answer.
Cui bono? Greg took a clean piece of paper and a black marker and started to make a list. Will Bennett, for sure. And his martinet of a father. Will gets on the fast track to Annapolis and the Commander gets a shot at undermining Dad. A two-fer. It wouldn't be hard. Will sees him go down at the practice, runs home a block in the chaos and gets the dope, and then hides in the Boys' until Musgrave locks up for the night. He goes to the locker, slips the joints through the locker vents, and slips out the side door. He…can't lock it because it's a bolt and you need a key from the outside, so he leaves it unlocked. And, he wears gloves the whole time, so no prints.
Greg stared at the paper, then drew a line through the Commander's name, and two lines under the word martinet. As for Will, the whole deck of cards is contingent on Greg's collapsing in the first place. How could Will guarantee that?
Greg leaned back in his chair and tossed his baseball in the air a few times, pondering the question. Whoever planted the grass either had to know he was going to collapse…or had something else in mind…
Greg took another piece of paper and began a new list—his activities working back from the practice. Changing in the locker room at the gym. Dumping his trig and social studies books in the hall locker. No dope. Trig and social studies. Lunch with Cheryl. Lunch with Cheryl…
"Dad's shipping out the next day. We always do a family thing for dinner." Cheryl smiled back at him ruefully.
"Okinawa?" mumbled Greg through a large bite of his hamburger.
"Uh huh." Cheryl nibbled at her sandwich. "Only 12 months. When's your father getting reassigned?"
"Uncle Elmo's new Navy," Greg added without enthusiasm, "He'll be here at least another year."
"Oh." Cheryl looked down at her plate. Greg inched his hand towards hers. If only Cheryl could adore him as much.
"Look, why don't we hit a movie Saturday, help you forget?"
"No." Her eyes glistened. "I can't."
"Your mom can take care of herself for a couple of hours. They're used to it."
Cheryl rose suddenly and grabbed her tray. "No, Greg. I can't."
Without waiting for a response, she turned and walked away.
Greg stood by the table alone, surrounded by the laughter from the adjacent table of Will and his friends.
She hadn't been at school today. Somebody said it was the flu. He had to talk to her. And he was grounded for a whole month. The window beckoned, but the soreness in his back kept him in his room. Tomorrow at school would do.
Greg went back to his list and added the sequence of his morning classes. Nothing unusual happened that he could recall that day, not even at home. Dry cereal, stuff the homework in the backpack, check out Dad's room with the dime-bouncing-made bed, check out Mom's room with the snoring mound of blankets and the empty glass on the night table, then out the door. Nothing unusual.
The day before was a different story. Or rather the evening before. He'd come home after practice and finished the last of his homework relatively quickly. There was a slice of pizza from two days ago in the refrigerator—Greg scarfed it down cold. A peek in the living room: Mom had a fresh glass of wine and a new episode of Dallas. And Dad was off at work.
Greg eased quietly out the door and jogged the half-mile to Dick, the closest of the teen-made escape tunnels from the base. Cheryl would be waiting for him at the party, so he increased his pace and arrived at the ramshackle house in 15-20 minutes. The woofers massaged his skin as he loped up the front stairs with conscious rebellion against the rhythm of the beat. He had tried to introduce Cheryl to jazz to no avail.
The inside of the house was dark and dank with the smell of sweat and beer and weed. Every room, closet, and hallway seemed packed with undulating masses of young people—finding Cheryl would be a challenge in the crowd. Will was the first one he recognized, sitting on the floor in the back corner of a back room with his usual claque passing around a joint. There were several girls hanging on boys in the group—it took Greg several minutes in the dimly lit room to identify the head in Will's lap as Cheryl's.
Will dramatically put an arm around Cheryl's chest holding her down as she opened her eyes and looked up at Greg. Her eyes were bloodshot and her words were slurred as she attempted a greeting.
"Let her go," Greg commanded. "Now."
