Disclaimer: I do not own any Chicago Hope character used here, they are the properties of David E Kelley, who I hope doesn't sue me,as I have no money. The first part is based on a part of my own life, but the last part is not any part of any revenge fantasy, thank you, and enjoy.
Doctor Aaron Shutt had had a long night. It had been weeks since the old Chicago Hope Hospital had closed and the new combination Chicago Hope Cook County hospital had opened. When it had looked like Chicago Hope would close for good, Jeffrey Geiger, man in charge, worked out a deal with the equally troubled cross town hospital. They were once rivals, but now they both worked in almost perfect harmony. Course it wasn't really harmony, more like controlled chaos. Aaron had been hoping to regain his old position as head of neurosurgery but found himself transferred back to what had been a troubling job for him, psychiatrist. He had briefly filled that position when he had his aneurysm years ago. He had hoped it would be the last he saw of that job, but he was wrong.
Today had been especially long. It was full of troubles unique to his place of employment. A woman had almost jumped from the fifth story when her boyfriend refused to dump his other girlfriend and marry her. The boyfriend agreed to do so and proposed to her at the same time. She accepted and abandoned her perch. Sadly Aaron learned later from the man that he would most certainly break up with her for good. Aaron had told him to makes sure they were on a ground level floor when he does.
Aaron had stopped for something quick to eat at a small store. He looked around for a second and suddenly remembered that this is where he had the aneurysm. He sighed to himself as he looked around. For a second he considered leaving but saw something that made him stay, It was a woman, about 5'7, a little bit shorter than he was. She had shoulder length brunette hair. He wished he could see her eyes but he wasn't close enough to her. She was standing next to a microwave waiting for it to cook something for her. A small bell rung, signaling that it was done. She pulled out a small burrito that was still in the package. It had melted a little bit from the heat.
"That thing will kill you." Aaron warned as she went by him.
"Life will kill ya. Might has well enjoy yourself while you are here." She shrugged. She toasted him with the microwave treat. "Cheers."
Aaron couldn't help smiling a little bit. He then turned and picked up a small salad. It was curiously brown and green. Checking the expiration date, Aaron assumed it was a day or so too late. He put it back and picked up a newer looking salad instead. He turned to study his current object of interest, which was now heading for the cashier when a man burst through the door. Aaron stood up straight and looked toward the door. The man was wearing a black and green ski mask. He went right to the clerk bumping someone out of the way, the woman Aaron had talked to.
The man pointed a gun at the cashier. "Open your drawer and give me all the money." He demanded in a thick voice. The cashier trembled. He grabbed the woman he was next to. "Do it or I'll blow her fricking brains out!" He placed the large gun on her neck.
The cashier opened the drawer and pulled out all the money.
"Put it in a bag." The man demanded as his grip tightened. The girl looked over at Aaron with pleading eyes but there was nothing he could do. The cashier quickly filled a large brown paper bag with the money. He grabbed it and started backing out the door with his captive. "No one move." He said as he tried to go through the door clutching the bag and his captive woman.
"Please let her go." Aaron heard a voice said. It took two seconds to realize it was he who had said it. The man glared at him and aimed his gun at him. "You have what you want, just let her and the rest of us go."
The man considered this for a minute. He let go of the girl and with his free hand pushed the door open and he ran out the door. Two seconds after he was gone, the cashier hit the silent alarm button with her hand. She then crumbled to the floor and wept loudly.
"That's it, the second time this week. I quit! You hear me?? I quit!" Aaron could hear her between sobs. Aaron turned his attention to the woman on the floor near the door. The police had already started to show up. He could see them looking around for the robber but they didn't seem to have any immediate success.
"Hey." Aaron said as the brunette looked up.
"Is he gone?" She asked with a blank expression on her face.
"Yes." Aaron assured her. He extended his hand. She took it and he helped her off the floor. The door beside them opened. Two police officers came in and locked the door.
"We're going to need statements from all of you." One of them said. The cashier, who had been sobbing, stood up and nodded.
"I can get you the videotape." She said. "It's in the office." She went over to the office door and opened it. As she emerged one of the officers took the tape. An officer took the other woman by the arm and sat her down.
"What do you need on this?" She asked as she was given a statement form.
"Your personal information. Name, address etc." He said as he handed Aaron a form of his own. Before he sat down he had a chance to see her name at the top of the form. Marilyn Baxter."
Aaron sat down and filled out his own form.
"Make sure we can read it doctor." One of the other cops cracked.
"How do you know I'm a doctor?" Aaron asked.
"You still got an ID tag on." He said.
Aaron made an oh noise with his mouth and proceeded to fill out his own police statement.
