The Cooper-Cheesecake Car Conundrum
"Penny. Penny. Penny."
Penny opened the door to see Sheldon waiting in the hall (as if she expected it to be someone else).
"Sheldon. If you don't give me a good reason as to why you woke me up at 3 am, I'm going to shoot you right here and now."
There was a minute of silence.
"Leonard's exercising social paradigms out with a woman."
"I'm going to get my gun." Penny mock-turned as if to go and pick up the shotgun she supposedly had stashed somewhere in her messy apartment.
"My mom's been in an accident, and I need you to drive me to the hospital. Please."
Some time later in Penny's car:
"I really appreciate this, Penny. Thank you." Though the two mocked each other as often as they could, they (and Sheldon especially) were still friends when it counted.
"That's okay Sheldon. So uh, what happened to your mom?" Penny asked. She half-expected for Sheldon to break down and cry, even if nothing she knew of Sheldon suggested it likely to happen. Then again, quirky as Sheldon might be, he loves his mom, she thought.
"Apparently she was taken hostage by a group bank robbers. She almost managed to make them surrender to the police, but in the end one of them lost control of himself and took a shot at her. Quite natural, when one looks at the psychological profiles of famous bank robbers/hostage takers."
Penny looked at the pale man next to her incredulously. "Natural?"
"Yes. Most commonly in the case of criminals, especially in murderers and such, if a group is involved, at a certain point of the "heist", if you will, the group members' faith in each other starts to decrease, and usually the one to break down is the one who's certain that, should it come to the police arresting all of them, he would be blamed."
To Penny, the most disturbing part about this particular information was the way Sheldon delivered it: he was playing a video game that made an annoying voice every time he touched the buttons.
"Sheldon, this is your mom. Are you alright?"
"Of course I am. I'm completely unharmed and my bowel movements have been fairly regular these past few months." He was quiet for a while. "Or do you mean to inquire if I'm experiencing emotional turbulence over the fact that my mother was shot?" He sounded incredelous over this last thought that occurred to him.
"Yes! God Sheldon, do you..." She looked at Sheldon, who was looking at her with a blank expression. She got back to looking at the road ahead of her after receiving a worried look from Sheldon, motioning to the only car in sight ahead of them. "Never mind. You just lost your mother, I shouldn't..ya."
"My mother isn't dead!" Sheldon exclaimed, surprising Penny.
"Oh! Sorry, I just assumed.."
"You assumed what? Just because they call me at night to tell me that my mother's been shot, it doesn't mean that she'd be.." Sheldon started breathing very heavily, dropping his toy and reaching for his throat. "I'm-aagh-my-!"
Penny abruptly pulled over, got out of the car and circled the car to his side. She opened the car door and reached for the jockey box(1) and pulled out a paper bag and handed it quickly to Sheldon. To her surprise, however, he batted it away. "Sheldon, you need to breath into this", she tried and moved the bag closer to his mouth, as he was bent down in an effort to breath. After a bit of struggle, she gave up on the bag and grabbed Sheldon, forcing him to sit up straight. "Honey, you need to be in this position-breath-yeah" was what she could manage while holding onto Sheldon as he rocked back and forth convulsively. He grabbed Penny's arms in an effort to sooth himself. After a few minutes like this, he finally regained regular breathing and Penny let go of him.
Penny went back to the driver's seat so they could talk. "Honey, why didn't you just take the bag?"
"While paper bag breathing is generally suggested by doctors, it can in some cases even worsen the patient's breathing. According to empirical knowledge I have gathered from my extensive ailments as a child I would say I belong to the group that find its 'help' merely further worsening my condition", Sheldon replied in feeble voice, looking straight ahead of him, while at the same time apparently checking his heart rate.
"You mean this has happened before?"
"Quite often as a child, yes. Not for many years since."
Left with nothing to say, Penny started the car and pulled back on the drive way. They continued in silence as Sheldon fell asleep.
Parking lot of the hospital:
Penny pushed Sheldon on his side to wake him.
"Danger, danger!" he snapped.
"We're here", Penny motioned to the hospital ahead of them. She was worried about how Sheldon would take it if his mother actually died so she didn't say anything about how tired she was.
They made their way inside the hospital and his mother's room. Outside the room they found Missy and a woman Penny didn't recognize but assumed was Sheldon's other sister, who told Sheldon that she needed to get back to work or her sift would be given away. She hugged Sheldon, to which he replied in the most awkward way, after which she hurried away. Missy came to hug him too and greeted Penny. They all got inside Mary Cooper's hospital room, with Penny standing behind the fraternal twins. "Mommy?" Sheldon uttered as the matriarch of their family greeted him, seeming to be in quite good health, only to be betrayed by a cast-looking thing on her right shoulder.
"Hello, Shelly", she beamed in response. "I'm doing just fine, the hospital made a ruckus out of this for nuthin'. Some thugs just didn't agree with me even though I tried to be understanding of him being, you know, Jewish. Hey, how did you even get here? I thought you didn't drive, Shelly?"
"Penny drove me here." Sheldon motioned to the girl who had fallen asleep on the hospital bed next to Mary's. Since his mother had just been shot, he didn't say anything about her calling him 'Shelly', though he very much liked to.
