In honour of Winning Lines, well, losing, and the return of the rest of EE's fourthseason, I here present a special something I came up with near the beginningof the third season, when I was computer-deficient and unable to post to the lists. Hope you like it! (And if you do, you know that I'll accept feedback in any of these forms: tall, dark haired doctors and Guys With Tomorrow's Newspaper, and only slightly shorter dark haired mobsters. Please send full-sized specimens to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Disclaimers: Early Edition and all the characters contained within
do not belong to me, goldarnit! In fact, they belong to numerous folks who
have no idea what to do with the gold mine they have; here's hoping that
the next few weeks allow for a certain amount of brain-growth in those folks
(they know who they are...). This story's *mine*, however, so unless you're
inkling, please ask if you wanna archive it or anything. Thanks, and enjoy!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
by Jayne Leitch
"There are so many more people who believe in the miracles of the Blessed Virgin than in the existence of the unconscious."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Why have you come to see me, Gary?"
Gary Hobson shifted uneasily on the dark leather couch, his hands folded uncomfortably on his stomach. "My friend Marissa gave me your name and number," he answered. "She's worried about me." He raised himself up on one elbow and turned to look at the psychiatrist. "To tell you the truth, she set this whole thing up. She made me come."
"I see." The doctor, an older man with a heavy beard and small round glasses, looked back seriously. "Well, since you are here, perhaps a session might not be so bad, eh?" He reached over to his desk and picked up a pad of paper and a pen. "Why don't you tell me what's wrong."
Gary sighed and lay back again. "It's not that I'm completely against this," he commented, lying through his teeth, "It's just that--well, I've never thought of myself as the kind of person who can't handle...stress."
He heard the pen start scribbling behind him. "But now you are under some stress, and you are having problems dealing with it?"
"Sort of," Gary allowed. "But it's not just the stress; I do so much in one day, but when I get up the next morning, I always have to do it all over again." He thought of one week, when every single day the Paper had had the same headline: Pedestrians Mugged in Park. "It seems like I do the same thing, every day."
"Hmm." The doctor considered a moment. "You feel as if you are a slave to your routine, is that what you are saying?"
"Maybe. But--" Gary tried to put words around what he was feeling. "It's not just that. Sometimes, I feel...stuck. As if everyone around me is moving on with their lives, but I'm not going anywhere."
"Hmm," the doctor said again, his pen still scratching along on the paper. "Very interesting. You feel inadequate?"
"No!" He spoke harsher than he meant to, and Gary added quickly, "I don't feel--I just sometimes think I'll never do anything different, that I'm--"
He was cut off by a sharp buzzing coming from the desk. Gary looked around as the doctor touched a button on his telephone and spoke into the unit. "Yes?"
"Someone to see Mr Hobson, Doctor," the tinny voice of the receptionist announced. "Should I tell him to wait?"
The doctor gave Gary a speculative look, then answered thoughtfully, "No Madeline; send him in." He touched the intercom button again, turning off the speaker. "Who might this be, Gary?"
Gary looked back, puzzled. "I have no idea--" he began, then looked up at the door as it opened. "Patrick?"
"Hi, Mr Hobson." The younger man held up his hand in a brief wave, then glanced at the doctor. "I hope I'm not interrupting..."
"Patrick, what is it?" Gary swung his legs off the couch and stood up. "Is something wrong?"
"Oh, no. No, I just had to let you know..." Patrick seemed a little unsure of himself for a moment--then he straightened his shoulders and looked Gary in the eye. "Mr Hobson, I quit."
It took a moment for the words to sink in, but when they did Gary was no less perplexed. "What?"
"I quit. I'm not going to bartend for you anymore." His announcement made, Patrick visibly relaxed. He swiped his hand across his forehead, sighing loudly. "Gosh! I'm glad that's over with!"
Gary blinked. "Patrick, wh-why are you quitting?"
"Well, to tell you the truth--" the younger man spread his hands in front of him, gesturing helplessly, "Tending bar is fun, and you and Miss Clark are great bosses, but it's just not stimulating enough for me."
Patrick explained frankly, "I just feel that, intellectually, I'm not being sufficiently challenged. My mind is going to waste; I'm not given the opportunity to stretch the limitations of my intelligence, to expand my cognition and broaden the horizons of my awareness." He shrugged and smiled apologetically. "Sorry." With that, he gave a cheery little half-wave and strode out of the office.
