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A little fun with Tommy for you…….
Interviewer: “Thanks again for talking to us. I know we’ve done a few of these, but this interview is going to be a little different. Did they tell you why we were here?”
Tommy: “I thought it had to do with my job. Is this about something else?”
Interviewer: “Yes. It’s for your daughter.”
Tommy: “I don’t understand. Is something wrong with Naomi? Is she here?”
Interviewer: “No, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. We are talking to a few of the doctors here for career week. We are compiling information from fun questions and then we are going to have the kids match up the answers they think are from their parent. It’s for the final day of career week. They won’t know any of the questions ahead of time. It is a ‘how well do you know your mom or dad’ kind of game.
Tommy: “Oh, okay.”
Interviewer: “I’ll ask a bunch of ‘this or that’ kind of question for you to answer, okay? Just one word.”
Interviewer: Dog or Cat?
Interviewer: Netflix or YouTube?
Interviewer: Phone Call or Text?
Tommy: Text unless it’s my wife.
Interviewer: Toast or Eggs?
Interviewer: Cardio or Weights?
Interviewer: Facebook or Twitter?
Tommy: Facebook I guess, but I don’t really use either.
Interviewer: Ice Cream Cone or Snow Cone?
Tommy: Ice cream
Interviewer: Form or Function?
Interviewer: Cake or Pie?
Interviewer: Big Party or Small Gathering?
Tommy: Small Gathering
Interviewer: Hamburger or Taco?
Interviewer: Blue or Red?
Tommy: Red, of course.
Interviewer: Honesty or Other’s Feelings?
Tommy: Honesty. Always.
Interviewer: TV or Book?
Interviewer: Movie at Home or Movie at the Theater?
Interviewer: Okay, now we have some questions we want you to answer that we will be presenting to your daughter.
Tommy was hoping this was over soon.
Interviewer: What job would you be terrible at?”
Interviewer: What skill would you like to master?
Tommy: Cooking. It’s so important to my daughter and she is so good, I would like to share in that with her.
Interviewer: What do you wish you knew more about?
Tommy: That’s a hard one. Life? How to be a good parent? How to relax? How to make sure my child is safe?
Interviewer: What’s something you like to do the old fashioned way?
Tommy: Write letters. I have letters from my parents and it’s something I treasure. I can look at their writing style and picture them sitting down to craft each one. I write to my daughter so she will always know my time was spent thinking of her.
Interviewer: What are you most looking forward to in the next 10 years?
Tommy: Watching all of the kids graduate and move on in their lives. I want to see them happy and then spend time with my wife doing nothing but being happy.
Interviewer: What’s the dumbest thing you’ve done that actually turned out pretty well?
Tommy: Took responsibility for my 12 year old sister when I was 18. I think that was definitely a win.
Interviewer: Have you ever saved someone’s life?
Interviewer: What are the top three things you want to accomplish before you die? How close are you to accomplishing them?
Tommy: I don’t know. I guess I want to create a legacy for my daughter. I want to help establish better treatment for pediatric cancer patients. I want to be happy. I don’t know how close I am to those, but I think I have time. I’m a work in progress.
He smiled at that.
Interviewer: Thank you so much.
Tommy has always been my hero. I adore him and this next book will show why. I will be posting another preview tonight along witht he preorder links.
Thank you for reading!
I’m getting ready to reveal the cover and title for book 23. I know a lot of people have concerns about where this book will take the characters, but I hope you will go along with me for the ride!
Any specific questions I can answer? I will be posting another preview as well 🙂
Just like people, when characters are quiet for too long, I worry.
After writing this series for so long, the characters have a way of making their voices heard when I am simply living my life. Sometimes they start talking while I’m teaching a lesson and I make a mental note to write down what I’m hearing. Sometimes they yell when I’m trying to sleep. Mostly, they come to life when I’m driving.
Don’t worry, not literally. I’m always a safe driver. 🙂
There are times where one character is particularly loud, and I know they need me to focus on something.
Other times, a character stops talking to me.
That’s kind of what happened in book 22.
The focus of the story went from Desi and David to Evan and Elizabeth.
Then to Jimmy.
