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 Father and Son
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          Page Five

"Don't you think this conversation is a little
one-sided?  As I recall, you weren't exactly
supportive of my educational choices either.  I
wanted to put myself through school so I wouldn't
feel pressured to follow in your footsteps.  I
waited on tables, parked cars and even worked as
an evening janitor at the university in order to
put myself through school.  Granted, I didn't have
the same Ivy League education you had, but I earned
my way through my own efforts, and I'm proud of that.
And I distinctly remember how horrified you were
when I announced I wanted to go into emergency
medicine.  You called it barbaric, and said I'd
wash out in a week."  Smiling smugly, Kel added,
"Well, I'm still here."

Shaking his head, Brent argued, "You still don't
understand what this is about, do you?"

"I presume you're going to enlighten me."

The father sighed in frustration.  "You've been
so blasted determined to escape from what you
perceived to be my shadow, you've been running
at full throttle most of your life.  You thought
my occupation was boring, so you chose the most
exciting one you could imagine, emergency medicine."

Kel pondered this thought while he took a sip
of his scotch.

"But don't you see?" Brent asked.  "You're still
acting like this is some bizarre competition
between us.  It's not, you know."

Mercifully, the waiter appeared to take their
order.  Kel had little appetite, but knew he was
expected to follow the ritual.  Without looking
at the menu, he mechanically recited the desired
items.  His anxiety was mounting with each passing
moment.  Concealed by the linen tablecloth, he was
clenching and unclenching his fists.

"Dad, I simply wanted to be my own man.  That's a
normal desire."

"That's true, if not taken to extremes.  But you
never know when to draw the line.  Everything is
all or nothing, black or white," his father chided.
When you decided to become a doctor, you couldn't
settle for just any specialty.  You had to outdo me
and prove you were better than your old man.  And
what could be more dramatically different than a
field that deals with life and death issues every

His father's words cut him with the precision of
a surgeon's scalpel.  An uncomfortable feeling in
his stomach was making its presence known.  Kel
replied, "You've never accepted the fact that
we're totally different people with different
interests.  Maybe sitting around talking to people
all day long is your cup of tea, but it isn't mine.
I thrive on the excitement of the emergency room."

"What is it precisely that you find so appealing?
Is it the power you wield of being the head of the
department, or saving people's lives?"

Kel's famous temper flared.  "Saving people's lives,
of course!"

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"And you don't think I help save people's lives?"
Brent shot back.  "You may have looked down upon
my profession and the scheduled hours I kept, but
they allowed me the luxury of being able to raise
a family and participate in a healthy social life.
On the other hand, you'd rather work like a maniac
to the exclusion of all else.  You're forty-two years
old and you have no life to speak of.  You're not able
to sustain relationships, and your time is essentially
confined to the hospital and your apartment."

Color began to drain from the younger man's face.
He was furious that his father would dare to presume
to lecture him, particularly in a public setting.

Undeterred, Brent continued.  "Even though we rarely
get together, we do work in the same hospital.  I
know you're working yourself into an early grave.
Your long hours and avoidance of vacations are
legendary.  But it's taking its toll on you.  You
look exhausted.  You're pale, you've lost weight
and you look like you're not sleeping well."

Incredulous, Kel warned, "This is none of your

"You're my son.  That makes it my business."

A war waged within Kel.  He was angry with his
father for pursuing this line of conversation,
and with Dixie for insisting he schedule this
stupid meeting.  Most of all, he was angry with
himself for allowing events to unfold as they had.
After all these years, he should have known better
than to discuss certain topics with his father.
It was a foregone conclusion he would always lose
these heated debates.  The throbbing in his temple

"Dad, you have no right to make judgments about
how I choose to live my life."

Brent leaned back in the leather-upholstered chair.
"Then answer me this question.  Did you succeed?"

Kel was thoroughly confused.  "Succeed in what?"

"Did you prove to yourself you're not me?"

"I don't understand."

"Obviously you thought I was so terrible that
you went through extraordinary measures to avoid
being like me.  In personality, temperament, interests,
profession, you've tried to be my opposite in every
way.  But you're a grown man now.  You've established
yourself."  Brent's tone softened and he gently placed
his hand on Kel's forearm.  "Son, if you're still
running away from something, do you even know where
you're running to?"

Suddenly Kel felt the room was closing in on him.
Overwhelmed by nausea, he bolted from the table
and raced to the men's room.  Standing over the
toilet, he proceeded to lose what little he had
eaten earlier in the day.

A few minutes later, he splashed his face with cold
water to revive himself.  He caught his reflection
in the mirror.  For the first time, he didn't see
the cocky, self-assured head of emergency services
at Rampart.  He saw an insecure little boy wanting
to be anyone but his father.

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From :  "satchie51" <>  
Subject : Shattered
Date : Sat, 23 Nov 2002 20:54:00 -0000  
Kel sat in his darkened apartment, contemplating
the evening's events.  Past experience conditioned
him not to expect a cordial relationship with his
father.  The best he could hope to achieve was a
peaceful coexistence, and the best way to accomplish
that objective was simple avoidance.

Yes, dear old Dad managed to undermine that plan.
Kel erroneously assumed when he moved to Los Angeles,
there would be adequate physical and emotional
distance to discourage contact from his father.
He planned to make perfunctory phone calls on
special occasions, and perhaps travel home to
Boston during the Christmas holidays.  But his
father ruined that brilliant theory.  Inexplicably,
six years ago he closed his posh private practice
and joined the staff at Rampart.

