Still Like That Old Time Rock 'n' Roll Who: Lucas and Daniel What: Pizza and furniture building party! Where: Apartment 1002 When: Sunday March 12, 2017
Lucas was shifting boxes around his apartment when the pizza guy called up. “Come on up!” he said, pressing the number to unlock the front door, his mouth already watering for melty cheese. He wandered back out to the hallway and opened the front door, so whoever walked by would have a great view of his expansive living room which was currently littered with boxes, a half-built wall unit and a couch. A small CD player, a relic from another time, sat on the floor plugged into one of the outlets, belting out old rock that now bled out into the hallway. He sighed happily, surveying what he’d already accomplished and starting on shifting another box, this one marked ‘office’, down the hall to the third bedroom.
Daniel entered alongside the delivery man, laughing at some shared joke as if they were old friends. "Lucas?" he called, as if testing the name. "I'm not sayin' you've gotta pay, but… I definitely thought you were payin'. I mean I brought beer…"
And so he had. Where the delivery man carried an insulated bag, inside which the two pizza boxes were stacked, Daniel bore a twelve-pack of bottled Hefeweizen. He held it up as they entered the apartment, peering around for where best to place it. "Lookin' good already," he said.
Lucas came out of the bedroom down the hall and smiled when he saw his visitors. “Hey, man,” he said, and then turned to the delivery guy, pulling a few bills out of his back pocket and bidding the kid to keep the change. He took the boxes and gestured for Daniel to follow him into the kitchen. “So I wasn’t sure what you liked, so I got one vegetarian, and one with all the meat.” He chuckled a little and put them down on one of the large counters, opening the boxes one at a time and breathing in the steam with an appreciative sigh. “The best part of living out of boxes is eating out of boxes.”
Daniel set down the beer, the bottles within clattering loudly. He tore into the thin cardboard, withdrawing two bottles and hastily twisting off their tops. "I like both," he said, "so one of each sounds like a good start." He pushed one bottle over toward Lucas, then reached for paper towels, tearing off a substantial number in one go. "So I'm Daniel, obviously, and you're Lucas. How are you likin' the place? What do you do? Where you from? Tell me about yourself."
Lucas took the beer from Daniel and clinked the top of his to the other man’s before taking a drink. “Yep,” he said, “hey, it’s great. So far everyone has been super nice to me on that network thing. At first I thought it would just be another facebook, but it’s kinda cool...it makes the building into its own little community.”
He set the beer down and tore open a package of paper plates, taking one and then pulling the first slice of greasy meaty pizza onto it. He grinned to himself at the questions and then held up the pizza and beer. “I’m a doctor,” he said with a laugh, enjoying the irony. “You?”
Daniel laughed, carefully keeping his mouth closed around a massive bite of pizza. He answered only after he had swallowed, and washed it down with an equally sizable mouthful of beer. "Counselor," he said. "Sorta. I work with folks gettin' out of jail. Housing, training, job placement, that kinda thing."
Lucas’s eyebrows rose in interest. “Wow, that’s great,” he said, pulling a slice of vegetarian pizza onto his plate and then leading Daniel into the livingroom. There was a couch and a bunch of boxes arranged into a coffee table with a few papers scattered on one corner of it that he’s been using to eat off of, and he put his plate down on one. Daniel mirrored his movements, still smiling with pride as he took in his surroundings.
He took another swig from his bottle, then pointed the long neck at his new neighbor. "There's a pretty decent gym here, though, so don't fret too much about the junk food. Just go work it off later."
“Yeah, I saw when they gave me the tour, I’ll definitely be giving that a go,” he said, taking another sip of beer. “Speaking of which...what’s up with that front desk guy? Or...girl?” His features crumpling into somewhat awkward interest.
"Guy," Daniel answered. "Stephan Waters. Good dude. A little snippy now and then, but who isn't. And his winged eyeliner game is on point." He dropped himself unceremoniously onto the sofa, balancing his plate on his thighs. He drained the beer to its halfway point before leaning up to set it on the coffee table. Lucas nodded, smiling, thinking he should make the effort to get to know Stephan, he seemed like a cool, if eccentric, guy.
"So what kinda doctor are you?" he asked. "We just had a psych move in, too. Y'all are bringin' up the average IQ of this place lately." Lucas took another bite of his pizza while Daniel spoke.