And finally, to Tommy and Naomi.
What happened to the happy young man who we all adored?
Having Jimmy turn into such a jerk was a calculated risk. I have always had a soft spot for Jimmy. I saw him and Naomi together from long before I actually had them go out. I knew that if I had him hurt her, in any way, I would be risking his place in the series.
But he had been quiet, and when I listened to him, I heard his anger and his frustration.
Now, I had to figure out what Jimmy had been doing with this anger for so many months. He put on a good front for his family and Mike and I know he figured Naomi would stand by him.
But when he began to spend time with Rebecca, he was taken in with her lies.
He just needed a reason why his life was so out of control. He needed to understand things. He took what she said as truth because it was different and it gave him an outlook that wasn’t so dreary.
He didn’t realize it was all lies.
An innocent boy looking for a way out of his anger caused irreparable damage to so many people.
I’m not really sure that he will be able to come back from that.
Rebecca had power because she had knowledge. By telling Jimmy about Megan, she gave him leverage he didn’t know he had and what it did to Tommy was break open a wound that never healed.
He hurt Naomi in ways she never saw coming.
He hurt Mike and Jade by bringing up the worst time in their lives and by sending the twins the rice, he destroyed any confidence they had in him.
But what couldn’t be taken back was what happened to Rachel and Brian.
Jimmy’s life is forever changed.
I hear him now, but his words are full of confusion and sadness and remorse.
I’m not sure where he goes from here.
The damage this did to Tommy is something I don’t think I even saw coming.
Megan has always been the one thing he hasn’t been able to reconcile. I’m not sure why.
Maybe it’s because she was a woman.
Maybe it was because she hurt Brittany so deeply.
Maybe it was because she was able to get to him.
Tommy has been nothing if not protective of his family. I think a lot of it comes from his parents being taken from him at such a young age. He likes to have control over things.
Most of us do.
But Megan hit at a part of Tommy he didn’t know how to protect.
And it left him incredibly vulnerable.
I wanted Naomi to learn about what happened, but I wasn’t sure how.
One of my favorite scenes from “Defining Moments’ is after Jimmy confronts Tommy. Naomi sees just how broken her father is and she does what she can to help him.
“We are in a conference room by Jimmy’s parents. Um, room 4352e. He said he needed a minute, but I think he needs you.”
“I’m on my way,” she said. “Don’t move.”
“Okay,” she said and hung up. She went to the water fountain and got him some water. She went back to him and put the water next to him before she sat down and wrapped her arms around his upper arm, leaning her cheek against his shoulder.
“I’m here daddy,” she said. “It’s going to be okay.”
I couldn’t leave it there. I knew the Megan story needed to be resolved, but I wasn’t sure where it would go.
Tommy was still quiet. I was trying to hear him, but it was hard.
Of all the characters, I have always been closest to Tommy.
I hope that doesn’t sound weird. 🙂
I heard Naomi and I heard Mike and I listened to the silence and it finally came to me.
We both needed to figure out how this story ends.
Tommy needed my help on this one and I guess I needed his, too.
So I began to write. I had to find a way to make him fight, in the midst of the worst moments possible.
He tends to shut down when talk of Megan comes up. His legs hurt. He has flashbacks.
He just stops dealing.
I was afraid he would give up. I was afraid he would just say that it was too much.
I mean, really, just how much can a person endure?
I needed him to fight.
So I gave him a reason.
Having Naomi brought into the torture gave me a whole new way to look at both characters.
Tommy would never give in if his daughter was in danger.
Naomi could also show how she has grown and her strength was just itching to come out.
But this fight wasn’t going to be fair and the two of them were no match for a crazed individual with nothing to lose.
He wanted nothing but to have Tommy suffer.
That’s a dangerous scenario.
Book 23 will go places I have never taken this series and that says something.
Here is a sneak preview of chapter 1:
“Let her go,” he said. “I’ll do whatever you want.”
The man laughed at him.
“I told you what I wanted. You need to die. But first, you can suffer a little,” he grinned and pushed the stun gun into Naomi’s side.
“Stop it you sick son of a bitch!” Tommy yelled. “I’ll give you whatever you want. Please!”
