I’m Gonna Miss Her. Brad Paisley will wait on a Woman, but will a Woman wait on Brad Paisley? No.
5 Feet High and Rising. Johnny Cash’s family slowly dies in a flood.
Rodeo. Bull Riding>Everything Else.
Who’s Cheatin’ Who? Alan Jackson, his Wife.
God Gave me You. The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh away.
The Streets of Baltimore. Bobby Bare is shot before he can even begin his song.
John Deere Green. Billy Bob desecrates the water tower and the town only questions his colour choice.
Fast Cars and Freedom. Sex in a River.
Dust on the Bottle. David Lee Murphy demonstrates that they key to getting laid is liquor. Take note Alan.
Strawberry Wine. This is just Dust on the Bottle from the Girls perspective. Think about it for a second.
After my last post here, I was asked by several of you and by my wife to share some examples of how I've planned our date nights. Well here goes:
NOTE: Date nights are never a surprise. We know we are going to shut out the world and focus only on each other. That could mean going to a nice restaurant or a simple walk by the waterfront. Still, the focus is on us; we don't talk about work, the kids, friends, or family. It is just about us.
Here's an example: Last year, around the late June-early July time frame, I woke up early and went to the gym like I have for years. While there I came up with an idea for our date night. I remembered my wife had been talking about taking up dance lessons based on a conversation she had with an elderly woman she spoke with at the salon. Thankfully, I was able to remember the name of the dance studio and scheduled us for our first lesson for that same evening.
I completely overlooked what kind of dancing they taught at the studio. I was just excited about doing something nice for my wife. Later that evening, after having a light meal, we showed up in comfortable clothes and realized we were the youngest couple in the class. Everyone was in their late 60s and the lessons were for Rumba and Foxtrot.
To say we had fun was an understatement. Moreover, we ended up going to 12 lessons and learned that they had a formal dance on the last Friday of every month at a local community center. We kept going to those formal dances up until Covid.
On that last Friday, I will usually take the day off and take my wife to the Salon. Every heard of the Brad Paisley song Waiting on a Woman? Yup. That's me. Every so often I'll take her to buy a new dress and afterwards, we'll grab a light dinner at one of her favorite restaurants. We'll head home and make our way to the community center. I still get chills as I walk into the center with my wife on my arm. She takes my breath away and not just as we burn holes on the dance floor!
These are a full list of cameos on 2 1/2 men. The rules are that they could not have appeared in more than 2 episodes, and they can't play a character that advances the storyline of the season. And they have to be A or B list celebs you would recognize at a Starbucks on Ventura Blvd :P
Full List of Celebrity Cameos
Episode 4: Steven Tyler (only his voice, when he catches Alan giving Berta an adjustment, but Tyler thinks he is boning her).
Episode 12: Megan Fox as Berta’s granddaughter who’s 16, and Charlie and Alan are very tempted.
Episode 14: Richard Lewis as Charlie’s criminal accountant who stops paying his bills because he had an “import/export” problem.
Episode 18: Chris O’Donnell who stars as Charlie’s ex who’s now a trans man.
Episode 19: Teri Hatcher who is Judith’s sister. Charlie once slept with her at Alan/Judith’s wedding reception
Episode 21: Heather Locklear who Charlie sleeps with, and then dumps, and she screws Alan because of it.
Episode 1: Sean Penn, Elvis Costello, Harry Dean Stanton, Bobby Cooper are a part of Charlie’s men's support group who think it’s messed up he won’t include Alan.
Episode 17: Ken Jeong, before he was famous, he plays a male nurse. In real life he’s an actual doctor.
Episode 18: Lucy Lawless, plays the ex wife of a gay music producer who thinks Charlie is gay, until he “convinces her” he’s not.
Episode 24: Orson Beane, plays a wealthy husband of a woman Charlie sleeps with
Episode 7: Martin Sheen plays Rose’s Dad who starts to have a fling with Evelyn
Episode 9: Cloris Leachmann who plays an older woman who makes Alan her sugar baby
Episode 17: Jon Lovitz plays a jingle writer that overshadows Charlie
Episode 20: Kevin Sorbo plays Kandi’s Dad
Episode 2: Steven Tyler rents the house next to Charlie and kicks Charlie’s ass
Episode 14: Brooke Shields, Charlie’s crazy new neighbor that wants to have a Devil’s 3 way with Charlie and Alan
Episode 15: Allison Janney plays Alan’s internet date that ties him up
Episode 16: Morgan Fairchild plays a cougar that picks up Charlie at a seniors bar.