The next day
Aaron rubbed his eyes as he listened to a new patient blather on about what he determined were mother issues. This was a 45-year-old man who still lives with his mother. He hasn't moved out yet because every time he starts looking for a place of his own, the mother all of a sudden comes down with a mysterious ailment. She always refuses to tell him what it is, but it is always immediately cured when he agrees to look after her for a while longer. It didn't take long for Aaron, not exactly a doctor of psychiatry, to tell that his new patient had a controlling mother. After sitting through fifteen minutes more of whining and complaining, he informed his new patient that his time was up.
"This has been such a great hour." The man sighed. "Mom doesn't even know I'm here."
"Thank god. She'd suddenly develop a hangnail to prevent you from coming." Aaron muttered as he put his notebook away.
"Excuse me?" The man responded.
"You mother has an unhealthy attachment to you. You should start the breakaway process immediately, or else when she does pass on; she will have already taken you with her." Aaron said. "Start with being upfront with her. If that doesn't work, try to arrange a hotel stay for you. Once a week should be good, in a hotel far away from home. Once she realizes she had no control over you anymore, things should change."
"And if that doesn't work?" He asked.
"Run, run as fast as you can." Aaron said as the man left his office. "God, sometimes I think I get all the weirdoes dumped on me." He closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
"Yes but its those weirdoes who keep us alive." Aaron heard a voice say. He opened his eyes. It was Jeffrey Geiger, interim head of the hospital.
"Weirdoes are nice, in doses." Aaron said standing up. "I learned that from you."
Jeffrey nodded with a weak smile. "How are you? I heard about the hold up on the news."
"I was in the police station all night. I barely had any sleep. I don't know how cops can think of so many ways to ask the same question." Aaron mused. "What's up?"
"Can I visit an old friend?" Jeffrey asked. Aaron didn't respond. "Ok I was concerned. That last man who left was on the verge of tears."
"I'd say he's been on the verge of tears for a while." Aaron said. "Interesting case. Classic over-controlling mother." Aaron shook his head. "Makes me glad I never had children."
"I thought I would come by and give you the rest of the afternoon off." Jeffrey said putting his hand on a chair.
"Thanks all the same.... but I'd rather get back to work." Aaron nodded moving over to his desk.
"Too late, I already cancelled all your scheduled appointments for this afternoon." Jeffrey smiled. "As powers that be I can do that now. It's actually pretty cool." He sat down in a chair opposite Aaron. "Any news?"
"They managed to catch them pretty quickly. Even though that poor clerk girl was a blubbering mess, she provided a more detailed description than me and the other woman that was there." Aaron said as he pointed to the paper. "It didn't even make page nine."
"Aw, I suppose there is a lot of crime in our city. Most of it gets sent to our doors." Jeffrey said. "Enough with being philosophical, Aaron, time for your one day off this year."
"Gee whiz. What will I do with myself?" Aaron said getting up. He moved to a small closet and got his jacket.
"Get some lunch. Something that's not from the cafeteria. I tell you one thing, I swore to god that the food would improve with the merger. Fat chance. I think we manage to have even more unhealthier food than most fast food places." Jeffrey said as they left his office. "But it's close by and dirt-cheap. Will you join me?"
"No thanks. I can feel my stomach gurgling from here." Aaron said as he waved to his friend. "Take a rain check though."
Minutes later Aaron was walking downtown near the waterfront. He stopped by a familiar seeming park bench and sat down. He gazed off into space for a few minutes before he was alerted to a presence besides him. He looked to the side of him and saw a brunette woman.
"Fancy seeing you here." She said.
"You too." Aaron said moving to stand up. She put out a hand.
"You don't have to bother. I don't go for such formalities." She said sitting down. "I guess I should tell you my name. After all we did get held up together yesterday."
Aaron held out a hand. "Dr Aaron Shutt."
She took it. "Oh a doctor? I hope not a gyno doc; otherwise you'd be on the receiving end of a slap." She let go of his hand. "Marilyn Baxter."
"I know a lot of doctors who would deserve a slap." Aaron mused.
"Cool, can I get a list? I need to get some what do you call it...repressed anger out." Marilyn laughed. "I dated a doctor for like two years. Then he quit and became a Benedictine Monk. Do you believe that?"
"I think I do." Aaron said with a slight smile as he recalled one particular doctor who was rumored to have quit to become a priest. He never found out whether or not he had stayed with it.
"What are you doing out? I see no golf clubs. Are you playing hooky?" Marilyn asked.
"I was given the rest of the day off. An old friend is in charge of the hospital I work at." Aaron replied. "One of the few times I guess its good to have friends in high places."
"Indeed." Marilyn agreed.
"What's your excuse?" Aaron asked. "What do you do?"
"I am in between jobs right now. I'm a computer graphics designer." Marilyn smiled. "I got the job thinking it would be in great demand." She smiled more ruefully now. "Yeah right. I seem to be more in demand by creditors."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Aaron said.
