ER
Chaos Theory

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Chaos Theory

Day 12. Abby is lounging on a gurney painting her toenails with some polish acquired from County General’s crack team of manicurists for all your emergency nail needs. “Can you die of boredom?” Abby asks lethargically. Word, sister. She read my mind. It’s a giant script bonfire, the ashes of which are gathered up and buried under a tombstone that reads simply, “Here lies: Word.” Chen figures a person can’t perish from boredom, but Abby disagrees. “What if your mind wandered off on a daydream and you forgot to eat or drink for days?” she asks. Chen replies, “Then you’d die of starvation and dehydration.” Abby blinks. “Caused by boredom,” she presses. Suddenly, their antennae twitch – they’ve smelled something, and no, it isn’t the flaming waste of the monkeypox storyline.

Pratt has acquired pizza and soda, shoved through the not-so-locked-down window by one of his friends. He has friends? Since when? I received no memo. “I take back everything I ever said about you, Pratt,” Chen sighs, digging into her slice. Pratt gets excited, but Chen’s totally all, “Psych! You still suck.” Carter busts out with the news that young Adam – remember him? Neither do we – is out of the woods because his fever broke. They all toast him, and each other, for surviving the plague. “Pestis Puerorum,” Stan says suddenly. They shoot him surprised looks that say, “Give the man a green bathrobe and he suddenly speaks Latin?” Stan explains that he’s referring to Black Death, a plague that started in China and infected Italian sailors, who brought it to Sicily in 1347 and ultimately killed 25 million people with it. They gape at him, because they neither asked for nor invited intelligent conversation. “Renaissance philosophy,” Stan shrugs, flushing. Does he mean history? If not, I so want to take that class: “Philosophy of Plagues Through The Ages.” Pratt can’t believe Stan studied philosophy. “Taught it,” amends Stan. Pratt snorts, because he’s about as charming as a shoe dipped in moldy orange juice and painted in Christina Aguilera’s image. Curious, they ask Stan what happened. “Things,” he says sadly. “Things happened. Things always happen.” Carter stares at the floor. “You’re sober now,” he offers, darting a quick glance at Abby. “Not by choice,” Stan says. Abby meets Carter’s eyes and silently dares him to keep thinking what he’s thinking. A coconut drops off a palm tree in Miami, a bird flies into a building in Sydney, and suddenly an anvil lands on the front desk. Chen offers to hook Stan up with some counseling and perhaps an alcoholism program. “I killed my daughter in a DUI,” Stan blurts out. “There’s no counseling for that. Thanks for the pizza.” He shuffles off down the hallway, lost and alone. Chen yanks her foot out of her mouth, grabs her pizza, and announces that she’s going to eat dinner in bed. “Sounds good to me,” Pratt leers. “Alone,” Chen says pointedly. Abby and Carter reject Pratt’s offer to hang out in front of the TV, so he toddles off and leaves the star-crossed whatevers alone at the front desk.

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