Caroline & The School Bully
--Richard absently stared off into space like so many other New Yorkers on their way to work.
Is it a wonder why I hate the subway? he thought to himself as he looked around at all the unsavory people sharing the subway car with him. Just then, someone caught his attention. He gave the man a second glance, trying not to be too obvious.
"Oh my God," he whispered to himself, quickly turning his back.
What are the odds? Cause it's me. Cause I am just that 'lucky'. Cause my life doesn't suck enough,he thought to himself, then he realized his stop was approaching. Good! I'll get off before he sees me and that will be the end of it.
--Richard entered Caroline's apartment, slamming the door and nervously looking through the peephole.
"Hello Richard." Caroline said cheerfully, looking at him inquisitively.
"What's your problem?" Annie asked crassly.
"Nothing." Richard replied, still looking out the peephole.
"Right. That's why you're acting all weird."
"Why are you acting so nervous?" Caroline asked.
"Awww, what's the matter Richie? Buffy, the Vampire Slayer trying to drive a stake through your heart again?" Annie joked. Richard just ignored her. "You know, you don't have anything to worry about. They can't pierce what they can't find."
"Annie!" Caroline scolded.
"Shouldn't you be at the hospital getting deloused?" Richard shot back as he walked away from the door, satisfied with the idea that he wasn't followed. He hung up his coat, then headed for the bathroom.
"Shouldn't you be at the hospital getting a personality implant?" Annie asked as Richard walked passed and into the bathroom, shutting the door without responding. "He just gets weirder and weirder, if that's even possible."
"Annie, he's not weird, he's just... Richard." Caroline said in Richard's defense. Just then there was a knock at the door.
"Hi. Ummm... I'm looking for, a Richard Karinsky," the man at the door said to Caroline.
"That's funny, I just happen to know 'a Richard Karinsky'," Caroline chuckled at her humorous reply.
"Oh, please, let it be the same Richard Karinsky. I don't think the world could survive two of them!" Annie quipped.
When Richard exited the bathroom he stopped abruptly, looking remarkably like a deer caught in headlights. "Oh my God!"
"Hey Karinsky! I thought that was you! Remember me?" the man asked, taking a step inside the apartment.
"Remember you? I still have the scars from when you tied me to the monkey bars with a jump rope and pelted me with rocks!"
"Yeah," the man chuckled. "The good 'ol days, huh?"
"So, Richie, you gonna introduce us to your friend?" Annie asked, looking at the guy with a flirtatious gleam in her eye.
"No," Richard answered flatly.
"Hi. Burt Gutslinger," he introduced himself, holding his hand out to shake Annie's.
"Burt Gutslinger?" Caroline asked, the name sounding familiar.
"Hi, I'm Annie Spadaro."
"A pleasure," Burt replied, kissing her hand.
"Burt Gutslinger," Caroline repeated quietly to herself, still trying to place the name.
"Look, Karinsky, I gotta get to work. I just saw you on the subway and I had to see if you were you."
"Until I die... unfortunately," Richard replied dryly, walking towards the partners desk.
"Same 'ol Karinsky!" Burt laughed. "Hey, Annie... you know, maybe we could get together for a drink later. If you're not busy that is."
"Sure! I'd like that," Annie said, grabbing a piece of paper off the bar and quickly jotting down her number.
"Ummm, Annie? Can I talk to you a minute?" Richard asked nervously.
"No," Annie replied, handing her number to Burt.
"Burt Gutslinger!" Caroline announced, finally placing the name.
"Well, we now know the speed of Caroline's wit. Welcome to the conversation," Richard snipped sarcastically at Caroline.
"Maybe I'll see 'ya 'round Karinsky!" Burt added as he walked out the door.
"Not if I see you first," Richard replied. "And run the other way," he added under his breath.
"Wow is he ever cute!" Annie exclaimed after Burt left.
Richard shook his head, "Yeah, like a pit bull."
"Annie, I don't think you should've given him your phone number," Caroline said, concerned.
"Cause that was the guy that used to beat up Richard all the time at school!"
"Annie!" Caroline scolded. Richard just shook his head and sighed.
"No! I don't mean it like that!" Annie clarified. "I just meant that it was so long ago! Like 15 years or something! Kids do stuff like that! He's an adult now!"
"Maybe physically," Richard said "Mentally…" The implication clear.
"You just don't like him cause you're afraid of him!"
"I am not afraid of him!" Richard scoffed. "Just because I want to keep as far away from him as possible, and the mere mention of his name makes my skin crawl..."
"Uh-huh," Annie said snidely.
"Ok, so I'm afraid of him! I have my reasons!"
"HAD! HAD your reasons! Richie, your reasons are 15 years old! He's an adult now! And you're not a kid anymore!