“Diagnostic medicine,” he said, taking another swig of beer to wash it down. “That’s fancy talk for ‘figuring out what’s wrong when other doctors are stumped’.” He shrugged as if it wasn’t a big deal, as if he didn’t routinely save lives. “I also do some time in the ER,” he added, taking another bite of the all-the-meat pizza.
"Man I know what that means," Daniel chided, pointing at Lucas with a plucked-off bit of green pepper. "Just because I'm handsome as hell doesn't mean I'm dumb." He rolled his shoulders as he settled more deeply into the couch's cushions. "So are you still in that phase of your career where you basically live at the hospital? Or are you past all that now."
Lucas laughed and nodded, “yes and no,” he said. “Residency is what kills new doctors, but I’m definitely on the other side of that.” He had some more pizza, feeling like a literal black hole had opened in his stomach with all the moving he’d been doing. “But I love my work, I take on as much as I can, but we all need time off now and then.” He probably should have taken more time off to move in, but he was serious about his new job and wanted to fit in well at his new hospital.
“Counseling former inmates though, that’s amazing. I imagine that could be very rewarding. I save people’s physical lives, but you...you help them get and keep a life worth living.”
Daniel shrugged. "Two sides of the same coin, right? It's all about overall health. Physical and mental and emotional well-being. It's all important. Not enough people see it that way, but it's still true. And you don't stop needin' that stuff just cos you made some bad decisions or got backed into a rough corner."
He polished off the vegetarian slice of his pizza, then moved on to the wonderfully meaty one. He sucked a bit of sauce from one fingertip. "People say they care about healthy living and opportunities and shit, but where the rubber meets the road, not many of them actually wanna do anything to help make all that happen."
Lucas nodded, swallowing another bite of pizza. “That’s true, but sometimes the patient is the problem. Sometimes...you do all that you can do for them, but at a certain point they have to want the help. That’s the hard part.” Prescribing meds that patients don’t take, scheduling counseling that they don’t attend, giving directions for living that aren’t followed. Nothing was more frustrating to him than patients who didn’t want to help themselves, for whatever reason.
"You're not wrong. I've cut clients loose before for that shit. I've got too many people who do want the help, and who are willing to put in the work." He nodded toward Lucas. "I'm sure you're in the same boat. Not that you're really in the position to fire patients, I guess." He chuckled. Lucas echoed the man’s laugh and shook his head in agreement. "Okay. Weirdest thing you've seen in the ER. And go."
Lucas took a deep breath, an expression of mild surprise on his face. “Ohh, uhhm…” he started drawing from his memory, finding one that made him laugh. “Superglue instead of lube. That was...fun. And not as uncommon as you might think.” He chuckled and drank the last of his beer, getting up to bring two more back out to the living room. Daniel was grateful for this, having snorted a great deal of his while laughing.
“And then of course there’s the various objects stuck in various places they don’t belong. We get at least one of those per night. A flood of them on Valentine’s Day.” He handed the second beer to Daniel, shaking his head with a grin.
"Oh I bet," Daniel said. "Tis the season to shove whatever's closest into whatever hole you like best, I guess. I never understood that drive. But different strokes, I guess. Do y'all really have an ass box, like in Scrubs?"
Lucas laughed loudly at that. “I actually don't watch that, but a friend sent me the clip on YouTube,” he chuckled. “We don't have that exactly, but there's a log book in the break room with...shall we say, the ER’s greatest hits?” he took another bite of pizza and washed it down with more beer. “Working there, everyone needs a laugh now and then.”
"God, I bet…" Daniel shook his head. He set to work on his second slice of pizza, silent for a few moments until it was nothing more than a bit of dry crust. He dropped this onto the plate, then the plate onto the coffee table, content to focus on his beer for the remainder of the evening.
"Okay," he said, clapping a hand against his thigh. "I'm fed and happy, so put me to work before I change my mind. What still needs doin'?"
“Okay,” Lucas said, letting his plate sit on the makeshift coffee table. “I have a few shelves to put together, my computer desk...and I started on that wall unit but I think the instructions are in German or something,” he laughed self-deprecatingly. “I think I messed up halfway through.” He shrugged with a smile, clapping the other man on the back. “Hopefully we each have a few brain cells left after a few beers. No pressure, though,” he added with a grin.
"Not at all," Daniel said, laughing. He rose from the couch, waving Lucas along with him. "So let's get to it."