The man looked at Naomi and smiled.
“Your daddy loves you, doesn’t he? He knows if I do this, with all of your problems, your body won’t be able to handle it. Do you know what will happen? Your body will melt from the inside. It will hurt like the worst pain you’ve ever felt.”
Naomi stood there, crying.
“Naomi? Listen to me,” Tommy said. “Just breathe and listen to my voice. You’re going to be fine, okay? I love you and you’re going to be fine.”
The man let her go and walked over to punch Tommy in the face.
“No!” Naomi cried and ran to him when the man grabbed her arm again.
“Oh, how rude of me. Let me introduce myself. My name is Paul James, or P.J. I used to have a sister, but your dad destroyed her. Now I need to destroy him, so the best way I can do that is to mess with his mind. I am not going to hurt you any more than I have to.”
“If there is any decency in you, please let her go,” Tommy said as he felt the blood fall down his face. “Your issues are with me, not her. Do what you need to do to me, but leave her alone.”
The man looked at Naomi.
“Your daddy wants to be brave, doesn’t he? He knows what this would do to you if I used it. He knows I’m right because he’s a doctor and he saves children, right?”
Naomi tried to move and he held her arm
“Ow, stop,” she cried.
Tommy tried to get up, but he couldn’t move from the ties around his legs.
“Get your hands off her,” he said.
Paul ignored him.
“You see, that’s why my sister fell for him. She always loved helping kids, too, and she was the best. She had everything going for her, until your mom ruined everything.” Paul laughed and looked at them.
“She must be going crazy right about now. Both of you missing and no sign of what happened. That’s what goes on when there is good planning involved. You can do things for days before anyone can find you.”
Tommy pulled on the ties and one of them loosened. Paul turned around and smiled at him.
“Hey Naomi, how long ago was it that your dad almost died? When his heart exploded?”
She didn’t say anything and he turned to her, grabbing her face in his hand.
“I asked you a fucking question.”
“Get your hands off of her! I am going to rip you to pieces!” Tommy screamed.
“Si, six months,” she said through her tears.
“Right, so I bet a huge zap of electricity will probably do a lot of damage, huh?”
Paul moved away from her and faced Tommy.
“What do you think that will do to her? To watch you fry from the inside out? Do you think she’ll ever get over that?”
He walked closer to Tommy and tightened the ropes before he looked at the stun gun.
“Try not to wet yourself,” he said. Tommy saw Naomi looking at him.
“Mini Red? I need for you to listen to me for a minute, okay? I need for you to close your eyes. Please. Close your eyes.”
She shook her head and he saw the stun gun as the man put it against his side.
“I love you, baby. Close your eyes, okay? Do that for me, please.”
She cried as Paul shot the voltage into Tommy and his body went into shock.
“I’ll be back,” he said as he turned to her. “Better say your goodbyes, although I doubt he can hear you.”
He left and Naomi ran to her father.
“Daddy? Daddy can you look at me? Oh please, daddy look at me!” she cried and held his face as his eyes were open, but he saw nothing.
I have some interesting insight into book 23 if you are ready…
It’s a book unlike any other in the series.
Are you ready?
Someone recently asked me about my choices for couples when making the series. I have answered that question a few times, and I think I’ve tried to explain my reasoning for why I paired certain couples together.
One thing that I don’t think I really ever discussed was the influence certain things have had on the development of the series.
I know I’ve talked about certain characters and how they came to be, but the series itself has roots in many parts of my life.
When I was in college, I met a professor who ended up having a profound effect on me. He was my musical theatre performance teacher and what the class consisted of was a pianist on stage, and each member of the class would receive a song of the professor’s choosing and we would have to sing it in front of everyone and be subjected to intense critique from the Prof. I kind of think of it now like our own tiny little version of American Idol.
Thankfully, none of us were voted off.
To say I was intimidated by this concept would be an understatement. I think I’ve mentioned my singing before, and how I have been in community theatre and have auditioned for and been accepted to theatre schools.
However, this was before that and to be honest, looking back, this class gave me the confidence to pursue those auditions.
But back to the class.