"You don't change THAT much just cause you grow older."
"You know what?! Why do you even care anyway? Since when have you started taking an interest in who I date?"
"You know what? I don't care! Date him! Sleep with him! Hell, marry him for all I care!"
"Like I need your permission!" Annie snapped as she walked out the door.
--"Ok, what is it about me? That Burt guy... BIG loser!" Annie announced as she stormed into Caroline's apartment.
"Really?" Caroline turned from the work at her desk. "So, Richard was right."
"Caroline, please. It's bad enough he was right, do you have to rub it in my face?"
"Sorry. What did Burt do?"
"I don't know, he was just... creepy. First, he drank WAY TOO MUCH! Then, he started talking about guns and how to kill someone and make it look like an accident! Stuff like that."
"Wow! What a winner," Caroline joked sarcastically.
"Ah, the future Mrs. Gutslinger." Richard chided as he entered the loft. "So, your soon-to-be husband out beating up his co-workers for their lunch money?"
"Yeah, Richie, and after he's done, he's gonna go rob a bank!" Annie shot back.
"I was joking you moron! Get a life!"
"I have one. It sucks, but I have one."
"Then stay out of mine!" Annie snapped as she walked out the door and slammed it.
"You're late," Caroline said to Richard as he walked into the kitchen.
"Sorry. There was a fire on the subway."
"Ah. You were right about Burt," she blurted out seconds later.
He looked up at her abruptly. "Why? What happened?"
"Annie said he was really creepy. He weirded her out."
"I tried to tell her! He was like that all through school! She wouldn't listen to me!"
"Well, she is going to break it off."
"She should've never given him her number! I don't think he'll be that easy to get rid of."
"Why do you say that?" Caroline asked.
"He was never one to relent. When he gets an idea in his head, good luck getting him to back off. I mean, this is the man who tied me to a flag pole and bounced a kick-ball off my head for 2 hours!"
"Well, do you think Annie should be worried?"
"I don't know... it depends."
"On Burt. If he wants to date her, he might not just go away. If he doesn't want to date her, he'll probably just disappear."
"Well, let's hope he doesn't want to date her then."
--"Ok, help!" Annie said as she entered Caroline's apartment.
"With?" Caroline asked.
"Burt! He's crazy!"
"What did he do?"
"He's stalking me!"
"What? What makes you think he's stalking you?"
"Everywhere I turn, there he is!"
"Did you tell him you didn't want to see him anymore?"
"Yes! And he freaked out! Started talking about how HE didn't want to break up, and how he wouldn't just walk away from 'this'. What 'this'?? We had ONE date! I figured he was just blowing off steam, but now, I'm not so sure."
"Did you call the police?"
"Yeah. They said until he actually does something, there isn't anything they can do about it!"
"Well, well, trouble in paradise?" Richard smirked, entering the loft and hanging up his coat.
"You're just loving this, aren't you?" Annie asked angrily, irritated by Richard's smugness.
"Oh yeah. I told you he was bad news, but you wouldn't listen. Now you want what? For me to feel sorry for you?"
"I don't want anything from YOU!" Annie barked back. "I was talking to Caroline!"
"Good! Cause you'll get no sympathy from me!"
"Oh, well," Richard mocked, "You certainly put me in my place."
"Richard! Be nice!" Caroline reprimanded; he just rolled his eyes and headed for the partners desk.
He felt bad for what Annie was going through, but was not about to admit that to her. He was still upset that she just dismissed him when he told her Burt was trouble, and at how she yelled at him to stay out of her life. If she wanted him out of her life, then out of her life he would be.
"I don't need this. I'm outta here!" Annie announced, then walked out the door, slamming it as she went.
"Richard, she is really upset, couldn't you have been a little nicer to her?" Caroline asked, after Annie left.
"Look Caroline, I'm sorry that she is going through this. I had to deal with this guy for years, so I know how she feels, but she made her decision, now she has to deal with the consequences. She will get no sympathy from me," he firmly stated, looking over his work for the day.
Caroline scowled, making him uncomfortable.
She's not going to make me feel bad about this. Annie wanted to date him.
"I know Annie can be annoying..."
"Understatement of the year!" he immediately returned.
"Richard, couldn't you just talk to him? Ask him to..."
"Are you INSANE!?" he yelled, interrupting. "I am NOT going to go talk to Burt Gutslinger!"
"Maybe if you just asked him to leave her alone, he would."
"And maybe if I ask him to leave her alone he'll pound me into mulch! I'm not taking that chance."
"Richard, I'm worried about her. I don't want her to get hurt."
"I don't want her to get hurt either, but no good can come from talking to him! He's not exactly an intellectual. The only thing he understands is violence, and I'm a bleeder."
