“Bloody hell, it’s freezing outside”
Abby mumbled to herself and shook the rain out of her hair as she walked in to Doc Magoo’s. Chicago winters were just so unpredictable that Abby had given up on trying to dress appropriately for the seasons. Sometimes it was still scorchingly hot in October while on other occasions they had seen snow in September. She shivered in her thin leather jacket. She and Kim really needed to go on a shopping trip for some decent warm clothes soon. Winter had set in properly.
Kim had spent the hour waiting for Abby on reviewing chapters of her upcoming book about treatment for suicidal gay teenagers. Since the Shannon Wallace-case had blown up in her face, Kim had taken a special interest in caring for gay youngsters. She had found that most of the therapies that applied to adolescents struggling with their homosexuality missed a vital point: a therapist the kids could relate to. Her book was trying to give guidelines for gay therapists on how to approach traumatized and suicidal gay youngsters. She was hell bound on avoiding any of her colleagues ever having to go through what she experienced when a desperate Shannon Wallace had accused her of sexual misconduct.
She waved at Abby and cleared her laptop off the table. The young nurse shot her a wry smile.
“Sorry I made you wait. Weaver had a go at me for taking so long to get my coffee earlier on. I guess you can never win with her. Like it was my fault she allowed me to leave just before a trauma came in.”
“Yeah, Kerry can get a little caught up in her work sometimes. She probably kicked herself for letting you go in the first place. I don’t think she’ll be angry with you for long.”
“Hmm………..I wish she wasn’t angry with me at all. I am trying to do things right but she is just too unpredictable. I thought we were actually getting on a lot better in the last few weeks. But the nicer she is to me off-duty, the harder she seems to pick on me during work hours. ”
“Well, that’s Kerry for you. Like a teacher who does not want to show a preference for her own child, therefore making life for their offspring extra difficult in the classroom. It certainly did not make my life easier when we were still seeing each other. I don’t think she ever went easy on me because I was her lover. Not that I really wanted her to but she took it a little too far sometimes.”
She proceeded to study the menu. Her appetite was legendary and she had put off dinner until Abby had finished her shift. She was ravaged by now.
Silence as they sipped their beers.
Abby remembered that Kerry had been so closeted when she was with Kim, bordering on abnormal in her opinion. After all, what was the big deal? Luka had sworn her to secrecy when he told Abby what Kerry had revealed to him. Abby had seen Kerry struggle her way through life ever since she first set foot in Cook County General, but the trauma and desperation caused by trying to come to terms with her new identity had almost broken Kerry. Kerry Weaver M.D. who could burn Dr. Malucci down to a useless little critter with one of her looks. Kerry Weaver M.D. who could run a busy Emergency Department in a big hospital. Kerry Weaver M.D, brought down on her knees by the one thing nobody can escape: the discovery of the true self. It killed her relationship with Kim although as far as Abby was concerned, Kim was not without fault in the break up.
Abby thought it strange how the person who leads you to your self can also lead you to shy away from that same self. Kim had handled Kerry’s coming out with such bluntness that Kerry just couldn’t do it. Kim had wanted too much too soon and Kerry backed out. They would be so great for each other. But Kim was too out and unprepared to get back in to the closet for Kerry. And Kerry…………she needed more time than Kim was willing to give her. “If only they had met later on, “ Abby thought, “they might still have been together now.” Actually……Abby didn’t like that thought at all.
“Are you ready to order?”
The waitress snapped Abby back to the reality of the present. “Eh….well……….you first Kim, I didn’t really look at the menu yet.” Kim raised her eyebrow at Abby. A questioning look in her eyes. What had Abby been doing behind that menu for the past 10 minutes?
“I’ll have a Caesar Salad, a large diet Coke and erhm………..a double cheeseburger with the lot.”
“Oh what the heck, I’ll just have the same please.” Abby grinned apologetically at Kim who was still trying to read Abby’s thoughts.
“What were you thinking of all that time when I was feasting my eyes on the wonderful food on the menu?
“Nothing special. Just about what you said about Kerry being like some kind of mentor to me.”
She heard her own voice and realized Kim wasn’t buying the lie. But she was kind enough to let it slip by.
--Knowing Kim, not for long though--
Quickly she continued: “ Was she ever like that to you? See I don’t think she was. You two were on the same level. I am just a nurse and when we are at work, it seems like she just seems me as some kind of secretary to do the dirty work.”
“I think she actually feels quite protective of you. She speaks fondly of the hard work you put in. As far as I can see it she is just trying to stimulate you to reach for a higher standard of work. Talks about you a lot when she talks about work. Last week over dinner, I asked her if there were other people working in the ER besides Abby Lockhart and if so, could we talk about those people too for a change.”
Abby took in a sharp breath as she studied Kim’s face intently. She wanted to ask why Kim and Kerry were discussing her during their dinner. Surely they had a lot more interesting things to talk about. Two doctors with a mutual fondness of poetry, expensive wine, art and music certainly had a much wider range of conversational topics than Abby Lockhart, failed- med-student-turned-nurse. She wanted to ask but she didn’t trust her voice. She was sure it would betray her desire to know exactly what Kerry had said. Instead, all she could come up with was………
“The two of you have really become good friends, haven’t you? I wonder if lesbians always want to stay friends with their exes.”
--Smooth one Lockhart! Didn’t you say you were going to talk to Kim tonight? You just blew a perfect opportunity.--
Kim tried to think of an ex she had NOT remained friends with. Only one came to mind. Chris. But then again, they had been friends up till that horrible dinner with Kerry. Kim had yelled at Chris for being a total bitch to her friend. Chris had just looked at her. Kim had later thought it must have been a late revenge-trip. Maybe Chris was, after 3 years, still trying to get back at Kim for leaving her. God knows Chris could hold a grudge like nobody Kim had ever met. Like a predator she would sit patiently until her chance finally came to strike a deadly blow: “Hey, do you realize that everyone at this table has slept with Kim.” The words still made Kim shiver as she remembered the horrified look on Kerry’s face as she got up and said she was leaving. And then Kerry had said the words that defined all the problems that had existed between the two of them: “I care about you. I am not interested in adopting a lifestyle.”
Kim never thought she was living a ‘lesbian’ lifestyle. She just had friends. And they happened to be lesbians. When she went out, she just happened to go to gay bars because she felt more comfortable there. The movies she liked frequently featured lesbian relationships. Was that a lifestyle or was that simply a subconscious need to see herself reflected in other people and in every day life? Something that is never a problem for straight people. Kerry, who had always seen herself as straight, never had to think about that, straight people are everywhere. Until Kim. And Kerry had not wanted to see lesbians everywhere. She had feared if she so much looked at a lesbian, everybody would be able to see that she was ‘doing it with a woman too.’ Kerry had wanted to bat for the team but wasn’t prepared to wear the uniform. Kim smiled at the thought. That was exactly the kind of lesbian joke that would send Kerry up the wall.
The arrival of a plate full of food ended Kim’s trip back through memory lane. She delved in to her fries like there was a famine coming anytime soon.
A fine state of affairs, part 3