John Truman Carter swung into the Hospital lounge and
glanced at his watch, which read 5:45pm.
He took off the lab coat he'd been wearing and hung it up on the hook
with all the other spare lab coats. He
was done. His third year of Med school
was officially over, he thought, as he held up a hand to Jerry and Carol and
sauntered pass the desk. He heard a
chorus of "Bye, Carter"s from the people behind the desk. "I will," he replied to all the wishes of
"have a good summer!" and "stop by now and then!" And he walked out.
He should be happy.
He should be ecstatic that he had the whole summer to do as he pleased,
that the year of torture and hard work was finally over. And he had been happy, a while ago, he had
looked forward to this day, thinking it would be a day of freedom. Ha.
When had he ever been free?
These were his cynical thoughts as he slid into his jeep
and pulled out the plane ticket that said Alitalia. Flight 607 for 9:54pm.
Feeling like a puppet on a string, he started the car and pulled out of
the parking lot.
Italy. At 9:54
tonight he would be boarding a plane that would fly for eight hours to Venice,
Italy. Venice was beautiful at this
time of year, Gamma had told him. The canals, the warm air, the gorgeous
cathedral, The Piazza San Marco.
He would rather spend an entire day at County doing
His parents. He
didn't mind them so much normally.
Hell, he didn't know them that much normally. He could count on one hand how many times he'd seen them in the
past year. He could count on two hands
how many times he'd talked to them in the past year. Yet they always had that hold on him. He supposed it was because they were his parents. Something about the title would always
connect them to him.
His parents were the only people in the world who could
make him dread going to one of the Natural Wonders of the World, a place most
people only dream about going to. They
had phoned him from Italy and requested his presence there. Not quite in those words, really, but formal
"John, darling, Seniore Guardo and his wife are very
eager to meet you and your father and I haven't seen you in a while. Join us for a few weeks. Your Grandmother told me you are on summer
break now. Join us."
John had protested, of course. He'd never been one to talk back to his mother, but he made a
valid point to her. Why should he pick
up and leave when he was just starting to settle down from his hectic
"It'll give you a chance to unwind, darling."
He finally sighed.
He did miss his mother and his father.
But damn them for putting him into this predicament. If he said no, he knew he would feel
guilty. Just as he knew his mother felt
guilty for not seeing him often. These
were reasons enough for John to want to go and for his mother, Constance, to
want him to join them. But Carter knew
better. Seniore Guardo was a big
Italian business owner. Surely "He and
His Wife" were not more than eager to meet Carter. His parents were surely enthusiastic to show him off as their
loving son, another possession they were so very proud of.
How could they want to show him off when they hardly knew
him? He didn't even know himself these
days. He was a wreck, screwing up every
minute in the ER, nearly sending his resident advisor, Dr. Benton into heart
failure because of all his mistakes.
Perhaps over a nice pasta dinner, Carter could regal his parents and the
Guardo's with the story of when he set fire to Dr. Benton's slides
presentation. And how Benton had stood
up looking like a fool in front of the big wigs at the hospital. That would be a surefire way to impress the
Guardo's. He'd probably send his mother
into anafalectic shock.
He sighed, hating thinking about his parents this
way. He'd just suck it up. It wasn't the worst thing in the world,
having to visit Venice, Italy. And who
knew? He might actually have a good
time . . .
It turned out to be beautiful. From the minute he stepped off the plane and onto a boat that would
take him to his hotel, Carter had felt at peace with himself. Had he once been worried about something as
trivial as work? How jaded his world
seemed as he sat outside the grand hotel at a cafe's small round table sipping
a mineral water and watching the canal life on the streets of Venice. The world here was relaxing and tranquil . .
. thinking of the ER was like thinking of a loud, fast, blur of noise.
The streets of Venice.
It was more correct to say the waterways of Venice or the canals of Venice. But being there, watching the boats of all
sizes float along, their respective drivers calling out to one another, the
occasional "road rage" scene taking place, Carter knew what the "Streets of
It was his second day in Italy. His first day was spent sleeping in the luxury of his hotel room,
every so often getting up and eating.
The jet lag hit him hard, especially after working a 24-hour shift in
the ER with only a thirty-minute nap.
But now, he was getting over his lag and found himself enjoying being in
the city of Venice.
He looked up as his mother swept down upon him. Seating herself in a chair across from him
and signaling the waiter of the cafe to bring her the same as her son.
"Are you feeling better?"
"Yes," he said, smiling at his mother. "Very much, thanks."
