Fell Down The Stairs


bella_icon.gif lola2_icon.gif

Scene Title Fell Down The Stairs
Synopsis Lola decides that she needs some help in dealing with the Refrain withdrawal.
Date October 21, 2009

Bella's Office

Something feels a little strange about being back here, back in her office. It's a full circle sort of deal, since this is where she got sapped and dragged off from, and here's where she is now, picking up where she left off, minus a certain amount of personal ambulatory stability. Dr. Isabella Sheridan makes her limping way around the office, still using the strange, archaic and totally unaccessorizable wolf's head cane. What possibly psychological reason she might have for hauling around this object should be left to professionals, and Bella herself is mum on the subject.

She's not expecting anyone today; she's actually here mostly to check to make sure all things are intact and accounted for. A post-knock out rummaging would hardly be out of the question. Dressed in a slate grey suit, her glasses perched on her nose and her hair in a bun, she looks uncharacteristically severe as she hobbles around, checking the drawers and even peering under the limited furniture of her studio apartment office.

The sound is barely audiable, except perhaps to hyper sensitive ears that are rebounding from a kidnap experience. Perhaps. It doesn't even occur to Lola to knock - when has it ever. The way she sees it, she's just eliminating a step in the process. Maybe she'll even save semeone from having to get out of their LaZy Boy to answer the door. Never can tell.

The door pushes open easily and allows entrance to Lola Mayeux, nowadays known as Mary-Lou. She's wearing a loose sweatshirt and jeans, one hand over her abdomen as though there's pain there. "Hey thar sugar," she drawls, nodding to Bella as though….as though this were all very normal. "Didja know yer door was locked?" She closes it, quietly, behind her, and puts her hands in her pockets, slightly nervous. Doctors office, and all. "Huh, this don' look like I pictured it. So are ya that…head-shrinker?"

Oh sweet mother of mercy. That click make's Bella's heart rate leap past the cardiovascular speed limit. It wouldn't be hard for her to recontextualize the drawl she hears next as that of a stereotyped state trooper: 'You know how fast yer heart wuz goin'?' And in fact it takes a moment for her to dispel this immediate impression and actually process the words coming at her from behind.

The shrink turns about, trying not to seem too abrupt, and her smile is thrown up with a similar attempt at hiding its own abruptness. "Hm? Um… yes," yes to both questions, "Yes. I'm Doctor Sheridan. I…" she gives Lola a very quick once over, her hand gripping the walking stick a bit tighter for a moment, "Can I help you?" No mention of how it is that Lola got /in/ through the locked door. Maybe this information will come out in the wash. Maybe Bella needs a freaking panic button.

"Yeah, ya kin, sugar." Lola moves, uninivted, sauntering through the office until she gets to a chair in front of the desk, slumping down. The slump is almost in slow-motion, as there is real pain on her face as she settles down, one hand over her abdomen. These slow movements continue, as do the flinches, as the young woman props her feet up on Bella's desk. "Though I reckon I oughta ask ya, ya associated wif any criminal organizations? An if ya ain, that means that anythin' I tell ya, anythin' I say ta ya, ya can' tell nobody 'bout, right?"

It wouldn't take a medical professional to spot the suggestion of pain. Bella's eyes flick to the ailing spot as she moves to her usual seat, the armchair next to Bella's effective 'desk', a small coffee table. She also glances at the propped shoes, Lola's shoes. Worse things have happened. "If you're coming here for therapy, then anything you tell me is confidential. Note, however, that if you inform me of an intent to commit a serious crime, I'm required to report authorities. So… just be cautious when discussing anything like that." She leans her walkingstick against the arm of her chair and then laces her fingers together, "And no, I'm not part of any criminal organization."

Lola lifts her hand, waggling it, tilting it this way and that as if it were on a teeter. "Ya…might want ta define what exactly constitutes a serious crime, sugar." Just in case. Lola is a professional thief, and if she talks to this shrink for more than twenty seconds, chances are the woman will spot the kleptomaniac two feet in front of her. "An I didn' ask ya if ya were part of any criminal organizations. I asked ya if ya were associated wif any. There's a distinct difference, if ya don't mind my sayin."

