I don't own the Sopranos, but I wish I owned Ralphie! I'm just borrowing them because I have exams this week and need the distraction. Thank you, David Chase!
The small, suburban street was completely dark, aside from the headlights of a car manoeuvring easily along the empty road, almost silently as time moved into the early hours.
It was much later than Jennifer Melfi would normally have returned home, she thought with a sigh. Sad, she thought, my sad, monotonous, predictable life. She couldn't allow herself to relinquish the feeling of guilt that she currently held, knowing that she'd broken the curfew of her daily restraints and been drinking. And subsequently driving… oooh, what Elliot would think. What any of them would think.
As she swung her car onto the driveway and killed the engine she sat for a moment and allowed the silence of the night to engulf her. She became conscious only of the faint sound of her breathing, slightly heavier than normal, and resting her head against the car seat, closing her eyes and allowing the feeling of tipsiness to momentarily wash over her.
"Jen, you hypocrite," she said to herself, and yawning, opened her eyes and reached for the car door. With her free hand she rubbed the sleep from her eyes and sighed inwardly at the extra effort required in ejecting herself from the car. Four fingers curled round the handle and then a little push! And she quickly became aware of the coolness of the midnight air.
Melfi stepped out of the car and turning to reach for her briefcase on the passenger seat was oblivious to the shadow of a man making his way quickly towards her. It was only when she became acute to the pungent scent of aftershave that she turned around sharply and shrieked with terror, swinging her briefcase in front of her to create a barrier between herself and the man.
Images of the past, Jesus Rossi, the man who had raped her, flooded into her mind and she went into a state of shock, before quickly coming to her senses when the familiar voice yelled,
"Ow! Jesus Christ!"
She blinked, and stared in surprise at Anthony Soprano, one of her patients and notorious mob boss, clutching his hand in pain from the swing she had given him with her briefcase. She lowered it almost immediately, but remained slightly stunned as he began to unleash his tirade.
"What the hell do you think you're doing? You could have broken my hand; did you not hear me coming? Jesus Christ, Doc!"
"Anthony, what are you doing here?"
"I needed to speak to you…" He paused, and registered her with a look of concern. "Have you been drinking?"
She quickly found herself getting angry, and surprised herself in the venom of her response, "What in the world were you thinking, creeping up on me, not only out of office hours, but at a time like this? You could have been a… a rapist, or here to mug me!-"
"Hey, hey, hey!" Tony said, holding his hands up in protest, "Alright, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to startle you, I just wanted to talk to you."
"What about?" she snapped, and then realising the still vindictiveness in her voice, stopped abruptly and allowed herself a moment to think. He didn't deserve this, she thought, mobster or not, he had never caused her any physical pain, and it was unreasonable to talk to him like this, to let him see he had gotten under her collar. If this was true, and he only did want to talk, she could spare him a few minutes. She knew it would probably take her ages to fall to sleep anyway; sleep didn't come easily these days. Whilst mulling all these thoughts over, she almost missed the quiet words spoken from the great hulk of a man in front of her:
"My wife's left me. We're separating."
She started to speak, and then realised she didn't know what she wanted to say.
He continued, "She found out about this girl I was seeing. Russian girl. Not the one from before, y'know…?" She nodded. "It was her cousin."
"Anthony…" she started, and then shivered as a biting gust of wind caught her, causing her teeth to chatter and for her to become quickly acute to the alcohol inside of her, and a slight dizziness.
Tony didn't fail to register this. "You're cold? We could go somewhere, to talk."
"This is my house," Melfi said, almost absently. She realised, curiously, that Anthony Soprano had an almost nervous look about him, as he failed to make eye contact with her and shuffled his feet from side to side.
"It's fine," she said, answering his thoughts and rummaged in her pocket for her key.
"Ok, but I won't keep you long!" he said righteously, and followed her up to the front door, trying to hide the growing feeling of anticipation at witnessing first hand the place that she might live. He had occasionally wondered what kind of home she might keep, and in those early hours, wondered about the scent of her rooms, and the decorations and paraphernalia she might keep.
But now he tried to allow himself concern for the fact she had clearly had a drink or two, and was a bit disgruntled and hazy to the surroundings around her. "If you're sure," he said, without thinking, and waited patiently while she unlocked the front door and pushed it slowly open. He wanted to put his arm on her waist for support, but thought better, and instead followed her into the room ahead, realising that he was wholly unaware of what the night ahead might unfold.