After visiting Wilson in prison, House makes another stop. And I certainly hope he's finished; I'd love
to get this whole "what if?" scenario outta my poor peabrain.
This is the companion piece to Visiting Hour, posted earlier today. If you've not yet read it, I'd suggest reading it first!
The night of his visit to Wilson, House goes to another place he hasn't been to recently, a bar, two neighborhoods over. He could've chosen the one closer to his apartment, but he's never been to this one with Wilson. He doesn't want to see any ghosts tonight.
House seats himself on a high stool, directly in front of the bartender. He doesn't want any delays in washing today out of his brain, and he doesn't want to be drawn into any stupid chats with any idiotic patrons. He orders a double shot of scotch, no ice, and drains it in two gulps.
When the bartender puts the fourth double in front of him, House looks up blearily. "You got any frenns?" he asks, and ignores the patronizing eye roll the question earns him.
"Sure; a few," the man finally responds.
"Good frenns?" House persists. "Kinda frenns who'd give it all up for you?"
"I'd like to think so."
"How'dja feel if you knew so? If your friend told some dumbass cop that he'd go to jail for ya?"
"Buddy; almost closing time. Let me call you a cab."
"No, really--answer my queshun," House slurs. "How'dja feel?"
"Guess I'd feel pretty good," the bartender says. "Guess I'd feel lucky to have a friend like that."
"Yeah... pretty good. Guess tha's how I feel, too. Should feel that way, right? Moron told Tritter better he go to jail than me. Can ya 'magine that? Said I was worth more. Me!"
"Your friend obviously thinks a lot of you. Hope you're grateful."
House laughs harshly. "Grayful? For what? Still got my license, still got my freedom. Don't have my friend. Grayful? He's… a moron; told him so, too." House lowers his head to rest on the edge of the bar.
"I'm calling you that cab now; should be here soon."
"No... don' do that. Call Jimmy; he'll get me home."
"Sure, buddy; what's his number?"
House's head is still on the bar, and he doesn't respond. The bartender sighs, and picks up the phone. When the cab driver comes in, the bartender shakes House's shoulder. "Hey--wake up, pal. Ride's here."
House raises his head, reaches unsteadily for his cane. "Toldja. Toldja you should call Wilson; doesn't matter what it costs ‘im, always keeps me safe. True frenn, that Wilson."
The cab driver slings House's left arm over his shoulder. He and the bartender exchange a knowing, pitying look over House's bowed head—just another melancholy drunk, not a friend in the world to turn to. Then the cabbie drags House out of the bar.
As the taxi pulls to a stop, House rouses. “Thanks, Jimmy… always count on you,” he sighs.
“Name’s Jerry, but you’re close,” the cabbie says good-naturedly. “That’ll be $9.50,” he says, and he sees the man’s eyes go suddenly cold, utterly sober, as he pulls out his wallet.
House tosses the driver a $50 bill and turns away.
“Thanks, mister! You’re a great guy, you know that?” the cabbie calls after him.
“Yeah,” House mutters quietly. “A real force for good in the universe. Just ask Wilson.” And then he limps, alone, into his dark apartment.
Third vignette: Midnight Hour