|Reviews for The John Wayne Syndrome|
| NickTonyK chapter 1 . 9/10/2011
| PutMoneyInThyPurse chapter 1 . 8/21/2010
Oh, wow. I first read this story in a reprint of a zine that Melinda Reynolds made available again, and it was the one that absolutely gut-wrenched me - kind of picked me up and shook me and put me down again.
So much to love! Hurting Mark, and you show us that something's not right in "overly hot and sweaty on one of the coolest days in L.A.'s recent history." And the delightful way you set that up, and then show it being threatened...
"It was so peaceful in the sunny, air-conditioned room that he fell into a half-awake, half-asleep state, daydreaming about his present life. McCormick was content for the first time he could remember, the restless yearning he had grown up with gone. It had been replaced by the first real roots he had had since his mother died when he was thirteen. Even before, it was hard to get attached to a neighborhood or apartment when you were forced to move periodically to avoid bill collectors. He was happy, truly and without reservations."
Just... *SIGH* And the sunny, air-conditioned room is so nice for atmosphere, I can just see that. In fact, I always feel your descriptions are very tactile and concrete: "Jeez, give a guy a heart attack, why doncha?" McCormick had jumped back in his chair, his hand now at his chest. He could feel the rapid thumpity-thump of his heart easily through his drenched t-shirt. To hide his trembling hands, he again clutched his head." Aw, poor Mark, and I can really feel his heart along with him and see and feel the fever-sweat and his trembling hands.
It just gets better and better with the little background with Frank, and HC's unwitting exacerbation of the situation:
"...He continued, not about to forget the fact that his yard was only half-finished. "Yesterday it was a slight case of heatstroke. The day before it was that sprained ankle. When the hell can I expect this work to be finished? When I'm fed-up and hire a gardener? Or am I complaining too much?"
I like the shift to HC's PoV here - and the unconscious irony in all of this is that it would really be fine on any other day, as evidenced by Mark's riposte:
"McCormick climbed stiffly to his feet. "Now, your honor. And as far as your complaining, I doubt if a Sherman tank could stop you."
Only it isn't, and it's pretty ominous right there. And oh, my heart aches for Mark here: "His hand fumbled at his side as the ache began to make itself know[n] again. He would just have to favor it, keeping any bending to a minimum." And the irony is that it's a series of misunderstandings - your HC is so used to Mark making excuses to goof off that he doesn't realize Mark really is in pain, because if he did, he'd be the first to yell at him to see the doctor, only your Mark, with that stubborn pride we know so well from canon, isn't about to admit it. So wonderfully done, and making us go, "Gah, MEN!"
(And while I remember, I like that you have McC say that he likes doing the yard work. It rings very true that he would, esp. the "keeping in shape" line, and it also makes sense and adds a nice element to the series that he doesn't feel like it's coerced out of him. And in canon, he doesn't appear to dislike it, though he moans an awful lot.)
"Eavesdropping wasn't something he usually avoided when the opportunity presented itself. And particularly when it concerned him..."
SQUEE! This is a great character observation for Mark. Yes, indeed, and who would resist, anyway? But I like that eavesdropping is just another tool in the arsenal of skills, along with the lockpicks and the black clothing.
Only it backfires! Poor Mark, and you set that up so well.
"There was silence as McCormick let the remark go by without so much as a dirty look. He chopped potatoes into a pot of boiling water, stopping to check on the steaks sizzling under the grill in the oven. There would be time before dinner, but there were things that had to be done before McCormick could sit down and rest."
You're making me hungry here - and great setup, these guys were always bonding over meals. Only here, you show that disjoint, and it's clear that something's seriously wrong, and you show really well that HC begins to notice, too, and is even a little hurt: "Boy, we're really touchy today" - in that typical gruff way taht he has, which is great, you really show us a man who wouldn't say "You hurt my ickle feelings!"
""Don't you talk to me in that tone…" Hardcastle stood in one spot, breathing deeply. Then, in a calmer voice, he continued. "Look, you're not yourself. I wanna know what's wrong and I wanna know now. What's eating you? You didn't come out and play ball with me last night, you didn't come over for breakfast, and now you rush by me like I'm not even there. I want an answer, McCormick, and I want it now!"
McCormick swallowed, too tired to deal with one of the Judge's tantrums. He had been up half the night with stomach spasms, which was why he hadn't participated in one of their 'to-the-death' matches. He didn't think it would improve the Judge's opinion of him if he had thrown up on him during one of their fights for control of the basketball."
*SIGH* So perfect, your Hardcastle, here, and even more, and one's heart just bleeds for Mark!
And he's really treating HC badly, isn't he? And his pain shows through in his curtness: "The sharpness in Hardcastle's question hurt almost as bad as his abdomen. McCormick jumped back quickly. "Look, do you want me to do them or not? If you'd prefer to hire someone, fine. I'll clean the garage out. Well?" Ohhh, oh, this is so... He's been so curt and so harsh, and - you switch their POV's well, it never jars, and so I love it when your HC says, "McCormick took no offense, clamming up in that special way he had that made Hardcastle feel he had crushed a small child. It didn't happen often, but it was usually something that Hardcastle had said to him that McCormick would take umbrage at. The silences would last a couple of hours, one night at the most, then things would return to normal and, refraining from the mock insults that normally flew about, the two men would talk it out." And so typical of him, "drag the kid inside... shake it out of him."