"A fine distinction," Bella admits, nodding. Her smiles is getting somewhat less forced, her features relaxing. She removes her glasses, folds them, sets them on the coffee table, wincing a bit as her leg muscles shift, "And like all such distinctions, very important. No, I am not associated with any criminal organizations," she dips her head to indicate Lola's abdomen, "Are you sure you're seeking the right kind of specialist? You look like you're in some sort of pain." As a last note she amends, "Intent to harm yourself or others, that serious."

She looks like she's in some sort of pain. "Ah'm in every sorta pain, sugar. Think of a pain an Ah'm in it. Ah'm kinda sober too, which ain' helpin' things. But I done seen one a them fancy hospital-type doctors, an been through all the surgery an all a that. Ah got checked out early fer…." Does she really want to explain all that to this stranger? No, not yet. "…sanity reasons." Slowly, painfully, she lowers her feet from the little table, wincing and murmuring a soft sound of agony. "Intent ta harm mahself or others? Would mah sayin' that 'if yer lyin' 'bout 'bein in cahoots with a criminal organization, Ah'd shoot ya in the eye' constitute an intent ta harm mahself er others? Ah ain' sayin' it, mind ya. Just askin'."

Bella purses her lips, considering the question Lola puts to her very carefully. Getting shot has become a somewhat less hypothetical concept for her as of late, so it makes her appreciate this particular hypothetical question with increased delicacy. "It's a conditional statement, so at the moment I'll make the judgement call to say, no, since it's reliant on conditions that won't be met." The psychiatrist tilts her head to one side, "While we're on the topic of technicalities, I'd like to ask: do you have insurance? Or will you be paying cash?"

Pay? Lola quirks an eyebrow at this concept. She can't exactly steal time from this woman. "Right, ya'll charge fer this shit, doncha? Well do I gotta pay afore ya fix me, or is it like a car, where Ah get ta inspect it an make sure everythin's workin' better for I hand it over? Ah ain' got insurance if that's what yer askin, but Ah kin pay ya cash….an maybe a bit extra if ya don' keep my name much places, ya know?" She seems a little bit on edge about anyone finding out that she's here. She'll just have to steal a bit extra to cover for the sessions.

Oh, this is very interesting. It's also very reminiscent. "Cash is fine," she says, "But I'll need to have a look at your driver's license or some other government ID, for legal reasons. Make sure you're a bone-fide person who I will not be treating in violation of any law. You know how it is." Keeping it vague, too vague maybe. "However, that information will be strictly private. I'll use an alias with all the notes I take during our sessions, if that's what you'd prefer."

"Boy, this feels like prison all over agian," Lola murmurs, probably not doing much to put the good doctor at ease. She digs around in her sweatshirt pockets, pulling out a brown wallet. She flips it open. "No, wait, that ain' mine…" she digs around again, finally finding a shiny new ID in her front pocket, though the corner is already starting to bend. It's fully legit, with an address in Red Hook listed on it. Mary-Lou Winston. Her very unhappy picture accompanies it. "Here, see? Ah even got a social security number." She has to try very hard to keep from laughing at that idea. Hell, she's got quite a few of those. But who doesn't, these days?

Mary-Lou Winston. Bella commits the name to memory. She'll need to remember when she does a background check through the organization she works for, an organization that some might, if they were being really hyperbolic, describe as illegal. Oooh well. She returns the card with a nod. "That's all I need to know," she says, with a well constructed smile. No comment on the mention of prison. It'll come up in therapy if it's important, right? "This isn't a garage, so no, cash is up front. However, the first session is gratis, so you can get a feel for if we can form a working relationship. So for now, you can keep that wallet tucked away." The psychiatrist makes to cross her legs, but the pain the motion provokes causes a mid-cross abort, and she instead just keeps her legs where they are. "So, Mary-Lou, what brings you to my office, through my previously locked door?"

