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09 December 2008 @ 03:13 pm
Theatrical Muse: Week 259: Question 259  
Name: Dr. Sid Hammerback

Fandom: CSI: New York

Word Count: 1572


Write a prompt that begins with the words: "I don't understand"...


“I don’t understand.”, the woman said, looking at him, her face crisscrossed with confusion and interlaced with doubt. Sid smiled at her, and shrugged, his shoulders lifting and dropping in an empty gesture as he ran his right hand quickly through his hair.

“Just don’t open the oven door. Twenty minutes, take them out, put them on the bench, they’ll be fine.” the man said and then turning his head, holding up a finger, indicating he had to go.

“We’ll be back by eleven, they’ll be fine. Don’t open the door before then, or they’ll, go poof.” he said, elaborating the possible deflating of choux pastry with unexplainable hand motions.

Sid Hammerback rolled his eyes at his wife as they slipped out the door, the New York City air cool, but not unwelcome, and heady with a slight scent of roasted chestnuts. Was it that late in the year already? Ah the incompetence of quick at hand babysitters.


Years later, Sid looked back on that moment, as he chronicled memories and poured out a shot glass of what, by process of elimination, must have been whiskey. His head uttered a dull thump of resistance as it was downed, and he sighed. Months after that moment, he still remembered things suddenly, seemingly arbitrary moments of a life he no longer belonged to, except, by now, the glass bottles were back in their places, only occasionally examined and opened, to match this, or nightcap that.


In one of those early moments though, fuelled by alcohol and the desperate need to do something other than focus on their departure from his life, he looked through photo albums. Being that he was trying to lessen his pain, this helped very little, but it was a point of focus, of remembering, so at least it served some purpose. He came across a card one night, a well wishing card, an anniversary card. He prised it gently from the page of the scrapbook slash photo album, opening it with nimble practiced hands.

Inside were scribbled the words of a friend, one who now lived somewhere in remote Africa, or so he had remembered, then.

20 years.
Happy anniversary you lucky git.

There were some general wishes below it, and he put the card back, in that moment, and set about trying not to focus, which was, in itself, a fruitless task, way back then.


And now, in a moment of the present, tired after a double shift, lying in a makeshift camp bed in the corner of the morgue, waiting for someone to take over, he returned to the memory within a memory, examining it, not as the married man, not as the unhappy widower, but a person who was at a point of contemplative intelligence.

Twenty years, two sets of decades, four sets of five years, ten sets of two, something like, seven thousand three hundred days, give or take leap years and other trivialities decided by people concerned with time being on time. Twenty years ago, they’d been married for a while. At twenty years old, then, another set of twenty, they’d only been married for a little bit. After twenty years of marriage, they had still had years ahead of them, moments of peaceful quiet and hopeful disturbance. No children yet, no, that came later on, later than some, but still alright.

In the camp bed he silently examined all those thoughts he had had way back then, all those things that were somehow, somewhere, still true, in some respect.


Twenty years, another shot of, still whiskey, now, way back then, when he wanted to loosen his grip a little, just for one moment, a handful of mere occasions. No permanent alcoholism, but oh how it hurt, oh how the pain and the terror and the insecurity tore at him, ripping at his insides until he just tried on the suit of the very person he disliked, the one he would never wanted them to have seen him in. If he was a widower, wait, what was the word synonymous to that, for lost children? What word aligned itself against widower, for, lost children? Was there even one? He couldn’t remember, no, certainly not.

What would they have been like when they were twenty. In their child years, they had many features, both, of their parents. There was a slight coppery shimmer in their hair, reminiscent of their mother, and they both had high cheekbones from her side of their parentage. They had his long, easy face, and their eyes, Christopher’s a stark blue, and Michael’s, a startling amalgamation of green and blue specks. They had their shared love of words, and, they were intelligent. Would they have grown up to be builders or artists or film makers? Would they grow up to be Chefs? Would they then, translate, like he had, into a world of crime solving, medicine, even? Or would they have followed their mother, more businesslike, efficient in attire and able to handle large numbers and demands? Who would they have married? Girl, boy, and what would the grandchildren have been like? Twenty years after they were twenty, would they be happy?

Back in the camp bed now, Sid sighed, happy, but, the pertinent decision of leaving work soon and falling into bed was an abatable nuisance, that had to be, well, abated, put aside, until he could actually do so. So, while the morgue, his morgue, favoured emptiness in lieu of being busy, while the world stood still for a moment and no one was dying or arriving there, he returned to his thoughts, consumed, in his tiredness, with the thought of twenty years, and what all those occurrences of sets of twenty years had meant to him.


A couple of years later now, childless, wifeless, and trying to return to normal, he took a trip down to ground zero, stood their staring at a yawning, empty hole where the World Trade Centre Towers had once been. Walked down from Liberty Street, after watching them open up the Tribute TWC, after seeing more people who were like him, invisibly scarred and damaged, some empty, some still with people left. He had stood with Mac, their faces silent, respectful, had stood and watched, and then walked, because he was catching the train home. Didn’t feel like driving. Sid stood there for a while that day, remembering how, once, he had attended a pre-Christmas Christmas party there, one of those trivial things, back then, when he had bought Marianne chestnuts off a street vendor, when he had been making éclairs for his mother, who was too busy to babysit.


Sid stood, rolled off the camp bed and stood as the door to the morgue opened, hissing, creaking, protesting, and he made a mental note to get maintenance to look at it. He smiled and greeted his replacement, exchanged knowing smiles been co-working friends, and handed over all the relevant papers, case reports, things that would have to be followed or dealt with during the next shift. The other man, the other Medical Examiner smiled at his tired eyes and apologised for being late, handed him a bag of hot chestnuts. Were they selling them this early, already? And then they parted ways and Sid shook himself from remembering memories, and memories remembered within memories. He drove home, parked his car, went into his house, smiled at the children’s drawings hung permanently on the wall, the woman’s umbrella still resting in the stand. Sighed, showered and went to bed. No alcohol now, no, no more, not like way back then, after his wife and children had died, burning inferno, all pain and terror and quickness. Now he was just Sid Hammerback, understanding, knowledgeable, Sid Hammerback, childless, widower, Sid Hammerback, maverick Chef cum Medical Examiner.

The only thought that stung him, a final showdown, curtain call as he drifted off to sleep, was one panicked moment, way back then, just before he had fallen down those stairs he had fallen down. In twenty years time, who would remember him? When he was old and decrepit, when his blue eyes had started to turn to water and when he was older, getting older still, who would remember him? He had already dealt with the death of his lover, one decision that most, many people dreaded, and she, she was gone. He had dealt with the loss of his children, worse still, something that no parent wanted to experience, ever. So, without them, being an only child, with most family in Canada, and some, here or there, in America, who would remember him when he was old, and his parents were dead, and, he would be all alone, so no one might remember him.

The one thing that he saw now, though, that he hadn’t seen back then, being drunk, before falling down those stairs, the one thing that rocked him gently as he went off to sleep, after waiting on a camp bed and working a double shift was that, if anything, the people that he helped, would remember him. When he would pick up his scalpel, mockingly holding it like a carving knife, and would then uncover the trials and tribulations of those passed, when he helped to solve mysteries, the people he solved mysteries for, would remember him. Even those people he had loved, and had lost, would remember him.

He understood that now.
 
 
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