Will took a toke from the cigarette and leaned over and gave Cheryl a long, deep kiss. She pushed him away fruitlessly, her arms falling limply to her side. Greg dove at the couple, pulling Will's head back by his ears and reaching for Cheryl's shoulders.
"She said 'no'," Greg shouted as Will released her and lunged at him. Cheryl staggered up and leaned unsteadily against the wall.
Will's head hit Greg squarely in the abdomen. Greg was grateful for the months he had spent doing sit-up after sit-up—the blow caused Will to cry out in pain. The youths squared off against each other, landing and dodging punches as they weaved among the raucous crowd. Greg's training in boxing was giving him an obvious advantage as he maneuvered closer and closer to Cheryl and whispered for her to run.
Cheryl lurched towards the room door, with Greg as a formidable shield as the two wended their way through the maze of partygoers. Will would have quite a shiner tomorrow, Greg thought, and should have a doctor look at his bleeding nose. The wave of partiers closed behind them, and Greg turned and guided Cheryl towards the front door. As they reached the front hall, Greg was astonished to see Will at his side, brandishing a large poker which clipped him on his right leg. Greg shouted for Cheryl to get out of the house, as he grabbed the end of the heavy weapon blocking its trajectory towards his head. With a burst of effort, Greg pulled the poker from Will's hands and, holding it up to defend his withdrawal, ran out the door and down the steps towards Cheryl.
The fresh air had revived the young woman somewhat. She mumbled a barely audible, "Thank you."
"What the hell are you on?" was Greg's irritated question.
"Just a coupl'a beers."
"Shit." Greg put an arm around her shoulders and let her lean against him as they walked.
With a groan she pitched forward and vomited into the grass. Greg gently stroked her hair as she heaved, then helped her back to her feet with practiced ease.
"Just a coupl'a beers…" He mumbled quietly. Louder, he added, "I'll take you home."
Greg rubbed the spot on his calf where Will's poker had hit its mark. The area wasn't bruised, but, over a week later, it still hurt more than the more recent welts on his thighs. He felt his leg more carefully—it seemed slightly swollen as compared to his left side. And a little warmer, too.
He hopped over to a pile of books strewn next to his desk. Mr. Lange's book was buried under the paperbacks he still had to read for English. Greg pulled out the heavy volume and gave a silent thanks to his very cool Science teacher. Medicine wasn't in the script—or the curriculum at Annapolis—but it wouldn't hurt to check out battle wounds and how they play out.
Contusion—Greg liked the sound of the word. So much better than "sucker punch". His eyes darted from page to page, grabbing words and clutching them so they wouldn't flee. A new piece of paper, a black marker, a new list grew by his side. And then he took the list and paced, silently playing the music of the magic words he'd written over and over with a crescendo of intensity that culminated in a joyous shout.
His father's room was still empty, the bed untouched. His mother had fallen asleep, and even Greg's enthusiastic shaking didn't easily rouse her. When she finally acknowledged his presence, he spurted out his question, "Did they do a blood gas?"
It took several tries for his mother to respond. They'd called her a few hours after his admission, she remembered. At least that's when she answered the phone. "I think they did a chest X-ray. I don't know. I didn't ask."
Greg skipped school for the first time in over a year to visit the JAG Corps office on the base. Lt. Commander Monroe was impressed with the young student's hypothesis and agreed to help him with the necessary research and review of his records. The trial would be in a few weeks, and Greg was finally seeing a glimmer of hope.
The review was damning. The flight surgeon on duty in the base hospital ER had few tools and less experience. No CT scan or MRI, no ventilation/perfusion scan, no Doppler ultrasound, a frustratingly old X-ray machine, and a primitive laboratory that was limited by its evening staff dinner shifts. No blood gas had been done initially, and the general surgeon was eager to simply crack a chest and then go home as soon as possible. The true diagnosis was confirmed by the Bethesda hematologists after examining Greg—hereditary resistance to activated protein C. The trauma to Greg's leg from the fight at the party had resulted in a deep venous thrombosis that had thrown loosened clots to the right lower lobe of his lung, blocking the flow of oxygen into the bloodstream.