"It'll be all right." Marilyn assured him. "I even have a job interview tomorrow."
"You'll have to let me how that goes." Aaron said as she got up. "Maybe we can celebrate."
Her easygoing smile came back. "I would like that."
Aaron reached in his pocket and gave her a card. She took it and pocketed it. "Thanks."
"Where are you going now?" Aaron asked standing himself.
"I got an appointment." She said. "Shrink. Don't really want to talk about it. Personally this guy I'm seeing is a quack..." She paused as she took in Aarons' uneasy reaction. She took out the card and looked at it. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize."
"That's ok." Aaron said. "A lot of people in my field are crazier than their patients." Aaron said shaking off her comment. "I just hope your doctor doesn't think I'm trying to steal you."
"Never happen." Marilyn said. "You don't make a possible dinner date with your shrink...that is unless that's you paid him for." Marilyn waved to him and walked away from him. Aaron waved to her.
"She's nice, but what is she seeing a psychiatrist for?" Aaron thought as he left the park himself. Maybe it was none of his business. She seemed like the most normal person he saw all day long.
A week later
It had been almost a week since Aaron had seen Marilyn down by the waterfront. She had promised to call but she hadn't done so so far. It wasn't like Aaron was looking for something to do. After all, checking your message service three times a day was normal, right? But after making his latest call to check his message service, he couldn't help but wonder if he was doing it because he liked her, or maybe because he was concerned about her. He thought about it for a few more minutes and decided not to worry about it. After all, a lot of people saw psychiatrists with small or meaningless problems. Besides that it was good to talk to someone outside your situation for a while.
He finally got the call he was looking for a five thirty, just before he left work.
"Hello Dr Aaron." Aaron heard the voice as he picked up the line. He had managed to beat his secretary to the phone, and she had split second timing.
"Marilyn." Aaron said sitting down. Without thinking much about it, he put his right hand through his hair. He stopped when he realized she wouldn't see him. "How are you?"
"Me? Great. I got that job. They hired me on the spot, can you believe that?" She asked Aaron. "I am working for a great new ad agency. I have been so busy playing catch-up that I haven't been able to tell you so we can go out and celebrate."
"Congratulations." Aaron said.
"Thanks." Marilyn said. She sounded very happy, Aaron noted. "This could be the big thing I have been looking for." She informed him. "Anyway about that celebration dinner?"
"Yes?" Aaron asked.
"How's Wednesday sound?" She asked. "I pick the place, you bring the checkbook."
"Sounds like a plan." Aaron said. "Eight O'clock?"
"Eight is good." Marilyn said. It sounded like she was scribbling a note. "I will call you with the place name. It will be a surprise."
"Is it a good surprise?" Aaron asked.
"When is there ever a not a good surprise?" Marilyn asked.
"I have several patients that would love to tell you otherwise." Aaron laughed. They said goodbye to each other and hung up the phone. Aaron sat at his desk for a moment thinking about the conversation when he remembered that she never gave him her phone number. Oh well, something to ask her over the celebratory dinner the next night.
As promised Marilyn called with the place name. It was a new place that Aaron had heard of but didn't dream of dining there. On the other hand it would probably take two or three patient hours to pay for just the first course. Aaron couldn't help but feel like he was being taken advantage of, but for some reason he didn't mind right now.
Aaron showed up at the Chateau Fre'mont at exactly eight o'clock. He found a table next to a small waterfall. It fell from the ceiling to the floor where the water pooled together at the door near the bathroom. He suddenly wondered if that was sanitary. As he waited he looked around the restaurant. There were many couples dining there tonight. It must be some romantic night on the couple calendar he wasn't aware of.
After half an hour a waiter came to ask if he was going to finally order. He picked up his menu, deciding to at least order some finger food, when Marilyn finally showed up. She was wearing a dark dress. Her hair was shorter, much shorter than it was in the park the other day. Her hair now was around her ears. Short of a punk pixie cut. Her eyes were dark, and her manner was dark as well.
"Sorry I'm late." Marilyn apologized. Aaron moved to say something. "I know, you forgive me, but what difference does it make?" She snapped. Aaron sat back a little bit. "It just doesn't matter." She grumbled. She looked down at the menu but didn't really read it.
"I'm fine and how are you?" Aaron said quietly. "I was going to order something."
"Right, and I just have to eat it, right?" She said her head shooting straight up. She glared at him. "So like a freaking man to decide what I eat or what I will wear or heaven forbid what color I should use in the new art board for the new Subway commercial." She growled. She was frightening, so different from the woman in the park the other day. "I got fired, ok?" She said calming down a bit. "Suddenly I'm hard to work with. Suddenly I'm disorganized and impersonal. Suddenly I'm a bitch!" Her eyes caught Aarons'. There was a slight moment when there was a bit of recognition in her troubled eyes. "Oh my god Aaron." She said much quieter. "I'm so sorry. God, I'm so sorry." She said jumping out of her seat. Her doing so knocked the table over. "I'm so sorry." She kept saying as she ran out the door. Aaron threw his menu down and got out of his own seat. As he tried to give chase a waiter stopped him at the front door and demanded he pay for the table that Marilyn had apparently broken as she ran away. Aaron quickly gave him three twenties and left him in the doorway. By the time Aaron had gotten out to the street, she was gone.
