SAMPLE CHAPTER!! (fanfare): Chapter One, “Happy Hours”

On an Autumn Monday night in Lansing, IL, two head shrinks sit in a bar and unwind. An atypical bar, but they’re atypical doctors. At the corner of Glenwood/Lansing Rd. and Burnham Ave., landmarked by a helicopter monument and an empty hangar, sits Shannon’s. Well, sort of. It’s actually on the second floor of what looks like an armory. The back of the second floor. The only thing that could an armor-sized bar greater would be a giant slide at the back door. Monday nights are quiet nights at Shannon’s so the parking lot is sparse. Monday nights are quiet nights in Lansing, so Garbage’s “Cherry Lips” can be heard faintly from a second floor.

The inside of Shannon’s looks like a couple of squares connected by a rectangle. The main square is split in two, one half slightly elevated than the other and is boxed in with wall-length windows, and the other half with a wall-mounted jukebox near the door and a “fireplace” on the opposite wall. The south-facing windows show off a dimly-lit runway that spreads into the horizon and a cloudy night sky. The lesser square is in the back. Everything’s level, and you get a dartboard. The rectangle is where the his-and-hers bathrooms are. The majority of a wall connecting the rectangle to the main square is The Bar. It’s the kind of wooden thing you come to expect in a bar. Behind it are the barmaids of the night, of which there’re always two: Julie and Peggy. Julie is a middle-aged wonder and Peggy is a jittery, curly thing. The two doctors sit at a table by the digital jukebox. One, Naimee Tudor, stares at the other, Clark Marcella, in shock from under the biggest, floppiest red hat that only she could get away with. He gets the jukebox during bar nights, you see, and he’s the last person you’d expect to pick “Cherry Lips”.

“I heard you listening to it once, put away that face.”

Julie goes over to their table with an empty tray. “Another one, Clark?” She looks at Naimee, still agape, and looks worriedly at Clark. He replies with a thumb to the jukebox and to himself. Julie joins the wide-eyed club and he waves them off. Naimee snaps back to reality and tugs Julie’s apron, neon-red bangles jangling on her wrist.

In her best (worst?) Swedish accent, Naimee says, “Gimme a whiskey, ginger ale on the side, and don’t be stingy, baby.” Clark says, “Guess I’ve been nursing Jack and Cokes enough tonight. A blue motherfucker.” Naimee chuckles, “A TARDIS? Ooo, can I call it a TARDIS from now on?” Julie and Clark share the same thought, The fuck is a TARDIS?, and the former jots something on her pad, walking away. Ladytron’s “Ladybird” comes on and Naimee nods “approvingly”. The two make it a weekly habit to come to Shannon’s on its deadest night because they like bars but hate the flies. They used to come randomly, but Naimee nixed that one night. Someone had the nerve to play Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and she went into a blind rage. “BITCH, YOU DON’T HAVE AN ASS! QUIT IT BEFORE I THROW YOU INTO THAT FUCKIN’ AIRSTRIP, YA FUCKIN’ PLANK,” said she. Or something along those lines. Music is very important to her, you see… and you’ll see why when Peggy asks about it. But now, the two doctors finish up their talks about the day’s efforts.

Clark says, “I think Milo Day went ok this time.” Milo Day being the day he and Naimee bring cats from a shelter to TeRoMa for their patients as a sort of therapy. What’s “TeRoMa”? Peggy’s gonna wonder the same thing. “Uh-huh. Everything but 8,000 getting into a fight with Olivia over a cat. I’m glad nothing happened to the poor thing, poor thing. Everything’s set for Rywah tomorrow, right?” “Yeah, I just gotta go over the ‘lesson plans’ in the morning.” Julie sneaks their drinks to them, then slinks away. Clark unconsciously stirs his with the straw, then takes it out. He hates straws with his spirits but learned to use them after a bad incident with gin.

Naimee grabs her two glasses, nails painted black with orange French tips, and stares at them. “Why did I do this? How do I do this?” “Usually, you drink ‘em, Red.” “At the same time?” “You have two mouths?” She giggles, “Uh-huh, but one’s not for drinking.” “You gotta chase one with the other. I thought you were a clubhead.” “You think I had both hands free those nights? Which do I chase?” Clark grins, “…the ale with the whiskey.”