"I'm glad you came, John. It means a lot to me. And
"I'm glad I came too," he said, squeezing his mother's
hand. "I like it here."
"I thought you would," she said, her voice tinted with
laughter. "Venice is very sappy and
sentimental. Just like you."
He only smiled almost politely and sipped his water.
"What?" she asked him.
"I know you better than you think, my dear."
His smiled became a grin. "That's a mom thing."
"Perhaps." She squeezed his hand and then let it go. "We're dining with the Guardo's tonight at
the restaurant in the hotel. Meet us
there by eight, okay?"
"Would you like for me to arrange a tour for you in the
meantime? Perhaps a history of the Catedrale San Marco?"
Making it clear that she was busy and would not be able
to give him a tour herself. "Uh, no
thanks. I think I'm going to go for a
Carter disappeared inside the hotel and Carter held up a hand to signal for the
check. After paying twelve dollars for
two bottles of water (and shaking his head in amazement) he started walking
down a pathway to the center of the city.
His hotel was situated right in the middle of the famous Piazza San Marco,
or the Square of Saint Mark. And it was
the center of Venice. A huge space
where little stores of all kind lined the area, restaurants, glass shops,
antiques. Souvenir stands littered the
sidewalks selling everything from cameras to rosaries. There were fountains, statues, and colorful
chairs from outdoor cafes. The backdrop
was the Adriatic Sea. The front view
was the gloriously ornate Saint Mark's Cathedral, towering into the sky.
Carter watched the life that went on here, listening to
the orchestra that was playing ironically sentimental American show tunes. He had to smile at that.
"Si, Va bene, grazie."
Non abbiamo tempo!"
"You like pizza?
I make special pizza for you!"
The last line was for him. Carter smiled at the pretty girl who'd welcomed him to her flower
cart. She was very Italian looking with
long curly brown hair and huge dark eyes, which were flirting with him. "You like?" she asked in the heavily
accented voice, holding out an orange blossom.
"Thanks," he grinned, his dimples showing and accepted
"You are American?" the girl said carefully, smiling
"Yes, I am."
"Which place . . .?
Oh, you mean which state?
Her confused eyes lit up. "Ahh. Burr!" She
pretended to shiver and hug herself like she was cold.
Carter had to laugh.
"Yes. Burr. But now not, now it's really hot there."
She shook her head, her eyes intensely trying to
understand what he was saying.
"Only in winter," he said loud and slow. "Now it's really hot."
She simply gazed up at him with her big laughing brown
eyes and shrugged helplessly.
All of a sudden laughter rang out, a light giggle sound
that made Carter flick a glance to his right.
Standing a few yards away was a young girl and a juggler. The juggler seemed to be flirting
outrageously with silent gestures and somber looks. Carter's eyes fell on the girl's face when she laughed
again. Her smiled was a mile wide and
her eyes were a gorgeous blue, bluer than even the Adriatic next to her. She was squinting in the sun, but Carter
could still see the blue of her eyes. Young, but not that young, he noted. She was definitely not a child, but not an
adult either. He couldn't help smiling
as he watched the clown joke with her and pull gently on her long blond hair.
He stared for a while not even noticing the vendor girl watching him with a
huge knowing smile.
Leaning back on a street lamp, Carter watched the clown
look somber and walk drearily away as the blonde girl laughed and shook her
head. She turned suddenly and met
Carter's gaze. Her blue eyes warmed,
and her smile widened.
Feeling like he owned the world, Carter returned her grin
with one of his own, hoping against hope that she spoke English. They both started to close the distance,
Carter pushing away from the post, the girl sidling towards him.
"Where have you been?
Lucy, Miss Starza is about to punish us all because you didn't meet us
for dinner. She's getting ready to have
"What?" The girl named Lucy asked, distracted. "I got
held up by this clown."
"Clown?? Oooh, you met a guy! Who cares if he's a clown, is he cute?" And with that, she dragged Lucy away. Lucy was muttering, "no, a REAL clown" and Carter was staring
About twenty seconds later, Carter realized what a fool
he must look like, standing in the center of a walkway, staring into
space. The chime of a clock sent his
gaze flying to the huge clock at the top of the Cathedral. 7:30.
7:30?!?! He had to meet his
parents for dinner in half an hour. Not having any time to marvel at how the
hours had passed while wandering Venice and how pretty that girl had been,
Carter raced down the sidewalk, tripping only once over his two left feet.