"Okay, what was that?" Aaron said out loud to himself.
Aaron was in his office reading a phone when Jeffrey knocked on his door.
"Hey." Jeffrey said coming in. He sat down in a chair opposite to Aaron.
"Hey." Aaron said not looking up.
"I thought you had a hot date tonight." Jeffrey said as Aaron dialed a number. It rang once before an answering machine started.
"I did, but not really a date. We were going to celebrate this great new job Marilyn got. But when she got there, she got very strange and took off." Aaron said recounting the date.
"Sounds like every date I ever had." Jeffrey muttered. "So who are you calling?"
"I thought I might try and get a hold of the psychiatrist she's seeing." Aaron said turning a page in the book.
"Aaron, you know as well as I do that patient confidentiality will prevent him from even acknowledging her as a patient, let alone tell you why she's a patient." This stopped Aaron cold.
"I don't know why I didn't realize it." Aaron said closing the book. Jeffrey shrugged.
"Is this Marilyn the one you were in the hold up with?" He asked
"Marilyn, yes." Aaron said. "If I hadn't stayed to talk to her, I probably wouldn't have been there when the robbery occurred. I found her very fascinating."
"Fascinating." Jeffrey said. "That is something you would say about a lab specimen and not a woman."
"I know." Aaron said. "But I doubt I will see her again. I do not have her number. I should be lucky I have her last name."
"What is it? Maybe its someone I know." Jeffrey joked. "Us strange people usually run in the same packs."
"Baxter." Aaron said. "Marilyn Baxter."
"I'll see what I can dig up. I have some grateful interns to keep busy; maybe they will find something in records. Maybe she's been here before."
"I doubt it, and I also doubt I will see her again." Aaron said turning off his computer. "Time to go home and get five hours of sleep."
Jeffrey grunted. "Tomorrows another day. Any news on the robbery?"
"Not yet. They have him, but nothing new yet." Aaron said recalling a story in the paper earlier. "I can't get Marilyn out of my mind."
"I have a way." Jeffrey said. "Let me treat you to a drink, and we'll let the liquor work its usual magic."
Two weeks later
Aaron was about to leave work when a familiar face greeted him in the garage. It was Marilyn.
"Hey." Marilyn said with a little of her usual pep.
"Hi." Aaron said in response. "How are you?"
"Better. Better than when I last saw you. I'm so sorry about that. I don't know what came over me." She apologized.
"It's been two weeks." Aaron said to her. "If I learned anything from September 11th is that something like that doesn't matter in the long run."
"It matters to me. I was out to celebrate my new job but by the time I got to you I had managed to lose the job and my control in the restaurant." She smiled half-hearted. "I bet we're on the short list of who not to invite back."
"I'm a doctor." Aaron said approaching her. "They will let me in anywhere."
"That must be nice." Marilyn mused.
"Not really, some of the hard to get into places are still hard to get into. It's no magic wand." Aaron said as he stood next to her. "So what are you doing here?"
"I wanted to apologize about that night. I ruined it for you and I know you were really looking forward to it." She brushed a stray hair out of her face. It had started to blow around in the light wind. "I know you, Dr Shutt...you don't need a degree to tell when someone's interested in you. I could tell that day in the store. If any of us left before the hold up who knows what would have happened."
"Who knows?" Aaron said. "We should start over. My name is Aaron." He put out his hand.
She took it. "Marilyn." She shook it lightly. "What a nice spring day." She said with a smile.
"I know, its getting warmer too." Aaron nodded looking around. Marilyn laughed at this. "What?"
"Notice whenever people are done say whatever they need to say constructively they start talking about something stupidly ascetic like the weather."
"Maybe it's a comfort point. It's something that never really changes and you know what to expect from it."
"But when it does something unexpected, it's sometimes a surprise." Marilyn continued his thought.
"Sometimes its good and then its bad." Aaron finished for her. "I want to take you to a great place to eat."
"Is this one of those things where you ask me if I want breakfast, and then you ask if you should call me or nudge me?" Marilyn asked with one eyebrow raised. Aaron blushed a little noticeably.
"Not like that. It's late, and anyplace worth eating is already booked. I can cook a great omelet." Aaron offered. "Well not really a great omelet..."
"I accept." Marilyn said. "So whose car? Mine? Yours? Do I follow you or what?"
"I'll drive you over. You can even sit in the backseat so you can feel extra safe."