Greg's anticoagulant therapy reduced his risk of further lung damage, but effectively washed him out of JROTC and ended any hopes of a military career. Lt. Commander Monroe's attempts to have the charges dropped on Greg's behalf were unsuccessful. Prosecutors responded that his new diagnosis did not explain the presence of marijuana in his drug test, and, more importantly, in his locker. A trial date was confirmed for the coming week before the local juvenile court judge.
Greg tore his JROTC uniform off of its hanger. He had no use for it anymore. He'd wear it just as a favor for Commander Monroe. The fit was wrong, his longer hair now teasing the collar. He shoved his hands in the pockets—another demerit offense—and pulled out the paper with his list of "suspects".
Smoothing out the paper, he grabbed his marker and sat down at his desk. Will Bennett was still an active suspect, no question. Even if he couldn't predict Greg's collapse, he was capable of taking advantage of it for sure. He added the words 'unlocked door' followed by an exclamation point.
Anyone could have remained in the school after hours and slipped in the drugs. But what would anyone other than Will have to gain by framing him? Greg chewed on his marker—he was missing something, but what?
Greg sat up. How had they known to check in his locker? The prosecution's briefs clearly cited that the school administration had opened the lock with a release key—but what had triggered the search in the first place? What if it hadn't been his collapse?
Greg's father appeared in the doorway in full dress uniform, bearing a raft of medals on his chest. His voice was steady and firm. "It's time."
The prosecution's case was straightforward. Presence of marijuana, albeit a small amount, detected in the drug screen. 3 marijuana cigarettes laced with phencyclidine found in the defendant's locker. The latter was enough for a felony conviction in the state.
Lt. Commander Monroe began the defense with an expert witness on drug testing who testified convincingly that borderline drug tests were possible with secondary inhalation of marijuana smoke, such as at, oh, a party. Monroe then called his next witness, School Custodian Reggie Musgrave.
In a trembling high pitched voice, Musgrave related his discovery of the unlocked door. In light of this discovery, Monroe argued, the evidence found in Greg's locker was circumstantial, and could have been planted by anyone.
Greg was never called to the stand. After each side's summary and rebuttals were completed, the judge briefly adjourned the court to review the presented facts of the case in private quarters with the attorneys.
Greg sidled up to the Custodian as the defense group huddled outside the courtroom. "Uh, thanks for coming, uh, to my…thing."
"Sure. You're a good kid. And you don't think I'm nuts," Musgrave responded.
Greg smiled. "You know I've got this medical book Mr. Lange gave me…" He hesitated, practicing the term in his head before continuing. "I think you've got OCD."
Musgrave frowned. "What?"
"Obsessive-compulsive—you always gotta double check."
"Your medical book. Does it say I'm nuts?"
Greg shook his head. "Not if it doesn't bother you. They say it's actually pretty common, especially among doctors."
"Uh, Mr. Musgrave. Why'd they open my locker?"
The Custodian looked away for a moment. "I didn't mean to get you in trouble."
Greg's eyes narrowed. "What do you mean?"
"Well," Musgrave hesitated, "it's not just the doorknobs. You see I always walk down the hall at the end of the day and make sure all the lockers are closed tight. That night, your locker door was a little pulled out. I knew something was wrong."
A flash of anger swept over Greg and he turned away to regain control of his feelings and avoid frightening the little man. Taking a deep breath, he turned back and calmly asked, "Anything else?"
"You've got a good eye. Did you notice anything else…anything different…that night?"
Musgrave scratched his head. "Come to think of it, I did," he answered slowly. "I remember now, in the hallway, and the gym. Sweet, a sweet smell…like a candy apple."
