Dr. NEUROtic

By: Max Monroe


A St. Luke’s Docuseries Novel


To Live PD: Thank you for making all-nighters possible. Your hookers, your meth pipes, your cars full of weed, and your sexy-ass high speed chases—all give us the will to push on and write another chapter, even when the sleep monster is calling.

P.S. Special thanks for the creation of Sgt. “Sticks” Larkin.



To Impractical Jokers: For reassuring us that there are real people out there as ridiculous as our characters (and ourselves).



To TV: For being the holder of both of these gems.



To Electricity: For allowing TV.



To Thomas Edison (or maybe Benjamin Franklin. Frankly, Google wasn’t clear.): For inventing electricity.



To Thomas Edison’s (Benjamin Franklin’s) parents: For “creating” Thomas (Benjamin).



To you, dear reader: For reading this far into a pile full of dedication garbage. Your loyalty is remarkable.





“I’m sorry, Nick. I know you’ve grown accustomed to us paying your tuition, but your father is a good man. He doesn’t shirk responsibility, and he wouldn’t want to,” my mom said gently.

The kitchen chair was solid under me, I could feel its legs against my own, but somehow, I still felt like I was falling. My ears whooshed as blood pumped furiously from my heart and out, and I tried to make sense of what this meant for me. But none of it made sense—I couldn’t focus—and the unexpected news stung in a way I knew was probably unreasonable. I couldn’t help it, though.

The bottom would surely come soon, and then I could concentrate on picking myself up again and figuring out how to fix all of my ailments.

Right?

I was studying to become a doctor, after all.

“I don’t understand. How is Dad leaving his job a brilliant display of responsibility?” I demanded irately. And why does he have to do it now? I thought but didn’t ask. Some part of me knew my parents didn’t owe me this, but the young, selfish, throbbing pain piercing through my frontal lobe as I imagined what this would mean for my life thought otherwise.

My dad was one of the biggest guys on Wall Street, a brilliant mind, and a talented moneymaker, and he was leaving to take over my grandfather’s hardware store. It was on its last leg, about to go under, and the store itself carried more debt than my parents did. In what world was this responsible?

My mom’s face hardened slightly. My parents were one of those blindingly happy couples, more in love each day, and desperate to have just one more year together every year they had one. They’d be married sixty years one day, and they’d still be wishing for just a little bit longer. Any insult to my father, veiled, vague, or otherwise, was an insult to my mother as well.

“He left his job to finish the one your grandfather left unfinished,” my mom lectured, her smooth, chocolate-brown bob swinging forward to cover her now pinkened cheeks. “He founded that company seventy years ago, and it’s a family legacy. He’s taking care of your grandmother, and he’s still taking care of us. We just won’t have as much freedom as we used to.”

“Freedom?” I questioned as I pictured my life at the hospital now combined with another job on top of it. I didn’t have time to sleep as it was. “I can kiss my life goodbye. I’ve still got three years of my residency left, hundred-hour weeks, and now I need a job.”

Her tone softened, but only slightly. You didn’t talk to your mother like an ungrateful asshole and get a cookie for it. At least, I never did. “You’ll get a loan, Nick.”

My anger, rooted in the life my parents had spoiled me with up until this point, colored my words and set my mind.

“Dad can do what he wants. But after I’m done with school, I’m going to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes,” I spewed, ruthlessly locking in my single-minded goal without scrutiny. I would provide for myself and my future family financially, as was my responsibility, and I would do it at any fucking cost.

Famous last words, huh?




“That job is across the country, Nick. I don’t even know how you can consider it. You’ll never see me or the baby!”

Winnie wrapped her small hands around the ever-rounding surface of her stomach protectively as she argued with me about my future. She’d told me about the baby three months ago, about a week after finding out herself, and in about four more months, I was going to be a father.

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