That's great, it starts with an earthquake,
birds and snakes, an aeroplane
Lenny Bruce is not afraid
The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) - R.E.M.
He drew up outside House’s apartment and sat there
for a minute, pulling the keys out of the ignition, rolling them in his hand so they jingled, unclasping the seatbelt so it
rolled up slowly. He waited and breathed, seeing some light on in the high window, but no other sign of habitation.
was a good parking spot, wasn’t it?
Maybe he was out drinking. Maybe he’d gone to the movies. Maybe he
was still at work, he’d been called in to consult on a patient. Maybe he’d gone shopping. Maybe-
cracked open the car door, got out, shut the door, the thud loud. As he walked towards the door he noticed that Greg’s
apartment was silent. No turntable, no loud music, because he’d be able to hear that stuff by now. He came through the
outer door, and there was definitely no music. No TV up loud to annoy the neighbours, no piano.
He knocked on the door,
waited, knocked again. Agonised over whether he should say something, over whether he should use his key or not. No House
telling him to hold his horses through a mouthful of something, no kitchen noises, no microwave ding or kettle boiling.
he was fucking Stacy hard and fast up against a hotel room wall somewhere.
God, this was laughable.
Wilson was too focused on what he couldn’t hear (which, granted, was a lot), on what House wasn’t doing.
didn’t hear him walking over or the slight creak as he bent over to look in the peephole, so was shocked, as the door
opening surprised him out of his idle contemplation, out of his indecision.
House’s apartment greeted him, the
same typical mess, the odd silence, the tired, pyjama-wearing House in front of him, his hair sticking up in front so he could
suddenly see unsettlingly that he was thinning a bit there, the bags under his eyes.
He smelled booze. He smelled smoke
and House-on-an-bender, but not pot smoke, which was what he had half expected to smell on his clothes when he came out onto
the roof that night.
House didn’t say anything, just stared at Wilson as he leaned against the half-open door.
weren’t many lights on and it was dark. Great. Dark, smoky and silent.
So silent that you could hear someone
vacuuming somewhere in the building, the bells and canned laughter of the game show playing on a TV next door.
realised that they’d been standing there for twenty seconds, without a word. It was obviously up to him to say something,
because he’d had the nerve to barge in on his best friend as he smoked shit and drank cheap booze in the dark like the
hero of a cheap Private Eye novel.
House spoke first. He was just waiting, for God knows what. To see what Wilson was here
for, if he smelled like perfume, whether he’d run from the car, if he looked guilty.
“Well? Are you going to
come in? Because I’m fine if you just stand there.”
He limped heavily away from the door, his movements
a little more loose than usual, I don’t care written all over the curve of his back, the slump of his shoulders.
His lisp was more pronounced. He walked slowly over to the couch. That told Wilson he wasn’t just knocking back a nightcap.
He was hunching, which meant he was tired, and he wasn’t crashed out on the couch yet, which was odd, but it was only
a matter of time.
He was thinking.
The coffee table was covered in the usual jumble of stuff, and he’d folded
and re-folded one of those little magazine subscription slips until it started to tear along the fold lines. There were little
torn-up pieces of paper, like he’d ripped the label off something and torn it up in his hands, not even looking.
He was really getting onto it. A bottle of something cheap and awful, Old Crow. Right, because you kept the cheap stuff for
when you didn’t need to taste it. Mixing, and numbing, and House wasn’t having this with Coke or Pepsi.
been sitting on the couch, and drinking neat scotch and spinning the cap of the bottle around on the surface of the coffee
“What are you here for?”
“Well, I came to see you.”
“You came to
Check On Me.”
“Well, yeah, maybe… And you know what? I feel completely reassured-“
can look after myself.”
“Well, yes, I know that, although it’s debatable coming from someone who
probably had peanut butter from the jar for dinner.”
Wilson is very neat this evening. Yes, I probably look
like shit. Feel like shit. You gone feel like sheeit in the morning, boy, yas you do. I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear
the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Why is he here? Oh, please fuck off I don’t want you here I don’t want to talk
now I don’t want to know now I-
This was just going to go around in circles. Wilson didn’t want to
stand here half the night and be baited while House brooded and drank.
He was sitting on the couch, facing the blank TV,
just sitting and staring, upright.
Wilson said You’re drinking. House responded with one word, Observant.
sighed and turned away, scanning the piles of books for anything new.
Stacy pretending not to cry as she packed her
office, again. House turning on Wilson like it was his fault. What would happen next? House was a good chess player, he always
had his mind on what could happen ten different ways. Why hadn’t he thought it through? Did he want to be miserable
and alone and smarting for the next six months? A year? Years?
What about Stacy? How long would it take her to forget
They were a couple of relationship-wreckers, House and Stacy. They deserved each other. Except Stacy had left,
now, and House was sulking and drinking. Again.
Wilson was scared. Oh, dear lord. What if this was like last time?
that song: I’ve passed this way before… cheesy music is best for being drunk by, but my ears hurt.
shifted, probably thinking about pouring another drink.