Mary-Lou Winston. Bella commits the name to memory. She'll need to remember when she does a background check through the organization she works for, an organization that some might, if they were being really hyperbolic, describe as illegal. Oooh well. She returns the card with a nod. "That's all I need to know," she says, with a well constructed smile. No comment on the mention of prison. It'll come up in therapy if it's important, right? "This isn't a garage, so no, cash is up front. However, the first session is gratis, so you can get a feel for if we can form a working relationship. So for now, you can keep that wallet tucked away." The psychiatrist makes to cross her legs, but the pain the motion provokes causes a mid-cross abort, and she instead just keeps her legs where they are. "So, Mary-Lou, what brings you to my office, through my previously locked door?"

Lola raises a finger. "First off, sugar, if ya wanna keep yer door locked, ya oughta have a decent lock on it. Thing ya got now is basically the same as a doorbell," Lola seems to really believe what she's saying, too, like it's a fact of life. "An Ah'm here cause…well Ah'm outta morphine an Ah reckon sooner or later Ah'll turn up sober. All ya really gotta know 'bout me, sug, is some fellah got me hooked on …." Well shit, if she says Refrain, she'll be sharing that she's evolved. Unregistered. A crime among her many, many crimes. " ..h…heroin." Yeah, that stuff. She's heard of that. "Anyway, Ah done got off it, but twix the clusterfuck a mah current situation an the pain from the…um…." Bulletholes also indicates crime. "…where I done…burst mah appendix." That's not enough pain. "An fell down teh stairs. A couple a times…" Yeah, that might do it, "Ah figure Ah'm gonna start usin' again. So yer supposed ta fix mah head ta make me not wanna, right? Afore I get sober?"

'Falling down stairs' is like universal code for 'hurt myself and won't say how', and Bella immediately gets the message; this is something she'll have to find out eventually, but now is not the time. The practical upshot: "You're in pain, and your main pain medication is addictive drugs," she gives a small smile; it's not funny, it's bizarre. Drug addicts come to doctors all the time trying to get pain meds. This is a drug addict who's come to a doctor to get off pain meds. "First off, if you really want to beat your addiction, then you cannot rely on me to make it happen. I can't make you stop wanting substances. My function here will be to help /you/ make /yourself/ stop wanting substances. And that is a time intensive process, one that will demand a great deal of trust between us. All of which is to say, you have to be /very/ committed to this relationship, and to your recovery. Are you committed?"

Is she committed? Well she's been shot a few times. Strangled. Stalked. Threatened. And through all of that she's managed to get out from under the thumb of the drug. "Ah ain' goin' back ta what Ah was like afore. Fellah that done gave 'em ta me, he weren' so bad an all. Think he just done it cause…." Uhh…how can we phrase this? "He didn' want me workin' no more, not at the place Ah was workin' at, ya know? But Ah wanna be able ta punch folks in the face rather'n worry if they got mah drugs or not." Does she trust this relationship? Hello no. "Ah ain' committed shit to ya, though." she runs a hand through her clearly red-dyed hair. "Ah don' even know ya."

"I'm sure you want your life to go back to how it was before your addiction," Bella says, tone level, eminently reasonable, "But understand that that's not how things get to be. Addiction is something you learn to live with, something inside you you have to starve, not something that ever really goes away. The first thing any addict has to do to overcome their addiction is surrender their will," she lifts a finger, "Not their freedom or their dignity. That's already gone, thanks to the addiction itself. Your will. Because it's your will that addiction uses to feed itself. So yes, you don't know me, and you're not committed to me. But you have to be committed to /this/," she points the floor, indicating the here, the now, "To recovery. And the first step is admitting you have no other choice. Surrender your will. Do that, and you may just get your freedom and dignity back."

Lola's eyes narrow. Something that's been said isn't liked. "Mah dignity?" Thank god Kain and Cardinal aren't here - bastards would be laughing their asses off. "Ah don' know if ya understand, sugar. Ah done puked mah brains out, an…." Her grip tightens on the chair. "Ya don' even know what else. Ah still got plenty a dignity ta go round. Just cause Ah got hooked don' make yer yankee as a damn shade better'n mine. If Ah didn' have no dignity Ah'd be shootin' up an flippin' ya the finger at the same time. So doncha go sittin' there sayin' Ah ain' got none, like yer so much better'n me fer it."

