His finger pressed to his dry lips, Matt looks ahead coldly, facial muscles unmoving, eyelids not blinking, the sounds of the room drowned out as if he had water in his ears. Over time, the muffled words spoken by whomever it is sharing the room with him become more coherent, a pause in their appearance prompting his mind to quicken it’s pace, trying feverishly to bring Matt out of his daydream.
“Matt?” a woman’s soft voice calls out, suddenly jolting the therapist from his portrait-like pose, a quick apology coming before a much needed moment of recomposure. “I’m sorry, Brook… I completely zoned out right there and I don’t know why” Matt replies, face held towards his desk, following the patterns of the stained wood as if that would help him retrace his thoughts.
“You seem less like yourself today” Brook mentions, pointing out the paranoia-like flow of his words, admitting that his face can give it away rather easily. “You look spooked” Brook explains, Matt quietly looking at her, allowing her to proclaim her comparison, “like you just saw a ghost but were trying to hide it.” Suddenly cracking a smile, Matt tries to play the incident off as something worth forgetting about, offering the young girl a laugh.
“Let’s start again” Matt exclaims, repositioning himself in his seat, arms pressed against the armrests, eyes returning to the girl, “tell me about your week.” Stood before his desk, Brook looks at the man with curiosity, a gesture which he allows her to take part in freely, her look only broken when turning to a corner of the room and picking up a chair.
Dragging the long, metal legs of the seat to the forefront of his desk, Brook uncharacteristically sits down, the shift in her comfort within Matt’s presence showing a slight evolution in her attitude. “No” Brook replies, leaning onto the man’s desk and folding her arms atop it, eyes kept firmly upon the man, “let’s talk about your week.”
Eyes wandering around the room, Matt reminds the girl that therapy doesn’t work like that, a truth that Brook puts aside for the moment. “You seem like you need to talk more than I do right now” Brook replies, Matt’s expression suggesting a more open approach to the girl’s diversion of course, “besides, don’t they say ‘the best people to sit behind the desk, are the ones that once sat in front of it’?”
“Okay, then” Matt replies, his response coming in nearly the same moment as the sun outside breaking through the clouds, allowing the room to glow with a warm embrace. “I recently learned a lot about just how much I ask of people” Matt explains, apologizing for his need to be vague, “and truth be told, while it may be greatly necessary at times, I ask of them a lot more than I ask of myself.”
“Is it an expectation?” Brook asks, cutting into the man’s response, prompting his eyebrows to raise with a probin look, “I mean, are these people you put a lot of responsibility on people in positions that deserve it?” Biting his lip, Matt folds his hands together, pressing his index fingers’ knuckles to his lips, “I suppose they are, yes” the man replies.
“And with that being said, why do you believe you ask of yourself less than them?” Brook inquires, cutting her question short, refusing to feed the man answers. “If there’s a job that requires heavy lifting, they’re in the position to do the said heavy lifting” Matt explains, removing his lip from between his teeth, “while I direct the work from one direction to another.”
Nodding, Brook folds her hands in her lap, comparing the two sides as best as she can with the vague details offered. “What’s more important in what you do, direct the heavy lifting, or the heavy lifting itself?” Brook wonders aloud, watching the intrigued look come across the man’s face. “Neither works without the other” Matt responds, a gleeful Brook holding her hands out in triumph.
“So there’s your answer” Brook replies, her lips parting to present a smile, “you should be holding yourself to an equal demand as them… Just different depending on the work you do.” Eyes taken by a random corner of the room, Matt lets out a soft chuckle, silently agreeing with the girl’s conclusion. Tapping the armrests, Matt pulls himself out of his chair, walking around his desk while directing Brook to stand as well.
“Go sit in that chair real quick” Matt commands, an amused Brook shaking her head whilst doing as told, casually taking her place upon the chair. “It’s a regular computer chair, Matt” Brook replies, looking up at the man as he smiles back at her, lifting his hand to his chin, sporting the look of a proud father. “It may be a computer chair, but it’s a lot different in importance to the one you were just sitting in” Matt replies, pausing for a moment, “that’s the chair you belong in someday.”
Her head hung in a mixture of embarrassment and appreciation, Brook looks towards the man, who she begins to like talking to more with each session, muttering a soft “thanks.” Hands tucking themselves away in his pockets, Matt lifts his shoulders to the level of his chin and lets out a sigh. “Not a problem” the man responds, continuing to look on at the girl, silently hoping the chair she sits upon now is the one she’ll sit atop one day in the future.