Episode 23: Enrique Iglesias plays Charlie’s handyman that Charlie becomes jealous of, and ends up taking his girl
Episode 2: Janeane Garofalo who plays Alan’s neurotic date who she sleeps with, then gets mad at
Episode 8: Richard Kind, plays Charlie’s record producer for childrens songs
Episode 11: Emilio Estevez, Charlie’s best friend (and real life brother) who dies on his balcony, causing Charlie to face his own mortality
Episode 1: Eddie Van Halen runs into Brian at a recording studio while heading to the bathroom
Episode 21: ZZ Top (Dusty Hill, Billy Gibbons, Frank Berd), he sees while hallucinating on pot
Episode 1: John Stamos, Thomas Gibson, Jenna Elfman are people who come to look at the house after Charlie dies.
Episode 6: Joe Manganiello before he was famous as Bridgette’s date.
Episode 9: Gary Busey as Alan’s suitemate at the “stress clinic”
Episode 22: Kathy Bates plays the form from Charlie who came up from hell
Episode 20: Scott Bakula Plays the rich older husband of Ashley
Episode 23: Marilu Henner & Hillary Duff. Walden starts dating Hillary, but becomes interested in her Grandma
Episode 6: Lynda Carter, who Alan loves and wants to date but she wants Walden
Episode 7,12: Jeff Probst, cock blocks Walden in one episode, and Alan in another
Episode 13: Tim Conway, Gary Marshall, Steve Lawrence, friends of Marty who play themselves attending Marty’s bachelor party.
Episode 19: Mila Kunis, Walden's real life wife shows up as a backpacker.
Episode 21: Diedrich Bader plays the guy who buys Walden’s first car, and sells it back to them
Episode 22: Brad Paisley, Gretchen’s real life husband comes to take her right before she marries Alan.
Episode 16: Arnold Schwarzenegger is the Detective that takes Walden & Alan’s report on Charlie wanting to kill them, Christian Slater is the guy they think is Charlie and he’s is cuffed to bench at the station, John Stamos plays himself and is having sex with Bridgette...
What’s the tea on Brad Paisley and his wife? I haven’t seen anything on here about it. And what’s up with his relationship with Carrie Underwood? Are they really that tight or is it fake?
Many years ago I saw Glen Campbell perform Galveston with an amazing video of Vietnam and Galveston beaches behind him, The song was one of top 5 in a CMT show on TV of the top 100 country songs ever. Hosted by Brad Paisley and his wife. I have googled and searched and YouTubed myself silly but I can’t find it! Any ideas?
What artists do you own the entire catalog of? (Every studio album and greatest hits if they featured new songs) This can be either physically in cassettes/CD’s/vinyl or as digital copies on a computer or device. I have the entire catalog of Alabama, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Eric Church, Josh Turner, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Big & Rich, Justin Moore, Brantley Gilbert, Zac Brown Band, Jon Pardi, Midland, & Luke Combs. For artists outside of country I have the entire catalogs for Styx, Dream Theater & Zach Williams. My wife has the entire catalog of Kenny Chesney.
“My sales are going down,”
“That’s to be expected.” My brother Lonnie didn’t tear his eyes from his newspaper as I expressed my worries to him. He pressed his coffee to his lips and flipped the page absently, barely any emotion in his voice. “You’re terrible at persuasion. You couldn’t sell table scraps to a dog.”
I rolled my neck uneasily and traced the rim of my cup. It was an early Sunday morning when I decided to meet up with my brother with the ulterior motive of begging for money. I went in knowing full well he would deny my request, no matter how casually I would be able to slip it into conversation. I was always perfectly transparent to him, while he was the opposite to me. Lonnie was the king of composure at every opportunity. When we were younger, an aluminum bat was inexplicably thrown into his leg at a high velocity from one of our cousins. His kneecap was shattered, but he said nothing. He looked down at his mangled leg, sighed, and limped into the house to tell our mother what had happened.
Lonnie finally lowered the newspaper and let his eyes flicker up to mine. “I’m not giving you money,” he expressed flatly. For a split second, I frowned, but then tried to force myself into a figure of nonchalance. Before I could object, he held up his hand, silencing me. “I know you were about to ask. You wouldn’t tell me about your poor work performance if you didn’t intend to segue into an appeal or guilt me into a donation.” He tapped on his temple and raised an eyebrow. “You’ve got to think, Nell. This is why you’re falling behind,”
I pouted and slumped down in my chair. At that moment, Lonnie’s wife Babs glided into the room, patent white pumps clicking across the linoleum. I could never fathom how she wore heels constantly. I only wear them for special occasions, and even then, I have to take them off about two hours into the event.