"Well, maybe I should go talk to him then."
"What?! You ARE insane! There is no way I'm letting you do that!"
"Letting me?! Who made you master of my life?"
"No, I didn't mean it like that..."
"Then, how did you mean it?"
"Look Caroline, Burt is NOT stable. You should NOT go talk to this guy! You could get hurt!"
"Well, Annie could get hurt if someone doesn't go talk to him."
"I know what you're doing Caroline."
"What? What am I doing?"
"I'm not going to go talk to him."
"I know you're not! You already made that perfectly clear!"
Caroline pouted, and Richard did his best to ignore her, but she was getting to him.
How does she do that? How does she make me feel like I cannot disappoint her? he thought to himself, frustrated with what he was about to say and do.
"Fine!" he snapped, getting up from the desk, heading for his coat.
"Fine what?" she asked, feigning innocence.
"Oh, please, you know very well what I'm talking about!"
She smiled. "Thank you, Richard."
"Caroline, you're getting your way, I'm going to go talk to him, but don't thank me, ok?" He huffed, "I would like a tasteful funeral. Nothing gaudy" he added, then slammed the door.
--"Prisoners name?" the prison guard asked Richard as he approached the window.
"Oh, no, I'm here to see one of the guards. Burt Gutslinger," Richard replied.
"Name?" the guard asked.
"Burt Gutslinger," Richard replied slowly, as if the guard didn't understand him the first time.
The guard just sighed. "Not his name, your name!"
"And what's this in regards to? If he should ask."
"Well, it's... sorta, private."
"Ok," the guard said, gesturing for Richard to move aside, then he picked up the phone. Richard moved away from the window to let the rest of the people in line advance.
After a few minutes... "Hey! Karinsky? He'll be out in a few."
"Thanks," Richard said, acknowledging the guard, then sat on a nearby bench. The things I do for her. He sighed, No good can come of this.
"Hey Karinsky!" Burt exclaimed as he approached, snapping Richard out of his thoughts.
"Hi," Richard said distantly.
"Well, this is kinda awkward Burt. Ummm... I was hoping... well, wondering-- What are your intentions towards Annie?"
"Intentions?" Burt laughed. "My intentions? My intention is to date her! What's this all about?"
"Look, I just don't want to see her get... hurt. Ya'know?"
"What is?" Richard asked.
"I got the impression that you and Annie didn't really like each other."
"Well, our relationship is... unique. Look, I don't want to imply anything here, but I- I don't think she wants to see you anymore."
"Yeah, she said something about that."
"So, maybe it would be better if you just stopped following her around and stuff."
"Look, Karinsky," Burt said as he put his arm around Richard, "You do me a favor... you go tell Annie that she's not going to get rid of me that easy, k?"
"Burt, I really don't think she wants to-"
"You need to relax! You'll live longer." Burt interrupted, patting Richard on the back, then he walked away. Richard just stood there for a moment, as if in a daze.
"You're friends with Gutslinger?" a guard approached and asked.
"Not exactly," Richard replied.
"He's a nut case! A real whacko!" the guard said quietly.
Richard could feel his pulse start to race. "What? What do you mean?"
"Nevermind," the guard whispered, looking around nervously. "I shouldn't have said anything," he added, then walked away.
--"What happened?" Caroline asked anxiously as Richard walked through the door.
"Well, I think he's going to be hard to get rid of."
"Why do you say that?"
"Cause he said 'Tell Annie she can't get rid of me that easy'."
"What are we gonna do?"
"Ummm, what are 'WE' gonna do?? I'm not going to do anything! I already risked my well being going over there to talk to that degenerate! My involvement is over."
"Fine!" Caroline huffed, pouting again.
"It's not going to work this time Caroline!"
"The pouting thing. It's not going to work again, so give it up!"
"No, Caroline! That's it! Annie is a big girl, she can take care of herself!" he announced as he headed for the door.
"Where are you going?"
"But we're not done with these cards yet."
"Then you probably shouldn't have sent me out, risking life and limb to talk to psycho boy! I'm going home now Caroline. I will finish up tomorrow."
She pouted once again. "Fine."
"Not working!" Richard exclaimed sing-song as he walked out the door, shutting it soundly.
--"Ok, now he's sending me threatening letters!" Annie announced as she stormed into Caroline's apartment and slammed the letter down onto the bar.
"You're kidding!" Caroline said, picking up the letter to read it. "Ok, the police gotta do something about this now, right?"
"Nope! They said it is considered an idol threat!"
"Telling you to watch your back is an IDOL threat?!"
"That's what they said. I think its cause Burt is a cop!"
"Really? Why would that matter?"
"Cause cops look out for cops!"