Carter felt like he was on a race to make it to the
hospital at the start of his shift. He
dressed in record speed, barely having time to glance in the mirror, and found
his way to the hotel restaurant. It
looked just as fancy as the rest of the hotel and he straitened his tie. He mumbled his name to the maitre'd and the
stiff man in a tuxedo pointed to a table in the back of the restaurant. As Carter neared the table, he could see his
Mother and Father, a proper looking couple who must be the Guardo's. And someone else.
"John," his mother said pleasurably.
"Sorry, I'm late," he muttered, smiling politely at the
Guardo's and the lovely brunette sitting in between them. He took the empty seat.
"John, these are the Guardo's," His father explained. "Mr. and Mrs. Guardo and their daughter,
"Nice to meet you," he said, smiling. Any pretense he'd had about his parents
wanting him to join them in Italy for sentimental reasons flew out the
window. The woman, who was about his
age, didn't look surprised to see him at all.
She was smiling serenely behind bright red lipstick. She had a short, shiny cap of strait black
hair and smoky gray eyes. A striking
woman. Too bad he had to dislike her on
He could have wrote the script to the evening while he'd
been on the plane had he known the Guardo's had a daughter. His father, pretending to actually be happy
with Carter's choice to be a doctor, going overboard to praise him. His mother, chiming in with little hints
that he was single, all the while was sending adoring looks to him.
"In a weak,
we are heading to the South at our family home in Capri. We'd love for you and your family to join
us," Mr. Guardo said.
"Oh, well, that sounds lovely! Doesn't it sound lovely dear?" Constance asked Carter.
"Yes, it does.
But my return flight is in a few days, I'm afraid I won't be able to
His return flight was actually in two weeks, but there
would be no way his parents would correct him on front of the company.
"Well, darling, we can see about extending the date. It won't be a problem," his mother said
"I have things I need to do at home, Mother. But thank you for the invite," he said to
the Guardo's while his parents covered up their fury.
When the dinner was over, Carter could have prompted his
mother to suggest that the two "kids" get some air and go for a walk, but Mrs.
Guardo took care of that. So "the kids"
made their way outside, while Carter thought about exchanging his plane ticket
for an earlier return flight.
He spent the evening with Angelina making small talk,
trying to be as polite as he possibly could before saying he was tired and
returning back to his hotel room.
The next morning, he awoke to his mother pulling back the
curtains in his room. The bright Venice
sun poured through the window, drenching his eyes. "Mom. What are you
"I'm waking you up.
You have a date today."
Carter sat up and stared at his mother. "What?"
Constance tried not to smile at the way his brown hair
stood on ends as he tried to look angry in his Bulls Tee-Shirt.
"Mom. Why are you
"Because, John, you need to start thinking about your
He couldn't hide the amusement in his voice. "And you think this girl in my future. Mom, I don't even know her, and I don't want
to know her. She seems nice enough,
"But, what? Just
because your father and I picked her out you wont even give her a chance?"
"Picked her out," he said in amazement, throwing the
covers off his bed and getting up to pace.
"Do you realize how twisted that sounds? Picked her out."
"Look. I'll go
out with her today to be polite, but that's it. I'm switching my ticket and I'm leaving Venice this weak."
"Sorry, Mom. But
I know the reason I'm here, and I don't like it," he said in a final sort of
"Honey, if we've hurt your feelings in anyway-"
"The only person who hurt my feelings is Gamma by not
telling me the reason you wanted me out here was to try to make me a part of
your world. I don't like that world."
He met Angelina at the front of the hotel. She was looking sharp in a dark sundress
with her hair slicked and styled. He
smiled at her. After all, it wasn't her
fault his parents were sick and twisted human beings. "Hi," he said.
"Ready to go?" he asked.
"Sure. Uh, just a
second. Correct me if I'm wrong here,
but you don't want to be with me today," she said matter-of-factly in her
slight Italian accent.
Carter tried to look surprised.
"I mean, your parents are mirror images of mine, if I'm
correct you feel the same that I do about all this. I mean you seem like a great guy, it's just-"
"It's just not right."
"No, it's not. I
hate it when my parents do this to me, I feel a –what do you call it? A puppet
on a string or something."
Carter breathed a sigh of relief. "I agree.
Do you want to just-"
"Go our separate ways?
I would love to."
"Cool," he said.
"How about if we give our parents a run for their
money—what if, say we meet back here around midnight tonight? This way, we can do as we please and avoid
them in the process? I'll stand guard
if you want to go back to your room."
