ER
The Letter

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The Letter

Carter and Chen pedeconference about Al, the former noting that the only consistency in his treatment is that he doesn't want anything done to him. Chen reasons that if he had that discussion with Mark, then Mark should've damn well added that note to Al's chart. "Maybe Dr. Greene expected to be here," Carter retorts meaningfully, and his expression says, "Go flog yourself." Chen looks guiltily at the ground, aware that she just mentally cussed out a dead man and figuring she'll be haunted for that. She throws up her hands and says, "Fine. He's your patient."

Carter and Chen are interrupted by the sound of Pratt arguing with a flamboyant Italian grandmother, who brought in a young boy. She's waving her hands and yelling urgently at him, and Carter and Chen resort to rock-paper-scissors to see who's stuck saving his ass. Chen shoots rock -- hee, that sounds funny -- and Carter picks scissors, which is bull, because he should be squeamish about sharp objects. Carter's totally not a scissors guy. He's paper all the way. So, Carter loses. Except that if you think about it, scissors should always win, because although rock smashes scissors, scissors stab the rock-wielder. Anyway, Carter trundles over to Pratt and dons his best "What's All This, Then?" smile. "I don't speak Portuguese," Pratt snaps. "That's Italian," Carter points out. "That either," Pratt snorts. He did manage to figure out that the grandmother was babysitting for the tot when he woke up with a rash on his face. Carter reaches out and rubs the rash, then tastes it. It's the sweet flavor of youth. "Strawberry," he announces. Pratt is stunned. "Jelly, jam, cereal...." Carter supplies. Pratt is embarrassed.

So, having been shown up by Carter, Pratt decides this is the right time to ask for a favor. "Know anybody at Northwestern?" he asks. Carter does, but doesn't say who; Pratt asks him to call and put in a good word, and get them to admit they erred and accept him to the hospital. "No, because I'd have to believe it," Carter replies coolly. Bravo! Amen! Hooray! Praise be! And testify, my son! Pratt resents this. "Come on, you know I'm good," Pratt insists. "Too good to be wasted at County?" Carter asks sarcastically. "We're underserviced and we need doctors. For better or for worse, we drew you." Carter hands Pratt twenty bucks for the bet on Al's blood sugar, compliments him on the catch, and buzzes off into the lounge so that The Sultan of Suck can marinate in the juices of his own ripe ego.

Susan is in the lounge, sobbing. Finally. Carter walks in on this, and Susan leaps out of her chair. "I shouldn't have sat down," she chuckles through her tears. "If I don't sit down, I won't cry." Unless you're at a bar with a sacrificial virgin in front of you, in which case you're drier than the Sahara. Susan cracks that she wants to pretend Mark moved to the South Pacific and lived happily ever after while washing that ER right out of his hair -- oooooh, no, sorry, Mark, not possible. Back luck, buddy. Carter melodramatically says that, in a sense, Mark did end up that way. Susan, struggling to control her emotions, wanders over to the coffee machine and blubbers about Melissa finding her cancerous growth purely by happenstance. "Mark walked the halls of a hospital every day, and didn't know about his brain tumor until he presented with symptoms," she marvels. "Well, we save who we can," Carter whispers, staring sadly into space. "It has to make more sense than that," frets Susan. She gulps that she misses Mark already, despite having vanished for five years and not keeping in touch regularly then. "I miss him," she repeats, her voice catching in her throat. "I thought he'd always, always be here." Sing it, sister. For a while there, so did I. Those were the worst of times. Luckily for Susan, Carter has just finished reading Ten Lies You Can Tell To People in Mourning, and barfs up the platitude, "It's good to miss him -- it's missing him that keeps him here." According to a few forum posters, that line has been used verbatim twice before, at least once by Mark. So evidently, Mark is already inhabiting Carter's body, and he's got some serious balding to do. Carter hugs Susan tightly while she bites back more sniffles. "You should write for Hallmark," she suggests.

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