Earthly Lot

I heed not that the desolate
Are happier, sweet, than I,
But that you meddle with my fate
Who am a passer by.
 – “To M –”: Edgar Allan Poe
*

Melbourne Daily Sun: Sunday, April 15th, 2005

…Dr. Rowan Chase leaves behind his wife, Rosanna, and his son Robert, born of his first wife, Rebecca. To contact…

*

This is Robert Chase. You’ve just missed me. Leave a message.

“Dr. Chase, hello, my name is Dr. Grant Phillips. You may remember me? We last met when you were just a boy. My sincerest condolences regarding your father. He was a great man. Truly…great. He’d granted us permission to study the cancer in the last days here at the Institute. I’m sure one day, you’ll live up to his hopes. You’re following the footsteps of a legend. Not many men can do that. Best of luck in America. We in Melbourne miss your presence.”

*

House had clipped out the obituary from three different publications – a snippet in Time, the leading rheumatology journal, and the Princeton Post. He’d set them on Wilson’s desk and kept a watchful eye on Chase in the meantime, ready to cushion the fall if Chase decided to throw himself off that proverbial cliff.

Wilson had, in his own odd inimitable strangeness, gotten the obituaries framed.

When House asked why, Wilson’s answer was simple enough: “You don’t forget great men. You commemorate them.”

House only wondered how big his plaque of obituaries would be.

*

This is Robert Chase. You’ve just missed me. Leave a message.

“Is this…I suppose this is working. Hello, this message is for Robert Chase. My name is Audrey Schmid. Five years ago, your father took me into his care. I thought I was dying. Every other doctor told me I was…I’m sorry…I’m still quite emotional. Your father didn’t believe their two-year survival estimate. To make a long story short, your father took me into his care and treated the underlying disease. Doctors think I have fifteen years now. Your father was a genius, a good man. Bless you and him both.”

*

“What do you think it’s like?” Cameron mused aloud one day over coffee in the courtyard with Foreman. “A famous father…a rich one.” She ran her finger along the rim of her styrofoam mug and stared off into middle distance. “Must have been so interesting…never dull, you know? Chase was luckier than he realized. Imagine having Dr. Rowan Chase,” said with such reverence, as only the living can speak of the dead, “as your father.” Foreman hadn’t said a word. “Maybe Rob took it all for granted?”

“Cameron,” Foreman interrupted, the voice of caution. “It’s not your business, okay? Back off Chase.”

“I wonder why Chase didn’t go into rheumatology?”

*

This is Robert Chase. You’ve just missed me. Leave a message.

“Robert! It’s Dr. Statler, remember me? Days of rheumatology, boy, days engraved into my memory! Listen, mate, I was sorry to hear about your old man. Shame, that. Tragic shame. Now that he’s gone, have you considered throwing your hat into rheumatology? You showed an amazingly natural inclination for the field. I was very much disappointed when you switched to intensive care. Call me. We’ll talk about you taking over your father’s research. Nights of research await!”

*

“Flag at half-mast?” Stacy inquired from the doorway of Cuddy’s office. “Did I miss something in the news?” Cuddy wasted no time. She signed papers and shuffled them and sorted through memos.

Finally, she looked up. “No. Dr. Chase Senior passed away a few days ago. The burial is today.”

“Good doctor?”

Cuddy smiled appreciatively. “In his glory days, he’d have given House a run for his money.”

*

This is Robert Chase. You’ve just missed me. Leave a message.

“Robert, it’s your stepmother. How are you holding up? You haven’t called, sweetheart, I’m concerned about you. At least come spend a few weeks back in Melbourne. I hate to think of you so alone over there in America. Call me, Robert.”

*

Chase arrived home to a full bank of messages waiting for him. He ignored them to sift through his mail, sorting out those handwritten cards into a pile separate from the bills and the junk mail promising that he was a winner. He listened to each message stoically, expression never shifting once during the litany of testimonials from all over the world.

The last message, he listened to three times.

*

This is Robert Chase. You’ve just missed me. Leave a message.

“Chase, it’s House. Take the time off, okay? I know you missed the funeral, but there’s probably a wake. You might even score me some good food or contacts or something. Listen. Your dad was a pretty good doctor. I’m not going to pretend he wasn’t. You can be good too, though. You might even be great. But you’re not going to get there until you let go of him. Stop living in his shadow and get out of his footsteps and live your own damn life for once. Oh…and delete this message. I can’t get a reputation for caring.”

*

The next morning, after stumbling groggily out of the shower, Chase deleted all the messages on his machine and called the phone company to change his number.

End

Tags:
| September 4th, 2012 | Posted in House |

Leave a Reply