Babs had her hair down, reaching about her mid-back, the ends curled towards her shoulder blades. Her hair was always done in waves that always seemed reminiscent of 1940s starlets like Veronica Lake. That day, however, she had a bright red satin bow on the back of her head, which made her feel more Judy Garland-esque. How old money and polished she appeared felt sort of melancholy, like she was a doll for my brother. She felt infantile.
“Babs,” I said. She spun around, a bright smile already painted on her face. It was then that I remembered my distaste for Babs.
Her air about me always felt pitying. There was this superiority to her that, while never expressed directly, always hung around us like a dense fog. Whenever she talked to me about my life, there was an edge to her voice that expressed the sentiment of “Good for you.” It was terribly artificial and unnecessary, of course.
“What is it, honey?” she replied. I tried to hide my distaste for that word.
“You work on commission too, don’t you?” I asked. She nodded. “How do you do as well as you do? Like, what are some tricks you use?”
Babs put a well-manicured finger to her chin and thought. “I suppose I’m just naturally good at it,” she said. She and my brother laughed. I forced a hollow laugh out. Suddenly, Babs gasped and put a hand on Lonnie’s shoulder. “What about Dr. Strang?” My brother stared at her, and then recognition flickered across his eyes. A wide grin stretched across his face.
“Dr. Strang,” he said slowly. “Dr. Strang. That is an excellent
“Who’s Dr. Strang?” I asked. Lonnie turned to me and interlaced his fingers on the table.
“Dr. Strang is our doctor,” he said, leaning forward. “We’ve seen him for years, he’s a great man. Right now, he’s with this board that’s testing certain medications. There’s an anxiety medication that he’s been needing someone to test for quite some time. It pays incredibly well.”
“Why haven’t you tested it, then?”
“We don’t need the money,”
Lonnie wrote down an address on a napkin he wasn’t using. “He’d be over the moon to see you, I’m sure.” He slid the napkin across to me. I hesitated before picking it up.
“I’m not sure,” I said. “I mean, I know the money’s very good, but I’ve heard that these things can have horrible side effects.” I shrugged. “I mean, I value my life, you know?”
There was a momentary silence.
My brother blinked. “Why?” he asked.
The doctor’s office was the kind of pristine place with white leather couches and miniature fountains where freshwater was pumped to trickle over smooth, dark rocks. The secretary was seated behind a massive marble desk with an entirely reflective surface. She was as silent as a ghost as she sat at her computer, her hands barely making a sound on the keyboard while she listened to her earpiece. The fact that I was going to be paid to be here astounded me.
I was seated in what I like to call the Locust Position
. My back was hunched over in a near-perfect curve while the weight of my legs pressed onto the tips of my toes, letting my knees jut up parallel to my collarbone. My elbows rested on my knees as I stared into my hands. To top it all off, the garnish of any anxious stance, my knee was bouncing rapidly.
It wasn’t that I felt out of place in that waiting room, it was that I was
out of place in that waiting room. I didn’t think to get dressed up for a doctor’s office, so I arrived in my day off clothes. This outfit consisted of a concert t-shirt that was far too big for me, baggy sweatpants with too many holes to count at the end of the legs, and worn out tennis shoes that were being held together by duct tape and hope. The other women in the waiting room were sitting, legs crossed with perfect postures, dressed in pristine pantsuits and skirts. They were either glaring at me or doing everything they could to avoid looking at me.
I looked up to see a man standing in the doorway closest to me, holding a clipboard and scanning the room. He looked to be in his mid to late fifties, balding slightly and wearing cheaters. I brushed myself off and walked over to him.
“That’s me,” I said, reaching out to shake his hand. “You can call me Nell, though. No one’s called me Helen in years.” Quickly shoving the clipboard under his arm, he used both hands to grasp my one, smiling broadly.
“I’m very much looking forward to working with you, Nell,” he said. He let go of my hand and looked back down at his clipboard. Without looking back up, he pointed a finger behind him. “I’m at the office just behind us. We’ll have to run a few physical tests before we get down to brass tacks, but you’ll be just fine.” He slapped a hand on his clipboard and smiled at me before walking down the hall to his office. Before I could follow after, I felt a hand grasp at my arm.
I looked down to see the secretary, eyes still glued on her computer, holding onto my arm. She said to me “He’s very touchy.”