Bella's demeanor remains crisp, unflinching. "Please don't make an enemy out of me. And please don't put words in my mouth, nor opinions in my head. I am telling you the cold, hard facts of addiction and recovery, facts that nothing can change. I am telling you that this will be intensely hard, and that if try and keep your head up high it'll get lopped right off. I'm not joking. This is humble work, for /both/ of us. I /can't/ cure you, even though I'm a doctor. And you can't fight your addiction with your considerable and well deserved self respect. There can be no high horses here for either of us. If my honesty seems like condescension, I'm sorry. It's out of respect that I'm being so forthright, telling you about the challenges before we face them."

Lola shakes her head. "Mah dignity's mine, an no matter what ya say no drug's gonna done take it. Neither's you. So ya kin try ta fix me knowin' that Ah ain' bout ta turn that over, or ya kin let me know that ya ain' able ta do it an Ah'll find someobody who will. Or Ah'll do it mahself." She nods, sitting back and folding her arms. "Ah done got through the worst of it already, afore…mah…'pendix burst." Right, that was the line? Shit, this lying thing is hard. "The pukin', the sickness, all a that Ah already done."

Bella nods, "It's your will I'm asking for," she says, "Either way, I'll do my best to help you. But I wanted to let you know ahead of time what you're up against. Addictions make enemies of ourselves. Your better judgment, your best intentions, all of that has to take a back seat to recovery. You're proud, at least that's the impression I get, and by no means do I think you don't have every right to be, but when it comes to drugs and alcohol pride will land you in the gutter. I'll say it again, it's humble work. You're ready for that, though, right?"

Lola waves a hand. "Yer misunderstandin'. Ah done toldya that Ah ain' goin back that way," That's a fact, as true as any that's been spoken in this room. Which, between the white lies and the outright ones, isn't much. But still. "Ah'm just here thinkin' if ya kin make it easier, yeah? S'all Ah'm lookin' fer. Ya ain' even on the hook if anythin' happens ta me or nothin. Ah mean Ah spoze Ah could be worse, all twitchy an threatenin' ta throw mahself offa bridge 'er some shit."

"All right. Thank you for the clarification," Bella says, "I will try my best to help. Which is what you want from me, from what I understand. So, we can start by managing your pain. Putting you on something less powerful, something to ease you off. Methadone is the usual stepping stone from heroine. It'll be a step down from morphine, too, but they're all opioids, so they share a basic structure. Does that sound reasonable?"

She gets more drugs to help her get better from the drugs? "Pain from the…uh…heroine weren' so bad, sug, was the apendix an all that's got me. Was…kinda out of it durin' the detox, ya know? But now Ah'm…not. Ah'm here, ya know? Aware of everythin'. An it feckin' hurts." Bullet wounds to the gut from a .45 tend to do just that. "Sure, Ah spoze. Sorta weaned off the morphine by now. Friend a mine named Mistah Daniels been helpin' me with that." Jack Daniels. Drink American!

Bella laces her fingers together, setting her chin on them and giving Lola an earnest look. "Even if you detoxed from heroine, the morphine attaches to the same receptors. You're still addicted, the pathways in your brain are still arranged in just the wrong way. And if you drink you'll be trading one dependence for another. Once you're off the morphine entirely, you'll detox again, and no amount of alcohol will protect you from that shitstorm," lapsing into informalities, cussing, "Is the core issue here pain? Pain management? I need the whole story if I'm to help treat you."

Is it? "Course it is, what else would it be?" Of course, Lola can't admit it all to a complete stranger. How it isn't just the pain that's been driving her mad - it's the desire to go on a trip. Refrain trips bring her back to happier times, simpler times, times when she wasn't in fear for her life all the damn time. But she can't just say that to someone she doesn't know. It just…wouldn't work. "Sides, alcohol ain' an addiction. Where Ah'm from as long as yer functionin' ain' nothin' an addiction."

