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Dr. Neurotic

By:Max Monroe

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.


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.

I'd panicked at first, frustrated by life's timing and another hitch in  my carefully calculated plans. I'd worked tirelessly, to the point of  sleep deprivation, for the last three years to finish my residency, and  the door to a life outside of exhaustion finally beckoned. I didn't ever  want to struggle this hard for money again. I wanted to work hard, but I  wanted to do it where I was passionate-in neurosurgery. Not as a  late-night bartender at an Applebee's in Staten Island.         



And finally, a week ago, the answer had come. A job offer that would set  me up for the next five years and put me on the fast track to being a  big name, big changemaker, and big moneymaker in modern medicine.

I hadn't even considered that Winnie would react this negatively.

"It's at the top hospital in California, Win. People work ten years to  get in there. They scheme and fight, and the Neurology Department wants  me. How can I not take this job?" I explained, practically keening with  the desperation to make her understand.

"Get a job here," she argued. "New York has great hospitals, and St. Mary's already offered you a job."

"For half the money," I scoffed. "It doesn't even compare." And it  didn't. If I took the job at St. Mary's, I'd hardly be better off in  five years than I was now. I'd still be paying off the remaining balance  of my student loan, for shit's sake.

"It's here," Winnie stressed, tears running down her fresh, young face  and leaving a trail in the smooth surface of her light makeup. She had  the kind of eyes that cut you with their melancholy and fueled you with  their happiness, but this was bigger than that.

This was about more than us, and more than some pseudo-ideal picture of us as a happy, suburban family.

She didn't know what it was like to be the kid of someone who didn't  have money, so I had to look to the future for both of us. I didn't want  our kid to have to fight so hard for everything.

Some might call it spoiling, but to me, it just seemed right.

In the end, we could never understand each other. I swore she was wrong  for her way of thinking, and she thought the same about me.

I left the next week to take the job in California-to make something of myself, and ultimately, to make something for them.

One day, they'd understand.

They had to.

Taxis buzzed past me going sixty and screeched to zero in a heartbeat at the command of a traffic light turned red.

Impatient horns honked their love language, tempering the restless  drivers as they waited to be released from their hold and jockeyed for  position.

Pedestrians littered the sidewalks, and street vendors sat behind their  tables doing their best to convince passersby to snag their goods.

And a mid-seventies man with a hunchback and a pink tutu over a thong  combed the sidewalk in front of me, offering to do a dance in exchange  for some booze money.

I'm back, bitches.

New York City-the one and only city that always felt like home. And,  good God, she was just as gorgeous and eclectic and stubborn and vibrant  as she was the day I'd left her some twelve odd years ago. Sure, I'd  visited-the old girl's stubborn lure was too strong to resist in her  entirety-but it wasn't the same as knowing this was where I'd be living  from here on out.

Everything had come full circle, and the job that had once stolen me  away from the Big Apple had finally led me right back to my favorite  place in the entire world.

Chase Murray International, or CMI for short, was my employer, and I'd  been working for the world-renowned firm ever since I'd graduated from  NYU. Specializing in international marketing and advertising executives  and elite healthcare professionals, we only scouted the most sought  after CEOs and talented medical professionals in the world.

My specialty: physicians. Surgeons, to be specific.

Even though my degree from NYU was in business, and I had zero  healthcare experience, I'd proved over the years that I had a knack for  finding only the best surgeons. And I was even better at convincing them  to leave their current place of employment and relocate to a hospital  that needed and desired their expertise.

It wasn't necessarily what I'd planned out for my career, but over the years, I'd grown to love the freedom my job allowed.

I worked my own schedule, set my own hours, and had the capability of doing everything on my own time.

And it was a lot less physically strenuous than something like  stripping. Instead of spending my time keeping my figure trim, I wooed  people by taking them out to dinner.

Food for the win!

It was a dream, to be honest. And the only negative I'd found was the demand for relocation.

But CMI had made some changes, and now, I'd be permanently in New York with the occasional need for travel.

Not to mention, I'd finally be able to utilize my separate savings account that I'd not-so-creatively titled "house fund."