Men In Trees
The Caribou In The Room

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Wing Chun: C+ | Grade It Now!
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Why Can't We Be Friends?

At the hospital, the doctor pulls back the curtain as Jack is putting his shirt back on; the latter reports that he's feeling much better. Marin asks the doctor if Jack's going to be okay: "I know I'm not the wife, but I can ask, right?" The doctor says he'll be fine, and tells Jack that he had an "extrinsic asthma attack, triggered by environmental allergens." Ooh, I know this one: the rented tuxedo had been used in a funeral and was laced with formaldehyde? Or there were thousands of baby spiders in the breast pocket that bit him? Jack says that the city air does that to him sometimes. Eh, boring. Marin, dismayed, asks why Jack didn't tell her that. Because, like Ben, he was trying to be nice, against his own interests? He says he didn't want to ruin her trip. "Our trip," she says, upset. The doctor says that smoking doesn't help. Jack says he doesn't smoke, but the doctor says he reeks of tobacco, and Marin's like, "Eek, smoking patio. My bad." She apologizes for being an "awful, awful person," and Ian cracks, "So, you almost killed him. Nice." Jack lets out one mirthless chuckle, and tells Marin it's okay. But the doctor decides to pull focus from Marin and Jack's nice make-up by saying he's more concerned about "this": he points to an x-ray of Jack's chest, indicating a bullet lodged way up in there. Marin's like, "The hell?" Sure, Marin. You're entitled to know all his secrets. You have known him five whole weeks.

At a coffee shop with both the Slattery boys, Marin demands that they tell her what happened. Jack, reluctantly, starts the story, saying that he and his dad were camping when a black bear came after Jack: "My dad shot at it, but he got me instead." Boy, there sure isn't a card for that. But maybe Pop Slattery somehow figured out a way to weasel out of making a great big apology. Let's listen and find out! Marin's horrified. Jack says he's fine, but Marin orders him, "Stop with the 'fine' -- you have a bullet in your chest, for crying out loud!" "That bear mauled my dad," says Jack, in a way destined to make Marin feel really bad. Marin's gobsmacked, and Ian cavalierly confirms that their dad died from his injuries. It's why bears are the #1 threat, people. And PS to Marin: that seldom happens in New York, I'm guessing. Marin starts to get all solicitous about Ian's health, but Jack curtly says that Ian wasn't there, which Ian confirms, saying he wasn't much of a camper. And this whole thing probably didn't make him more of one. Ian says he's more of a city guy, and Jack says that Ian left for Anchorage as soon as he had finished high school, "and never looked back." Ian says that Jack's just "pissed" that Ian didn't stay around, and Jack snaps, "I'm not pissed. Just telling a story." Ian tells Marin that the city was a relief: "I'd had enough wilderness tragedy." "You weren't even there," says Jack icily. But before the intra-Slattery scrap can escalate, Jack turns to Marin to explain that the bullet was too close to his heart to remove. "So you live with it," says Marin, storing the anecdote away to be mined for metaphors in a later book chapter. Jack says that he doesn't have a choice. Marin shakes her head, annoyed that she's learning all about Jack's glamorously tragic past at a time when she's too messed up herself to really let herself fall for him.

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Men In Trees

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