As she chases the whiskey with the ale and he curses her for being clever, three strangers step into Shannon’s. She looks over her shoulder at them and thinks they looks a little like Suicide Girls as they sit in the elevated area. Clark’s slightly afraid of heights, so he never sits there. He’s been getting over that, though, since TeRoMa is on a second floor. Realizing that he hasn’t touched his drink yet, he chugs about a fourth of it.

Naimee taps her black tapdancing shoes on the tan, linoleum floor as her cheeks feel whiskey-warm. Why is she wearing them? You’ll find out when she gets lazy. Almost as if on cue, one song ends and another begins: David Bowie’s “I’m Deranged”. A lull in the convo bubbles, the two doctors staring at nothing in particular as one nurses his bl— his TARDIS. Suddenly, “Oh!”, she reaches in the pocket of her black bellbottoms. Or rather, tries to. She unzips what she thought was a pocket but was really a zipper that held her pants together. Coyly, she zips it back and hopes the booth behind her didn’t glimpse any Secrets. She tucks the zipper under the leather belt she’s never seen without, then finds the zippered pocket. She takes out her highly customized pink Razr (zebra stripes and glow stick charm). “I got a new ringtone!” “They’re just song clips, Red.” “Ah, quit being a young geezer. Call me.” He pulls out his stock, black Razr and her charm flashes as the chorus of Nice & Wild’s “Diamond Girl” comes on.

A voice from the bar: “I love that song!”

“See? What d’you still have—”, she presses a button, “—that same ol’—” His phone lights up and the first few bars of Joanie Madden’s ““Mná na hÉireann”” (also known as “Women of Ireland”) starts up. He puts his still-ringing phone in the pocket of his black slacks. She notices it’s gone to his voicemail and whispers “…you suck” before closing her phone and dropping it on the table. “What made you waste the change on that thing?” “Why have you wasted MORE change on that thing? But it’s because I couldn’t get it out of my head.” He finishes his TARDIS and a burp sneaks out as he replies, “You ran a club, don’t you <blorch> have that song on tape or record or 8-track or whatever?” “Uh-huh to most… but now it’s on my phone! The chorus is on my phone, Clark!” He feels her wanting to go to the jukebox and slams a hand with asymmetrical silver rings on the table. “You dominate TeRoMa with your dance music, I ask for a night.” She shouts a familiar statement about his aroma and a small group of dude-bros walks in. She glares at them and threatens Clark to “…put a 20 in the jukebox before the popped-collar brigade ruins my night. And try to liven things up.”

The piano-plinking of Tool’s “Eulogy” builds in the bar— “Goddamnit, Clark.” —and the DJ of the night rolls up the sleeves of his black turtleneck. Naimee prepares to pout until she hears a “What the fuck is playing, bro?” from the Aero crowd in the back. She smirks as Julie comes back with her bad and tray. “Another TARDIS for you?” He manages a distracted thumbs-up and taps away at the screen. Julie asks Naimee, “What’s a TARDIS?” Naimee tugs at the sides of her hat giddily and says, “It’s from an English show that got canceled back in ‘89. Came on PBS, ‘Doctor Who’?” Julie slowly shakes her head. “Oh. Well, it was on PBS so I won’t hold it against you if you missed it. I used to watch it all the time and I hope it comes back someday. The TARDIS is the Doctor’s spaceship.” Naimee swoons a little and says, “His big, blue box.”

Julie smiles, “Aww. What’re you gonna have, hun? Oh, I meant to say earlier that I like your top! Is that all in one?” “Nuh-uh. It’s a sleeveless, leather shrug I found in Chicago over a spaghetti string top.” She lifts part of the shrug and shows her shoulder. “That’s cute. Another whiskey?” “No, I’m gonna have—”, she raps her nails on the table, “—a dirty mo-HEE-to.” Julie quips, “Someone’s having fun.” Naimee smiles puckishly. “Not yet…” She makes annoyed eyes at one of the overhead speakers and Julie pats her shoulder.

