Nurse Jackie

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Jacob Clifton: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Life in the Balkans

It's serious enough that Jackie calls Dr. Fitch Cooper "Coop" for the first time, which sends him into circus poodle backflips, and before she can even speak he's showing her an x-ray of a man's hand, shattered into a million pieces. "Grim, right?" She gets to the point, bringing up the Pyxis, and he starts in with the backflips again. "Even the name sounds cool! Pyxis! I love that!" No, Jackie explains slowly, like he's a slow child, which come on: It's the opposite of cool, Coop. "Vote NO on the Pyxis," she says like a mesmerist, hoping it'll sink in. "Captain, we are powerless against the crushing force of the Pyxis," he yells into his stethoscope in some insurmountable accent. "Pew pew pew!" She waits a bit, then asks if he's done, but she should be more specific:

"Jackie, we're talking about the seamless integration of man and machine! Step! Into the Future!" She explains to him that the Pyxis is not only an insult to nurses, but is also squeezing Eddie out of a job. Suddenly, Coop realizes that she's there on her own behalf, and not like as his Jiminy Cricket or whatever; that she's not urging him to give his own two cents to the board, but hers. Which has been obvious since she walked in and told him that, but whatever. His feelings aren't even really hurt. "How about next time you need a favor just ask, huh?" Ugh, if that's the price, these mental noogies... She takes off, but he decides it's worth trying again, this time humiliating her with questions about the "little crush on Eddie" he's somehow uncovered by reading between the lines of their conversation. He's a regular Nancy Drew, old Coop:

"Yeah. That's it, 'Coop,' I have a huge crush on Eddie. In fact, we fuck every day at noon. You're a moron."

12:01 and guess what's up. "How are we on time," Eddie gasps out, and with her forehead against his, sitting in his lap in his pneumatic chair, she answers. "We're good. Just don't get fancy."

Then it's later and Mrs. Zimberg is feeding him chicken soup. That was what was in the bag. She makes Jackie smell it, and it's amazing. Zimberg swears that it's kept him alive two years longer than predicted; it's all he needs. Jackie tries to underscore that Eleanor is a very good doctor, and that her evaluation can be trusted: Zimberg needs a consult and therapy. They both protest, and Mrs. Z levels: "He's had enough. Trust us."

"They don't call chicken soup Jewish Penicillin for nothing," Zimberg says. "It's all about faith." About faith, about love, about life in the Balkans. "It's a cure-all," Mrs. Z says. "Back in ancient times, a Jewish mystic blessed the first pot, and to this day there's a little magic in every pot. True or not, it's a nice story." Jackie smiles. "We'll go with true." She wants to believe.

"Attagirl!" Zimberg shouts, and Jackie laughs. "So, let's be clear. You are refusing medical treatment, and choosing to eat soup, instead." It's not really something she needs to clarify, unless Akalitus comes running, because she loves them and they deserve to enjoy some soup. His ass is dying, and all three of them know it. But life in the Balkans is like this: You're old enough, or wise enough, to look it in the face. Or you get that way PDQ. Whatever it is, you look at it -- death, sadness, horrors, cold, mistakes, pain, suffering unimaginable -- and you don't blink. You blink, people die. You weep, people die. You say anything but the truth, shining like a harsh winter sun, it doesn't make it better, it makes it worse. And for this strength, this cruel firmness, you are rewarded with something more valuable than any comfort: you have the truth. That's what Jackie gives, and all she's doing now is confirming that all three of them are strong enough to look.

They promise to leave after this last meal, the chicken soup, the penicillin. "If I can be of any help," she asks them, "Let me know." Zimberg smiles and promises to take her up on that, at least. She leaves his bed, pulling the curtain closed, and walks past Mrs. Akalitus without drawing her attention; Akalitus doesn't mind, because the last time she saw them she was all fucked up on drugs. But they're a little closer than they were.

31 year old male, in the stirrups again, brought in unconscious, still out of it. Serious lacerations on the testicles, and a lump on his head. He comes to, and freaks out about the stirrups, which are freaky. "Goddamnit, Roy..." he mumbles, calming down, and Coop gets right up in there. "Boyfriend trouble?" he starts offering the guy options, but he says no, he's not pressing charges against Roy, because Roy is his cat. Their jaws drop, but Zoey gets a closer look. "Oh, yeah. A cat did that." He was cleaning the bathtub, nude, and leaned over, and Roy dove for his scrotum -- dove, he says, for the scrotum -- and he knocked himself out. Coop grins, between his legs.

