Part 4 - Therefore, increasing the rate and the magnitude of the force, increases the power by two-fold.
Grace barreled through the swinging doors of the City of New Haven police station. The young doctor was clad in a tan trenchcoat that still bore the word "petite" on the sleeve because Grace insisted it was the brand name, a French brand, and Dana trailed behind like the askew waist-tie of that coat. The sound of wet running shoes and the phish of filled blue jeans cut through the humid air.
"I am here for Richard Wilson!" Grace stated officially to the night clerk.
He looked up over his bifocals, his wispy gray-black hair anchored neatly behind his right ear. After a quick assessment he went back to his paperwork.
"Excuse me!" The small jaw jutted fiercely. Dr. Wilson had no patience tonight.
Meanwhile, Dana's body was trying to drift back outside.
"Did you hear me?!"
Dana froze out of habit.
The elderly officer coolly removed his glasses and rubbed his crooked nose. It curved slightly to the left. "Yes, I heard you, young lady."
"'Young lady,' ha! It's 'Dr. Wilson,'" she corrected with just a hint of Yalie snootiness.
He gave her the Doogie Howser once-over.
Not a good move, Dana thought.
"Sign in," he said, pushing an electronic clipboard and laser pen to Grace. She signed and then slid the board to Dana.
"Do I have to sign this if I don't go past here?" Dana asked the clerk.
She laid the pen down and handed the clipboard back to him without signing it.
"Dana?" Grace asked testily. She couldn't help the edge in her voice.
"I think you can handle this yourself. I'll wait here."
"But I need—"
"—Gracie?" a familiar voice interrupted the plea, but its tone did not match the endearing diminutive. Both Dana and Grace turned to see Beth, who had a harsher haircut than during their last encounter but a befitting one. "Your brother is this way." She shot Dana a piercing slit-eye snake look, then turned on her heel and slithered back into the squad room. Grace's eyes couldn't help following the curvaceous outline of the retreating officer.
"She's so fuckin' creepy," Dana whispered to Grace, catching the lusty glimmer in her lover's eyes. Grace was Eve in The Garden, and Dana realized she would never have that one thing Beth had. "Fucking cop pants," she mumbled at Grace's back.
"Mmm-hmm. That's why I need you to come too."
Dana hesitated, trying to figure out just what that meant. She didn't want Grace to be alone with Beth. "I...I...." Grace strained to hear her. "I can't go in there...not without having a full-blown panic attack," Dana said defeatedly.
"Okay." A touch to the arm reassured the tech that her weakness was okay. "And it's the cuffs, not the pants." A wry smile.
"I'll wait out here," Dana offered with a frustrated grimace. She would have waited in the car if she'd had her full choice.
Twenty minutes and a few fingernails later Dana looked up to see Dick Wilson staggering toward her with a purpling eye and a bottom lip the size of a talking horse's. Blood stained the front of his polo shirt. Had he seen fit to smile at Dana, for he did not, she would have seen that his right canine was no longer his. Not far behind strutted his sister, red-faced and as furious as Dana had ever seen her.
Dick pushed his way through the swinging doors with an arrogance befitting a silver-back gorilla but with only half the intelligence.
Dana found herself hurrying after Grace, who was in hot pursuit of the family writer, determined to snatch his banana. By the time Dana hit the pavement, Grace had her featherweight brother's arm in her grasp and had shoved him up against the fender of the Jeep. His lazy eyes ignored her, an d Dana could tell that the doctor was cursing him. After several minutes of this, she released his arm in disgust and then slammed her fist against the hood, making the tech jump.
"Get in the fuckin' car, Dick!" she growled at her brother, a hint of Southern drawl in her angry words.
He waited a few seconds before sauntering over to the passenger side. He flung the door open and began to climb into the passenger seat but slipped on the wet steel of the car's frame and crashed to the cement sidewalk, banging his chin on the edge.
"Gawd, you stink, Dick-uh," Dana said, grabbing him under the arms. "What's that cologne you're wearing, Eau de Five-Day-Old Dead Possum?"
"Fuck you, Nada."
"No, thanks, I prefer your sister, whiskey boy." She easily lifted him to his feet and then shoved him into the back seat.
After climbing in herself, she took a moment to size up Grace's mood. She was glaring into the rear-view mirror at her brother. Dana opened her mouth to say something but closed it. She had never seen Grace angry enough to exhume the Southern drawl. They drove home to Milford in silence.
Dick stumbled into the house, insistent that he could walk on his own after Dana picked him up off the front lawn.
"Dumb drunk fuck," Grace mumbled, the words surprising Dana.
The tech reached for the doctor's arm to stop her from going through the front doorway. And she didn't like the fact that Dick knew the security code. Hell, she didn't like Dick.
"What's going on?"
"A fucking brawl and a drunk-and-disorderly."
"Beth picked him up."
"We were lucky she picked him up. The guys he was fighting would have killed him."
Dana growled at that remark. "Lucky?"
"Yep." Grace stared at Dana a moment. "Look, Dana. Beth did me a favor."
Dana wanted to sneer but she shrugged instead. "Why are you so angry, then, if the world is being so kind to you?"
"Because my brother is a fucking drunk," Grace replied and walked into their home, leaving Dana alone on the stoop. Maybe if she shook her head hard enough it would all make sense. She stood for a few minutes, trying to reclaim her bearings in the little whirlpool of dysfunctional family dynamics and ex-girlfriends. When she finally decided to go inside, she still did not have her sea legs, but she was not about to let Grace shut her out of this. She noted that Dick had passed out on the daybed in the spare room. Grace was lying in their bed with her face buried in the pillow she was clutching.