"I'm with a doctor, I'm already safe." Marilyn smiled as Aaron led her to a small black BMW. It was a two-seater, with dark interior. Aaron put his things in the backseat. "Wow, HMOS do pay well."
"HMOS' don't pay for psychiatry anymore." Aaron informed her. "But I guess I do well."
"It's okay if you're single." She said getting in. "Were you ever married?" Aaron paused behind the wheel. "Sorry."
"Not me. It was great for a while, but then it wasn't. Very bad feelings were all that we shared for a long time. Now she lives on the coast. She's training to be a singer." He said as she backed out. "She even married a man who owns a bar."
Marilyn nodded. "I'm not married. I'm not ready for it right now. I think I would be too much for any man to handle." She admitted. "You never asked why I was here."
"Okay why were you here?" Aaron asked as they pulled into the road. He took a left and headed toward the intersection.
"My appointment was in a building near here. I know I'm not supposed to but I parked in the Chicago Hope parking lot. The parking fees at the clinic I go to are hell. Fifteen bucks for an hour. I don't know if I'm being ripped off more by the shrink or by the parking attendant." She looked out the window. "I'm seeing a new one tomorrow afternoon."
Aaron glanced at Marilyn as he pulled to a stop at a stoplight. "Tell me more about yourself." He invited.
"I'm an only child, but I got half brothers and sisters all over the place. I have no contact with them, which is fine with me. Don't get me wrong, I love family, but this is the sort of family you can love at a distance. They don't bother me and I don't bother them." She shrugged. "Not even a call after the robbery."
"Maybe they didn't know." Aaron proposed.
"It doesn't matter. They are a money family anyway." She looked at Aaron. "Meaning if you want to borrow money, come and see me." She looked toward the road. "I guess I should explain the other night." She said as they pulled into a small condo complex. There were three sets of buildings, containing two condos each. They were small looking from the outside but they were longer than they were wide. The buildings were very spare looking, no unnecessary decorations. If one didn't know better, they would think they were pulling into a motel on the side of the road.
"It's not much but its what makes me happy. I don't need much space." Aaron said as he got out of the car. He to Marilyns' side and let her out. "What were you saying?"
"Nothing important." She smiled. "I pay a shrink already to listen to me, why dump on you. Anyway I have a new guy to see tomorrow. I get to start the story all over again." She closed the door. Then they stood there for several moments looking at each other.
It hit Aaron suddenly. "I suppose we should go in." He said quietly.
"Yeah, I guess it would be a good idea." Marilyn agreed. "I once knew a guy who could cook an omelet on his car engine, but I don't think this is a trick you know."
"No, I barely know when to check the oil." He said as they walked toward the condos front door. He unlocked it and let her in first.
"You don't have any kooky rules, like take my shoes off or anything?" Marilyn asked as they moved into the main living room area. They stood and stared at each other. "It's that moment." She said quietly.
"Awkward moment." Aaron agreed. He turned and moved fast to the kitchen. "I hope I have that stuff for the omelet. Otherwise this was a whole waste of...." He turned to see Marilyn looking into his eyes. "time." She leaned in and kissed him on the lips. He quickly reciprocated the kiss. She then pulled away as quickly as she had leaned in.
"There." She said. "Now we don't have to wonder."
"Yea, we can move on with other things now." Aaron agreed. He opened the fridge and grabbed some eggs and some pre-sliced ham from the deli drawer. He moved to the stove and combined the ingredients and waited for it to cook. He turned and looked at Marilyn. "Should be a few minutes."
"That's ok." She smiled. "I'm not going anywhere."
There were a few more awkward moments until Marilyn pointed out that the eggs were starting to burn. Aaron quickly tuned to his blackening dish and took it off the heat. He made a bad mistake and had picked up the pan with no oven mitt so the pan immediately burned his right hand. He dropped the pan in the sink and ran cold water over the pan. He was about to put the palm of his hand into the water when Marilyn took it and rubbed a large ice cube over it.
"You have to do it gradually. Cool it down I mean. So much cold water at once will shock you." She said rubbing his hand with the ice cube. "You'll be fine. Not even first degree."
"Yes, but I'm a doctor, I should have known better." He admitted.
"That's ok. You're not a brain surgeon right?" She asked while getting a paper towel. She wrapped it around his hand.
"I was." He said. "I had an aneurysm a few years ago. I got back into it but it didn't last. When the two biggest hospitals in the county decided to merge, the other hospital kept their staff for that unit. I was put back into psychiatry, a job I kept while trying to recover." He explained.
"Sorry about the crack." Marilyn said still holding his hand.
"That's ok. I have a friend who thinks he's a undiscovered comedy talent." He looked up at Marilyn. "So I'm used to it." He sighed. "So much for dinner."
