Should Old Acquaintances Be Forgot
Bones is not owed by me.
2008 sucked as a year in general.
Hodgins was downing alcohol, whatever he could get a hold of, whatever he could afford.
The best wetbars in the world were in the Middle East, he'd once been informed, The most expensive bottles of scotch and whisky and rye in velvet enclosed refrigerators and in underground bunkers that were decorated in 1970s gold leaf and shag carpet. Nothing grape-based, nothing cheap.
Jack smiled at the thought, knowing some as truth and some of it exaggeration. Religion has hardly ever stood in the way of a good time. Sometimes it's the starting point.
"What is this?"
Jack looked up with rheumy eyes, a drunk smile strewn across his face. "I believe it to be a piece of paper."
Booth grunted, "I'm not stupid, Hodgins. What is this?"
"Hey Man, I do not know. Your hand is blocking the print. From what I can tell, it's paper stock with a special order light milkcream dye and one of those poncy typefaces- ITC Chivalry or Celtic Hand or Cadeulx for its heading. It also has that thermographic ink with that gay pearly sheen. Costs about fifteen dollars a sheet. Have you seen the watermark? It glows in the dark in a stiff upper crust sort of way."
"It's an invitation to St. Micheaux's Grammar School for 'Master Parker Booth.'"
"Really? That's a great school. Very exclusive."
"So exclusive that there's apparently a twelve year waiting list for the kindergarten class. So exclusive that Parker's not only been accepted, but has a full ride scholarship that covers his twelve hundred dollar a semester uniform fee and three thousand dollar science weekend field trips to Canada and the Kennedy Space Center. So exclusive that I had never heard of the place before this letter was delivered yesterday via special courier. On a Vespa scooter."
"Sounds good. Send him if you want. Or burn it and send him to Paully Dumbbell. Your choice."
"I don't need your charity, Hodgins."
"I so do not know what you are talking about."
"You knew it glowed in the dark!"
"Not drunk enough. I can still conuminicate. And you're still you and not a busty blonde from Norway with an unnatural curiosity. So no. Im' not durnk.." Hodgins threw back another shot of rye. He looked around the bar, seedy with a slight touch of disgusting. The man in the next booth over was passed out on six empty shots of Cuervo Gold. He was face down on the bench, his legs sticking out, tripping the unwary. His shoes were Italian-leather expensive and still still on his feet; Hodgins knew that they were to not be stolen under any circumstances.
The bar was dead. New Year's Eve and shiny tinsel outlined "2009" all over the walls. Lobbyist players were out populating the strip joints that offered specialized cocaine tables, congressmen and aides were in the quiet sake bars making deals and policies, and the women of DC and its surrounding areas were populating the party clubs. The Double 9 Bar was too seedy to have anyone of import and too established to never shut down. It was one of his favorites to haunt when ripping depressed. "Sit down. Have a drink," Hodgins ordered, waving another bottle of Black Maple Hill for Booth from the barkeep.
"Drink up, Seeley. God, what an awful name. Granted. Parker? Really? Do you know how many kids will call him 'Park her?' I already do, and I'm not a kid."
"You're seriously close to getting a busted nose." Booth almost kidded. He took the new bottle and plunked it down at his side. "I really don't need alcohol right now, and you definitely don't need anymore.
"I need it far more than you do."
"You know, I was all tuckered out on the couch at home, watching Dick Clark make his big comeback and I get this text: Com Qkly+Trstm Hodgins."
Hodgins's ruddy face blanched white. "Tristam? No way."
"Not knowing a Tristam and only one Hodgins, I naturally had to come. Then you start by knocking me and my son for bad name jobs. Tristam."
"It wasn't my idea to name me that."
"Next time, don't drunk text. Tristam."
"What's the quitting point, Booth? You've been there."
"That point where you just say 'screw it? I don't care anymore.' Zach's been there. You've been there. I'm there now. Or here."