It was 1992 or 1993 when I first met Pirooz, the Professor. I remember sitting in the auditorium, where the class was held, and hearing him tell us what would be expected of us. I wondered if I could drop the class and still get my money back. I wondered if he would ask me why I would attempt to be in a musical theatre performance class when I had no talent.
I mean, I never sang in front of people I knew. I was in choir in high school and I was in musicals, but if my parents asked me to sing in front of them, it would have never happened.
For my 21st birthday, my parents bought me a karaoke machine where I could sing and record myself on a cassette tape so I could hear myself better and work on my tone.
I only used it when home alone.
So sitting in this intimate setting, with 15 other students who all seemed to be ready for Broadway, was a tad unnerving.
He also made us all dance as a group on stage at the beginning of each class.
He would pick one student to lead the dance and he would play a random song and the class would have to follow the moves of the leader.
If there was anything that terrified me more than singing, it was dancing.
This was NOT for me.
But it was too late to change, so I stayed. Sometimes I would come late, just to miss the dance, but Pirooz caught on to that. I just sort of stayed in the back and kind of swayed a little to whatever movement was going on.
I think he took pity on me and never asked me to lead the dance.
At least not the first quarter, but that’s a story for another day.
The flashback of how Julie met Bill came from this experience. Her terror was my terror. I guess I hoped my “Bill” would save me, too.
There is a reason I’m sharing this, I promise, but I need to set up the scene a little more. 🙂
Now coming into this class, I thought I had a pretty diverse amount of theatre knowledge. What I soon discovered was that I knew pretty much nothing about the vast diversity out there.
That class exposed me to songs and composers which changed my perspective on life and watching the way my Professor worked with each student, no matter their level, to bring out the heart and soul of the song transformed my outlook on life.
One such musical was called Falsettos. It is currently having a revival on Broadway, which I would love to see.
However, I was given a song called “Holding to the Ground” and the first couple lines were as follows.
“I was sure growing up I would live the life my mother assumed I’d live; very Jewish, very middle class and very straight. Where healthy men stayed healthy men and marriages were long and great.”
I knew nothing about this show and one of our first jobs was to always research the character and find the motivation behind the words.
When I researched the show, it was fairly new, having gone through a rewrite from 1981 and was now a full length show. The character I was singing was named Trina and her husband had left her because he was gay and was going to finally be true to who he had always been. They had a young son who was preparing for his Bar Mitzvah and the husband fell in love with a wonderful, funny and handsome man who Trina found very hard to dislike.
There is a lot more to the story, but the crux of the second act is that the boyfriend develops and ultimately dies from AIDS.
This was at the height of the AIDS crisis when so much was unknown and more was feared. I remember falling in love with the characters and the humor and the gut-wrenching powerless feeling of the characters when dealing with something so unpredictable and so misunderstood.
I think, subconsciously, I always knew I wanted to write a character living with HIV.
I think a lot about that class when I think back to the development of the series. It’s hard to trace some ideas back 20 years, but if I truly look at the characteristics of my characters, I can see the influence.
I took that class three different times over the course of three years and I can never express how valuable it was for me as a performer and an eventual teacher.
And I guess also, as a writer.
It also shaped my love for groundbreaking theatre and it introduced me to Ragtime, another musical I adore. I was able to codirect Ragtime at the high school my first year teaching and it was one of my proudest moments.
When I tell people about that story, about Falsettos, I’m asked about why I didn’t make Tommy and Jack lovers. Why it wasn’t a love story about them.
I remind them that I wrote Brittany before I wrote anyone else, and Jack and Stephanie fit so well together, I couldn’t see them with anyone else.
Tommy was made for Brittany and they are my favorite love story.
I did toy once with having Brittany and Evan have an affair, but it just wasn’t me. Well, it wasn’t them, either. 🙂
I’ve been thinking a lot about that time in my life and the courage and strength that class gave me. I think there are elements of that class in how I write each character.
This series is a lot like a prime time soap opera. The stories and issues are ongoing, but each book or episode focuses on one specific highlighted story.
I like to look at it that way. Sometimes we live our lives and time passes without much standing out. Sometimes I feel that way with a character and I have to go back and ask them what I’ve been missing
When a character is quiet for too long, I worry about them.
