Friday, August 7, 2015

The Sad, Sordid Tale of Bruce Halloran-16

: Pulling up into the less than spacious parking lot of the practice of Youngblood, Palmisano, Alberghetti, & Sloane, Bruce Halloran squeezes into a horribly narrow spot at the end, thankful to have the space to exit his car through the begonia infested, narrow strip of soil between customer parking and the reserved spaces for the doctors. He’s lucky to have what he’s secured. It took nearly 14 minutes of Halloran’s time circling the Garden District to get a parking space closer than a five-block walk. Bruce doesn’t walk. That’s what cars are for, to keep him in perfect air-conditioned comfort for the longest possible stretch. Walking more than two blocks in the heat of the season is his definition of Hell. With him flirting with sixty and the heat index flirting with 117°, he will take whatever comforts he can procure. He’s not more than six steps from the front door, so he puts up the sun reflectors, turns off the motor, and hurries in quickly, the chirp of the car alarm system wishing him goodbye. Inside, he’s barely broken a sweat, which pleases him more than it should. It’s a tasteful decorating job in what had been an enormous old Greek Revival-style home. He checks in with the receptionist, who gives him a sheaf of paperwork on a clipboard and a pen and tells him to have a seat, the doctor will be with him soon. Halloran walks over to the waiting area in what he’s guessing was originally the dining room, given the fireplace and antique crystal chandelier. There are a few unlovely souls cluttering up the place. A streaky-haired woman older than Bruce with a young boy who looks like he’s been kicked out of his home, another fella with long dreads buried in his phone. Over by the big bay window a couple of guys, little younger than Halloran, holding hands and looking nervous. He sits down, and looks through the paperwork. Boilerplate stuff, he thinks. Screw it, I’m not here to be treated. Why not have some fun? Mother’s maiden name...’Hymen,’...father’s first name...’according to my mother, Goddammit,’...siblings...’Anything’s possible,’--
“Mr. Halloran? Follow me, please.”
Bruce rises and follows the nurse into the back of the building, towards a set of enormous pocket doors, the right of which bears the plaque “Dr. J.T. Youngblood.” The nurse takes the paperwork from Halloran and glides efficiently away down the long Persian rug, her high heels quietly stabbing the piling as she goes. Pulling aside the door, Halloran enters the room as closes it behind him like Susan Hayward in everything. This had to have been the parlor. All the original details remain. Picture and chair railings, wainscoting, plaster medallion over the modern chandelier. The doctor’s desk is a sleek, stylish affair of chrome, fine wood, and glass. Yet the sitting area is exclusively leather-bound antique davenports and a glorious carved wood coffee table polished to a high glow. He takes a seat facing both the pocket doors and a smaller door on the opposite side of the room and waits. In his gut, right below his diaphragm he feels a twinge of uneasiness.
It’s not that Halloran hates doctors. Some of his most memorable tricks have been members of the medical community. What he doesn’t like are headshrinkers. Never has. Goes back to the days of forced treatment like the one Philsy underwent. Still, he has to be here if he wants to keep his lovely condo. So he takes his own advice and sucks it up, Princess.
The smaller door opens and a handsome, well-preserved man in a tailored blue serge suit enters. The man turns to close the door behind him, giving Halloran the view he always wants. It’s him. It’s Youngblood. He recognizes that ass instantly. Still looks like a couple of softballs in a tight sock. Simply asstastic--
“Good morning, Mister...Halloran.” Dr. Youngblood’s baritone fills the room with a warm, officious tone and instantly seizes Bruce’s attention. “My name is Dr. Youngblood, how do you do?” He approaches Halloran and shakes his hand like a politician. Halloran responds in kind and the two take their seats on opposite sides of the really beautiful coffee table. Up close, Bruce can still see the handsome young man in the picture with Phil Tupperman. His temples are graying just right, his face is lined, but not deeply. Just enough to give him character. His neatly-trimmed salt and pepper beard only highlights his features. Easy to see why Philsy was so head over heels in love with this guy. Hell, for half a chance Bruce would--
“What brings you to see me today, Mr. Halloran?”  Youngblood asks, flipping through the papers.
“Well Doctor,” Halloran exhales, trying not to stare directly at Youngblood’s crotch, “I’m not here for myself. I’m here to...well, get some information for a friend.”
“I see,” replies Youngblood, looking up from Halloran’s paperwork. “And what kind of ‘information’ were you looking for?”
“Do you, let the year 1987 mean anything to you?”
Youngblood’s face doesn’t move. Unnerving. Why didn’t he think this part through, thinks Halloran. He presses on, flying by the seat of his considerable pants.
“Do you remember Phil Tupperman?”
Youngblood’s handsome features soften, but his face remains nearly immobile. He neatly drops Halloran’s paperwork in the basket next to the davenport, sits back and crosses his legs, and tenting his fingers across his chest, he asks,
“What about Phil Tupperman?”
“Ah...well. He’s...alive. Living in Metairie, if you call that livin’. And, he...well, for lack of a better word...he needs you.”
Youngblood continues to stare unerringly at Halloran, no sense of emotion at all. Except for the tension in his fingers. Each perfectly manicured finger strains against its opposite, the little chevrons trembling above his chest in desperate battle. The doctor’s lips part and a new tone fills his voice.
“Does he? I find that hard to believe. But then again, maybe I should have expected this.”  Dr. Youngblood stands to his full height, and walks over to his desk. He sits, opens a drawer, and takes out a checkbook, flopping it down onto the glass surface. “How much does he want?”
Bruce is instantly confused, the emotion conveyed in his furrowed brow. He sits up on the edge of his seat and says,
“ Dr. Youngblood, I don’t think you--”
“How...much?” the good doctor intones, making his intention to have Halloran and this matter over with instantly. Halloran’s ire rises instantly in his throat. His kneejerk reaction to haughtiness. He swallows his indignation and stands up to his full height, about an inch or so taller than Youngblood, and says in a matching tone,
“Look here shrinker man, I don’t want your money. Neither does Phil. In fact, he doesn’t even know I’m here or that I know who you are, so why don’t you sit down and listen? That is what you do, isn’t it? Listen?”
Dr. Youngblood and Halloran stand in defiance of each other for what seems like an hour. Seeing that Youngblood won’t back down in his own office, Halloran finally decides to return to his seat, maintaining eye contact with the doctor. Finally, Youngblood capitulates and returns to his seat.
“All right. Why are you here and what business is it of yours, Mr. Halloran?”...This Is My New Orleans.

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