"Actually I think I'll wander around Venice. Thank you," he said sincerely.
Midnight at that bridge over there?"
"Cool," he said again.
And they parted.
Lucy Knight burst out laughing at her friend Caroline's
impression of the guy they'd just had to shrug off. It seemed American girls were a big hit with Italian boys and the
group of high school girls from Boston were having a ball. Lucy was ecstatic. She was on vacation with her High School Italian class and things
couldn't be better. Her Italian teacher and chaperone, Miss. Starza, was about
to have a breakdown, but the girls were having a great time.
"Let's get ice cream," Jenny suggested.
"Gelato," Lucy corrected her.
"I'm not hungry, I want to find a postcard stand-"
wanna go in that glass shop!"
"We spent an hour in there yesterday, didn't we, Luce?"
"It was right after Lucy met that hot guy," Caroline
"The clown?" the rest of the girls said in unison.
"No, not the clown, the other guy!" Caroline said excitedly.
"I didn't meet him! He was just sort of looking at me."
"These Italian men," one girl sighed.
"He had dark hair and dark eyes... " Lucy said dreamily.
"All Italian men have dark hair and eyes-"
"Are you blind!
That's ridiculous," Caroline said.
"Well, he did," Lucy said. "I bet he's Italian and speaks not one word of English. Just my luck."
"Yeah, cuz otherwise you could find him in this crowd and
make him fall madly in love with you," Jenny said sarcastically. "Come on, ice cream!!"
There were loads of protests while everyone complained
about what they wanted to do. In the
end they agreed to split up in pairs and threes to accomidate everybody. Lucy found herself straying away from
everyone. "I'll catch up with you guys
in a little while," she said to them.
"Ooh, going to look for dream hunk?"
She rolled her eyes.
"Yeah, that's it."
Lucy set off on her own.
She loved being with her friends, a large group of people always
appealed to her. However, being in
Italy, especially Venice, made her want to see some things on her own. It was a very peaceful, personal place. She didn't know why she felt that way about
it, not having an ounce of Italian blood in her. But she felt like the country belonged to her. It was unexplainable.
She walked along, listening to the orchestra play the
familiar tune of Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World." She decided to spy on people, preferably
Americans trying to act Italian.
"Uh, this one, please?"
"No, this one," Carter said trying to point to the 400mm
film in the glass case. "Four Hundred,
not Two hundred."
elderly lady took out four rolls of the 200mm film and held it out to him.
"Uh, no- Okay." He stopped protesting when he saw the
look of annoyance on her face and paid for four rolls of film, when he'd only
Lucy was watching this with a smile on her face, not
being able to believe it was the same guy from the day before. "Hey, stranger," she said teasingly, trotting
over to him.
"Huh?" Carter looked up distractedly. He'd been trying to figure out how to fit
four rolls of film in his pocket. "Oh,
hi." It was the girl from
yesterday. He hadn't realized how short
she was…but she was definitely prettier than he remembered.
"Having some trouble?" she asked, sending him a playful
look with her sparkling blue eyes.
"Well. I don't
speak Italian," he returned her smile.
"I could see that.
I actually thought you were a native when I saw you yesterday."
couldn't be more out of my element."
you from?" she asked him.
"Boston. I'm here with my Italian class."
you get into trouble yesterday?"
"What? Oh, that.
Naw, my teacher's cool."
and continued to smile at her.
"I should be-" They both spoke at the same time and
"Going," Lucy finished, making eyes at him. "I should be going."
"You have to get back to your friends?"
She met his gaze and held. "No." Watched him smile.
"Would you like- I mean, If you want-"
"Lucy Knight," smiling, she held out a hand for him.
He grinned, happy that she'd interrupted his
blabbing. "John Carter." He took her
hand. And watched her smile
falter. He'd felt it, too, a small tug
somewhere behind his chest when they'd touched hands.
"Would you like to…" He trailed off, not quite sure how
to ask her to spend time with him.
They grinned at each other and started walking.
"So, then, Dr. Benton is standing up there, and all the
doctors are watching this screen with no slides as he starts to explain the
Carter watched Lucy watch him
through the gap in her fingers, which were pressed over her face. "He gave the presentation with no slides?"
"Yes. He was mad…" Carter said, remembering.
"So you wanted to bring this up
at dinner last night?" Lucy scolded him.
