My Kind of Town|
By Trina L. Short
Dr. Grace Holloway walked down the streets of Chicago, enjoying the change of pace from her life in San Francisco. She intended to really enjoy this vacation.
She turned toward a bank to get some cash. It had been so long since she'd vacationed that she'd forgotten how quickly the money disappears. As she reached the front door, it was slammed open, hitting her in the nose. The man rushing out apologized and kept on running. Grace was stunned looking at the figure moving towards the street and shouting for a taxi. It was the Doctor!
Grace caught up with the man just as a cab pulled up. As she got near, he accidentally banged her in the knee with the door.
"Oh, sorry!" he stated.
"Doctor! Wait, why are you in such a hurry?" she called out to him as he started to shut the door.
Several security guards suddenly exited the bank and began to look up and down the street. The Doctor looked panicked and tried to shut the door again. Grace groaned as she was still leaning into the cab. He quickly pulled her in by her blouse and slammed the door shut. The cab eased its way into the traffic before the security guards saw it.
Grace rubbed her head where it had hit the ceiling of the cab. "Doctor, why have you changed back?"
The Doctor was staring out the back window. "Changed back?" he asked, turning to look at her. "Do I know you?"
Grace studied the man seated next to her. He was definitely the man she'd operated on three years before, only he looked different. Younger. His hair was shorter. And he was a bit thinner as well.
"Oh dear," she said. "You probably haven't met me yet. I didn't even think of that when I saw you."
The Doctor was back to staring out the back window. "Ah," he muttered. Then he turned and smiled at Grace. "Well, then, how do you do? I'm the Doctor. And this is..." he turned to look next to him. "A door. Hmmmm, I seem to have lost my companions. Nevermind, I'll find them again soon."
"Dr. Grace Holloway," she replied. Then she frowned. The Doctor seemed a little distracted. She looked closer at his face. His pupils were tiny little specks. She wondered how he could see at all.
"Doctor, are you feeling all right?" she asked him.
"Oh yes! I feel wonderful. CABBY!" he shouted, nearly deafening her. The cabdriver waved his hand in acknowledgment. "STOP HERE FOR A MINUTE."
The taxi pulled over and the Doctor handed him a load of bills and then grabbed Grace by the hand. He yanked her out of the car and then pulled her into a café.
"We'll be safe here. I'm positive we weren't followed."
Grace looked around, wondering if she'd done the right thing by going with the Doctor. She wasn't sure he was the same gentle man he'd eventually be. "Of course, Doctor. We're fine."
The Doctor sipped his Earl Grey. He dunked his cookie into the tea and thought about life. Here he was, a new day, a new body, a new traveling companion. He didn't feel anything like his previous self. He was glad he'd come into his own, but a little sad that one more chapter of his life was finished. He looked around the diner and smiled at all the different walks of life.
Two of the walks of life were arguing in the corner. He could just make out the conversation.
"You lost him? How could you do that? You're an Adjudicator!" the little black woman was yelling at the big blond man.
"We were just walking down the street. We stopped to get some hot dogs with kraut. He said he didn't have any money and so I sorted through my change. When I looked up, he was getting into a cab and then going down the street. I would have hurried after him, but I hadn't paid for our hot dogs yet."
The woman buried her head in her hands.
The Doctor stood up and walked over to the couple. "Excuse me," he said, clearing his throat.
The young man look at him. "Can I help you?"
"Yes, actually. You both look very familiar to me and I was wondering if you could tell me your names."
The woman scoffed. "Yeah, sure. We'll tell you who we are."
"I'm Chris Cwe... Ow! Why did you kick me, Roz?"
The Doctor slapped his forehead. "Chris! Roz! How could I have forgotten?"
Chris shrugged. "Depends on what you've forgotten and who you are."
"I'm the Doctor. Don't you recognize me?"
They both shook their heads.
"I know, I know, I've regenerated. It's always a bit of a shock to people."
They looked at each other. Roz carefully said, "So, if you're the Doctor, you've got his memories, right?"
"Well, to an extent. You know how easy it is to forget things."
Chris moved over and motioned for the Doctor to sit next to him in the booth. He squeezed in, sitting almost completely on the bench.
Roz put one elbow on the table and supported her head with her hand. "OK, Doctor, if you can remember things, try to remember where you went when Chris lost you today. It's very important that you do."