I pursed my lips and nodded. She released my arm and let me walk down to the office.
The “physical tests” Dr. Strang had mentioned were really just testing my blood pressure, hearing, and confirming that I was the weight my brother told him I was. Strangely enough, my brother was correct. After that was over and done with, he sat down in a chair across from me and grinned.
“Now, dear,” he started, reaching back for his clipboard. “Your brother told me that you’ve never done one of these precursory trials before. You’re aware of the risks, I’m sure?” I nodded. “Are you currently on any medication for your anxiety?”
“No,” I said. “I was on an anti-depressant for a while when I was a student, but I stopped after my graduation,” I paused. “I had to stop because of a dependency issue. I was approved to resume taking my medication ages ago, but I never got back to it,”
“Good,” Dr. Strang replied, marking something down on his clipboard. “That will make things much easier for us.” He put his hand on the side of my leg. I stiffened. “Believe me, I want this to be an easy process for you.”
I forced a smile and crossed my legs. He took his hand away. “What should the side effects be?” I asked, doing my best to push past what had happened. He shrugged and looked up at the ceiling.
“Hair growth, for one,” he said. “Your hair will be much thicker. Your posture might feel a tad worse. You may feel an elongation of the neck, but that’s purely an issue of perception. As in, your eyes may play tricks you,”
“I understand what perception issues are, yes,”
“Of course you do, sweetheart,” He squeezed my shoulder encouragingly. I wanted more than anything to kick his arm off me and walk out, but then I remembered my $300 a week over the course of a three month trial, so I stayed put and kept my mouth shut. I also realized that I would never hear the end of it from Lonnie if I quit now.
Strang rolled back in his chair and rooted through a drawer, resurfacing with a small, clear bottle with a pretty yellow label. “Geldex,” he said. “You’re the lucky first tester for its new iteration. Now.” Before he handed me the bottle, he pointed at me. “If you’re having any major concerns about side effects or health issues or anything of that nature, don’t
go to the ER. Come here first. I promise, I’ll be the best person to deal with it. All right?” I nodded. He handed me the bottle, along with a few documents I needed to sign.
After that was all taken care of, I stood up and shoved the bottle in my pocket. Strang stood up as well and held his arms out. “Bring it in, Nell,” he said. I shoved the alarm bells to the back of my head and hugged him, limply and quickly. Without another word, I rushed out of the office.
Once I was out, I leaned against the secretary’s desk and let out a breath I felt I was holding in the entire duration of my visit. The secretary turned around slowly and eyed me. I nodded in a way that said you warned me
. She nodded back and turned around.
“Nell, are you wearing insoles?”
I stopped typing and looked up. My coworker, Brad, was standing at an angle and staring at me. I frowned and looked down at my flats. They were the same– Frayed and too small for me. I looked back up at Brad.
“No, why?” I asked. He shook his head and straightened out.
“I dunno,” he said, bewildered. “I could have sworn you seemed taller,” I shook my head. Brad thought for a moment, then shrugged and walked back to his cubicle. I leaned forward and exhaled.
It had been almost a week since I started Geldex, and everything felt worse
. My bones ached constantly, I had so much hair that I wasn’t allowed to shave, and I was sweating an inordinate amount. Every time I sat down, I would lean back into something wet. I would touch the back of my neck and realize that it was slick to the touch.
I took three tissues from the corner of my desk and swept them across my jawline a few times. It didn’t help, of course. I took the tissues away only to discover that they were sopping, dripping onto my lap. I tossed them into my wastebasket. They hit the bottom of the basket with a wet thwap
I decided at that moment to take my fifth bathroom break of the day. My job had some very strict time theft rules, but at that point I was far past caring. The cool toned fluorescents bored into my eyes as I stepped into the room, making a beeline for the sink. I placed my hands on either side of the sink, closed my eyes, and exhaled. I wanted nothing more than cool darkness to flood my senses and let me feel submerged, entirely stationary with no interruptions.
I then opened my eyes to see a clammy, tired woman staring back at me.
The sweat that had culminated around my jawline was dripping down into my shirt. The only paper towels my work offered were those terrible brown ones that scratched your skin more than they absorbed any liquids, the ones that were more paper than towel. Nevertheless, I took a few off of the rack and dragged them down my neck. Not a second later, more sweat formed and fell off my skin like rain. I could feel more sweat trickle down my back, and as I brought my hand to the back of my neck, instead of skin I felt hair.
