always start round mindnight, round midnight
Haven’t got the heart to stand those mem’ries…”
was in the mood for Monk. The song spoke to him, never more resonantly than at this moment, his fingers hearing Thelonious
Monk’s unique piano style, eyes closed, his own deep graveled tones choking out the lyrics past the lump in his throat.
“Darlin’ I need you, lately I find
out of my arms and I’m out of my mind.
Let our love take wing some midnight, round midnight,
Let the angels
sing for your returning…”
Enough. House abruptly stopped, slamming his right fist on the keys while
reaching for the whiskey tumbler with the other.
Was Cameron right? Was he still capable of loving someone? Love had
become to him a foreign feeling, he wasn’t sure he’d know it if it hit him square in the forehead. Was what he
had done for Mark Warner borne out of love for Stacy? Was that what Cameron meant?
The whiskey burned down his esophagus
and coursed through his veins, but was unable to drown the feelings fighting for the surface of his soul. He poured again.
This time the amber liquid didn’t burn, it soothed cool down his throat.
He never should have taken the case.
It would have been better, wouldn’t it have been, to let Warner die? And yet…
He went back to the keys,
trying desperately to feel only the music and nothing else. Shut the door on that old locked and dusty closet. But it was
no use. The door had opened and he hadn’t the strength left to close it. Not tonight.
He glanced at the cane
leaning against the piano. A momentary hopeful thought escaped the reaches of his mind and rather than letting it go to watch
it pop like a bubble in front of his eyes, he grabbed hold of it. Was it possible to be healed? Could he will himself as he
willed his patients day after day?
House leaned on his cane to arise from the bench, taking the bottle and now empty
glass with him, placing them carefully on the mantle. He poured again. How many was that now? Three? Four? It didn’t
matter. He needed that additional bit of liquid courage. House’s eyes roved over the cane, hoping, yet acknowledging
the probable futility of the exercise he was about to try. He tossed it across the room, out of range, in determination.
propped his right foot on the raised floor in front of the hearth, minimizing the discomfort, postponing the strain that was
coming to his long disused leg. He steadied himself, steeled himself. What was she doing now? A random thought skipped into
his head? She was with Warner, no doubt. Holding him. Comforting him. Sure, he was whole, now. Because of him. His skill.
His relentlessness. OK, Greg, old man. Turn it on yourself. Ready? A small prayer to a God he didn’t believe in. Take
the freaking step already, House!
Careful, small step, just slide the foot…slowly now. His leg protested, though
only mildly at the mini step. He held his breath as he readied himself for that first full step onto the carpet. And…
leg gave way as searing pain shot from his knee to his groin. White hot pain as he clutched for something, anything to break
the fall. He knew if he fell to the floor, he’d never get up again. He steadied himself on the old leather chair, dragging
the useless leg behind as he sat himself back on the piano bench. Square one.
He laughed ruefully, aloud at his own
stupidity for trying it, welcoming the pain as a rebuke for it. He sighed in resignation, reaching for the comfort of the
Vicodin bottle in his shirt pocket, momentarily saddened that there was only one left. The gods were truly against him.
“Let our love take wing, some midnight,
Let the angels sing for your returning.
Let our love stay safe and sound.
When old midnight comes