Monroe appeared at the courtroom door and announced it was time to return inside. Greg didn't hear him the first time. Or the second.
The judge ruled in favor of the defendant for lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. However, calling on Greg to come forward, she made the ruling contingent on Greg being periodically tested for drugs and alcohol over the next two years. If his tests remained negative, Greg would be free of the court's jurisdiction with his file permanently closed at age 18.
The ride back to Greg's house was as usual frigidly silent. The Captain didn't even bother to drive the car into the garage…"I'll be leaving for work". Greg's mother paused by the kitchen and looked him up and down. Her eyes reddened, and she turned away. Greg didn't wait to hear the liquor cabinet open—he hid in his room and, as soon as his Dad's car drove away, climbed out of the window and snuck through a hole in the backyard fence.
Cheryl's house was a 15 minute jog using the street. Through the backyards, he could shave 6 or 7 minutes off his time. The pain in his calf was almost gone, but it did make his vaults a bit more precarious, so ten minutes had elapsed before he reached the back yard of Cheryl's bungalow. Cheryl would be walking back from school now. Greg crept alongside the house and across the front lawn. He crouched behind a large hedge near the corner of the street to wait.
Suddenly, the glint from a car parked just around the corner caught his eye. He gasped. Was the license—yes, the same. Waves of anger washed over him, and he gave up any pretense of control, storming back to the side of Cheryl's house and banging on her parents' window, until two strong arms raised the pane.
Face to face with his father, Greg was shorn of words. Neither man spoke nor broke their gaze. Finally, his father turned away from the sill and said to Cheryl's mother. "Close the window, Linda. It's cold."
Greg saw the shadow out of the corner of his eye. How long had Cheryl been standing there? Greg snorted. Of course she knew.
Greg finally turned and faced her. "It didn't work. Why don't you just call your father?"
Cheryl's face was streaked with tears, "I'm sorry, Greg. I'm…"
Greg didn't look at her as he walked by. "Fuck you."
Greg took the sidewalk route back home. The front door was open when he arrived at his house, and he entered and slammed it shut.
His mother stood outside the door to his room, anger blazing in her eyes. The familiar scent of alcohol pervaded the hallway. Greg stopped and faced her, searching for a shred of comfort in her gaze.
He didn't expect the blows. A hard right to his jaw and another to his lip. He felt the searing pain and tasted the salt and the blood. I love you, too.
His mother fell against the wall, her body wracked with sobs, her hands clawing the faux wood paneling writing words only she could hear. Greg walked past her and entered his room, closing and locking the door behind him.
He had hidden the gun the night of his beating. His father hadn't even noticed it was missing yet. Maybe he'd had other things on his mind. Greg tenderly lifted the handgun from the drawer, his hands caressing it gently for a few moments as he slowly shuffled towards his bed. The metal of the Colt's cylinder felt soothingly cool against Greg's throbbing jaw…
Wilson shivered and blinked. "Why didn't you...uh? I mean…" his outstretched hands pointed at House.
"It wasn't time," House said quietly. "It wasn't time."
Sessions: House in Therapy
by Y S Pascal
Fan Fiction Rating R
Chapter 1: Session Number Six
Therapist: You look tired…
House: Too much rest…
Therapist: Okay. Why don't we do some work then?
House: (glumly) Peachy.
T: Here's some paper. There's a pencil on the table.
H: (snorts) You going to make me write lines?
T: (chuckles) You're in rehab, not detention. This'll be fun.
H: Oh, goody. Let's do fun.
T: You ready? I want you to make two columns.
H: Ionic or Doric?
T: Huh? No, just draw a line down the middle. That's right.
H: Wow, do I get a gold star?
T: Not yet. Now on the left, I want you to write 'Things I like about me'.
H: How do you spell 'I'…?
T. And on the right, 'Things I don't like about me'.
H: I don't have enough paper…
T: Write small.
H: And when does the fun start exactly…?
T: Go ahead and read me something from the 'like' list.
