"Take your shirt off."
John Dickinson started with the top button, moving down as his eyes took in the dank room. The bleach-white walls that one would expect to shine on his pale skin actually made his now-bare shoulders grey and dull. The motivational poster depicting a hoard of Tour de France cyclists zooming through sunflowers depressed him, and he could not shake the feeling that the zebra puppet slumped on the chair in the corner of the room was staring at him with dark, beady eyes.
John Dickinson hated going to the doctor.
"Good, now, Mr. Dickinson," the doctor drawled and adjusted the stethoscope around his neck. "Now if you could please just sit up on that table and I'll have a quick listen to your heart."
The eavesdropped muscle sped up as Edward Rutledge pressed the stethoscope to Dickinson's chest and a hand on the small of his back.
John Dickinson, however, loved the doctor.
"Doctor, I'm afraid that I have been feeling quite ill lately," John began with a mock frown. "Whatever do you suggest I do?"
"Well, Mr. Dickinson," Edward closed his eyes and smiled, adjusting his sleeves, "it seems as though your symptoms can only be explained by a general air of discomfort… the only cure is a well-deserved vacation. My suggestion would be to travel to my home in South Carolina, where the soothing air will have you feeling much healthier…"
"Oh, but the journey is so long," John sighed. "What if I am unable to last the whole way?"
"Then I suppose you could substitute for a vacation in my bedroom," Edward replied, "That would suff—"
He was interrupted by the door, which was placed awkwardly between two oil paintings of pots of flowers by forgotten artists, burst open. Edward and John turned, annoyed at the interruption, and frowned at the still-new delegate standing there.
"What do you want?" Edward seethed.
Dr. Hall glared at the two men. "I had come earlier to prepare for a meeting with a patient of mine, but I can see that the space is currently occupied by trespassers. Shall I leave you to your own devices, or go immediately to kicking you out?"
John chuckled and slid himself off the table. "Dr. Hall, how long have you been with us as part of this Congress?"
"Only a few months," Lyman replied, his visage scrunching up with nervousness.
"And, have you noticed anything… unusual about the liaisons between our delegates?" John continued, stealing mischievous glances at Edward, who was chortling behind him.
"N-no, not a thing."
Edward interjected, "Surely you've noticed the sudden bond between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson! Or between John Hancock and Charles Thomson…?"
Dr. Hall remained oblivious.
"Are you telling me—?" Edward began, but John stopped him.
"Dr. Hall, there comes a time in every man's life when he… realizes something about himself," John stepped forward, forgetting his shirt slumped next to the zebra puppet, "and that something is often realized in a group, not individually. We, as a Congress, have realized that… we make each other happy. Very, very happy."
"I don't seem to understand."
"Dr. Hall, you have a wife, do you not?" Edward crossed the room and stood next to John.
"Mary? Yes, of course."
"I do as well, Doctor," Edward continued. "Henrietta. And, although I love her dearly, there are certain… activities… in which she is not satisfying. Mr. Dickinson, here, assists me by... filling in when Henrietta cannot. Likewise, Mr. Dickinson comes to me when his own wife, Mary, is not satisfactory. Do you understand now, Dr. Hall?"
A rush of emotions flashed across Hall's seemingly stoic face. "I-I think I do, Mr. Rutledge," he said slowly, eyes darting back and forth between the two men. "And, I, unfortunately, must leave now… I just remembered about the cancellation of my previously-mentioned appointment. Good day, gentlemen."
Lyman Hall had left. Edward and John turned to each other, stifling their laughter. "Oh! I believe that interruption has only caused my infliction further grief!" John cried out, obviously fake, and let himself fall into Edward's arms.
Lyman Hall, however, strode back to where a congregation of delegates was standing around, fanning themselves slightly suggestively in the unbeatable, sweaty heat.
The predator began to hunt.