The Doctor looked blankly at Roz. "Um, I'm not sure it's possible."
A hard, round object bumped his knee under the table. "This blaster says it's possible, Doctor."
Grace sighed as she watched the Doctor play the spoons. He was entertaining the entire café with his skill, even playing them on the customers. She was wondering if he was drunk or something. She'd never had the chance to see her own Doctor drunk. She mused for a few moments imagining him drunk, his inhibitions drifting away on a vapor of alcohol. She shook herself back to reality.
"Doctor, don't you think we should be going now?"
The Doctor bopped her on the head with one of the spoons. She rubbed the spot - it was exactly where she'd hit it in the cab.
"We've got plenty of time. I mean, it's only just gotten 3 o'clock."
"It's after five."
"What? Why didn't you say so?" The Doctor grabbed her by the wrist again (which was beginning to get sore) and pulled her onto the street. He was fortunate this time as a taxi was already in wait. In fact, it was the same taxi they'd been in a few hours before.
"AH, GOOD MAN!" the Doctor shouted as he got into the cab. "GLAD YOU WERE STILL HERE!"
The cabdriver nodded and smiled, pointing at the wad of money the Doctor had thrown at him earlier.
The Doctor winked at Grace. "You see how it is. Treat people well and they'll treat you well."
"Doctor, there has to be at least a thousand dollars there! How can you simply give it away like that?"
He smiled and patted his trousers. "You know what they say..."
Grace turned away, muttering, "Yeah, they say the same thing on my planet."
The Doctor was back to staring out the back window. After several minutes of silence, he grabbed Grace, opened the door, and flung her and himself out of the cab.
"Oof!" Grace said as the Doctor fell on her, pushing her harder onto the concrete. "I think you skinned my knee! You'd better have good reason for that, mister."
"It's Doctor, actually," he said while he stood up and dusted himself down.
"Yes, I know."
"You do? Oh, good." He walked over to the wall of a building and carefully peered into the alley. Then he scurried past the alley entrance until he was up against a building again.
Grace picked herself up, nursing her scrapes and bruises. She was really getting frustrated with him.
She walked over next to him and tapped him on the shoulder. He turned abruptly and pointed his question mark handled umbrella at her.
"So! Zodin! You've finally come out in the open! Get out your Sword of Savar and let's get this over with!"
"Doctor, you have really flipped. Why don't you and I go to a nice hospital and the lovely nurses will take care of you."
"Do I understand that you do not intend to give me satisfaction! Take that!" He batted her on the side with his brolly. "And that!" he said, hitting her again. He began to hit her all over with his instrument until she finally surrendered.
Grace was throbbing all over. The Doctor still had his umbrella pointed at her and was snarling. He looked almost comical, except for his eyes. She couldn't even see the pupils, just big blue orbs.
"So, what am I going to do with you, Zodin? I can't trust you anymore than I can throw a Dalek." He moved the point of the umbrella closer, until it was pressing against her chest. And then it pressed harder. And harder still.
Chris, Roz, and the Doctor were still walking through the streets of Chicago. They first went to the hot dog stand where it had all started. The stand had actually shut hours earlier, but the rest of the corner looked the same. Ever since then, the Doctor had been leading them through the streets.
They were currently walking across Roosevelt Road.
"Man," Chris exclaimed, "This is one Long Ass Bridge."
"Doctor, are you sure you went this way?" Roz asked?
"Of course I'm not sure. Regeneration is a tricky thing. I can remember the first time Susan and I celebrated her birthday, but I still cannot remember the events that led up to my last regeneration." He sighed. "I wish I could help you, Roz, but I really don't remember anything."
"Well, if you don't remember, you'll just have to take us with you. There's no way I'm going to be stranded in the twenty first century. These people are barbarians."
"Roz, you know I can't do that. It would mess up my own time lines. I do know that we met up again because I remember how you..." He stopped. He remembered how she died. He steadied himself with the railing of the bridge.
"Doctor, are you all right?" Chris asked, coming over to support him.
"Yes. Yes, I'm fine." He straightened his tie and cuffs and smiled at Chris. "I was just saying, I remember how we parted company. So you'll be reunited with me, I wouldn't worry."