What have they been going through that I haven’t been paying attention to? What’s on their mind?
Then I decide if it’s something I can weave into the fabric of the story.
Anyway, it’s New Year’s Eve, and I’m reflecting. I guess I wanted to share.
I hope you all have an amazing 2017.
Thank you for sticking with me.
Merry Christmas! Here is a little flashback to the first Christmas after Tommy and Julie lost their parents. I wrote it for today, and I hope you enjoy it!
Julie woke up and stared at the ceiling.
She hated this day.
It was Christmas and she hated every part of it.
Her parents died eight moths ago and it hadn’t gotten any easier. They had settled into a routine, but this was different.
This was Christmas.
Jack and Tommy were spending a ton of time at the library, studying, and she was home each day doing nothing. It was break from school and she just sat home and spent more time packing up her parent’s things.
They didn’t even have a tree.
Tommy tried to get her to go on a trip with friends, but she refused.
She just didn’t want to be with anyone’s family.
“Julie? Aren’t you going to come downstairs?” Jack asked from outside her door.
“But it’s Christmas.”
“But you have to. We don’t know how to put the ornaments on the tree.”
“We don’t even have a tree.”
“Can you please come downstairs? If you don’t, I’ll have to keep yelling through the door and that’s silly.”
“Ugh!” she yelled. “Fine. I’ll be there in a minute.”
She got up and pulled her clothes on before she walked out into the hallway.
There was music playing and something smelled, well, good.
She jumped down the stairs and saw her brother standing there with a mess of ornaments all around.
“What are you doing?” Julie asked.
“Oh, hey, I’m trying to figure out how the lights go on. I keep trying, but they won’t light up.”
“When did you get a tree?”
Tommy wiped the sweat off his brow.
“Last night. You were all moody and went to bed, so we figured you didn’t want to help us.”
“Ho Ho Ho!” Jack came in wearing a Santa suit. “Hello little girl. Are you ready for your presents?”
Julie raised her eyebrows.
“Jack? What are you doing?”
“Who is this Jack you speak of? I am Santa Claus.”
“I thought you were going to come last night. Did something happen?”
“Well young man, sometimes the North Pole gets backed up.”
“You both realize I’m 13. I don’t believe in Santa anymore,” Julie said.
“But I’m right here,” Jack said. “Do you not see me?”
“I know what you’re both trying to do, but it’s pointless. Christmas sucks now,” she said as she walked to the couch and sat down.
Tommy put the lights down and sighed.
“Of course it does with that attitude.”
“What attitude do you want me to have? I can’t pretend everything is okay because it isn’t.”
Jack pulled off the wig and sat down.
“Nobody is saying it’s okay, Jules. But you can’t live in sadness.”
“Why not? Why can’t I just be miserable? Who cares?” she cried.
“I do,” Tommy said. “And so would mom and dad. We owe them better than this.”
“I know it’s not the Christmas you want, but we’re together and family is most important. Besides, you have presents to open,” Jack said. “And Santa went all over the damn town to find them.”
Julie wiped her eyes.
“How can we be happy and celebrate anything? How is that okay?”
“Jules, do you think it’s better if we all just sit around and cry every day? IS that what mom and dad would want? You’ve got your whole life ahead of you and you shouldn’t spend it sad and lonely. It’s okay to smile. It’s okay to be happy,” Tommy said.
“I just feel guilty. I just miss them.”
Jack sat next to her and smiled.
“My mom used to make these amazing cookies for Santa. We would leave them out and my dad would always steal them. Mom made an extra batch because I was always afraid Santa wouldn’t come if we didn’t have the right cookies.”
Julie wiped her eyes and smiled.
“Last year, your mom made the recipe for me because I was depressed. She left them in a bag for me to enjoy.”
Tommy looked at him.
“She did? You didn’t tell me that.”
“She didn’t make them for you. Besides, I didn’t want to share.”
They all laughed and Jack looked at his hands.
