Noble X — Episode 22: Please Take Me Home
“Thomas is here. I will have him bring me home. Just gotta go help a friend out real fast. Love you pops. Can’t wait to see you!”
John abruptly ends his FaceTime call, leaving his dad badly shaken and very frustrated, but mostly just sick with fear and worry. Peeking out from his room, he sees Thomas and feels his brother’s fear like a draft. At first he says nothing, watching Thomas wander around the front room, trying to make sense of it all.
Cutting through the heavy silence, John enters the front room and says, “I know you’re scared. I know I’ve let things get way out of control and I’m not OK. But I will be. I surrender. Please take me to my parents’ because I probably shouldn’t drive.”
Thomas is utterly stunned. He had mentally prepared himself on the ride over, imagining it would be much harder to convince John that this was all over. Amidst a sigh of relief, John interjects further, “We do have to take Paul to the dentist first,” and his tension returns. “What!?”
Talking a mile a minute, John fills Thomas in on the events that came to pass after the party last night. Bewildered but happy to do anything to get John some help, they set off to wake up Paul for his dentist appointment.
Paul takes a minute to wake up as Thomas and John walk in. John explains to Paul what they are there for as the temporary relief Paul had been given in sleep ends. His broken tooth howls with pain again with no drunkenness to soften the scream.
Walking to the car, talking through the pain Paul says, “Why the fuck are you wearing my pants, man?” John makes a face, then smiles and Paul forgets about it.
Ten minutes later they walk into a medical building that none of them have ever been inside before. John, determined to spearhead the operation, takes the lead in his ridiculous outfit. He successfully navigates them to the help desk and onward to the office in which he had made the appointment for Paul.
In his current state, John feels high as fuck as he enters the surreal environment of a dental waiting room. This moment is just as bizarre as you can get within the mundane. Both Thomas and Paul also feel fucked up and the misfit trio glaze over momentarily as the door clicks closed behind them and muzak fills their ears.
John acts like some weirdo dad, taking extra measures to ensure that Paul will be taken care of. Thomas just stares in awe.
The dental hygienist comes to retrieve Paul cheerily, pausing for a noticeable extra second to take in the scene as her smile falters slightly. Not knowing what else to do, Thomas and John exchange a silly wave with Paul as he is guided off, half-dreaming.
Very shortly thereafter, the dentist comes out shaking his head with concern, reporting that Paul will need a crown and it will cost $700 as he has no insurance. John without hesitation announces, “I will pay the bill." Reaching for his wallet, he remembers that he has hid it well in the chaos of his apartment. Thomas reluctantly pays, eager to get John to his parents’ house as soon as possible.
Just before leaving Paul behind, John gives a scratch-off lottery ticket to the receptionist and says, “If you win, do something kind with the money.” Impulsively, he snatches a Time magazine from the waiting room with a shark on the cover as they leave. He couldn’t resist. He shows Thomas, tapping the cover, “Look at all of the teeth on this fuckin’ shark.”
The mixture of things that seem like a healthy everyday John and manic Johnny 5 is making Thomas’ head spin.
Thomas keeps thinking “John needs to go to the hospital to talk with some professionals," and in the same moment, “He seems kind of ok. Is the hospital really necessary?” Thoughts of doubt dance through his head as he drives John to his parents.
With much excitement upon his arrival, John rushes to bring some bundles of love in the house to share with his mom and dad. A cook book with pages torn out and scrambled in a new order, devoid of logic. A bicycle pump with the Post-It label reading “Fresh Air.” He bursts in like a bat out of hell, verbose, and enthusiastic about sharing as much information as possible with his parents. He has truly missed them through this ordeal.
His dad’s reaction is vastly different from his mom’s. He interrupts John harshly, “What are you talking about, John?! None of this matters! What the fuck are you on?!” John’s heart overflows with love for his father, wanting to make him see what he sees, all the unconnected connections he has made. He knows his father can’t possibly understand but John's resolve remains intact until exasperated and frustrated, his mom cuts in to break them up and his dad escapes to the basement. She hugs Thomas fiercely and thanks him for bringing John home. As Thomas leaves to go be with his wife, he looks at his brother and says, “I love you, John. Please get some rest. You’ll be safe here,” assuring himself more than anything.
John’s mom's career as a health teacher has her more in-tune to what might be happening here and she spends the next few hours with a calendar, methodically trying to coax the last week’s timeline out of John, redirecting him each time he follows a tangential thought. John tells her everything. He tells his mom things he thought he would take to the grave, deep dark secrets that make her squirm as she tries to stay focused on building John’s timeline. Hours later, Mom has a better picture of what led up to today. She hopes that with a good meal and lots of sleep, John can be back to his old self. But she has her doubts as well. She will monitor him closely.
They order Chinese from their family’s favorite local spot and his dad attempts to spend dinner time together, but he’s clearly struggling with the whole situation. After John fills his belly, the sad haggard eyes of his dad connect with his own and softly saying, “You should go to bed now, John. Tomorrow will be better." John goes to his room and closes his eyes, listening to their hushed tense voices and the sobs of his mother as he gives in at last and drifts off. He sleeps for over 17 hours in the a row, waking the next afternoon.
His mind has slowed down and he is able to more appropriately communicate with his parents. As the day proceeds, his mind winds back up and he becomes a little chatterbox by dinner again. His parents, fearful of this surging mania, send their 30-year old son to bed like a child for the second night in a row, not knowing what else to do.
Curling up in his childhood bed, he grips a fat blue permanent marker in his hand, imagining his sadness as a swirling blue cloud.
Stay tuned for the series finale, Episode 23.
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