Naimee tugs at her hat again and leans back. “Quit being depressing.” “No.” “Damnit. You were s’posed to be an easy patient.” “I’m almost done, Red.” She sits up as he sits down and stares at her then says, “You’re welcome.” She looks at him confusedly, “Why… am I thanking…” A woodwind starts up from above her and she squints for something familiar. Julie comes back with their drinks and looks at Naimee’s odd face. “She caught a whiff the the tab.” A steel-tipped shoe aims for his shin and hits the nearby wall instead. Julie takes the empty soldiers away and leaves the two to their devices. The saxophone of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” screeches and Naimee practically explodes. “Oh my FUCK! Oh my fuck, thank you! This song’s been bugging me for days!”

The night goes on and on. More folk come in, more dude-bros get pissed because of Clark’s music choices, Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming to Take Me Away” being the last straw. The barmaids don’t really care when the visor brigade leaves. The two doctors’ table sees more than one TARDIS, but they start winding down before it’s too late since they have work in the morn. However, with most of the bar cleared-out, they don’t feel sober enough to drive home. Water and pretzels. Soon, an inquisitive Peggy walks to their table and gives them a way to burn off excess libations…

“Julie said you two were doctahs. What kinda doctahs are ya?” Mars Volta’s “Drunkship of Lanterns” wafts through the air and Clark gets up to take a pee break. “He and I are psychologists. Or psychiatrists.” He chimes in before turning the corner: “Poecilonyms.” “I’m too drunk to care right— BRAIN doctors. We make sure your brain’s fit. Heh. Asylums are brain gyms. Flex!” Peggy’s eyes get big as she says, “You two own one of those things? Wow.” Naimee taps her shoes, “Ah, don’t pay attention to me. Doctors don’t use that word anymore. Someone claimed it for the PC police. I don’t know what they’re called these days—”, Clark sits down with dry hands and Naimee stares at them, “—we call ours ‘TeRoMa’.” “Does that stand for anything? It sounds like it does. That or that one song… you know, the one about that girl Shalomay.” Naimee leans in concernedly, “…’My Sharona’?” “Yeah!” Clark returns to the bathroom and Naimee says, “Well… TeRoMa does stand for something, but if I told ya—”, she pokes Peggy’s tummy and Peggy giggles, “—I’d have to kill ya.” Clark comes back with moist hands that smell of soap and sits at the table. “Try another question, kid.” Naimee scoffs, “Oh, Clark, you’re not as old as you sound.” “It’s not how long the road is, Red: it’s the bumps along the way.”

Peggy looks to Julie for approval as she points to a nearby chair. Julie looks at the nigh-empty bar and holds up five fingers. Peggy pulls up a chair and takes a few bite-sized candy bars out of her apron, offering them to the two doctors. Then she asks, “So, how’d you two meet? Doctah mall?” The two look at each other and Clark offers the floor to Naimee. She flips the front of her hat up triumphantly and assumes a cocky stance. “After I got my degrees, I decided to take a well-earned break and visit my old friend, the club scene. I’ve been going to clubs since before I could get in them and missed them. One time, I saw a drag queen come in and pulled flashing string lights from her butt. Never could figure out where she put the batteries.” If Clark had a drink, he’d drop it, so he’ll have to settle for his jaw. “Anywho, I ended up getting really distracted and opened my own club in Downtown Chicago: Total Assault Cantina. Even DJ’d there a few times as Henri VII.

“I didn’t do that a lot because whenever I was on the ones and twos, I kept seeing myself on the dancefloor. I mean, I fuckin’ LOVED being a DJ but I wanted to enjoy the fruits of my labor, damnit. Then I started seeing club owners collapse their empires because they tried running and dancing at the same time. I love dancing SO much more than running, so I became a silent partner. Then I felt the need to make people feel the same happy way my patrons did and remembered that I had a doctorate.” Peggy smiles and nods, “Ah… why are you wearin’ tap shoes? That some sorta doctah thing?” Clark sighs, “No, that’s because she’s lazy. Did you notice how it was always me with my normal shoes who got drinks when the place got busy? Well, that’s because she threatened me with tap routines everytime she had to get drinks. Slag.” Naimee sticks her pierced-and-blue tongue out at him.

