The Good Doctor 60
When he saw my car the young cop pushed off of his and walked over to me. His face was strained. In the background I caught a glimpse of Jane and Ellen looking out the office window. I had just pulled into our parking lot.
“Mr. Cortland…I just wanted to apologize. I dunno what happened yesterday. That’s not what I’m really like. I was hoping that you wouldn’t tell the chief. I mean…I really need this job.” His face was strained with sincerity.
I looked up at him and grinned. “First, my name is Eric, not Mr. Cortland. Second, I would never tell your boss anything like that. It’s none of his fucking business. But I would like to know why. Was it something that I said?”
Mark looked down at his feet. “No, nothing you said. I dunno what it was. Something triggered a memory…about my family.” Suddenly he looked into my eyes. “Look, it’s a long sad story about what a jerk I’ve been and frankly I don’t want to tell it but I didn’t think it was gonna get to me like that. It kinda snuck up on me. I’d really appreciate it if you’d just forget it. I really don’t want you, of all people, thinking that I’ve got a screw loose.”
“Me? Why would you care what I thought?”
“Just…no reason. I just don’t want you or anyone to think badly of me.”
I walked into our kitchen exhausted from a day of trying to survive my employees and very happy to be home.
My mother was standing at the door to the kitchen with an odd look on her face.
She clasped her hands together as she rushed towards me. I was trying to get my hands up to defend myself because you never know what’s been bumping around in that brain of hers and she’s got the moves of a ninja. She got to me first and grabbed my wrists in a death grip.
But it turned out that she was just happy. “Eric! Sweetheart…how was work?”
“You must be exhausted! Come, come sit. I fixed you a nice snack.” She was bustling around me fussing and pushing me towards the kitchen table and a plate of Bruschetta.
She shoved me down onto the chair with one hand while she was taking off my tie with the other. She said, “You know, you should have a beer. I could never understand how you put up with all the stress at work and then come home but never have a beer.” She pushed the plate of Brushetta in front of me and said, “Eat!” Then she was up in a flash and for the life of me it looked like she was bouncing off of the walls.
“Ma.” What the hell is that matter with her?
“Yes, Sweeheart.” She dropped a glass of Sam Adams in front of me and literally wrapped my hand around it. Oh, God! It’s gotta be the kids!
“MA! Ma…are the kids okay?”
“Of course, Sweetheart. Have a sip.” No, not the kids, it can’t be them, somebody would have called me.
It’s gotta be my dad. Maybe she finally fuckin killed him. “Dad’s okay?”
“He’s great, Darling.” Of course she’d say that now, she’s waiting for the beer to sedate me.
“Sooo…if I like…called him right now….he’d answer?”
“I guess. Unless he’s down in that horrible basement.” She shuddered. Mom hates basements for no reason that anyone has ever figured out.
She sat down next to me and touched the back of my hand. “This is nice. We don’t usually get a chance to just talk.” She scooted closer to me. “I thought maybe for dinner I’d fix you guys cheeseburgers on the grill, with bacon and sliced tomato and homemade French fries.”
“You know, for your dinner.” Oh you gotta be kidding!
“But Ma….what about food…real food…Italian food.”
“Sweetheart, you can’t always eat the same thing. Change is not a bad thing you know. Our ability to deal with change is what separates us from monkeys.” Right, that and the whole swinging through trees thing. Okay, now I know that she’s setting me up for something. There’s no way that my mother believes that change is a good thing and no way that she believes that hamburgers are dinner.
David goes tearing thru the kitchen with a yelled, “Goin to Sam’s!” I grab his arm as he goes hurtling by and it jerks him to a stop and almost pulls my arm out of the socket.
“What, Dad?” He knows what I’m after and it kind of embarrasses him but I know he likes it.
I lift an eyebrow and he laughs and then bends forward and kisses me. “Can I go now?”
“Sure.” I mean what’s the point of being Italian if you don’t make your kids kiss you?
My mom leaned over the table and said, “There is one thing that I’d like you to do.”
Here it comes! I slumped and buried my face in my hands. “What?”
“Darling, it’s time for you to get a new suit.”
I shook my head slowly and mummbled, “Please don’t make me shop.” I lifted my head out of my hands. “I’ve got a suit! That nice blue one, Perry Ellis.”
She shook her head. “No you don’t. I threw it out. Besides, Perry Ellis was still alive when you got that suit.”
I yelled, “You did wha….?” This woman is outta control!
“It had to be done, Eric! You looked like some sort of refugee! The pants were all baggy and that suit coat never fit you right!”
“Ma! You bought me that suit!”
“Eric, you were eighteen and you wouldn’t even come with! I’m not a magician. And then you wouldn’t go and have it tailored. It had to go!”
I dropped my face back into my hands and started to beg. “Please don’t make me shop.”
“Eric, it isn’t shopping! You go into the changing room and Pete’ll bring you stuff to try on. You don’t have to make any decisions, no picking anything out. Actually it’d be best if you didn’t even have an opinion. Just leave it all up to Pete.”
I shook my head in my hands and mummbled through my fingers. “No shopping?”
“And you won’t yell if I get the wrong thing?”
“No, it’s all up to Pete. He’ll pick it out.”
I sighed heavily. “Okay…but if this gets screwed up it’s not my fault.”
Thinking that it was now safe I peeked through my fingers. “Did I tell you about the new cop?”