"I married my cat when I was six. Made him a little tuxedo and everything." Zoey pats the man on his leg, unbelievably adorable/flesh-crawlingly creepy as usual, and grins down at him. "Aren't cats great?" Jackie barks her name, and yells again about the stethoscope. "I know! Shut up! Go get it!" Zoey vanishes in a whirlwind of yelling.

Then it's later, and Mo-Mo allows as how it could happen. Naked cleaning, a certain amount of movement, that is to say a certain swinging action: what cat could resist. He compares the scrotum to "a little pink mouse, swinging from a vine," which is a titch too far for Jackie, but you know, and she notices the Ohio husband flipping through magazines. He's in over his head, and he doesn't even know it yet:

"Well, this one is for forty-year-olds... And this one's for teens... This one's in Spanish." His dimples are ... On fire. She picks out better magazines and he thanks her profusely, swearing the stories about New Yorkers aren't true. "Mmm," she grins: yes they are. Heading back to Mo-Mo, she's treated to the freaky sight of watching his eyes climb the entire delectable, embarrassing, heady mess that is Dr. Fitch Cooper, and screams like a little pink mouse just jumped off a vine at her face.

He jumps, guiltily; his eyes were cheating on Randy. He jumps like she jumped in the bathroom, when she was diving after the thing she loves more than her husband, or her children, and was surprised by it. He jumps like that. "You were cruising Dr. Cooper!" she dry-heaves, and he protests. "You were licking your lips like a cartoon wolf!" she shouts. "That's the second time today I felt like I was going to puke!" But really it was the third, wasn't it. "Sometimes the people who disgust you are the hottest fucks," Mo-Mo tries to explain, but she shakes her head. "Sometimes the people who disgust you just disgust you."

Mrs. Akalitus interrupts the Zimbergs in their bed, still with the soup already, and Zimberg calls her "dear." She brusquely asks who his doctor is, and Mrs. Zimberg explains: "He doesn't have a doctor. He's eating soup." You can't really blame Akalitus for being weirded out by that. Jackie appears out of thin air and tells her that they're just waiting on test results. "They can wait in the waiting room!" she shouts, and Jackie pulls her out of there firmly. "That's not a happy woman," Zimberg suggests. He has no idea:

"Gloria, can you be a nurse again for one second, and stick your head in there? Tell me what you see?" She does, stands there with hands on hips, and stares at them. After a moment of consideration, she returns to Jackie, closing the curtain behind her again. "He's dying," she says. That's life in the Balkans, right there. "All right, he can have until the end of your shift." Jackie rolls her eyes, but that's good enough.

Zoey stalks Eleanor through the hospital, never quite snagging her moment. She asks Thor to help her get the stethoscope back, and he immediately gives her a cute, singsong no. She stares at O'Hara a few yards away, smiling insanely and carrying on a vivid conversation with nobody. I saved two lives today. Doctors are just people. Hi, Mrs. O'Hara, can I... Hi, DOCTOR O'Hara, my stethoscope that you borrowed from me this morning, can I... She pounds a fist into her palm and heads over, still monologuing, still subvocal.

Dr. O'Hara, it's come to my attention that you have my stethoscope... Eleanor looks up, not at her words but her approach: "Oh, hello Angela!" she smiles brightly, and looks back at her work. "Oh um it's not An... It. Um." Zoey curtseys at this point -- low enough that her undies bite her ass, causing her to jump in the air like a YouTube video of your pet doing something hilarious -- and then she bounces away like a rubber ball in a department store, squealing as she runs.

"Jews are so funny," Eleanor says at sushi, about the soup. "Is that racist?" Jackie asks, because yes it is, but Eleanor shrugs. "I think it's a compliment." She swears he better have a DNR ready to go: "He's absolutely a knob if he doesn't. I mean, trying to bring them back to life is such a bloody mess!" Patients, basically, are appalling. She goes on at length, until Jackie points out that she's sitting there eating her "spicy money roll" and getting hypothetical. But if she had the chance to spend like one day with somebody she really loved, the story would be different. Eleanor smiles a secret smile. "That's assuming an awful lot."

Eleanor changes the subject to Jackie's husband Kevin, and her boyfriend Eddie. Matter and antimatter, chicken soup and Vicodin. Kevin, the God particle that keeps her family afloat, that chicken soup glue that keeps everybody alive another whole day. There's Kevin, okay, Kevin who couldn't locate the Balkans on a map and has no idea he lives ther

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Nurse Jackie

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