"Don't be sorry. I wasn't here for the food anyway." Marilyn said quietly. Aaron looked at her. "Had you been anyone else I would have bolted for the door by now. She leaned in closer. "I think you are very special."
Aaron leaned in to kiss her, but he suddenly pulled back. "I haven't been with anyone for a long time." He informed her.
She shook her head. She didn't care. "That's ok, I can go very slowly."
"Okay it hasn't been that long." Aaron held up a finger.
The next morning
Aaron rolled over and yawned. He sat and stretched out his arms. He looked around in the still dark room. He reached over to a table lamp and turned on the lamp. To his surprise it was only four thirty in the morning. After reading the time on the digital clock he turned to see an empty space in his bed. He was usually used to waking up alone but after the events of earlier that night, he expected Marilyn to still be there. In her absence however, he found a note. It one sheet of notebook paper folded over. His name adorned one side of it in neat printed handwriting. He picked it up and read it.
"Aaron, sorry I had to go. I had to go back to my place. I'll see you sometime, okay? Don't worry about me, I took a cab home. Marilyn."
He folded the note back up and put it in a drawer in the table. He sat up in bed for a minute and thought about what had happened. He barely knew her a month, but yet they already had shared a bed together. Was he going too fast? Or was he just worried about his heart taking a beating again? His luck with women hasn't been the best; one divorce, one ill advised one night stand and a possible encounter with an intern made him a little more cautious about who he let into his life. For the first time in a while, Aaron the hospital shrink suddenly felt like he needed a shrink of his own. He yawned and laid back down. It was too early to get up. Better to sleep on it, and the day past. Things will be so much clearer in the morning light.
Aaron felt ready to go home at two thirty but there was one more client to see. It was a new patient. He wasn't entirely overjoyed; it seemed like every other psychiatrist in Chicago was dumping the so-called incurables onto his doorstep. He sighed and decided to buck up and check out this new case. He pressed a button on an intercom next to his chair.
"Grace can you send in the last patients' folder." He said.
There was no answer, but there was a buzzing sound. "Coming in now." Grace replied.
Aaron went looking for his notepad in his drawer. After the last patient had left he had filled an old one and needed a fresh pad. He located it as he heard the door softly close. A folder was placed in front of him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome Dr Aaron." Aaron heard a very familiar voice. He looked up and saw Marilyn smiling at him. She was wearing a beige pantsuit.
"Marilyn?" He asked.
"That's me." She nodded sitting down across from him. "Grace was going to come in but who better to bring in my folder than well me?"
"I can't do this." He said putting his hand on his folder.
"Sure you can." She rose and opened the folder for him. "Doctors have a hard time diagnosing me. One says I'm manic-depressive. Another is convinced I have older male issues and another insists I have multiple personalities. So here I am, hoping you can diagnose me. After all we've spent more time together than with my other head doctors."
At first glance, the one who had called manic-depressive seemed to be on the dot, as he recalled her behavior at the restaurant a few weeks ago. "I can't see you as a patient."
"Why?" She asked with a frown.
"Conflicting interests." He said. "If I want to see you as uh well date...I cannot see you as a patient." Aaron said. "I can't be intimate with you and get in the way of any therapy I can help you with."
"That's funny, I thought the therapy we worked out last night was just perfect." She said with a slightly wicked smile.
"You have to get another person to see you." Aaron insisted with a light blush coming to his cheeks. "I will recommend you to anyone in the city." He said closing her folder and getting up. He handed it to her. "We can't do this."
"Awww." Marilyn pouted. "But I have to talk to someone today."
"Then meet me for coffee or something but I can't see you as a patient....and a....a."
"Potential love interest?" Marilyn said replacing the smile with a serious look. "Then talk to me as a friend."
"Why today?" Aaron asked. "I thought you had an already scheduled appointment."
"I do." Marilyn said. "But this is more recent. The man that held is up will be in court tomorrow. It's in the paper today. He is going to be extradited to Massachusetts on an outstanding warrant. He murdered someone there, and this case is more important than ours." She snappishly said.
"What can you do about it?" Aaron asked.
"Be there. Remind the court that there is a human face behind the armed robbery." She said. "I just have to see him." She stared at Aaron. "They have to know."
The way she said this worried Aaron. "What time is the hearing?"
"Nine O'clock." She said standing. "I have to go now." She said looking at a watch that wasn't there. "Time is up."
"I'm supposed to say that line." Aaron said.
"I know." Marilyn said. "Sorry I beat you to it." She moved to his desk. "However if you want to see me, I will be at the courthouse tomorrow. I would appreciate it if you would join me." She said quietly.
"I'll think about it. "Aaron said warily.
"Then we can have a coffee or something afterwards." Marilyn said as she moved to the door. "I'll hopefully see you tomorrow." She said with her hand on the door. "Don't worry about me. I won't do anything crazy." She smiled. She went through the door and closed it.