When Strang had mentioned more hair growth, I figured that hair would grow faster in the places that it had normally grown. What was normal to me was hair growing only from my scalp; the nape of the neck to the frontal hairline. I did not expect new growth spots, such as the back of my neck. The length came quite faster than I would have thought or preferred, already meeting almost half of the length of my regular hair. Even past that, the thickness was the same, if not thicker.
Unconsciously, I ran a hand through my hair. Something was off about my hands, though I couldn’t quite detect what. The length definitely hadn’t changed, but they seemed shorter, in a way. It was as though my fingers were closer together, and they met my knuckles much higher than I was used to. Strang had told me that I would suffer issues of perception, but that was only concerning my neck. So far, there had already been perception changes concerning my hands and legs.
Droplets of sweat fell onto my hands as I studied them. I could feel my skin prickle under my clothes. My breath came out in a huff while I reached for more paper towels, which proved ineffective.
Babs was already standing at the track when I arrived, dressed in immaculate white leggings with two blue racing stripes sweeping either leg, along with a matching white and blue sports bra. She had her hair back in a slick ponytail. I had tried to do the same, but I had trouble gathering the hair at the back of my neck.
It was an unreasonably hot day, one of those days where the air felt almost solid, one of those days where liquid would begin to coat your skin if you stood still for too long. Even past that, the sun was bright and piercing, almost dizzying. I couldn’t look at hardly anything without squinting.
Babs looked up from her phone, gave me a quick once over, and said simply “You’ve gained weight.”
She invited me out for an evening run just as I was about to settle into my couch after work. I told her that I couldn’t do it, as I wasn’t feeling my best and I had to do my first checkup with Dr. Strang in the morning. She said that no, I had to come, it would do me some good. Once I realized that she wouldn’t be taking ‘no’ for an answer, I threw on my tattered sweatpants and a dirty wife-beater that made me look like Nicolas Cage in Con-Air
and drove down to the track.
“How’s Geldex treating you, dear?” Babs asked, stretching down to press her fingertips to her toes. I cocked my head.
“How’d you know what medicine I was taking?” I asked.
“Lonnie told me,”
“How’d Lonnie know?”
“I’m sure Dr. Strang told him,”
“Isn’t that a confidentiality violation?”
Babs stood back up, smiled brightly, and shrugged. “Well, you don’t mind,” she said. She said ‘you’ as if she were talking about someone else in passing. She clasped her hands together and looked at the track. “You know, it’s a good thing you’ve gained weight. You’ve got all this extra mass on you that looks perfect for toning.” Arms akimbo, she eyed me for a moment in silence. I held her gaze. After an awkward duration of silence and stillness, she turned her head upwards and sniffed. “Run for me,”
It was a purely a command, there wasn’t any doubt as far as that was concerned. As expected, I hesitated, looking between her and the track.
“Wouldn’t you like to run as well?” I asked. She didn’t move.
“Run for me,” she repeated, more ice ebbing into her tone. “It’s the only way you can tone that unsightly mass. We don’t want to get rid of it, we want to chisel it. Go.” I didn’t move. Her mouth stretched into a thin line and she started walking towards me, arms held firmly at her sides. “Did I stutter? Run.” She slapped the space between my shoulder blades and I took off.
The track was warm underneath my feet. That wasn’t a new sensation– the soles of my shoes have the structural integrity of tissue paper. But there was a new type of warmth as well, something akin to a burning sensation unfurling from the bottoms of my feet every time I hit the ground. I imagined that the track behind me was seared with my footsteps, blackened with smoke curling up around the edges and dissipating into the air. It hurt unbelievably, like I was throwing my feet into hot coals. I tried to widen my strides and run faster, which seemed to help slightly. There was this unfamiliar roughness to my feet, like the entire surface of my foot was a thick callous. Even past that, there was this odd separation with that calloused surface, like my real
feet were inside of it, and I was running on these platforms that I would never be able to remove.
I was exquisitely drenched by the time I made one full lap. I stopped in front of Babs, breathing heavily, leaning over with my palms on my knees. I swept my hand under my jaw to clean some of the sweat and heard this particular popping
sound, not unlike what you would hear swiping your hand through soap that had bubbled up in water. I took my hand away and saw that the sweat was foamy, white and dripping off of my hand, falling to the ground and hissing at the heat, becoming the victim of near immediate evaporation. I reached my hand to the back of my neck to feel the exact same thing. Straightening out, I held both of my palms up and looked at Babs. I tried to voice my surprise and horror, but my words were suspended in the thickness of my throat. The only noise that came out was a slow, tired huff
Babs stared at me with dead, steely eyes. “Did I tell you to stop?” she said, frost seeping through her words. I nodded and began to take off, but she grabbed my shoulder and stopped me. I looked at her. Yet again, I couldn’t articulate my thoughts. She gestured to my feet with her chin. “No shoes this time,” she commanded. My shoulders slumped in disappointment. I’m sure that the agony was written across my face, but I could also tell that she couldn’t care less. So, without another word, I kicked off my shoes and bolted.