Gary stared after him. "What...?"
The doctor seemed to be oblivious to his confusion. "Tell me more about your feelings of stagnation," he inquired.
Gary shook his head a little and sat down again. "Sorry about that. Uh--stagnation?" He thought for a moment, then furrowed his brow. "It's not exactly that; more just a need to--to do more, or someth--"
Once again, the buzzing of the intercom interrupted him.
else for Mr Hobson."
The doctor raised his eyebrows and gave Gary a look. "Send them in."
Gary looked back helplessly. "I'm sorry," he said simply, "I don't know why everyone's bothering us here..." He heard the door open and turned to face his new visitor. "Marissa? What--" His eyes widened, and he couldn't help staring. "Wow..."
His friend stood in the doorway, dressed to kill. She wore a slinky, dark blue dress, low cut and slit generously up the leg. It was like looking at smooth water at night; the light in the office rippled across the shining fabric with every breath she took. Her hair was swept up on the top of her head, twisted in some elegant design that highlighted the sparkling--not to mention clearly expensive--diamonds hanging from her ears and draped around her neck. Marissa looked like a million bucks had been spent on one ear alone.
Gary gawked at her for a moment, then noticed that she wasn't alone. Accompanying her was a young man, perhaps a couple years younger than Patrick. His skin was several shades darker than Marissa's, and he had the smooth physique--the word 'buff' swam through Gary's mind--the physique normally found in the better class of cologne ads. The man noticed Gary's expression and smiled, revealing two perfect rows of gleaming white teeth. Marissa stepped into the office, her friend guiding her steps. Then, she turned and patted him on the arm, smiling suavely. "Thank you, Phillipe," she said sweetly. "Now you run along back to the agency and tell Madame Kiki that I'll settle the bill in the morning."
Obediently, the man--Phillipe--turned and strode out of the office. Marissa turned back to face Gary. "I'm sorry for barging in on you like this Gary," she began, "I know that you need this session."
"Oh, that's okay," Gary answered weakly, still slightly flustered. "This seems to be the day for interruptions." He paused, then couldn't help but ask, "'Phillipe'?"
Marissa grinned. "Isn't he fabulous? He escorted me to the Members Reception." The grin faded and she pouted a little, coquettishly. "He's not my usual, but Kiki has him reserved for me until Sven recovers from the 'flu."
"That's very nice of her--" Gary's brain suddenly caught up with his ears, and he did a double take. "'Sven'?! Who's--and what's the Members Reception?"
Marissa's hands smoothed down the front of her dress, and she set her face determinedly. "First things first," she stated firmly. She fumbled with the purse that hung from her shoulder and withdrew a folded slip of paper, then held it out for Gary to take. "Sorry about this, partner," she said, not sounding sorry at all, "But I bought you out. I now own McGinty's."
Gary took the paper in a daze and unfolded it. Sure enough, it was a legal document, stating that one Marissa Clark was now the sole owner of McGinty's. "But...how?"
"Well, you know how I like to play the stocks," Marissa began conversationally.
Gary shook his head. "You don't like to play the stocks."
"Yes, I do," she replied archly. Then she relaxed again. "Anyway, one of my higher-risk investments soared the other day, so naturally, I sold. Made a fortune. Now, I had all this money sitting around, so I decided I'd use it. You know, pay off some loans..." She looked at him pointedly.
Gary paled, and sank back down onto the couch. "You didn't."
"I did. I paid off that monstrous loan you took out--and to my surprise, I received in full what you put up as collateral--your shares of the bar." Marissa smiled, looking quite satisfied.
Gary, on the other hand, felt rather dissatisfied. "But--you can't do that!" he exclaimed, staring up at her in bewilderment. "It's in our partnership agreement that you can't do that. The lawyer drew it up for me!"
Marissa gave him a look. "She's my lawyer too, Gary," she retorted. "She found a loophole."
Gary looked down at the paper, then up at Marissa--then, beseechingly, at the doctor, only to see him avidly taking notes. "Marissa..."
"I'm sorry, Gary. But I felt like I needed something more." She snapped her fingers excitedly. "I know! You can still work for me; now that Patrick's gone, I'll need someone to tend bar!"