“I know it sucks and I know you miss them, but life has to move forward, Jules. If we don’t go through the motions, then things will never start to feel normal. You can’t let yourself get lost in the sadness. I miss my mom with everything in me and I hate that she’s gone, but I also know how incredibly blessed I am to be adopted into this little family. I will never take the gift you’ve both given me for granted.”
Julie hugged him and Tommy sniffed.
“Well damn,” he said. “That was really nice.”
“You’re both right. I’m sorry,” Julie said.
“Well, I think we just need to make some new traditions. We can decorate the tree on Christmas and order pizza for dinner,” Tommy said.
“And open presents,” Julie said.
Jack put his wig and beard back on.
“Ho ho ho,” he said and put the gifts out.
Julie laughed and realized just how much her parents had left for her.
She was incredibly lucky.
Merry Christmas from Tommy and Brittany Williams and Naomi; Jack and Stephanie Stephens, Sabrina and Tess; Bill and Julie Kastan, David and Josie; Evan and Liz Thrushcross and Kevin; Ian and Cassie Yearling and Desi.
Happy Hanukkah from Mike and Jade Stein, Eden and Sara.
November and December are hard. I remember growing up and loving this time of year. Thanksgiving was the best holiday because it was all about family and celebrating the love and happiness all around us. My dad adored Thanksgiving and he always made sure we were together and had the best dinner.
When I was 36 he died on Thanksgiving.
I grew up with my grandma living with us for my middle school and early high school years. It was awesome to have her there and I remember coming home from school and watching Another World with her. She was someone who taught me about family and humor and strength. She was like another mother to me, and I adored spending time with her. Her birthday was the day before mine and we always celebrated together. We used to go to Bill Knapps and get our birthday percentage off the bill. It was a yearly memory I still carry with me.
December 13, she died.
Mooch was another integral part of my life. He was a major part of the next phase of my life. He was there through my MS diagnosis and subsequent depression. He sat by my side while I navigated this new normal and he never wavered in his happiness and enthusiasm for life. He was there when we lost my grandma and he was there when we lost my dad. He was there for all of us.
December 7, he died.
Why bring this up? Why be so depressing?
I don’t hate the holidays at all. I love the sense of family surrounding this time of year and my memories are blessings. I also have an amazingly strong mother and sister who show me every day that life is worth it.
I think I have spent a bit of the last few months a little more down than previous years. Sometimes things hit you even years after they occur and there isn’t a real explanation as to why.
I have also been channeling those feelings into my writing.
I love my family by choice. I love the relationships between the characters and I love that no matter what, they are all there for each other.
They are flawed, as so many of us are, yet they try to do right by each other.
Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Julie. I wonder what made me think of putting a 12 year old in the care of two 18 year old boys. I look at my classroom sometimes and think about just how out there that idea was.
But then I think of the loss we have all experienced. Mine was more recent, and I was an adult, but it’s no less profound.
Julie represented where I was in my life. I was lost and so was she. She had people looking out for her, as did I, but she tested their loyalty.
She needed to make sense of what her new normal was and how she would be able to move forward.
I think we all have a little bit of Julie within us. It might be moving forward after a loss or an unexpected issue in life.
I think the premise of Tommy and Jack becoming her guardians was incredibly far fetched, but it was also important to me to show that they were all overwhelmed. I have told much of that time through flashbacks and I know I have so many more stories to tell about those years.
Julie and Tommy’s relationship is one of my favorites. He is such an important character to me and one of his most endearing qualities is his sensitivity and compassion. I think that’s what makes him a good pediatrician. I think it makes him an amazing partner to Brittany.
I also think it made him the perfect guardian for Julie.
If it weren’t for her, he would have been so lost. Julie gave him a purpose; a reason to push forward after such a profound loss.
She gave him his life back.
The two of them and their back story is one I am most proud of, and I learn more about them each and every time I write.
The other relationship I love writing is Tommy and Jack.
When I began writing a romantic suspense series, I hardly planned on the longest relationship being between the two of them.
But it’s become a part of me.
I love the humor and sexiness and intelligence and passion of Jack. His love for Stephanie and their daughters is incredibly attractive and he has a side to him that only appears with those he loves and trusts. He uses his arrogance to mask a lot of his sensitivity and he is truly someone you want in your corner.