A sharp noise expelled from my throat every time my feet hit the ground. The pain was so much worse without my shoes. I could feel every bump and disturbance from the pavement, like the bottoms of my feet were peeled patches of skin with every nerve fully exposed. The pain rocketed up my legs every time my feet began to brush the ground, and when I shoved my feet into the ground to propel myself that pain became large and tangible, rising past my legs into my throat where it would pierce through the barrier of spit and blood in my mouth and evacuate my person as a scream. It sounded so prolonged and detached from me. Each time I heard myself it felt like I was hearing the voice of some wounded animal behind me. I wanted nothing more than to shoot that wounded animal in the leg.
I was able to come to a steady speed after the first few laps. When I reached Babs at the top of my fourth lap, she wordlessly hit my back, instantly knocking me onto my hands.
I did not stop running.
For whatever reason, it felt more natural to run on all fours. It made me realize that running on two legs felt like I was balancing something too tall, something that was bound to knock over at any moment. There was now an innate urge to continue running like this, as though I had never not
run like this.
It hurt my hands even more than my feet. My hands were nowhere near as tough as my feet. Every now and then, a pebble would lodge itself into the fleshy part of my palm, and the force of hitting the ground again would lodge it even further. I could feel the skin splitting on occasion, but I ignored it. I ignored the biting heat. I ignored the frothing sweat and the frothing spittle and the growing dry tightness in my chest, a dryness that forced itself into my mouth and made the thick saliva feel foreign when coming into contact with the rest of my mouth. My breathing came out through the shuddering of my shoulders as I forced myself to run faster. All the while that cloying dryness forced me to taste my own spit, which tasted like copper and bile the consistency of honey, then the consistency of tar, then the consistency of something so unfamiliar and scary that I had to stop so abruptly to let all of my own disgust launch itself out of my throat.
Black and white spots ebbed into my peripherals. My eyes were flung open as I leaned over and let my sputum crawl out of my throat and plop onto the hot track. I don’t know how long it took. All I knew was that I didn’t feel any relief. My chest was cavernous, like my sternum reached far up enough to touch my spine. I curled my fingers into the track. I wanted to pull the rock upwards and grasp as tightly as I could, force my hands into the cool earth, feel anything other than the unbearable heat exuding from my chest.
Instead, I was hunched over a puddle of my own saliva, which was bright red and opaque. My sweat dripped onto it and slid off, as if the surface of my spit was purely lipid. I could hear my breath escaping through my lips, like dry wind coming through shutters that were one disturbance from collapsing completely. I could feel my heart rattling in my chest, like some shriveled mass that was suspended in dust. I let my tense frame collapse sideways, my head next to my spittle.
Eventually I noticed that Babs was standing over me. I could only see her silhouette, as the sunlight around her easily obscured all of her features. I don’t know how long she stood over me. Her figure didn’t shift, but I heard her sigh.
“I’m disappointed,” she said. “You should have made it longer.”
“I just about threw up blood the other day,” I said.
“The progress you’ve made is astounding,” Dr. Strang said. I could tell he was ignoring me. Currently, he was examining my scalp, marking down my hair growth on his clipboard. “I thought that effects like these would take a month to show, but you’re making progress within the first week! It’s incredible.” He let go of my head and sat down in a chair across from me. He was grinning broadly, hands steepled at waist level. “Anything notable about your arms or legs?”
I sighed. Going into our weekly meeting, I figured that I would be met with concern after telling Dr. Strang the frightening things that had been going on. If anything, Strang seemed to be happy with the havoc that Geldex was wreaking on my body. Or, the havoc that Geldex seemed
to be wreaking on my body. He still insisted that it was all a matter of perception.
“The hair growth has been more prominent on my left arm,” I said. “It’s odd, but there’s hair on the backs of my hands, along with my palms. Usually, it just stops at the wrist. Is that normal?”
“It’s incredible,” Strang answered. He laughed and leaned back in his chair. I frowned.