= Kings of Cambridge is created by Zachary Serra, all rights to the series belong to Zachary Serra and his entity of Pacer1 from the start of Season 1 onwards =
Punching at the curtain in front of him, Danny walks through a sea of scantily-clad women on his way to a deeper part of the building, his progress being stopped upon the sensation of his arm being squeezed. “Danny” a woman whispers, the man turning around to find Candy looking at him anxiously, not another word being exchanged before Danny leads the woman to a dark corner of the dressing area.
“I heard about the retreat last night” Candy explains, her voice raised just over a hush, trying to speak over the music, “do any of us need to worry back here?” Waving the woman off, Danny makes the woman promise to keep spirits high in the club this evening. “If anything happens tonight, it’ll be chaos made from people being needlessly paranoid” Danny explains, voicing his experience with issues like these, “they’ll take their time planning something, keep people from going crazy down here.”
Without another word, Danny walks away, leaving Candy behind to pick up the pieces where they lay, returning to his originally intended route. Passing a few sets of beads dangling in every other doorway, Danny enters the well-lit backroom, finding a sea of those remaining from last night’s failed job awaiting him. “What did boss say?” Tyrell asks, his head lowering slightly, voice taking on a softer tone when a follow-up question is asked, “did you tell him it was my call?”
“He knows it was your call, and he’s less mad for you having made it than he is with me for letting you, Ty” Danny explains, looking to the rest of the room before proceeding forward. “In regards to the retr-” Danny begins, stopped by the sound of the hidden rear entrance opening, a well-dressed Matt entering the room, some of those in attendance seeing his face for the first time.
“Gentlemen” Matt says in passing, greeting all members of his crew as they stand in attention, quickly returning to their seats upon Matt’s demand. “Last night I was informed of a retreat” Matt explains, placing his hat atop a rack and tossing his jacket into the arms of one of his men, “tell me what happened in detail… Starting with you, Tyrell.”
His face slowly pulling away from the boss in disappointment, Tyrell clears his throat and wraps his fingers within each other. “We launched a stakeout on the ship, watched it dock, watched the Gilcrest’s fleet arrive and board the ship” Tyrell explains, his explanation slowing until its conclusion, “we struck, cleared the inside of the ship, someone realized it was a setup, Tristan and two others were already too close to the fleet by the time the bombs went off.”
“Who figured out it was a setup?” Matt asks, looking around the room for a hand to raise, finding the slow lifting of fingers from over the crowd in the back of the room, the person clearly nervous to single himself out. “What’s your name?” Matt asks, the man tripping over his thoughts as he answers the man’s question. “W- Wade… Wade Kellerman” the man replies, doing as suggested when Matt curls his finger towards him.
Visibly anxious, Wade approaches the imposing situation before Matt’s hand places itself atop Wade’s shoulder, his calm voice telling him to calm down, assuring him that he’s not in trouble. Wrapping his arm around the man’s neck, Matt tells the crew to look at Wade with appreciation. “Had Wade took a few seconds longer to notice what was going on, some of you might not be standing here right now” Matt explains, watching a few heads drop whilst others lift in respect.
“We’re all aware that the Gilcrest’s are going to be coming right back at us demanding answers” Matt explains, patting Wade on the back and allowing him to return to the crew. With a deep breath, Matt looks at each individual face of his men, watching the different looks being offered to him, taking joy in the diversity of opinions he’s held in. “I can’t have another blown call like that one” Matt continues, making it clear that those who can’t pull their weight will be held accountable.
“Start setting up your next move in case the Gilcrest’s want heads more than answers” Matt explains, pulling his jacket from one man’s hand whilst grabbing at his hat, “and for god’s sake, run it by me first.” Departing, Matt exits through the rear door and begins walking for his door, a second set of footsteps emerging from behind him, calling out his name. “Are we continuing the conversation from last night or is this about something else, Danny?” Matt asks, nonchalantly turning back.
“Do you mean what you said just now?” Danny asks, watching the silent, unchanged expression face him, “are you gonna start holding people accountable.” Hands held by his side, Matt returns to Danny and asks him to recite his own statement verbatim. Unphased, Danny does so, concluding with an emphasis on the word ‘accountable’, “so as I asked before, did you mean what you said?”
With a smile, Matt nods towards Danny, answering his question silently before turning back to his vehicle. Halfway through the door, Matt’s efforts are quashed once again, Matt voicing his follow-up. “And what happens if you fuck up?” Danny inquires, watching Matt turn his face back towards his friend, remaining silent, “are you gonna hold yourself accountable then?”