T: Pick something light.
H: I can't.
T: Oh… There's nothing you like about yourself?
H: Well…I have a crush on my right nipple…
T: Come on, Greg. You're not taking the question seriously.
H: You're not taking my answer seriously.
T: Hm. I suppose not. All right. Let me try a different question. Do you deserve love?
H: Ooh. Nice lob. Yes. When I've paid her. Back at 'ya.
T: For free.
H: (snorts) All together now, 'There's no such thing as unconditional love.'
T: You're right. With one exception.
H: I'm waiting. 'Mommy'?
T: No. You.
H: (snorts) Me?
T: The only person who can love you unconditionally is you.
H: That ain't happenin'. Look at this column.
T: Yeah. You missed a few things…
H: Now I'm having fun…
T: Now you're getting homework-
H: Ha. Okay, okay, add 'egotistical'.
T: Nope. You got that column down. (beat) I'm going to give you a baby.
H: (laughs nervously) What?
T: We're meeting again Monday. Until then, you've got a baby. (beat) And his name is Gregory House.
H: Gee, and I thought I was going to get lucky…
T: I think you are. You're going to love that baby like he was never loved before. That's your assignment.
H: Sorry to disappoint you, but my mother adored me.
T: Sorry to disappoint you, but your mother adored an image of herself. So, you've got a job to do to make it up to the kid. (beat) I'm afraid our time is up. See you next week. Greg?…Greg, I have another client, so, uh, if you'll just, uh—
Chapter 2: Session Number Seven
Therapist: Well, you look much better today.
House: Haven't slept for days…
Therapist: (chuckles) Okay. (beat) How's baby Gregory doing?
House: (sniffs) I gave him a big warm hug and he suffocated to death.
T: Hm. Still angry.
H: Just give me your diagnosis. You'll be wrong, you know.
T: Mm. All right. Narcissistic Personality Disorder, with co-morbid depression. Some Histrionic and Paranoid traits. Some OCD traits—well, all doctors have that. How'm I doing?
H: (exaggerated) Histrionic? Me?!
T: (chuckles) (beat) So, all cured now?
T: Not kidding. There's the diagnoses, I'll give you a list of reading materials, just come back and let me know when you're fine.
H: I'm fine…(snorts)
T: (chuckles) Yeah. Peachy. (beat) You've got the hour.
H: (sound of fingers drumming) (beat) I don't think you're right about my mother.
T: Maybe. I never met her. Except through you.
Silence, except for sound of clock ticking.
H: Why…why do you think you can help me?
T: Because you're not alone.
H: Wrong again.
T: Grandiosity talking.
H: Yeah? You get a lot of doctors here?
T: I get a lot of clients who live in black and white. Grandiosity, or the toilet.
H: (chuckles) Whoosh…
T: There is gray, you know.
H: (beat) Not for me.
T: Not yet. But it's a good goal.
H: Really? See, in my world, you've got life and you've got death. Gray is a vegetative state.
T: But there are other worlds…where gray is a moonlight walk with a dear friend, the wind on your face on a downhill run, a potluck supper at the local homeless shelter, a quiet afternoon reading Jane Austen—okay, watching a monster truck rally…
H: (yawns loudly) Except for the truck rally…
T: Aha. That's a start. Now for your homework…
H: Oh, fuck…
T: Well, you could put that on the list if you want. It's your script. Paint some comfortable grays, and we'll talk about them on Wednesday.
H: (Grunting) These sessions?
H: Not on my list.
Sound of door closing.
Chapter 3: Session Number Twelve
Therapist: Hi, Greg. (sighs) Come on in.
House: You look terrible…
Therapist: I can't believe it…
House: Sht happens.
T: You okay?
H: (snorts) I don't know. It's tempting sometimes.
T: Oh… How tempting?
H: I had a patient once, a recovering alcoholic. He used to tell me how tired he was, tired of "not drinking today"… how normal people get up every day without having to "not drink". That's all he could think about…
T: Not drinking?