"So what happened?"
"2008 happened. Everything happened. Lastlast year, I had everything. A girl, a super bestest friend, a great job, a direct connection to ZZTop. Now? Bupkis."
"You were there. Everyone was there. Angela has commitment issues. Zach is psycho and I'm here. And you're here. And you're not a chick from Norway."
"A Jack Hodgins pity party? Population: Two?"
"I'm not poor, you know. People like me? We never go broke. We have too many contingency plans, too many foundations and bank accounts and vaults and university wings. I nor my offsprings offsprings offsprings offsprings will never be destitute. Kicked out. Relegated to the poor and huddled masses. St. Micheaux will be hell for Parker because he's not one of the trust fund babies. But I can fix that. Do you want the Dragon School? Because I can fix that up too."
"I know you set up the scholarship, Hodgins. I googled the Acorn Foundation. Brand new. So spanking new that its first hit is the Cantilever Group. I did pass first grade math."
"I just wanted to help. Only way I can. If Parker's a distant cousin of the Hodgins, then he's class president. If not, he's relegated to the goth group of the school. Social outcast for life."
"I won't send him to a school that will denigrate him just because he doesn't have the right connections and I won't lie about being related to you. The Booths are just as good as the Hodgins."
"Better probably. We just have more money. Except for your brother. He's a dick. Sorry man. But it's a great opportunity. You feel zero working class guilt because he's on a scholarship instead of you taking that fourth job just to cover tuition, and I get to feel good for a change. And Parker goes to Harvard or Cambridge or the University of Tokyo and never has to look at a dead body in his life. Amputated fingers not included."
"I can't accept this."
"Your pride is greater than your son's future?"
"You are one mean drunk."
"Can I tell you a secret?"
"I am not what I once was. I need for Parker to go to St. Micheaux's."
"Have you ever lost your wallet? You like what lose? $200? Maybe your month's rent?"
"I lost... carry the one.... twenty million dollars in two days. Do not ask me how."
Booth gasped like a girl. "Twenty million. With an M?"
"Yes. Could be worse. Some of my peers lost everything. One guy just lost 50 million. That's it for him. He's got nothing. And it's worse for him, because all he was was his money. No job, no ambition, no idea how to live without it. He's now hiding out at an uncle's house in Vermont. Probably hopped up on valium with old Soviet vodka chasers. But not me. I'm titanium plated."
"I can't even imagine that much money."
"I made that much just being conceived. Just... let me send Parker to St. Micheaux's. Or if you don't like that one, then you pick the one you want to send him and I'll get him in. The only thing I ask is that you do 'not' tell anyone about Tristam. If you do, I will bury you. Literally. I got a whole lot of land on three continents, the keys to about five museums with skeleton collections, and a head full of forensic knowledge." Hodgins tried to smile to show that he was kidding.
"I need to think about it."
"Let me know which school you pick. I'll make the calls." And with that, Hodgins took one last shot. His head thunked hard onto the table.
Booth shook him a bit, realized he was way out of consciousness, and took car keys from the man's pocket. He thought about calling a cab and leaving the man there. Thought it over for a moment: Parker, the cab, twenty million dollars. Then realized that in his hands were the keys to a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Coupe.
He had to think some more. It was amateur hour for drunks. It was a $265,000.00 car. Hodgins would most likely spew several times on the way home all over vintage carpet that still had that new car smell. It was one of those prissy English cars with the steering wheel on the right. He had no idea where the Hodgins compound was.
Booth quickly settled the bar tab, bribed the bouncer to help Hodgins to the car with a paper bag. He took off into the cold night, grinding the gears just once. Decided to send Parker to St. Micheaux's. Let Hodgins adopt him as a sort of cousin and gain some semblance of a real family. And wondered how exactly one loses that much money. And why he felt like he was driving his dad's old Pontiac that smelt of Prince Albert tobacco and iron dust.