They continued walking across the Long Ass Bridge and arrived in the South Loop. "Hey look, there's another hot dog vendor," Chris said. "Roz, you gotta try one of these things. They're very good."
Roz turned her nose up at the idea of eating cooked dog. Her family had pet dogs and she just couldn't deal with eating something that had such puppy-dog eyes. "Barbarians," she muttered, under her breath.
The Doctor was staring intently at the cart as Chris ordered himself a couple of dogs with kraut. "You know," he said to no one in particular, "I am beginning to remember something. Something about sauerkraut. Now what is it?"
"Yeph, da Dogdoor phought..."
"Chris, don't speak with your mouth full," Roz said.
The young man finished chewing and swallowed before saying, "Yes, the Doctor was saying something like that too. He thought there was something he should remember. But he seemed to like the hot dog. He'd eaten his before mine was even made."
The Doctor's face fell. "Oh no. I've just remembered. Sauerkraut is practically a hallucinogen to Gallifreyan physiognomy. I think I had some once during my second regeneration. Took them hours to get me off the chandelier. Oh my giddy aunt."
Roz stared at the young Edwardian gentleman standing in front of her. "You mean he's stoned? And he's somewhere out in the city? Oh great."
Grace had closed her eyes and backed against the wall behind her as much as possible. The pressure on her chest was more than she could bear. Suddenly it was removed and she heard a swish by her ear. She cautiously opened her eyes.
"Take that, you mutant cockroach!" the Doctor squealed as he swung his umbrella next to her head again. He seemed to be attacking something next to her. She moved out of his way.
"Doctor, are you sure you don't want me to get you a doctor?"
"No time for that now, Jamie! I've got to battle this cockroach into submission or it will eat all of Nova Scotia." The Doctor was still swinging the brolly up and down and right and left, occasionally hitting the wall.
Grace was moving farther and farther away from the Doctor. As she backed away, she saw what looked like a nice, friendly, sane office. She read the words painted on the window as she walked into the building. "Law Offices of Judi Grant and Assocs." She smiled to herself.
Chris, Roz, and the Doctor had each taken a pay phone and had been calling Chicago hospitals and outpatient care facilities and police stations trying to find out if the Doctor had been taken in any of them.
"OK, thanks." Chris hung up the phone. "I think we've got a possible. Northwestern Memorial has a John Doe who's tripping and he fits the Doctor's description."
"Good, that's not too far from here. Let's go," the Doctor said, moving towards the curb. A taxi arrived shortly after and they headed for the hospital.
"He's finally calmed down. We had to strap him to the bed to stop him hurting himself. And I'm afraid his umbrella is, well, you can see for yourself." The doctor attending the Doctor handed the Doctor a misshapen jumble of metal wires and torn fabric. The question mark handle was the only thing that hadn't changed. "He was found attacking several trash cans. Thankfully, no one was hurt."
The Doctor nodded as he looked at the now sleeping form on the bed. He really didn't remember looking like that. But he must have. He walked over and sat down next to the prone form of his former self.
There was a knock on the door. He knew it couldn't be Roz or Chris. They'd gone back to the hotel room after they'd found out the Doctor was safe. They'd collect him in the morning after he came down off his high.
"Enter," he said.
A tall, slender, and beautiful woman entered the room. "Are you Doctor John Smith?" she asked.
The lithe, chestnut-haired gentleman with sparkling blue down-turned eyes stood up and smiled. "Yes, I am."
"Good. I'm here to serve you with a restraining order. My client, Dr. Grace Holloway, has ordered that you are to keep your distance from her at all times. Should you come within 1 mile of her, you are in breach of this restraining order and can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Do you understand?"
The charming, crooked smile disappeared from his face. "Not really."
Judi Grant looked at the man in the frock coat before her. "I don't understand either. What kind of crazy woman would want you to stay away?"
The Doctor shrugged.
She looked him over again, still trying to find out why the harried woman had been so insistent that he be served with a restraining order. Of course, she had looked a bit crazed. "Perhaps we could go and look over these legal documents in more detail. There's a nice pizzeria nearby that has the best Chicago pizza in the city."
The Doctor smiled again. "Pizza? That would be lovely. I haven't had pizza in centuries."
Judi laughed and shook her head as the gentleman escorted her out of the hospital room.
On the bed in the room, the Doctor smiled, perhaps dreaming of the future. It was really hard to say.