H: Not thinking about not drinking.
T: So he killed himself…
H: (shrugs) BAC was .12. 'Bridge freezes before road surface'…
T: (sighs) Sht happens.
Silence. Sound of clock ticking.
H: Going to the funeral?
T: No. I don't think the family wants to see me.
Silence. Sound of clock ticking.
H: I don't like funerals.
T: Been to many?
H: I only remember one…
T: Who died?
H: (snorts) My family…
T: Hm. You want to go with that?
Silence. Sound of clock ticking.
H: I was around four…or five.
H: I remember my father…he was big. Wearing his sword…
T: And your mother?
H: No…just my father.
Silence. Sound of clock ticking.
H: I don't remember being sad…my toy box was bigger…
T: Bigger than what?
H: Her casket.
T: Mm? Not your mother?
H: No. I think she was still in the hospital…I didn't see her for a few weeks…or more…
Silence. Sound of clock ticking.
T: Who was she?
H: I don't think they ever gave her a name. At least I didn't know it…
T: How old…?
H: I don't know. They never talked about her…ever again. I don't think it could've been more than a few hours—don't erase that!
T: I was just going to change-
H: No, leave it!
T: Okay. Only child. Your parents never tried to have another baby?
H: Not that I know of. I think they did a hysterectomy.
T: Oh. I'm, uh, sorry.
H: So was she.
T: Well, it wasn't her fault.
H: Everything is somebody's fault. Except for my father. (sarcastically) He was always perfect.
T: He blamed her?
H: For everything. Including me.
T: That you weren't perfect.
H: That I wasn't him. That I could never ever be.
Silence. Sound of clock ticking.
H: No. But I do need a smoke. Isn't our time up?
T: Almost. You going to be okay?
H: I don't know…
Sound of door closing.
Chapter 4: Session Number Fourteen
Silence, except for sound of clock ticking.
Therapist: How'd it go?
House: Better than I expected.
Therapist: Did she bring, uh, the husband?
House: No. (beat) He's walking again.
Therapist: That's good. Isn't it?
House: Yeah… Fucking German engineering…
Therapist: (chuckles) So he's still there?
House: Yeah… She said about 3 more months.
Therapist: Maybe you should look—
Therapist: Okay. Just a thought. So, uh, what'd you all talk about?
Therapist: Besides you.
House: She thinks we should sue the bastard.
Therapist: Do you want to?
House: (sighs) Sometimes…
House: Look, I've been here, what, four weeks?
Therapist: Three and a half.
House: Okay. Three weeks, four days, and five fucking hours. Anyway, I'm now only addicted to cancer sticks.
House: I don't need another jones.
Therapist: So, you're worried that you—
House: Hell yes!
Therapist: You could set some boundaries.
Therapist: No…I guess not. So, how d'you leave it?
House: We'll meet for tea and scones every afternoon at four.
Therapist: Hm. You going to see her again?
House: She's leaving for Frankfurt…uh, last night.
Silence, except for sound of clock ticking.
House: (chuckles) "I have lost the one I love. I must now live in this terrible solitude where memory is torture."
Therapist: Pardonnez moi, M. Meursault. (beat) You don't seem to be crying.
House: (chuckles) It's only my funeral.. (beat) Did you know that Camus died in a car accident?
Therapist: Oh? That's too bad.
House: He had a train ticket in his pocket. If he'd taken the train, he'd still be—(chuckles) well, by now he'd still be dead.
Therapist: Okay… Your point…?
House: My Dad fought in Korea…
Therapist: (nods) Yes, you told me.
House: During deployment, they used to go around writing this phrase, "Kilroy was here".
Therapist: Yeah, I've heard of it. Kind of a joke.
House: No. I don't think so. Remember in Catcher in the Rye, where Holden says you couldn't get rid of all the 'Fuck you's written on Earth in a million years?