A few minutes later Jeffrey came in. "I got good news."
"If this is another old Geico joke you can keep moving." Aaron sighed.
"It's good. I promise." Jeffrey said coming in. "The trustees want to change the name of the hospital to Cook County Hope."
"Gee, Jeffrey, that flows so easily off of the tongue." Aaron sighed, not even putting an effort into his remark.
"I know. They liked it so much better than Jeffrey-land." Jeffrey sat down. "What's the matter?"
"I had to transfer a patient over to Montgomery Center." Aaron said.
"Why?" Jeffrey asked.
"Conflict of personal interests." Aaron said. "It was Marilyn Baxter. You never got back to me with that information on her."
"I couldn't do it; all of her records are sealed." Jeffrey replied with a shrug. "But I can see you got a look at them anyway."
"I saw the file, but told her she had to see someone else." Aaron explained. "We've become intimate."
"How intimate?" Jeffrey asked. Aaron didn't respond but the expression on his face told him what he needed to know. "Is this a new patient screening method I should be aware about?"
"I know. I know." Jeffrey waved him off. "But you did the right thing. So why so glum?"
"She's going to the extradition hearing of the man who held a gun to her head." Aaron explained. "It's in the paper. I don't think it's a good idea for her to do that."
"Do you think she will do something?" Jeffrey asked.
"I have no idea." Aaron said standing up. He went to the window and looked outside. A light rain was starting to fall outside. The clouds were slowing moving into the vast Chicago sky. The scenery outside clearly fit the mood that was beginning to build inside of him. "I see no real signs of post trauma in her. I haven't known her long enough to be able to tell if this is how she usually is." He admitted. "But I feel like I have to do something." He went to his intercom and paged his secretary. "Grace? Cancel all of my appointments and reschedule them." He let go of the button.
"What are you going to do?" Jeffrey asked.
"Go to court. I have to make sure nothing weird happens." Aaron said.
"Think that's wise?" Jeffrey asked as he got out of his seat.
"I do." Aaron answered. "I just hope I'm reading her signals wrong." Jeffrey nodded and waved goodbye to him. He left Aaron at the edge of his desk, wondering if the bad feeling he was getting about tomorrow was accurate or just plain nerves.
The Next Day 9:30
Aaron was starting to regret canceling a whole slate of patients to come to this court hearing, it was boring. Aaron quickly intuited that it looked more exciting on TV dramas, but was far from being interesting in real life. They at least had the benefit of commercial breaks and manufactured drama.. The case that involved him wasn't even close to being heard yet. What was worse, he hadn't seen Marilyn yet. Had she backed off? Stayed home?
As he pondered her where-abouts a familiar lady sat down across from him. It was the blond lady who was working the cash register that night.
She noticed him. "Hello." She said simply.
"Hi." He said. "How are you?" He asked.
"Great. I quit the job. There is only so much of that you can take." She sighed. "I got a entry-level job as a secretary at a construction company." She informed him.
"That sounds great." Aaron said. "So what are you doing here?"
"I could ask you that. I guess you want to see what this creep looks like as much as I do." She shifted a little bit, but Aaron didn't question it. The benches were far from being comfortable. "I have the day off, so I thought I would come and see this. Some kind of small closure for me. You know, if I see what kind of person did this to me and you and that other lady...I would be able to close out that part of my life." She smiled . "I learned something too."
"And that is?" Aaron asked.
"I am never working third shift again. Not even if I starve to death on a dumpster diver diet." She laughed. "I'll be fine. I'm getting married. I can be a housewife or something. Anything not involving mopping up vomit every Saturday suits me fine." She sat back up and turned her attention to the front of the court.
He never found out her name, but Aaron had a feeling she would come out alright. She was joking about it and everything. Aarons' attention turned to the front of the court as well as a court bailiff called out the next case.
"State of Chicago versus Jason Peterson." A man with a clipboard announced. The man, who had bushy brown hair and a slight goatee was led from where they kept the prisoners. He sat down in the defendants' chair. The case began to proceed. The next few second were a blur as Aaron felt himself glaring at the back of the mans head. He felt someone sit next to him. Aaron turned his head quickly, then did a double take. It was Marilyn.
"Is that him?" She whispered.
"Yes." Aaron replied. Marilyn nodded.
"What a scruff." She muttered. "I wonder if they gave him a bath."
"I can't tell from this distance." Aaron said looking at her. As he did so, he noticed the blond he was talking to was now gone. Maybe to use the restroom?
Marilyn saw him looking over at the bench. "Have a friend over there?"
"Sort of." Aaron said. He looked sharply forward as he heard the sound of a gavel pounding. "What did we miss?"
"He's going back to Massachusetts." A man sitting next to him said. "I guess whoever he held up isn't getting any justice." He grumbled.