"I just can't believe..." Gary stared up at her, hurt and disbelief etched on his face. "I never thought you could do something like this to me. I mean, Chuck, maybe, but you? I didn't think you had it in you..." Suddenly he remembered something. "You still haven't told me what the Members Reception is."
"Oh, that?" Reaching up to play with the diamond dangling from her left ear, Marissa explained idly, "I made so much money off that stock that even after I paid off the loan, I had lots left over. So much, in fact, that I was invited to join the Millionaires' Club. They had a 'New Members Reception' today, so I stopped by there before I came here." At that moment, the gold-encrusted watch on her wrist chimed brightly, and she turned to leave. "I must be off; I promised a few of the club some free drinks at my bar. See you, Gary."
With that, she was gone.
For a moment, Gary didn't know what to say. Then, he rolled his eyes. "Free drinks," he stated to the world in general. "They're millionaires; what do they need free drinks for?"
The doctor cleared his throat meaningfully. "Continuing with our session..."
"What? Oh, right." Still too stunned to think clearly, Gary lay back on the couch again, and folded his hands sedately over his stomach. "Feelings of inadequacy?"
"Perhaps you should tell me about your childhood..." the doctor began. At that moment, however, the door burst open, cutting off his question.
There was the sound of running footsteps, then Gary found himself buried under a dark haired woman who seemed to be trying to hug him. Struggling against the woman's arms, he managed to sit up and pull her away, only to see that it was--
His ex-wife looked up into his eyes, and Gary was more confounded than ever by the expression on her face. "Gary," she gasped, as if she had run up all twelve flights of stairs to get to the office, "I'm so sorry. Please, please will you take me back?"
Gary took a moment to make sure he had heard her correctly, then replied, an octave higher than usual, "Will I what?"
"I know I don't have any right to do this," Marcia continued, "But I think we should get back together. Gary, I want to have our babies!"
Gary was speechless.
Marcia disentangled her arms from his and stood up. "It took me some time, but I finally realized that I want the same things you did when we were married: a home, a family. Children. I just wasn't ready then; I'm ready now."
At a loss for what to say, Gary stood up and paced a few steps, glancing over at the doctor while he did. The older man, who had been writing feverishly, took a moment to look up and raise his eyebrows in silent reply.
Finally, Gary stopped pacing and looked at his ex-wife. "What about Pritchard?" he asked, perhaps a little too shrilly. "Why don't you want to have his children?"
Marcia sighed. "He doesn't want kids. He wants our careers, and that's it. Besides, we can't have children together."
Feeling as if he was creeping along the tightrope edge of a bottomless pit, Gary asked softly, "...Why...?"
Marcia took a deep breath, then shook her head. "It's personal, Gary--"
"...Why can't you have his kids?..."
"It's more about him, really--"
"...It would help me a lot to know why..."
As Gary tried to think up a suitable response to that, the doctor leaned in and touched Marcia's arm. "I run group sessions on Thursdays," he informed her gravely, "If your husband wishes to work through his problem."
Marcia nodded at him politely, then turned back to Gary. "Look, I know you'd probably rather be with anyone else in the world," she said quietly, "But--I'm willing to admit I was wrong. I'd like to give it another try." She smiled a little and added, "Besides which, my biological clock is chiming the eleventh hour as we speak."
Gary stared down at her, his brain fried. "Marcia--" he began, then stopped. Then he tried again. "Marcia...I have to say no to this. The way my day is going," he continued, cutting off her response, "You'd spend half an hour with me and then decide to leave again. Sorry--" he broke off, then changed his mind. "As a matter of fact, I'm not sorry. Thank you for stopping by." With that, he took her arm and propelled her gently out of the office, closing the door behind her.
The doctor looked up at him, his eyes sharp and inquiring behind his spectacles. "Why didn't you say yes?" he asked bluntly.
Gary lowered himself gingerly back down onto the couch. "Maybe it has something to do with those feelings of inadequacy."
The doctor smiled, and jotted down a few more notes. "Perhaps. So tell me," he pinned his gaze back on his patient, "Why do you not want to have children?"
Gary opened his mouth to answer--then closed his eyes tightly as the intercom buzzer sounded again. "What now...?"
"A Mr and Mrs Charles Fishman to see Mr Hobson," the secretary announced.