Just when I thought that she couldn’t get any more bizarre she began to stutter and yelled, “Cop? Eric, what are you doing talking to the police? Now, now you just go and take your shower! Hurry!” What’s the matter with cops all of a sudden? My mother is like the poster girl for the Police Department for Christ’s sake!
She started pushing me outta my chair. She’s strong as an ox and I almost fell! I yelled, “What are you doing? Quit pushing me!”
“Don’t dawdle, Eric! Pete’ll be home soon and you might as well go right now, as soon as he gets here! Now go take your shower!”
“But dinner! What about food?” I really was beginning to feel weak. I’ve got a very fast metabolism.
She started shoving me again. “That’s all you think about, Eric, is food! There’s no time for dinner! You gotta get ready!” No time for dinner? No time for her dinner?
Half an hour later Pete pulled his BMW into the driveway and I climbed in feeling safe for the first time in an hour.
As soon as I got in I said, “My mother’s officially insane. I dunno what she’s been drinking but it’s finally ungluing her.”
Pete turned in his seat and then quickly leaned over the center console and pulled me into a tongue swallowing kiss. When he finally pulled away his voice was deep and throaty with sex.
“S’okay, shopping can be fun.”
I looked into his eyes and saw pure lust. “What is the matter with you? Why are you so….?” His warm mouth closed softly over mine again and this time I kinda went with it. After a few seconds we came up for air.
“It’s cause of this morning, right?” We both over slept and sex didn’t happen.
“Been thinking about you all day.”
“Pete, we’re still in the driveway and my mother is probably watching… at least if she can put down her crack pipe long enough.”
The door to the changing room opened suddenly and I grabbed the suit pants quickly and held them in front of me.
Pete was staring at me like I was the last man on earth. I started shrieking at him in a panicky whisper, “What are you doing? You can’t come in here! They’ve got like department store Gestapo police watching…..” I never got a chance to finish because he clamped his mouth to mine and buried his tongue in my throat while his right hand went down the back of my underwear. I pried a corner of my mouth free while pushing in vain against his muscular chest. “Gonna be arrested!! They’re probably filming this!!!”
Then the middle finger of his right hand found its target and the center of my concentration changed. I panted, “Okay, okay, if you’re gonna do this no matter what I say…ohhhh.” My cheek was pressed to his chest and my tongue just kind of involuntarily sneaked out and licked his nipple as he worked his finger deeply into me.
Five minutes later and with a smirky little self-satisfied smile on his face Pete slid out of the dressing room while I searched for my underwear.
As I practically staggered to the check out counter and while Pete was hiding in the shoe department, the fussily dressed elderly sales clerk lifted his head and looked at me while he slowly pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose with the tip of his middle finger.
He squeezed his lips together tightly and then said, “Well…don’t we look fulfilled.”
It was almost nine in the evening and Pete and I were lying on the sofa in the living room, one at each end with our stocking clad feet playing in the middle. Pete was reading The AMA Journal and I was reading John Sandford’s, Sudden Prey. Jase came in just wearing his briefs and a tee shirt and dragging his blanket. The blanket phase is ending but is not yet over. I’m not complaining, if I had my way it’d never end.
Jase doesn’t say anything just climbs up on the couch with the blanket being dragged along like some babyblue beast that he’s slain in a Crayola colored forest and is hauling back to his cave. He carefully puts a foot on either side of my waist and with a hand on my forehead to steady himself he sits down hard and I grunt.
I’m really not even sure if Jase sees that I’m reading. I guess he does but it doesn’t register as something that should interfere even slightly with his plans. I’m there to serve, it’s my role and I like it.
He squeezes my chest with his knees and bounces. “Tell me a story.”
I closed my book and say, “Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jason who got eaten by bears.”
“And his father lived happily ever after.”
“No, Dad! I want the office story.”
“With the twins.”
“With the prince.”
“The handsome prince and the twin witches! Remember?” Jase turns on my lap so that his back is against my chest. He pulls his blanket up and positions it exactly as he wants it with the satin edge of it against his face, an important prop.
“Tell it, Dad.”
It’s finally coming back to me. A story that I made up on the spot months ago that I never dreamed he’d remember. Kids remember everything.
I put my arms around him and settle back. “Okay. Once upon a time there was a handsome prince with dark wavy hair who owned his own business selling industrial supplies but whose office was run by two wicked witches.”
Pete groaned behind his book and then mumbled, “Oh fer cryin out loud!”
Jase twisted his head and looked up at me. “That’s like the ladies in your office, right, Dad?”
“Ahhh, maybe a little similar but not exactly them Jase.” It occurs to me that the next time Jase visits my office the potential exists for an embarrassing conversation with my employees. The weird thing is that on one level Jase understands exactly what this story is but he’s able to suspend that and still enjoy the story. Humans have an infinite ability to lie to themselves.
Pete groaned again and shoved his toes under my balls. I realized that this was some type of comment but actually it felt pretty good so I ignored it. Another ability that people have is to use their toes in subtle and fun ways.
I begin my story again but stories seem to trigger the sleep response in little boys and before the first sentence is out of my mouth I can feel Jase’s body turning to jelly. Three minutes later I’m basically telling the story to myself and Pete.
Pete hears the change in Jase and looks over his book. He snorts. “Prince Eric!” He shakes his head. “You are a piece of work!”
I try to get up but Jase is dead weight and he’s got me in an odd angle. Pete gets up and then bends over and gently lifts Jase who is totally out of it. He carries Jase to his bedroom and places him carefully into Allan’s emerald green furry embrace.