Justifiably, Kel was furious when he heard the
news from the hospital administrator.  His father
didn't even have the decency to notify him
personally, which he deemed unforgivable.  Through
hard work and perseverance, Dr. Kelly Brackett had
finally attained the level of professional success
he sought.  He was held in high esteem as the
director of emergency services of Rampart General
Hospital, and he was supremely confident in his
abilities.  Unfortunately, his father's arrival
signaled the return of his long and imposing shadow.
It seemed there was no escape.

Since that time, they both performed an exotic
dance around the hospital each day.  Kel would
arrive early in the emergency room and immerse
himself in the department's activities, pretending
nothing had changed.  Brent Brackett would appear
later in the morning and wordlessly take the
elevator to his ninth floor office.  Occasionally
the two men would pass each other in the corridors.
They would awkwardly acknowledge each other with
a nod of the head or a mumbled hello, and then
abruptly break off eye contact.  As a token of
atonement for missed father/son quality time, Kel
would arrange dinner at Mannie's once a month,
although he frequently found an excuse to miss
the appointments.  Simply being in the older
man's presence was humbling and painful.

It was hard to believe there was ever a brief
period in his life when he looked up to his
father and desperately sought his approval.
But over the years, the senior Dr. Brackett
couldn't resist the temptation to mold his son
into his own image.  He became critical of
Kel's brooding, intense nature, and began to
psychoanalyze his every act.  If there was some
behavior or shortcoming his son possessed,
there had to be a hidden psychological reason
behind it.  Therefore, it became his mission to
eradicate the offending conduct.  Brent did not
anticipate Kel's reaction.  Instead of meekly
complying to accommodate his father's grand
scheme, his headstrong son rebelled.  He was
determined to do the exact opposite of what was
demanded of him.  The relationship rapidly
deteriorated, and they never recaptured the
emotional intimacy they once shared.

Tonight's disastrous attempt at dinner only
reinforced Kel's growing sense of anxiety about
the situation.  How long could he continue this
absurd charade?

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He walked over to the sliding patio door and
placed his palm against the cool glass.  It was
a moonless night.  Somehow it seemed appropriate
for his increasingly dark mood.  The more he
thought about his father's words, the angrier
he became.  In a blind moment of rage, Kel
slammed his hand against the door, shattering the
glass onto the balcony.  Stunned, he stared at the
blood dripping from his arm.  Several seconds
elapsed before the significance of his action sunk
in.  He was bleeding.

The calm, cool-headedness of his profession eluded
him.  Kel was emotionally dazed by the destructive
act he had just committed.  He wrapped his arm in
a kitchen towel as he fumbled through his medical
bag.  After superficially cleaning his wounds, he
applied some 4x4s as pressure dressings and wrapped
his arm with gauze.  In disbelief, he sat on his
couch and buried his face in his hands.

He lost track of how long he lingered there, when
a loud knock interrupted his trance.

"Police!  Is everything okay?"

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Kel was totally confused.  What were the police
doing at his apartment?  He slowly roused himself
and answered the door.  "Yes, how can I help you?"

The policeman took in the physician's disheveled
appearance.  "Your neighbor called in a disturbance.
She heard the sound of broken glass and thought you
were being robbed."  Glancing at the bloodstained
bandages, the officer inquired, "Were you injured
in the attack?"

Confusion was quickly replaced by mortification
as Kel realized his careless deed had attracted
unwanted attention.  "No, there was no robbery.
It…it was an accident."

The seasoned officer was dubious.  Noting the
location of the bandages, he wondered if this was
a self-inflicted injury or perhaps a suicide
attempt.  "Why don't I take you to a hospital
to have that looked at?"

"No, that's okay," Kel assured him.  "I'm a
doctor.  I'll take care of it."

The blood continued to splatter on the floor as
they spoke.  "Sir, with all due respect, you
look like you could use a little help with that.
I'm sure it would only take a few minutes."

Reluctantly nodding his consent, he followed
the officer to his patrol car.  He dreaded
the inevitable barrage of questions he would
be subjected to at Rampart.

*     *     *     *     *

Now that the initial shock had worn off, Kel
was becoming increasingly anxious.  His demeanor
did not improve when the police officer insisted
on accompanying him into the emergency department.

Dr. Morton was the first person to notice his
boss' presence.  "Dr. Brackett!  What happened?"
he asked as he guided his mentor into a treatment

"I had a little accident at home.  It's nothing,

The officer surreptitiously motioned to speak
to the intern.  Mike said, "Okay.  Well, have
a seat and I'll grab some blank forms from
Carol.  I'll be right back."

Soon Mike returned, paperwork in hand.  He
efficiently took Kel's vital signs and frowned
at his findings.  "Hmm.   Your blood pressure is
really high.  Has it been elevated lately?"

"No," Kel wearily replied.

"Then there has to be a reason for the sudden
increase.  Is it reasonable to assume it's related
to the injury to your hand?"

A pronounced silence was his answer.

"How exactly did this happen?" Mike probed.

After taking a deep breath, Kel barked, "I cut
myself.  Isn't it obvious?"

"On purpose?"

"Of course not!  Do I look like an idiot?
The glass door shattered!"

Mike countered, "By itself?"

Kel glared at his subordinate.  How dare he
presume to press this issue and humiliate him
further.  He had given his account, and that
should end these ridiculous questions.

Sensing they were at an impasse, Mike began
unwrapping the blood soaked bandages.  "These
cuts look pretty nasty.  There doesn't appear
to be any vascular damage, but most of them are
deep enough to require stitches."

"Yeah, I figured as much."

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 Father and Son
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