THEN & THERE
WRITTEN BY WIL CARPENTER
NOTE: This story is set in between seasons 1 and 2 of The Sopranos.
He smelt like peppermints. That was Dr. Melfi's first reaction to this man who was sitting on the sofa in front of her. They sat in her apartment, which was cramped with her personal belongings and her files, which told her about each of her patients' problems.
This man was Pasqual Ferrerra, a man in an honest line of work, who had a wife and two kids sitting at home. He came to therapy every week because he had been a drug addict, and, as he claimed, his craving of them grew every day.
"What are your feelings towards your wife and children, Mr. Ferrerra?" Dr. Melfi asked politely, her voice travelling through the room, and echoing off the back wall.
"They can go fuck themselves," Pasqual replied. "I put food on the table for those ungrateful little shits and do they ever say thank you. No they don't. All they ever do is bitch and moan."
"I can see the effect that kind of pressure would have on a person." Melfi explained. "I think that you should tell me about your addiction again. Have you used drugs within the last week?"
"No!" Pasqual shouted. "I tell you every week that I'm not using anymore. That fucking powder could kill me if I carried on taking it."
"It could kill you even now that you've stopped taking it."
"What do you mean? Am I in any danger?" He sounded scared, or maybe it was happiness, disguised as fear.
"Well, if you've been abusing drugs since you were seventeen, then it seems likely that you could still be suffering from the withdrawal." Melfi explained. "I had a patient, who very recently took a gun, and shot herself because the craving was too much."
Pasqual fell silent, and stared longingly at the floor. While he did this, Dr. Melfi reached for another one of her folder's and opened it.
"It's all work." Pasqual said suddenly.
Melfi looked at him, confused. Pasqual smiled, and looked the doctor right in the eyes.
"Work is doing this to me."
"According to my files, you work in the cleaning business. You said in our first meeting that you hoped to make Executive Janitor one day. So, why don't you tell me why being a janitor is so difficult?"
Pasqual fell silent again. Melfi could tell that he was thinking to himself. He had his large, tattooed arms perched on his knees, and the whiskers of his ears rubbed against his thumbs.
After a minute or so of silence, Pasqual sat up straight, as if a bolt of electricity had passed through him.
"I've been fired. Some new guy is taking over the office building I used to clean. He's bringing in his own team. The whole place is under new management. The guy who's in charge now has this uncle. The uncle is a psycho. Fucking Italian's trying to be Americans"
"This man in charge, does he fuel your hatred, which you mentioned a few weeks ago, of Italian-American businessmen?"
"The guy is fucking psycho. I tell the new boss, what's his name, Moltisanti or something, I tell him I want to talk to his uncle and the fucker won't even answer my calls!"
"And this angers you." Melfi realised. "The fact that this Moltisanti man won't call you back is a cause of great stress and anger to you."
"Moltisanti?" Pasqual replied. "No, the psycho uncle wasn't named Moltisanti. He was this guy from the news. Tony Soprano."
Dr. Melfi stared at Pasqual for a few moments, and then moved her gaze to the clock, which was perched on the wall.
"Oh, well, that's time up, I'm afraid." She sighed. "We'll have to resume this conversation next week."
Pasqual stood, and pulled his jacket on. Dr. Melfi led him to the door, and they said their goodbyes. Then, Pasqual was gone.
Dr. Melfi stood at the door for a few moments, and stared into space. As she turned to close the door, she heard a twig snap, and her head turned back towards the car park. There was no one there.
She stood staring at the cars and the small thicket of trees for a few moments concentrating mainly on the large land rover parked opposite her room, and then, she turned and went back into her apartment.
Melfi was gone. The man behind the land rover stood, and straightened out his leather jacket, and dirty jeans. It had taken a long time to find one of Melfi's patients, follow that patient, get the patient distressed, and then find where Melfi was staying, or at least seeing her patients.
He was proud that he had done it all himself, without the aid of Paulie or Sylvio. Hell, even Christopher didn't know anything about this little operation.
The man moved towards the door of the land rover, and opened it. He climbed in and put the key in the ignition.
The man had to agree on one thing about the long drive to Melfi's hiding place. It was a good day to be Tony Soprano.
And as the car started, and he began to drive it through the car park, Tony looked at Melfi's apartment door and smiled.
"Gotcha, Jen." He smirked.