As Dulce Pontes’ “As Sete Mulheres Do Minho” proclaims its existence, all eyes turn to Clark. He strokes his bristled head and looks at Naimee. She winks and taps his hand. “I opened up my own office in St. Charles after I graduated. Some of us dive into responsibility.” Naimee waves him away, then takes one of Peggy’s candies. “I… ah, why bullshit? I got involved with and taken advantage of by my first patient. Robyn Lawson. Drugs were involved and my chemical period hit every statistic. Except death. So far. Eventually, I found Dr. Tudor over there and we opened TeRoMa in this town. That modern-looking two-story on Torrence by that pizza place and the graveyard.”

Peggy pops a candy in her mouth and asks, “What’s TeRoMa?” Naimee jumps in her seat a little, “Ooo, ooo! My turn! It’s an asylum for lovefools. It’s funded by us because it’s experimental and we got mad bank, yo. We can get away with certain things. Within reason. Like being free for our live-in patients. We don’t accept everyone, only the most heartwrecked. And we don’t accept new patients until the last patient in the group is either cured or leaves willingly. Then the next revolution starts. I think we’re on our fourth one now?” Clark nods and she continues, “Six patients this time ‘round. Or seven, if you believe in schizophrenia.”

“Are you one of those doctahs who cure with pills?” “I used to, during my chemical period, but we decided to not go through all that nonsense.” “Uh-huh. And I don’t have anything against drugs—”, Clark clears his throat, “…you know what I mean. I don’t think they’re for me and mind. As for some of the more herbal stuff, I don’t trust anything that wears smelling like literal shit as a badge. That’s not to say that I never tried anything.” A Dulce Pontes twofer moves along with “Achegate A Mim Maruxa”. “Clubs and Ecstasy, for better or worse, go hand-in-and. I took either Triangle or Sunrise but all it made me wanna do is move a couch. Took a go or two but I did it.”

“You two seem close, are ya married or somethin’?” Clark blurts out a laugh, then cuts himself off and says, “No, we’re just good at putting up with each other. I’ve learned my work-and-love lesson.” Naimee giggles, “Ah, Patricia.” “I told you, I’m working on her.” “Oh, she wants you to work on her. Doggy style and turnstiles.” Peggy raises her hand and asks, “Who’s Patricia?” Naimee says, “One of our patients, but we can’t talk about them.” “Ah, c’mon.” “Nuh-uh, doctor law.”

Peggy sits for a moment and looks at them both then says, “Throw out some doctor-speak.” Clark cracks his neck and obliges, “Well, there’s libido and mortido.” “Hey, I know libdeedo!” “Libido’s more than lust, kid.” Naimee pulls her hat down as far as she can and says, “’Kid’? C’mon, she probably saw ‘Saturday Night Fever’ while you were in bed with a fever one Saturday night.” Peggy grins, “Aw, I don’t mind.” “Libido is basically a need for life, and mortido is—” “A need for death?” “You catch on quick, kid.” Peggy smiles. “Ever wonder why killers tend to murder those closest to them first, or why people say things like they wanna eat someone they’re close to?” Naimee interjects with, “Out?” Clark hands her a glass of water and says, “Extreme affection is often linked with total destruction.” Peggy’s eyes get big. “There’s a selfish part of your mind called ‘id’. It used to be ‘it’, but too many foreign doctors complained. Your id sees love and hate as the same thing. Your conscience, or ‘ego’, forces cause and effect on things. When someone’s very much in love and their ego fucks off, you can expect to hear about a murder soon.”

“Uh-huh, and there’s another funny thing about love. If you love something, you have to hate something else. Like… if you love Summer, you have to hate Winter. If you love conversation, you have to hate being ignored. If you love to fuck,” she smiles, “…you have to hate children.”

Julie rings the last-call bell and Peggy belatedly goes back to work. The two doctors feel sober enough to drive to their respective homes, one in a slightly modded, brand new 2004 Mazda RX-8 with a pearlescent red paint job… and the other in a stock, white 2003 Honda Civic. “Stay classy,” the woman says to the man. “If I were any classier, Red, I’d be college.”

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