The once-emotionally-stilted brunette sidled up to her best friend and began to gently stroke the tight muscles through the white T-shirt.
"He blames me." Grace's words were muffled by the pillow.
Dana continued to stroke. "For what?"
"For ruining his life."
Dana didn't say anything because she had no idea what Grace was talking about, but if she seemed interested and not too threatening her chatty partner would likely reveal things to her. Grace rolled onto her side to look at Dana. "At first I thought it might just be the whole competition thing, Yale and then med school."
Dana nodded and caressed her arm.
"But when I saw him that last time and he was so angry and drinking...and when I talk to Joy she tells me he's getting worse. He had two DUI's in Louisville last winter."
"I didn't know that."
"I didn't tell you."
"Obviously." She let that pass but kept it for later. "Why do you think he blames you for his drinking?"
"Not just his drinking," Grace corrected. "His whole fucking screwed-up life. Being alone, being an asshole...."
"The two may be related."
"They are...they're my fault."
"So you blame yourself as well?"
"Sounds like it to me." Dana pushed herself into a sitting position and with her foot caught the door and closed it.
Dana lay back down. "Well...maybe you don't want to tell me this either, being that it's about family."
"That's not why I didn't tell you."
"Mom asked me not to."
"And that's supposed to be a good reason? Jesus! If she asked you to stop seeing me, would you?"
"I haven't, have I? And I didn't think you would care. I mean, you pretty much hate him."
"If it bothered you, I would care."
This was met with silence and then a quiet "Okay."
Dana smiled. "Tell me why you feel guilty." She brushed long, wispy blond bangs away from dark green eyes.
"It's kids' stuff."
"Well...I happen to know kids' stuff can be pretty rough sometimes."
Grace nodded. She looked a little scared, almost childish in her emotion.
"Grace?" she asked softly. "Please tell me."
"We were very young, and stupid, and...and...things...." A big, frustrated sigh. "And it changed our lives by not changing our lives."
A long time passed.
"Is this a riddle or something?" Dana finally asked.
"Well, 'things' is pretty vague. You sure it wasn't 'stuff'?"
Grace managed a tiny smile. "Dick and Suzie Becker and me were playing strip poker up in the clubhouse above the garage and my mom caught us."
Dana was stunned. That was it. That was all it was. And now it was her turn to say something, something profound about nudy games. "Yes...well, considering the way you play, you were all probably very naked."
"Both Suzie and I were."
"Yeah? Whatever happened to Suzie?"
"She died...that weekend," Grace said solemnly.
"She and Clyde Bannister and Dick and me were supposed to go to the Young Christian Convention in New York City. Mom grounded us because we were obviously not Christian enough, and we missed out on the trip."
"Was there a bus accident or—?"
"—No, Dana. The Big Wave hit."
"Yeah," she replied sadly. "Very wow. It really fucked Dick up."
"I still don't see how it was your fault."
"It was my idea to play."
"That doesn't surprise me. But so what if it was your idea?"
"Look, I told you it was kids' stuff."
"Grace, I wouldn't belittle a brush with death, especially something as colossal as The Wave. But I don't think Dick's alcoholism and basic pissy personality can all be blamed on that one incident. It would be like saying the reason you're an overly zealous megalomaniac is because of that same incident."
"What did you just call me?"
"An overly ambitious megalomaniac." Dana slowly smiled.
Grace stared at her a moment. "I think you said 'zealous.'"
"We should have died."
"And it did affect me. It made me realize I needed to take the chance I was given and make the most of it."
"You don't have to prove your worth, Grace."
"Dick just wants to piss his life away."
"Dick lives his own life. It's his to piss away."
"What's that mean?" Grace did not like Dana's nonchalance. "So if I decided to start fucking around and still did the pills and basically tossed everything away it would be okay because it's my life?"
"Why is it okay for Dick, then?"
Dana had talked herself into a corner. And she had to be careful, for Grace was using the "f" word a lot. What would Cassandra do? she asked herself. "It would not be okay, Grace. It would hurt to watch that, and I would try to help, but ultimately it would not be my responsibility to fix you. It would be yours."
"Like with the pills?"
"Yeah. And just like you did for me."
"Would you leave me?"
"If you were fucking around I sure would. Look, I don't want to fight over Dick." She put her arms around the tense woman and nuzzled her hair.
"I'm not a megalomaniac."
"I was kidding, Grace. But you are driven like a swarm of drones aching to hump a fresh queen sometimes. And maybe if you really want to get through to Dick, put yourself on the same level as he is...tell him about your pill problem and what you had to—"
"—What pill problem?"
Green eyes curled into a smile. "I'll think about it."
Grace returned to the room to find Dana sprawled back on the bed, hands neatly tucked behind her head and biceps tweaked just enough to make Grace hot.
"Did he listen at all?"
"He was very quiet. I doubt it did any good."
"Well, at least you tried. Cassandra says that—"
"—Ugh! No more 'Cassandra says,' please."
Grace hooked her fingers into the front of Dana's shorts and rolled her over so that she could snag a kiss. When she was satisfied, she brushed the bangs away from the blue eyes.
"Tomorrow's a big day."
"Are you comfortable with this?"
"Can I do anything to help you?"
"Would this happen to be something naughty?"
"Would it involve food of any sort?"
"Hot or cold."
"Spicy or bland?"
"It's not the chili con queso again?"
"Would you prefer guacamole?"
"No...too many calories."
"I'll get the chips."
Return to the Academy