Therapist: Uh, maybe...
House: Well, that's the point. 'Kilroy' is a 'fuck you' to God.
Silence, except for the effing clock.
Therapist: So you think 'Kilroy was here' is a testament of existence. What I don't get is what that has to do with Stacy.
House: Forty years later, Kilroy is dead. Camus is dead.
Therapist: J.D. Salinger is still alive. I think…
House: (shrugs) What matters is that I am alive. Not forever, maybe not even for long, but for now. For now, I don't need her—anyone-anymore. (brightly) Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you. (sound of door opening) Greg was here.
Sound of door closing.
Chart note: Session #14. A little hypomanic, but—good—loving the baby.
Chapter 5: Session Number Sixteen
Sound of clock ticking.
House: You first.
Therapist: You a Harry Potter fan?
H: (nervous chuckle) Not really…
T: That's good. We fired him.
H: (muffled gasp) Uh…who…?
T: You're welcome to stay.
H: Wh—what do you mean?
T: Or not. Up to you.
H: (pause) The judge…
T: I can sign off on the release.
H: Oh. (pause) I can just…go?
Sound of clock ticking.
H: I um…I…Well, fine.
T: All right. I'll bring the paperwork by this afternoon. (beat) Just do me a favor.
The therapist scribbles something on a scrap of paper, and hands it to House.
H: What's this?
T: Howard is the best pain man at Hopkins. Just tell him I told you to call.
H: (quietly) That's a long way to go…
T: Yeah. But maybe tomorrow…
H: (snorts) Yeah… Thanks.
House stands up and puts the paper in his pocket.
H: See you around…?
T: Up to you. Good-bye, Greg.
H: Look, I'm, uh…
T: I know. Just close the door.
H: (pause) I uh…yeah, thanks.
Sound of clock ticking. Finally, sound of door closing.
T: You're welcome.
Clinical note: Case closed. For now.
Chapter 6: The Last Meeting
Therapist: I see you're all packed.
House: Waitin' for my passport.
T: (chuckle) Just a couple of signatures. Need a pen?
H: Thanks. Voldemort didn't trust me to keep one.
T: (sighs) I'm sorry. (pause) It was our fault…
H: (shrugs) It was his job.
T: No, I mean…
H: Oh. (pause, nervous chuckle) Should'a paid him more.
T: You'd been doing so well…
H: I am. This one, too?
T: Yes. Right there. (pause) Um…
H: Okay. I'm sprung now?
T: (sighs) You can go. But—
H: (joking) I'd better keep walking…
T: I'm sorry…
H: I can't run with this leg, you know…
T: You don't need to run. It was my fault.
H: (with irony) You ordered the surgery?
T: Greg. (pause) I didn't do my job. Not with Voldemort. Not with—-for-you.
H: (quietly) I'm fine.
T: (sighs) If you want…you can come see me...outpatient...just call…
H: Maybe I'll even take the stairs. (pause) That was a joke.
T: (softly) You know what the odds are in my business?
H: About 60 remission, 20 relapse, I think...
T: I forgot. And I'm supposed to remember. I blew it.
H: Well, don't feel so bad. I'm still alive and kicking. Well, alive, anyway…
T: Back when I was a resident, had a brilliant patient, art student. Borderline personality, alcoholic, husband had her children taken away. Got herself pregnant again with somebody else and had the baby. Came to me wanting me to keep DCS from taking him, too. Said she was fine, this one she could handle. She loved that kid, and, by God, she was gonna stay clean. Three months later, 30 miles outside of Charlotte, they found the bodies. (pause) I don't want to see...any more...
H: Lucky you're not an Internist. (chuckles) I'll keep the bodies off your floor.
T: (sighs) You do have my number...
H: (taps his leg with his cane) Right here. I won't forget.
Sound of door closing. Sound of bedsprings creaking as the therapist sits on the bed and stares off at the closed door.