"What are you going to do now?"
"I don't know. I honestly don't know."
"Burt's still stalking you?" Richard asked as he walked into the room.
"He's moved on to threatening letters!" Caroline informed.
"Don't pretend to care," Annie snipped, "Cause I know you don't!"
"I care! That's why I tried to warn you! You just ignored me, remember?"
"You know, you can stop throwing that back in my face any time now! Why don't you be constructive and help me figure out what to do about him!"
"I don't know what to do about him! Except make him not want to date you! What do you do to drive all your other dates away?"
"Bite me count dracula!"
"No, Annie, he has a point," Caroline interjected.
"Oh, well, thanks a lot!" Annie shot back, offended.
"No, not that! Make him NOT want to date you! It's worth a try!"
"But, how do I do that?"
"Be yourself! That should make him run," Richard cracked.
"Be nice Richard!" Caroline demanded.
He rolled his eyes. "Fine."
--"Ok, he's coming over," Annie informed, poking her head into Caroline's apartment.
"Good luck! I sure hope this works!"
"Me too! I'll be by later."
"Oh goody, something to look forward to," Richard interjected, busying himself with his work.
"Do the world a favor... drop dead!" Annie snipped as she walked out the door, not bothering to wait for a comeback.
--"I wonder how it's going over there," Caroline wondered out loud.
"You are the nosiest person I have ever known," Richard teased as he continued coloring.
"You're not the least bit curious about what's going on?"
"No. I'm not," he said, but was interrupted by what sounded like a scream.
"Did you hear that?" Caroline asked nervously.
"Yeah," Richard replied, concerned.
"It sounded like… Annie screaming," she said, getting up from her seat and heading for the door.
"Caroline!" Richard called out, stopping her from leaving. "I'll go." He walked out the door, and listened at Annie's door for a moment, then opened the door and walked in. Burt was holding onto Annie's arm… she looked terrified.
"What's going on?" Richard asked, hoping his presence would discourage Burt from violence.
"Nothing Karinsky," Burt groaned. "Just get on outta here."
"Annie, what are you doing?" Richard asked Annie, deciding to change his course of action.
"What?" Annie asked, confused.
"You heard me!" Richard said loudly, starting to get into character. "What are you doing?! I told you to break up with him!" he snapped, taking a step towards her.
"I... ummm... I told him..." Annie stammered, still confused.
"You know I don't like sharing you with other men!" Richard grabbed Annie's arm away from Burt.
"Wait a minute! You and Annie are dating? Why didn't you say something before?"
"Cause I wasn't the one trying to date you! Annie dates you, Annie breaks up with you," Richard barked angrily, gently but convincingly pushing Annie to the bed.
"Hey, man, she didn't tell me she was spoken for!" Burt said, becoming subdued.
"Yeah, well, now you know!" Richard snapped, taking a combative stance.
"Yeah, man... sure. No problem."
Burt headed for the door but suddenly turned back and looked at them skeptically, which caused Richard to make the scene more convincing. He grabbed Annie by the arm and pulled her to her feet, then kissed her aggressively.
"Now make me pie woman!" he ordered. Annie just looked at him, shocked.
"Yeah... ok, sure." she said, heading for the kitchen. Burt seemed satisfied and walked out the door.
Caroline watched as he left through her peephole, running across the hall as soon as the elevator door closed. "What happened?" she asked anxiously.
"Richard got him to leave," Annie said, still in shock.
"Annie!" Richard interrupted, looking at her with an expression that told Annie: 'Don't tell Caroline I kissed you'.
"He... stood up to Burt," Annie finished, smiling at Richard.
"Wow! Good for you! What did you say?" Caroline asked Richard.
"He told him to leave me alone, or he would have to get mid-evil on his exterior," Annie said, suppressing a laugh. Richard just shot her a less-then-amused grin.
"Well, that's great Richard! I'm so glad you were here to help her! I knew you cared!" Caroline said cheerfully.
"Yeah, well," Richard muttered, trying to keep his nonchalant demeanor. Caroline could hear the phone ringing in her apartment, so she ran to go get it, leaving Annie and Richard alone.
"It's ok. Thanks for not telling Caroline I kissed you," Richard mumbled awkwardly.
"No problem. 'Make me pie woman'?" Annie repeated his earlier words, laughing.
"I was going for the whole, dominating male thing," he explained, excusing his actions.
"I figured," she chuckled. "Thanks for your help. I'm sorry I gave you such a hard time the past few days."
"It's ok," Richard said, heading for the door.
"Oh, and Richie?"
"Yeah?" he asked, turning back around.
"Excellent kiss!" Annie exclaimed, smiling broadly.
Richard blushed. "Yeah... thanks."