Gary's eyes flew open in horror. "Mr and Mrs--?"
"Gar!" The door burst open and Chuck strode in, grinning from ear to ear. He was dressed in an immaculate suit, he held a briefcase in his hand, and a large gold wedding band shone on his finger. "How are you, buddy?"
"Oh, I could be better," Gary replied with all available honesty. "What are you doing back in Chicago, Chuck? Checking up on McGinty's?"
Chuck shook his head and laughed. "Of course not! I know the ol' bar's in good hands with Marissa as the owner! I came to tell you the good news."
"This would be the part where I meet your--um--wife?" Gary asked weakly. His eyes couldn't stop following the shine of the ring as Chuck flailed his hands around. "Congratulations, Chuck. Where is the lucky Mrs Fishman?"
"Right here, Gar." His friend turned around, stuck his head out the door and said, "Come on in, honey! He can't wait to see you." Then he turned back to face Gary, beaming like a halogen flashlight. "Please allow me to present...my lovely bride...Mrs Erica Fishman!"
Gary's heart stopped. It couldn't be--and yet, despite everything, it was.
Sure enough, coming in through the door, standing beside Chuck--*kissing Chuck*--was Erica.
She turned away from her husband and smiled at him. "Hello, Gary."
"Erica. You're--you're married. To...Chuck." Gary tried to sit down, then realized that he already was. "H-how did this happen?"
"I ran into him about a month after Henry and I left Chicago," she explained, pausing to look simperingly at Chuck. "He and Henry hit it off; Henry liked spending time at the studio--"
Gary held up his hand to stop her. "Studio?"
"That's another thing." Chuck held up his briefcase and pointed at the gold lettering at the top. "I got my production company! 'Fishman Enterprises', based in L.A. And get this--" he leaned down and finished excitedly, "I've got a show!"
"That's--that's great, Chuck." Gary realized he was close to hyperventilating, and decided to just let it happen.
Erica stepped up to him and put her hand on his shoulder. He couldn't help noticing her well-tailored clothes and huge, showy sapphire ring. "Gary, it just worked out so well for Chuck and I. Whenever I was feeling insecure, or taken advantage of, or unloved--" her voice hardened a little, and she gave him a steely glare, "--Chuck would always take the time to talk to me, let me know what his intentions were. I decided to get on with my life. Besides," she added, leaning in closer and whispering in Gary's ear, "He makes fifty thousand more a year than you do. I have to provide for my son, right?" She straightened up, smiled, and stood beside Chuck, looping her arm through his.
"So?" Chuck raised his eyebrows expectantly. "You are happy for us, right buddy?"
Gary took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. "Of course I am," he answered rigidly, nodding jerkily for emphasis. "You two probably deserve each other."
"Aww." Erica turned and rubbed noses with Chuck, an image Gary wished fervently never to see again. "Isn't he sweet?"
"Not sweet enough, thank goodness!" Chuck replied, then laughed at his own little joke. "Otherwise, I might have missed out on my snookums." Suddenly, he looked at his watch. "Oh! Gotta go, Gar. Erica and I are meeting Marissa at McGinty's for some drinks. I think she said something about not having to pay..."
Without a backward glance, the happy couple left the office.
Gary sat, frozen, on the couch. The doctor watched him, then reached over to his desk and pulled a small box out of one of the drawers. He opened it, then offered the contents to Gary. "Cigar?"
Gary turned his head mechanically and looked at the neatly arranged brown cylinders. For a moment, he really wished that he smoked. "No, thank you."
The doctor shrugged, took one for himself, and put the box away. "Suit yourself. I myself find them to be very comforting."
Gary watched him light the cigar, wondering how he could have missed the man's accent before. It was really quite pronounced. "So?" he asked after a moment, his brain unable to think of anything else to say. "Can you help me?"
The doctor leaned back in his chair, drawing deeply on the cigar. After a moment, he nodded.
"I believe I can," said Doctor Freud.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Gary awoke with a start and sat up in bed, his heart pounding, his hair plastered against his skin with sweat.
It took him a moment to remember where he was. Then, slowly, he settled his head in his hands.
"That's it," he muttered indistinctly, his eyes closed tight
against the images of his nightmare. "From now on, I'm Jungian."
Quote from Sigmund Freud, _New Introductory Lectures_
Email the author: Jayne