“I’ve also noticed webbing between my fingers,” I said. “Even on my palms, in the space between my thumb and pinky finger. It’s limiting my mobility. My nails are a lot stronger, too.”
Strang covered his mouth and looked at me with amazement. He shook his head. “Unbelievable,” he said. A little laugh escaped him. “I would have never
, in my thirty years of experience, expected something like this.” He stood up and placed his hands on my shoulders. “You, Nell Dole, are the perfect
My eyes narrowed. “Thanks,” I responded. He smiled and clasped his hands. Turning around, he reached into a cabinet above his desk and removed an envelope.
“I imagine your brother told you about the party tonight?” he said.
“I imagine you don’t know that my brother and I rarely talk?” I replied. He chuckled and handed me the envelope. I opened it an counted fifteen twenty dollar bills. It was then that I realized the oddity of this. “Wait, cash? I thought this would be a check.” Dr. Strang smiled and shrugged. He did not explain. I decided to just take the money anyway.
“I think your brother would love to have you,” he said. I wanted to scoff but I decided to hold back. Strang flashed a smile. “If it’s worth anything, I’ll be there as well,” He then winked.
At that moment I wanted to do exactly what I had done the night prior at the track, but once again, I held back.
Standing up, I said “I suppose I’ll think about it,” Before leaving the office, I stopped and turned around. “I forgot to say, my anxiety hasn’t gotten any better,”
For a moment, he looked confused. Then realization registered on his face. “Oh, yes, the anxiety,” he said. He stood in thought for a few seconds, then smiled. “You know what? With how well everything’s been going, why don’t you start taking two a night. That should ease your anxiety even more than it has been thus far.” He pat my shoulder. With that, I left.
Lonnie’s living room was crowded with socialites, all standing around with glasses of champagne. The women were all wearing cocktail dresses, many of them with furs draped about their shoulders. I hadn’t gotten the memo, so I arrived in these disgusting paisley pants and a shirt that read “WHO FARTED” in large, red text. I always wore it for ironic reasons, but I don’t think that read with the current company.
I had not planned on coming to the party, but Lonnie called me and told me that I was coming. It was not a request. So, I changed out of my comfy clothes into my less-comfy-but-still-comfy clothes and drove down.
I decided to take a seat on their black velvet couch and not get up unless it was requested of me. Lonnie knew I had been sober for about a year, so he gave me a grape soda as soon as I walked through the door. I knew that Lonnie made a point of giving me something so brightly colored and infantile to humiliate me. It was as if to make a show to everyone else that I was the only adult who couldn’t handle their liquor, so I might as well be a child. He was of a firm conviction that addiction was just a show of a weak character, and I should have just been able to get over it and drink responsibly like everyone else.
I was sipping gingerly on the sickly sweet soda when a man and his wife came up to me, smiling much too broadly to be considered anything less than pitying. The man leaned over me. “How do you know Leonard and Barbara?” he asked. I stood up.
“I’m Lon– I’m Leonard’s sister,” I said. The man gasped. He nudged his wife.
“Eleanor, this is Helen,” he said. “She’s the one that Leonard told us is on Geldex.” The woman– Eleanor, apparently– smiled at me.
“Oh, goodness!” she said. She laughed incredulously, then studied me. “Dr. Strang told us that you’re doing incredibly, especially with the hair growth aspect.” I opened my mouth and looked between them in silence.
“Isn’t there supposed to be a doctor-patient confidentiality agreement?” I asked. It was a rhetorical question, I knew that there was. “Shouldn’t he be keeping this between us?” The man shrugged and smiled.
“Well, you don’t mind,” he said. I was about to say something when I felt a hand slink around my shoulder.
“Now, now, are you two hassling my patient?” I heard a voice above me say. I looked up and saw that Dr. Strang had his arm around me. I did my best to shrug him off subtly, but he stayed put.
“Hello, Dr. Strang,” I said. He laughed and shook his head.
“You can call me Douglas, dear,” he said. “We’re not in my office anymore.” He squeezed my shoulder. A wave of heat sank briskly to the pit of my stomach, leaving my shoulders tense and cold. “Oh, I wanted to tell you,” he said. “Your brother said that Edith wants you to say goodnight.”
Edith was Lonnie and Babs’ daughter. She was sweet enough, considering her parents. The worst thing about her was that she was a bit of a braggart, but you could expect that from any child.
“I’ll go do that now,” I said. “Thank you, Dr. Strang.” I started to move away, but he clutched at my arm, forcing me to stay where I was. I looked up at him. He had his eyes locked on mine.
