You Don’t Fool Me

Posted: January 31, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama, The New Nurse
Tags: , , , , ,

marble staircaseCaroline, Mark, and Caroline’s sister Jessica took turns coming up on the weekend to help Allen’s physical therapy. Caroline stopped by during the week if her schedule permitted, in return for one favor every time she visited. Jonathan had the feeling that she liked seeing how many hoops she could make him jump through. Jonathan was starting to think that the family had a mean streak.

First she had him run errands for her. Then she had him take her on a walking tour of Newport. The night before Allen’s next diagnostic evaluation, he had to take her to dinner. Allen was glad to get them both out of the house, and it was good to spend an evening with someone other than Allen or Skyping his friends back home who were on graveyard shift.

When Jonathan came back to the mansion, he saw lights on in the main hall. Allen had given him a key, so he came in through the front door. The far side of the main hall was a set of marble stairs that reached a landing, then split off left and right to a gallery that overlooked the hall. Allen sat on the landing, with Zeus and Apollo alongside him. The dogs barked when they saw Jonathan. He thought it sounded like recognition, not menace.

“Welcome home, Jonathan. How was your date?”

“It was just dinner.”

“Trust me. It was a date. You made it through round one, and this is round two.”

“We shook hands after dinner, like a business meeting.”

“Don’t be fooled.”

Jonathan turned red. He couldn’t tell if Allen was serious or if he was messing with him. He also couldn’t think of anything he’d said that would’ve given Caroline a wrong idea. He liked her, but he’d planned to go home after his service to Allen was finished. Speaking of which… “What are you doing here?”

“I was getting some exercise. I went up and down the stairs.”

A little sharply, Jonathan said, “Allen, you shouldn’t have done that without my supervision.”

“Piss on that. I’m strong enough and you know it.”

He did know it. “That’s not the point.”

Allen waved his hand dismissively. “Whatever. Three times. Minimal pain.” He said angrily, “I know what you did. Bringing the kids around. The excursions. You gave me someone else to beat up on, didn’t you?”

“That wasn’t the idea,” Jonathan took a chance, “and you know it.”

Allen looked sad. Jonathan walked up the steps and sat down next to him. The dogs let him. Allen sighed, and said, “I had a manager, just like you. Thought I could bully him like everyone else. Nothing rattled him. He was the only one who’d speak his mind to me no matter what. One day, after a real barn burner of a meeting, I asked him how he did it. He looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘You don’t fool me.’ That was all he said.”

“You’re all piss and vinegar, Allen, but we’re still people underneath.”

Allen groaned. “Don’t get mushy on me. I’ll throw you down these stairs.”

“Like to see you try.”

“You think I can’t?” One of the dogs barked. “Easy, boys. We’re just playing.” The dog lay his head back down.

“I’ll say it another way. Tough is your language. I just knew how to speak it.”

Allen looked at him. “Jonathan Miller, the tough nurse from Scotland. Did you play football back home?”

“Rugby.”

“That explains that.” Allen said, “Well, you bastard, it worked. You got me on my feet. I got to see my kids again. I always wanted to give people a tour of the town.”

“You’re not going to kneecap yourself before tomorrow’s evaluation, are you?”

Allen looked genuinely hurt. “That was an accident!”

“Bollocks.”

“Well… half an accident. I didn’t plan to hit the fucking ground so hard.” Jonathan laughed. “Asshole,” Allen said.

Jonathan thought of putting his hand on Allen’s shoulder, but didn’t think they were that warm and fuzzy just yet. “Fair enough,” he said. “Well, I’m going to bed. You should do the same, or at least move someplace better for your posture.”

“Do you want to watch me climb the stairs to the second floor?”

“As a matter of fact, yes, I would.”

Allen chuckled. Then Jonathan watched him gingerly make his way from the landing to the second floor, step by step, with his hand on the railing just in case. Jonathan applauded when he reached the top.

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