Making him a cardiac surgeon was my way of showing the irony of the one organ he could never really command emotionally, until he met Stephanie.
Tommy was the opposite in many ways from Jack. As outgoing as Jack was, Tommy was an introvert. He listened and observed and learned. He was content to live in Jack’s shadow and he never really went out of his way to be in the forefront. I love Tommy probably more than any character and I think he embodies so much of the characteristics I love. (especially the hairy chest) 🙂
This family is incredibly important to me. They are my voice. They are my imagination. They are my hope. They are my escape.
I truly appreciate you all reading their escapades and I can’t wait until “Defining Moment” comes out.
Please enjoy the flashback below. It has never been released.
Don’t forget to preorder your copy of Defining Moment, available on all ebook formats.
“Cardiothoracic surgery? Are you sure?” Tommy asked as he and Jack talked about picking their specialties. “I know you think you have a way with the heart, but do you always want to have your hands in it?”
Jack rolled his eyes.
“I’ve always wanted to be a surgeon, you know that. Besides, I think holding the power of life and death in your hands is erotic.”
Tommy looked sick.
“That’s fucked up, man.”
“You know what I mean. I want to do the most good and fixing the heart will fix lives. The trials I’ve witnessed with bypass technology are awesome. I want to get in there. I can do a lot of good. Besides, you’ll need a good heart surgeon with the way you wear your heart on your sleeve.”
“So what about you? Maybe you could pick a less depressing specialty like Forensic pathology? I mean pediatric oncology. Talk about a downer.”
“Not if you help save people,” Tommy said.
“But your patients will all be little kids. How horrible.”
“I don’t think so. Kids are different than adults.”
Jack patted him on the back.
“Good for you! Did you just figure that out?”
Tommy smacked his arm away.
“Shut up. I mean that they don’t hide things. They hurt and they tell you. They don’t bullshit. They are real and I want that. I don’t like adults.”
“Good to know,” Jack laughed. “Adults don’t like you, either.”
They both laughed and then Jack looked at him.
“If you work on kids, how can you help me when I need it?”
Tommy took a drink of his beer.
“What do you mean?”
“That’s the plan, isn’t it? We both become brilliant doctors and then when we grow old, we each save the other. If you work on kids, how can you help me?”
Tommy laughed and then saw he was serious.
“So by that logic, you figure my heart will go out?”
“Well, you do eat a lot of shit,” Jack said and took a bite of his cheeseburger.
Tommy rolled his eyes and then looked at his pizza.
“It’s got cheese on it. That’s good. Besides, look at what you’re eating.”
Jack chewed on a piece of bacon that fell from his burger.
“We’re talking about you, not me.”
“No, actually, we’re talking about you not having me to save you. What specialty did you want me to study? Proctology?”
Jack choked. “I will never, ever have any need for one of those.”
“So your asshole is as confident as you are?”
They both burst out laughing.
“We’re fucked up,” Tommy said.
“Nah, just you.”
“Nice,” Tommy said.
“So has Julie picked a major yet?” Jack asked.
“No. She is determined to pledge a sorority. I need to stop that,” he sighed.
“Why? We are both in a fraternity.”
Tommy stared at him.
“Oh, well not all fraternity guys are like us.”
“Okay, me,” Jack said. “You act like I’m a sex freak. I just like to enjoy women. The female anatomy is a beautiful thing.”
“So why not become a gynecologist?”
“Ew, no. I don’t want to see what’s wrong with it. I want to appreciate it for all it is; you know, healthy and shit.”
Tommy shook his head.
“There is something wrong with you.”
“No, you just need to learn to live a little. I could hook you up with Heather’s sister.”
“Yeah, I’ll pass. I have to go study. Are you coming?”
Jack cleaned up their trash and nodded.
“Yeah, I should hit the books, too.”
They made their way out and Tommy looked at him.
“Just so you know, I won’t ever let anything happen to you. If you need surgery, I’ll be there.”
“I know that.”
“And I don’t ever plan on having you touch my heart. I plan on living a long time.”
Jack looked at his best friend.
“I’m going to hold you to that.”