"Then methadone is your best choice. A low scale opiate that will help you manage your pain and control your intake," Bella says, "It's cheap, it's effective, and it'll keep your cravings for heroine to a hopefully manageable level. After you heal, and pain's not longer an issue, we can work towards weaning you off of the methadone entirely." Just in time to deal with chronic alcohol abuse, she things, but doesn't say. This, like the real source of the injuries, is something that'll have to be dealt with later. If there is a later.
Lola nods. "Fine, fine, Ah spoze. Does it come in…unmarked bottles? Ah don' want mah landlord findin' it…" Cardinal will just yell at her. Or shake his head. Or tell Kain. Who will laugh. "An…do Ah just get it from ya?" She sits back a bit, hand lightly patting her injured belly. "Huh, this shit's easier than Ah thought!"

"You'll need to go to a clinic," Bella says, and reaches over to get her pen and pad. She starts marking things down, an address near Red Hook, some names. She tears the sheet out and offers it to Lola, "You'll need to show your ID to them there, too, but it's similarly confidential. Here, I'll write up the referral." She gets to her feet and moves to the kitchenette, opening a drawer and drawing out some form or other. She starts to fill this out in turn, speaking as she does. "You'll have to go every day, they administer it on site, but at least you won't need to bring anything home."

Lola wrinkles her nose. "Every day? That's…kinda inconvenient, ain' it? If it's a matter a needles, Ah ain' so good as that ol' feller was with 'em but Ah know how ta shoot up," She winks, playfully, to the doctor, as though this were some kind of joke. And she takes a minute to look aroudn while Bella's back is turn to see if there's anything worth pocketing. If there is? Snipe!

Unless Lola's longing to get ahold of some back issues of the New Yorker, or is interested in Bella's walking stick, there's not a lot to choose from here. The woman's purse rests by the sink in the kitchenette, but that would require some excuse, evasion or other pretense for approaching said sink, protected by the counter as it is. "If convenience is your concern, you may want to go back in time and not start taking heroin," Bella says, dryly, "You can skip days, but I wouldn't recommend it." She returns, offering the form now. "I'd like to meet with you as often as possible, ideally weekly, so you can update me as to your progress."

Lola reaches out to take the form, glancing over it. High School dropouts will only understand so much of it, and really it's not worth the read. She's pretty sure Bella isn't lying about anything. "Weekly?" She grumbles, running her fingers through her hair. She catches a flash of red form the corner of her eye and wrinkles her nose in distaste, flipping her hair back and away from her peripheral vision. "Ah spoze…."

Bella takes an unsteady seat, taking a moment to massage her leg. She seems able to get around without the cane, seems insistent on proving that fact to herself once and a while, but it obviously takes its toll. She looks maybe just a little pale after sitting down. At least she can empathize about pain. "I'm going to stress commitment again, Mary-Lou. You should be honest about your hesitations, your doubts. I expect and hope that you will get angry at me, pissed at how useless I am, impatient about how long this is taking. I need you to tell me these things when they occur to you. But as long as you're in this with me, we're in it together."

"Yeah," Lola's tone almost openly displays her skepticism. She pushes to her feet, grunting softly at the movement of her abdomen. "So Ah reckon today's Thursday, is it?

So Ah gotta come back next Thursday?" she asks, folding the slip of paper a few times and tucking it into her back pocket, hopefully where it won't go through the wash before she uses it. "There ain' gonna be nobody else here when Ah come, yeah? Nobody walkin' out when Ah walk in? Ah don' wanna get seen."

"As long as you come at the time we agree on, I promise you won't bump into anyone," Bella assures her, "Next Thursday it is. Is there anything else you'd like to tell me about? Anything we should cover?"

"Nah, more drugs fer mah drugs should just 'bout cover it," she gives a sloppy grin to the woman and offers her a little salute with the paper before it's finally tucked away and the girl's turning for the door. "Reckon' Ah'll be seein' ya, Doc."

"You reckon right," Bella says, unable not to smile back a little, returning the salute, "A pleasure meeting you, Mary-Lou. Take care."

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