"I thought it would be rather
ironic. My mother would probably
pretend to faint, cause a diversion."
sitting at a little outdoor café nursing cappuchino's and biscotti. Carter had told Lucy the events that brought
him to Italy, which lead him to complain about his predicament, which led him
to telling her he was med student.
a med student. Tell me, do think I'll
make a good one?"
what? Med student? Your going to med school?"
"Yup. Well, after college."
college do you go to now?" he asked her.
her eyebrows and pretended to be fascinated with her coffee.
leaned over. "You are in college,
"I will be soon," she said
"Oh, God. How old are you?"
She titled her head and sent
him a flirty look. "How old do you
think I am?"
"I mean it."
"Does age really matter?" she
asked, rolling her eyes dramatically.
"Yes," he said sternly. Then he smiled in spite of himself. "Tell me you're at least eighteen."
She sent him a flashy
smile. "I will be soon." Then she got up, jammed her sunglasses on
her nose and pulled him to his feet.
"Let's go, Dr. Carter, there are things to see."
"How soon?" he asked as she
pulled him away from the café.
"What do you think? 52000 lire
for this glass bowl. Too much?" Lucy
asked Carter, holding
up a glass bowl the size
of her palm.
"Does "soon" mean your
seventeen?" he demanded.
"Huh? Are you still going on
about that? Drop it, Doctor, you'll never know."
"I'm not a doctor yet. And yes, 52000 lire is too much for that,
are you insane?"
"Probably. But it's so pretty." She shrugged and put it down. She had to save her money for touring the
other parts of Italy in the next two weeks.
"I am very mature for my age, both in mind and spirit. I can handle myself around flirty boys with
the wrong ideas." She shot him a look from under her lashes.
out into Venice, now cooler and brighter as the sun began to set. "Are you saying I'm a flirty boy?"
about it. "Probably. But I can't help it."
giggled and slid her arm through his, laying her head on his shoulder as they
became dark, they camped out as others did, and relaxed under the stars. They listened to the orchestra, which now
played sappy love songs. They were
sitting next to each other on the bottom step to some shop, while people
settled down all around them, ready to camp out on the hard ground to listen to
the music or to unwind. "Yeah, so next
week is the isle of Capri," Lucy was telling him, her voice now sleepy. "I'm really excited about that."
thought about his invitation to Capri and his mood dropped a little. He would have to deal with all that when he
got back to the hotel tonight.
at Lucy who'd turned her head to look at him, her big eyes amused.
that tug again, and found himself grinning.
She let her
head fall on his shoulder. "Thought you
wanted to be somewhere else for a minute."
would." She lifted her head to meet his gaze and instead felt herself being
hypnotized by his eyes.
then, long and slow. Carter lost every
thought, every sour feeling inside of him and instead found something sweet and
exquisite. They lingered over the kiss.
chimed. Lucy reluctantly shifted to
glance up at the clock on top of the Cathedral. And she felt her heart sink to her knees. "Oh, my God, it's midnight."
"Huh? What- midnight?!"
"Uh-huh! We were supposed to meet at ten-thirty to
check in and tell if we were staying late.
This is bad."
said getting up quickly and walking with her away from the crowded area. He thought of Angelina standing outside the
hotel alone, they're plan ruined.
class, oh, Miss Starza looks pissed.
know. It's okay. How about tomorrow?"
can't! Tomorrow I leave for Capri."
was shocked. Was this the last time
he'd ever see her?
on a bus for Capri at like, 5 am."
of that invitation to Capri. "How long
will you be there?"
will you be in Capri? I might be able
to get there."
"Really? You would do that-"
glanced at the voice, which was obviously her Italian teacher.
"I have to
go," she said in a rush.
"Saturday. I'll be there till
blank. "I don't remember, it's on my
itinerary- in my suitcase! Oh, Gosh,
let me think-"
boat is waiting!"
I have to go." She looked at Carter and
grinned. "Try to find me, I guess."
help breaking into a smile at her bright, lively face. "Thanks for a great
day." He kissed her again and felt his
heartbeat quicken. Her eyes sparkled
into his as they pulled away. Carter's
heart felt light and feathery in his chest as he watched her start to run
you," she yelled out. "If not in Capri,
then some other time!!"
turn eighteen!" he yelled back with a smirk.
eighteen!!" she shouted and laughed at the astounded look on his face. Then she blew him a kiss and dissapearred in
go chasing Lucy all over Italy? Or will
the next time they see each other be in Cook County General Hospital five years
later? You decide for yourself! And let me know what you come up with! ;) Casccara@yahoo.com
Other fanfic by Casca at:
the Lines - A Fanfic Archive