Wilson slapped down a TV guide to the top of a pile, turned around,
“Would you care to enlighten me, as to what you were thinking in sending Stacy away?”
didn’t say anything. That didn’t work. Wilson grabbed the old plate that was sitting on the side table, moved
into the kitchen. It was cold and dark. He hadn’t eaten anything tonight.
“You haven’t eaten.”
took a couple of extra Vicodin.”
Wilson made a big deal out of rattling things around in the kitchen,
dumping stuff in the sink, rustling through the cupboards. House groaned slightly, sighed.
Wilson rattled more, turned
the kettle on.
“Are you going to eat something, anyway?”
“I’m not hungry.”
came out to the doorway of the kitchen while the toaster hummed electrically behind him.
“Well. This is what
you wanted, isn’t it? Pain? You like this!”
House put his head back, groaned to the ceiling.
“Like I care? I do care! I don’t want to have to-”
House heaved himself up
from the couch, turned on him, and Wilson could see that he was angry.
“Oh, drop the crap. Sure, I like to hurt
myself. Sure, I’m a prick. Sure, we could have worked it all out, and six months down the track when this happened,
you would have shook your head and said, ‘oh well, how about that’. Well, I don’t know about you, but I
don’t like pain. I don’t want to punish myself. I don’t want to hear any of your psychobabble bullshit,
Wilson. Of course I’m miserable! Do I like it? I don’t know! What I don’t like is you meddling!”
was angry, he’d shown Wilson that he had anger in him tonight, and he could either step down and leave him to it or
keep pushing it, show him that he couldn’t brush this off.
Wilson pushed it. He’d already pushed it this
far. It was House who had pushed Stacy away, and this had to happen sometime.
He didn’t leave. He went back into
the kitchen and buttered the toast that had just popped up, put another one in.
House stood there in the living room,
angry and static.
“House, you’re a study in contradiction. You’re cheap, you get your staff to buy
you coffee, yet you throw money away gambling on a regular basis, and I don't know if you know you'll win or not.. You have
a crappy old television and a VCR that you have to hold shut with duct tape, yet you blew an inordinate amount of money on
that piano when you were making less than you make now! You read medical journals in four languages and watch Jeopardy!
expect people to see you as someone who doesn’t fit in, as someone who doesn’t understand them, and yet you size
people up and… calculate them almost as soon as you see them!
You spend years pining after the woman you love, and
you send her away after you kiss her once!”
Wilson was busying himself with the toast, with finding something
that wasn’t growing something to warm up on the stove, and all of a sudden House was in the door to the kitchen, still
drunk, but with his eyes clear and angry, his cheeks red.
“Does this all have a point… or are you here
Wilson thought, are we going to need an icepack here?
No not like last time. This won't
come to blows. Please don't make this come to push and shove.
“I know where this is going, Greg. This has
When House was eight they had driven a very long way, for days, to another base. He didn’t
remember that well, but the third grade was the last one House would spend in a normal school until junior high. He got used
to being teased about his accent everywhere they went- too American for somewhere, too somewhere for somewhere else. He got
used to dodgy base schools, to correspondence education, to learning different lessons and different copybooks.
drove A Very Long Way, he wrote down the name of hundreds of different roadsigns, signs, banners. Years later he found the
page, written in neat columns, his cursive writing meticulous because they were travelling in the car.
Be a man. Trespassers
will be prosecuted. First scout hall. WALK DON'T RUN. Loitering, touting, begging, soliciting on the station is prohibited.
Tidy town winner. Apples. Pumpkins. Gas. GAS. Emergency. Pets are for life. I'm a fisherman and I vote. On and on, tucked
into a page of his kiddy atlas.
House had turned away into the living room, now, walking around, pretending to
look at things. He was very angry.
There was silence. Wilson stood there and stared at House’s back, to him.
said Greg, stammered a bit, the words tripping on his tongue.
Hoouse talked, loud, strident, leaning heavily, his words
directed towards the bookshelf.
You know I’ll never let it get that bad again.
Cause this was before
Vicodin, we were still working it out, and the meds filled up my head like epoxy cement, the next thing, the this-one-will-work.
I swear I only took one, but it wasn’t, and there was Wilson holding me and it was scary because my eyes kept closing
and I didn’t care. Wilson made me throw up. He counted the pills and cleaned up the vomit off the floor and fixed me
up but I swear I only took one. I didn’t mean to. Stacy never knew.
“I just want you to be careful.
I’m OK if you need help, you know-“
House slammed something down, and it was loud, and he turned around,
and shouted at Wilson. I’m OK Wilson, I’m doing my best here. We were never going to have all that.
That was it.
Three days later House would sleep the night in his office.
Two days after that, he would
give himself a migraine to prove a point, and he would see Wilson vaguely through the aura clouding his vision, his arms crossed.
week after that, House would wake with pain so bad it burned his ears, and would stand in Cuddy’s office, holding his
pants in one hand, being forced to beg her for pain relief. For a needle in his spine.
Yeah. He’d seen this before.