Aaron turned to say something to Marilyn, but she was now gone as well.
"What in the hell is going on?" Aaron thought. He then heard a loud fire alarm bell going off. The guards and the other officers of the court got out of their seats and helped people out of the room. "That is really sudden." Aaron mused as a lady cop helped him toward one of the many exits. The prisoners were being lead out of a different exit so they could be keep separate from the other people in the courthouse. Aaron walked toward the back of the building and down the stairs, trying to keep an eye out for either the blond lady or Marilyn. It didn't take long to at least find one of them. A cry was suddenly heard in the lower part of the stairwell Aaron was standing on. He raced to the bottom of the stairs where he found a man, Jason Peterson crouched on the floor. Marilyn stood next to him with blood on her hands. She stared numbly at them and then at Aaron. She violently shook her head.
"Aaron, I didn't.....it wasn't me!!" She cried out and ran in the other direction. Aaron ran after her, moving around the seemingly severely injured defendant. He caught up with her on the outside of the building.
"Marilyn!" He cried out as he grabbed her.
"I didn't do it. I found him that way. I tried to help him up." Her voice came in hushed whispers. "It was someone else, believe me!"
"Then why are you running?" Aaron said as she tried to get out of his tight grip.
"They won't believe me. I doubt even you believe me. Do you?" Marilyn asked with a deadly serious look on her face. Her expression changed and all of a sudden a look of extreme pain on her face. "You don't oh please say you don't think I tried to kill him. I thought I could have a word with him, but he was already bleeding." She managed to get out of his tight grip. "I can't believe you think I did this." She said turning angry.
"Marilyn..." Aaron protested as she walked away from him slowly.
"I don't need this, not from you." She shook her head. She grimaced and ran away. An ambulance was heard pulling into the parking lot. It pulled around and it passed by Marilyn who was still running. She turned a corner and was gone.
That night Aaron watched the news. Amazingly they already found a suspect and it wasn't Marilyn. It was the girl from the store. Aaron sat forward and listened to the story with interest. It turned out the woman had been stalking the suspect of the robbery for two or three weeks prior. She had already known who it was, it was an ex-boyfriend who had dumped her. She never had a job at any construction company or any fiancee'. It was a nicely fabricated story to make up for her appearance in court. The womans' name, Aaron found out, Alicia Burns, was now in police custody. No weapon was found. Jason Peterson died of internal bleeding at Chicago Hope, the newsman reported. Seems like the name change idea didn't make outside of the boardroom.
Aaron had never once considered her a suspect. For some strange reason he had immediately thought that Marilyn had stabbed Jason. Maybe it was because of her iffy psych background. He shouldn't have judged her like that. He thought she was going to do something crazy, but never put the cashier into the equation.
Aaron was pulled out of his deep thinking by a knock on the door. He got up slowly, it had been a long day, and walked over to the door. He opened it to find Marilyn behind the door.
"Hey." She said.
"Hey." Aaron said.
"I'm sorry." Marilyn apologized.
"The time for you being sorry is over." Aaron said. "It's my turn. I have to admit that I thought you hurt that man at the courthouse."
"You mean killed." Marilyn corrected him. "He died."
"I know." Aaron said. "I don't know what I was thinking."
"I do." Marilyn nodded. "You were thinking that I was a little strange, and possibly a threat to a guy who held a gun to my neck. Its perfectly understandable, I mean to make someone feel the same way they made you feel; like you life was just barely in your control." She looked at Aaron. "I forgive you."
"Thanks." Aaron said. "Its raining, why don't you come in?"
"I can't. I think you can see why."
"Cause you don't think you can trust me or something?" Aaron asked.
"Nothing that complicated." Marilyn smiled a little. She gestured to her side. She was holding a bus ticket.
"A bus ticket?" Aaron asked. "But why?"
"I need to get out of town for a while. I know some people in Indiana. I'm going to become one of those money relatives for a while, milk it while I can then move on." She laughed. "I'm just going to roam, see if I can find if who I really am is out there."
"I thought I already saw who you are." Aaron said. He took her in his arms and hugged her. "A woman who is sometimes a little misunderstood and a little crazy. But hell, we gotta have crazy people otherwise there would be all of two shrinks in the country." Hopefully one of them not me, Aaron thought to himself. "Stay a while here, make up your mind."
She squeezed him. "Thanks, but I already did." She let go and pulled away from him. He leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. "I might come back to town someday. I don't think you'll recognize me though, I may be completely different." She turned around and walked out the door to where she had a cab waiting. She turned around and gave Aaron one last look before he closed the door. Aaron laid his head on the door, then went back into the living room of the condo. He sat down and felt something in his pocket, it was a multi-colored stone that was outside. "Sometimes change isn't all too bad." He thought to himself before settling it on the table in front of him. He smiled and fell asleep.