"Shelly, in order to pass trough from Pasadena, California to Galveston (2), Texas she'd had to have driven at least 1400 miles to get here. That's 17 hours."
His mother looked at him as he tried to process this thought. "Has she even eaten today?"
"I don't know, I slept on the way." Sheldon had a feeling that he was once again missing a part of a social etiquette.
"Now, Shelly, you go and get that girl some dinner and then you're going to find her a place to sleep in."
As Sheldon looked uneasy, his mother added: "You know, tired drivers are largely responsible for a lot of traffic accidents..Sleeping on the wheel is a nasty thing."
That settled it: Sheldon stepped outside to make some calls and returned looking rather pleased. "I got as a hotel room with room service, so we only have to go to one place. Now the only thing left.." His gaze shifted upon Penny, who was still sleeping and he fell silent. He looked up at her sister. "Missy. Could you help me carry her to the hotel?"
"You mean carry her for you and then drive you two there?" She asked, mocking him with a grin.
Sheldon looked at her intensely for a moment and then said: "..Yes."
Tremont House(3), Galveston Texas:
Penny realised she was in bed with someone. She didn't recognize the room at all. She couldn't remember anything about last night. 'God, I slept with someone I don't even know?' she though. She felt like crying. Then she heard a gentle voice: "Penny."
First thought: 'Oh thank God, I do know the person I slept with.'
Second thought: 'Oh, God, I DO know-no,nonono NO!'
Fourth4 thought: 'Wait, WHAT did I just think?'
She jumped from the bed only to feel nauseated and nearly fall to her knees. Suddenly, Sheldon appeared by her side, fully clothed as she noted.
"I think you had better come back to bed while I order us food." He guided her back to the(ir?) bed. He called room service and argued about his order for quite a while until he claimed to be satisfied (read: they totally rejected his ridiculous demands). Meanwhile, Penny started to remember the day before. She glanced at her clothes. She wasn't wearing the same ones that she'd had on yesterday, but instead a pyjama. Her own clothes were sorted on the night stand, next to them were a pair of clothes that were new.
As Sheldon hung up the phone after thanking the receptionist, she finally found her voice.
"You bought me clothes?"
"Yes. Though I must say, Missy made the final decision on your dayware. She felt that a Flash t-shirt wasn't "your style", whatever that means."
"So it was Missy who dressed me in pyjamas?" Penny felt relieved to find Sheldon *hadn't* gone that far in his social unawareness.
"Oh no, Missy went home after we were done shopping. I dressed you."
"And undressed me?" Penny snapped.
"Well there was really no way around it. In order to dress you, I had to undress you, it's as simple as that. The tricky part was how to was how to wash your armpits without waking you. In the end I discovered I had some disinfectant wipes with me." Sheldon explained, looking extremely pleased with himself and his clever thinking.
"Why yes. Without making sure you weren't sweaty, you might have caught a cold from sleeping in sweaty and dirty clothes."
Penny tried to be calm, after all Sheldon's mo-
"Oh, right. How is your mother?"
"Apparently she is more than fine. Not only is her wound far less than fatal, she caught the interest of the police man making the arrest. He will begin courtship as soon as the trial's over."
"Okay. Good for her, I guess." A pause. "So we didn't-?"
"What?" Penny gave up on this thought: there was just no way..Instead she changed the subject.
"What are we doing here? Where IS here, exactly?"
"My mother told me to take care of you because you exhausted yourself in order to drive me here. She was very insistent about this. So, this is a hotel room. You have slept and you will soon have food." He looked at her as if awaiting for praise.
"Ah", was really all she could say. "Well, at least you're going to be well rested on the journey back."
"How do you mean?"
"Well, you won't be tired since you slept here, right?"
"No. As I was about to attempt to sleep regardless of your presence next to me, I happened to read the brochure of this hotel and it stated that the building was damaged because of a hurricaine name Ike. Therefore I had to keep watch in case something fell down, killing us both."
"It says right here that they renovated the place, see?" Penny showed the passage to Sheldon, who in response snorted. "As if I trust a piece of paper. I have detected alarming numbers of-"
"Enough, Sheldon. Go to sleep now, and I keep watch as I eat when the food finally gets here."
End of chapter
1 glove compartment. Since it's common to call glove compartments "jockey boxes" on farms and ranches (though more on Pacific Northwest and since Omaha isn't there, this might as well be hocum), and Penny grew up on a farm, she's likely to use this term. Then again, maybe not. I just want to call it that. To be clear, I'm not from the U.S. at all, so..makes no difference to me.
2 I assume that Sheldon's mother still lives in the same town she gave birth to Sheldon in. In the episode "The White Asparagus Triangulation" Sheldon states the the hospital he was born in is Lawrence Memorial, whereas in the episode "The Luminous Fish Effect" his mother notes that he "fell out of her at the K-mart". According to some, both statements stand true as Mary supposedly was rushed to said hospital after her water broke at the K-mart.
3 I'm not plugging anything, but I searched for hotels in Galveston and this was the first that seemed like nice and not majestical. Also, the website told me about the damage it took from Hurricaine Ike, which was perfect for freaking Sheldon out.
4 Yes, I'm not showing you guys the third thought yet. So, Penny's freaked by her third thought in her fourth thought. Got it? Great.