Sucking on his lip, Matt refuses to answer his friend’s question, allowing the tension Danny intends on keeping intact simmer. “Goodnight, Danny” Matt calls back, falling into his seat and driving off, Danny left in the back alleyway watching Matt’s vehicle round the corner, disappearing from view. With a grunt, Danny shakes his head and turns back for the door, punching the bin beside the building on his way in to relieve some anger.
“Good morning!” a chipper Perry calls out, meeting Darlene in the clinic’s backhalls, much to her own surprise. “I thought I told you that you needed to be employed here to have access to-” Darlene says, stopped mid-sentence when Perry corrects her. “I am employed here” Perry replies, Darlene’s lips puckering upon the man’s response, questioning herself as to whether or not she heard him correctly.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” Darlene asks, the man’s response coming less as a repeated statement and more of an explanation of events. “By law, I have four weeks to rescind my acceptance of other work in order to remain in my former position whilst employed in this clinic” Perry explains, sporting a feverish smile across his face as he breaks news to the confused woman, “I just rescinded my acceptance yesterday and am now legally required to be returned to my old position.”
Jaw dropped, Darlene rests her handbag on the ground whilst parting her hair, draping strands over her ears as she apologizes for the inconvenience. “I already filled out your position, so that’s not going to happen for you” Darlene explains, a shoulder shrug coming from the man before her. “You’re not legally allowed to do that yet, so it seems like you’re going to have to fire the guy” Perry replies, shrugging his shoulders with glee, the anger building inside Darlene.
“I’m not going to do that” Darlene replies, watching the smile upon Perry’s face grow considerably as he approaches her, prompting her to back away. “Then I’ll take this matter ot the board, they’ll look over our different qualifications and select who to go with based off of that” Perry replies, the expression of Darlene shifting poorly.
“What? Did you think it would be impossible to figure out what you were hiding?” Perry asks, the woman now refusing to look at him. “First you chuck me out like I’m worth nothing, then you shun me like I’ve killed the family dog, and then you replace me with some guy off the street” Perry explains, the annoyance in his own voice presenting itself, “do you understand how disrespectful that is to me?”
“So what? That gives you the right to come back and taunt me?” Darlene asks, not having expected the man to agree with such a statement. “You kick me out like I’m nothing, replace me with nothing, and then expect me to just move on treating that like it’s okay?” Perry questions, challenging the woman to consider his own feelings for a chance, “what the hell do you think that says about how you value me as a person?”
“As a person?” Darlene replies, quickly raising her tone of voice, tears beginning to form in her eyes as the words that leave her lips carry the anger of war, “it’s a lot more than what I value you as right now, you piece of shit.” Grabbing her bag, Darlene turns away from the man and walks to her office, her intent to return to work as if nothing had happened, only for a call out from Perry to make that impossible.
“I want that son of a bitch scrub fired by the end of the day or I’m taking this to the board first thing tomorrow morning!” Perry shouts, watching a line of therapists peer their head through their doors to look on at the scene from afar. “I’m sorry, return to work please” Perry calls back to each new face he sees, Darlene vanishing into her office at the end of the hallway, locking the door behind her.
“Thanks for meeting me, Marc” Matt greets, taking a seat at the opposite end of one of many diner tables. “I’m glad you called” Marc replies, lowering his cup of coffee back onto the small plate beside him, “what you said in group has really stuck with me over the last few days.” Putting their orders in upon the arrival of one of the waitress’, Matt directs the conversation down the route he wishes for it to take.
“I hope you don’t mind me coming straight out of the gate with this, but I’m dying to know how you coped with everything when you were younger” Matt explains, “not letting it define you now.” Nodding, Marc explains it the same way as he had in their session, refusing to live life based off the progression of others. “A lot of people think they’ve accepted what they’ve gone through until they’re challenged to prove it” Marc explains, “when that happens, the results vary.”
“Yeah, I get that… But you, specifically… How did you accept it?” Matt clarifies, the man on the opposite end of the table lifting his shoulders slightly. “I reminded myself of what happened every day until the memories became less painful” Marc explains, trying to sum his difficulties up as simply as possible, “I never thought of reasons for why it happened, or any excuses for it, I just kept thinking about it every day until I didn’t need to anymore.”
Resting his head against his dominant hand, Matt looks out of the window the table is set up beside, running over different thoughts in his head. “What was your test?” Matt asks, watching the smile come over Marc’s face, perhaps the most true test of them all having been once laid upon his shoulders. “My family… Siblings and other distant relatives… They never knew about what he did to me” Marc explains, laughing as he continues with his story, taking joy in his growth.