“What did I say?” he said. His tone was cheerful, but his eyes weren’t. I paused, unable to find my words.
“Thank you, Douglas,” I forced out. He didn’t let go.
“There you go,” he said. Then he released his grip, and I made my way through the crowd and into Edith’s room.
She was already in bed, but she was leaning forward, eager to see me. I walked over and gave her a quick hug.
“Hi, Auntie Nell!” she said.
“Hey, Edith,” I replied. I let go and kneeled so that I was at her level. “How are you doing, honey?”
“Real good,” she said. “I saw a rat in the bathroom at school, and then I told Miss Wells, and we– it– Joey put the rat in there to scare all the girls.” She laughed. I laughed along with her. I had no idea what the hell she was talking about, but it made her happy. She grabbed at my arm and smiled. “Oh, um, I’m doing riding now! I get to ride horses after school!” I feigned surprise. Of course Lonnie would have his daughter ride horses.
“That’s great, Edith! I said. She nodded.
“My daddy said I’m gonna get my own horse soon!” she said. “Today he said to mommy, he said that, he said I’ll– He said we’ll have it sooner.” She nodded, as if she were confirming it with herself. “Yeah. He said it’ll be sooner than we thought.” I grinned and pat her on the back.
“That’s huge,” I said. “A horse is a big responsibility. You can handle it, though.” She laughed. We talked for a little bit longer, then I pretended that I had gotten a text from Lonnie saying that she had to go to bed. She pouted for a second, but I told her that she had to be good, or else she would have to tuck herself in. That quieted her down. I tucked her in, gave her a kiss on the head, and said goodnight.
The atmosphere seemed much quieter as I left her room. There was still talking, but I could tell it was only coming from one person. As I went farther down the hall, I recognized the voice as my brother’s. At the end of the hall, I could see into the living room slightly. I tried to stay inconspicuous with my back to the wall.
“Tremendous progress on the first week alone,” Lonnie was saying. Everyone at the party was gathered around him. He was standing at the back of the living room with Dr. Strang and Babs, in front of the fireplace. “It may not have to take the full three months. She’ll get all of the payment, of course, but I don’t think she’ll feel the need to ask questions.”
“I don’t think she has the ability,” Strang added. Laughter rang out around the room. Lonnie smiled at Babs.
“Tell them about the run, dear,” he said. Babs gasped and put a hand on his chest.
“The run was terrific
,” she said. She rolled her eyes. “Well, we all can tell that she’s as big as a house, yes?” The room laughed. She grinned and waved them off. “I said that we could tone it, you know, but I also wanted to see how fast she could go.” She raised her hand and scoffed. “She went like a dream
until she had to collapse. Much too soon, in my mind, but you know.” She shrugged. “Once she stops being dramatic, and once her cannons come in, we ought to be fine. Even past that–”
She was interrupted with a ringing noise. The whole room went silent as soon as it started. It sounded much too close to me, so I turned around briskly. It was then that I realized that it was coming from me. It was the alarm on my phone.
Lonnie noticed as well. He stared at me with cold eyes. He nodded at me. “What’s that, Nell?” he asked slowly. I stood still. My hand shook as I took my phone from my pocket. I licked my lips and held it up.
“It’s the alarm,” I choked out. “For my pill,”
Nobody spoke. My phone continued to chirp. I fumbled my thumb over the stop
button. All eyes were on me. Lonnie raised an eyebrow.
“Are you going to take it?” he asked. I swallowed.
“I have to take two now,” I replied. His jaw set. Taking a deep breath, he reached forward and picked up the soda I had abandoned on the coffee table. The crowd parted, allowing him to walk over to me and hand me the drink. I took it. He stared at me. I took out the pill bottle and did my best to unscrew the cap with one hand. I couldn’t do it, so I put the soda can in the crook of my elbow and tried again. The webbing of my fingers made it incredibly difficult, but after about a minute of trying, I was able to open it and take out two pills. I set them on my tongue and screwed the cap back on. The chalky taste bled into my throat and I gagged slightly. The crowd still had their eyes on me.
I placed the bottle back in my pocket, took a drink from the can, and swallowed.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Everyone before me broke out into broad smiles and began clapping. I could feel the same frothy sweat culminating under my jaw. It must have been visible because the crowd clapped even louder. I felt a dizzying sensation and leaned into the wall next to me. Lonnie shook his head and grabbed my shoulders, standing me up straight. Some members of the crowd cheered, but I couldn’t see them. All I could focus on was the sensation of my fingers coming closer and closer together.