The scene on the roof. Heart-stopping, for me. "He saw McCormick pause at the corner above where the concrete patio ended and the thick grass began, his tongue darting over his lips. He wavered, dropping the hose and grabbing his side.
"What is it?" Hardcastle shouted, his heart leaping as saw the blood run out of McCormick's face, leaving it pale and sickly-looking. "McCormick? Sit down on the roof. Now!"
But it was too late. Weaving, McCormick slumped over, bending in half. He gasped as the sudden movement caused him to lose his balance and he tumbled off the roof, a frightened form rushing to meet the ground.
A bush blocked his sight, a sick crunch as a heavy body slammed onto the ground, letting him know that McCormick had landed. Hardcastle skidded to a halt, his stomach churning."
OMG, so perfect, HC's view of him, the "frightened form rushing to meet the ground" - and later, the clamminess of shock, and nobody rocks the h'c like you: "Hardcastle studied the pale face and clenched teeth. He poked McCormick's abdomen, yanking his hand back when the younger man choked back a startled scream." Oh-h-h-h!
And even later, the touch of humor in the "next fifteen minutes became a free-for-all argument. Hardcastle insisted that McCormick be transported to the hospital. The potential patient protested that he didn't want to go, while the Emergency Medical Technicians explained that they couldn't force the man to go.
As one of the men said, "As long as he's in control of his faculties, he's within his rights to refuse."
Hardcastle snorted. "He's never been in control of anything, other than his car and that's iffy."
*giggle* And so perfectly your HC's worry spilling over into insults. And oh, oh "There was a soft gasp, then McCormick became even paler, his legs crumpling under him as he slipped towards the ground. The Judge stepped forward, barely catching him in time. "Mark?"
He was dead weight. The paramedics took over, stretching McCormick back onto the ground.
"He's not conscious now. I want him taken in," Hardcastle ordered, frightened by the collapse.
"His breathing's irregular..." Oh, gut-wrenching, and so ominous!
The hospital, so much to love. Mark crying out and fighting in his sleep. Hardcastle's lovely, plaintive monologue. "He's delirious, ya know. I was in his room and he was crying, calling my name. Then, when I was trying to reach him, let him know that I was there, he said that I didn't like sick people. He was in his own private hell, Frank, and I couldn't help him out of it. Where did he get the idea that I'd hate him for being sick?" So lost, so loving. *SIGH*
And I heart you forever for this: "He'll be okay, won't he?" Harper asked, watching Hardcastle walk to the waiting room window and stare blindly out at the evening sun.
"They don't know."
Those words hung in the air. "Surely the doctors can give him antibiotics, penicillin, something? I mean, Mark McCormick felled by simple appendicitis?"
I love the 'blindly', I love the words hanging inthe air, the bleakness as HC says them - I can hear his bleak tone! - and Frank's almost-babbling as a contrast. I like that you put "They don't know" by itself in a paragraph. So powerful. It moves me every time.
The resolution you give, HC's warm words, yet not overly-sentimental at all. "I say a lot of stuff that I don't really mean,to you and to Frank,'cause I know you both understand that I'm just blowing off steam." Aw, HC, or you could just say, "I know you both love me enough to put up with my moods." If you ever, y'know,got up the courage.
I love the ending -your HC being a rather oppressive nursemaid (counting speckles!) the pro detail of the depositions FTW, and the final line, "I
| sbishoff chapter 1 . 11/2/2008
I thought I had reviewed this sotry before, but found today that I hadn't.
I remember reading this in the zine it was printed in, and I loved it. I still do now. It was a great story, and I loved the ending with Hardcastle getting so excited about telling Mark about thier vacation that he didn't even notice he had fallen asleep.
Thanks for sharing.
| JeanneZ84 chapter 1 . 4/27/2007
Hey!Mark should know by now How Milt really feels about him and that he can always tell the Judge anything about how he really feels.
There is really alot of love between them too they are truly best friends.
I read this before and I loved it then and now too.
| wuemsel chapter 1 . 8/24/2006
Very cute story, and I LOVED the ending! Burst out grinning here; I can so see Hardcase ruttling (!) him awake to tell him they go fishing, and Mark's instant "yeah, sure, I'm with ya"-reaction is just SO cute! Thanks for a great read.
| L.M.Lewis chapter 1 . 3/25/2006
Ah, see, you mentioned it and I remembered it and then I had to go back and reread it. How the heck did I miss reviewing it the first time?
So, now you know what 'zine it was originally in. ;-) When you were writing it, would you ever have thought you'd forget when and where it was first published? Lot of fics over the dam in twenty years, eh?
Poor Mark, trying to meet the Hardcastle standards of stoicism and winding up almost doing a Houdini. Then two steps forward and one back, on the path to recovery-so guy-like.
My favorite bit? Frank asks H why he hasn't told Mark his plans, and the judge, after admitting he doesn't know, shakes the kid awake and says, "We're going fishin', okay?" ROTFLOL, that's so dead-on.
| mouse8 chapter 1 . 10/2/2005
Cute story. I'm so glad you published your old stories here for those of us who never got to read the fanzines.
| Starsky's Strut chapter 1 . 5/25/2005
Hi, I thought I had reviewed this wonderful story... hm...
Okay, I really liked this story. Poor Mark, trying so hard not to let the pain show *sigh*
Loved the H/C and the Judge agnst.