“They set up a small get together back in my old hometown on the fifteen year anniversary of his death and wanted to pay tribute to him” Marc explains, recalling pictures and poorly-aged photographs taken of him in a celebration of his life. “I never said anything to them about it all… I didn’t want their memories of him to be ruined like mine are” Marc explains, citing such a belief as the first example of passing a test.
“More notably, when they held a moment of silence for him, everything went quiet. No one was talking, the kids were all staying quiet” Marc continues, pausing for a moment as his head begins to shake. “I didn’t feel anything” Marc admits, biting his bottom lip as his eyebrows lift, “they were there celebrating and I just sat there… Not feeling anything.”
Staying silent, Matt allows Marc to continue, seeing the joy he gets from recalling his own success. “I think over time, the more that I beat myself with those memories, the more I conditioned myself to withstand them” Marc concludes, “it was never easy at first… But as time went on, I allowed it to remain a part of me rather than letting it become me, do you know what I mean?”
Rather hushed, Matt pulls his face away from his hand and nods, words only leaving his mouth after a brief hesitation. “Yeah, something like that” Matt replies, turning towards the waitress as she sets their individual plates down, offering his appreciation.
Taking a wrench to the inside of his plane, Danny listens to the hanger door creak open, prompting him to call out to the onlooking party. “What can I do you for?” Danny asks, already having predicted who it would be. “Do they know I was the one that put out the hit?” Stucky asks, his voice timid, almost worrisome, completely opposite to that of the careless tone of Danny’s own response.
“No, they just know it was a botched hit job” Danny replies, pointing towards a toolbox on the other side of the hanger, “grab me that, please.” Arriving alone, Stucky treats the secluded area as a means to speak more openly than he otherwise would when armies are stood behind one another. “How’d they find out?” Stucky asks, returning to Danny with the toolbox in hand, watching the man shake his head in confusion.
“I don’t know… All the ties were in tact on our end” Danny replies, leaning his head against the metal exterior of the bird, gently taking the toolbox into his hand, “unless you blew the whistle, I’m working under the assumption that it was their instincts proving their value.” Refusing to throw Tyrell under the bus, Danny inquires to the reason behind Stucky’s presence, drawing his own conclusions for Stucky’s lack of a posse.
“My family wants to attack one of your guys to send a message” Stucky explains, painting it out like the Gilcrest’s believe they’ve already won. “I convinced them to let me send their message in my own way” Stucky replies, head dropped as Danny’s eye remains firmly placed upon him, watching out for a potential attack.
“I’ve convinced them to meet with you… Leader to leader” Stucky continues, watching Danny’s amusement appear quickly, “what’s so funny?” Shaking his head, Danny slams the engine panel shut and throws a dirty rag over his shoulder, shrugging towards Stucky as he breaks the news to him. “I’m not the leader here” Danny replies, quickly challenged to convince the actual leader to appear instead.
“My parents have got no idea who’s in charge around here, so if you want things to be done smoothly, show up and claim ownership” Stucky details, “I think you’d be a better person to meet with than Matt.” Laughing, Danny turns back towards Stucky and asks why he should take his opinion to be worth anything.
“You’re a druggie who’s so obsessed with becoming the king of the castle that you’d shoot your own father figure to prove a point” Danny recalls, “you’re a psychopath with a bad habit… What value does anything you say have?” Shaking his head, Stucky reminds Danny that he’s sticking his neck out for him, taking a chance on someone he has faith in to do the right thing.
“My parents want to meet at the end of the week… They’re thinking I’m out right now putting a bullet in one of your heads and stapling a piece of paper to his forehead” Stucky concludes, “the fact that I can’t get high before I go back there without looking like I failed to deliver on my promise has me pissed off enough, so cut me a break.”
With a sigh, Danny rolls his eyes as his hands place themselves upon his hip, considering the options afforded to him. “Let your parents know that you’ve delivered their message” Danny replies, walking back to his plane before telling Stucky to tread carefully. “You’re befriending the guys that will eventually become your enemies, all to take out your own allies… This is a dangerous game” Danny continues, “don’t go getting yourself killed, kid.”
“Thanks for the advice” Stucky replies, rubbing at his eyes as the exhaustion of going cold-turkey begins to truly settle in. “Please, show up to the meeting” Stucky calls back, watching Danny’s head drop, the options afforded to him still being cycled through. “I’ll do what’s best for my men… Whatever choice does that is the one I’ll take” Danny replies, watching a coherent Stucky accept the response by returning the way he came.
“I wasn’t expecting you” Matt replies, leading Darlene into his home, the woman’s hesitancy to advance forward going unnoticed by the man at first. “I met with Marc, the guy from the group meeting yesterday, and the guy’s pretty insightful” Matt speaks, his words ushered towards Darlene, who’s mind runs with such a great amount of thoughts that his words might as well be self-providing.
Pouring two glasses of wine, Matt continues to speak, running down the bullet points of his earlier conversation whilst Darlene stands at the front of the room, silently watching the man’s every move. “There’s a piece of me that feels like his advice wouldn’t work for everyone, but that doesn’t meet it isn’t worth trying” Matt continues, returning the cork to the bottle, “I’m gonna hope it solves the last of my problems.”
Standing upright, Matt extends one glass towards Darlene whilst lifting the second to his own mouth, stopping halfway upon noticing the woman’s demeanor. “What’s wrong?” Matt asks, lowering his own glass to the same level as the one intended for Darlene, picking up on the internal struggle the woman engages in, conflicting thoughts clearly running through her head.
“Darlene, what’s going on?” Matt asks, watching the woman’s eyes lift back to his own, a sudden fear coming over the man, prompting him to lower both glasses to his coffee table. Living two lives, Matt feels both begin to cluster together, not knowing whether to worry about professional matter at the clinic or discovery of his illegal off-clock routines.
“Matt…” Darlene begins, pausing for a moment, leaving the man in suspense before concluding her statement, watching the man’s eyes drop as she does, “...you’re fired.” Lips fluttering, Matt breaks out a nervous smile, head tilted to the side as he asks ‘why’, his brain not truly certain on how to respond to such news. “The guy you replaced decided to turn down the offer that he left the clinic for” Darlene replies, “he’s legally allowed to return to his old job within a month.”
“That’s not… That… You can convince him to change his mind, right?” Matt replies, immediately shot down by the woman. “No, he’s doing it to spite me… He knows you’ve got no qualifications and he’s threatening to take that to the board to get his job back” Darlene explains, “he’s trying to disrespect me the way he thinks I disrespected him, and if he goes to the board, they’ll fire me for hiring you.”
“This is unaccepta-” Matt begins to mutter, his words cut off by Darlene as if they had not begun being spoken. “The matter is done, he’s already been notified and the paperwork to rescind your employment has been filed” Darlene explains, watching the look of betrayal on Matt’s face sprout, “I’m sorry, Matt.”
Lips puckering, Matt feels a rage come over him, refusing to let his voice raise at first, keeping a civil tone upon his immediate response. “Get out” Matt says, leaving Darlene to let a tear fall from her eye as she sucks in a deep breath, unable to move her body until the man repeats his demand. “Get out!” Matt shouts, the level of tension in the room breaking the woman from her spell, allowing her to turn her body back towards the door and depart.
With the mechanisms of the door clasping into place, Matt feels himself become surrounded by loneliness, the large room he stands in the center of sucking the life out of him. His closest confidants from both his private and public fields of work now on the outs with him, Matt feels the pain begin to weigh upon him, crushing his chest like a stack of bricks all set upon his pecks.
Looking down, Matt finds the two glasses of wine, instinctively taking the one meant for Darlene into his hand, staring at it with disgust the more the anger inside of him boils. In a moment of rage, Matt pulls his arm back and sends the small piece of glassware flying across the room, shattering somewhere in his kitchen, also mirroring the fallout of the night prior.
Recalling the similarities between tonight and the night before, Matt drops to the ground, taking a seat upon the carpet after letting the stack of bricks bring him down. Leant against his couch, Matt wipes at his face before his eyes fall upon the fishtank ahead of him, his attention stolen by the peculiar sight before him. Pulling himself up, Matt approaches the tank, allowing the blue lights that illuminate the water to encompass his face.
Swimming alone in the water, surrounded by nothing, the biggest fish in the tank goes about its day like nothing is different, the symbolism of this sight bringing a smile to Matt’s face. Keeping his eyes upon the fish as he reaches for the bottle of flakes, sprinkling an assortment at the top. Whilst the big fish eats, the rest of the fish slowly emerge from whatever corners of the tank they once inhabited, eating alongside the big fish the moment food arrives.
Nodding, Matt considers his job done, taking joy in the biggest fish in the tank being surrounded by his peers once again. “Sleep tight, guys” Matt mutters to the fish, making peace with the situation in his own way as he flips the switch, bringing darkness over the living room. Hand placed upon his door, Matt prepares himself for bed by cutting himself off from the remainder of the massive home, retreating to his own corner to prepare for whatever may come next.
== Kings of Cambridge ==