An orginal fanfic by: Gene Carver
Chandler sighed as he dried the last plate that had been sitting in the kitchen sink. The scummy water ran out the drain with a gurgle. How long had they been there this time? It had to be nearly a month. The mold had already turned yellow and it'd puffed spores in his face when he'd picked the last plate up to immerse it in the water. A plate only waved white fuzzy fronds at you if it was two weeks or less old and not the other way around. It made a hollow, clacking sound as he put it down on the shelf. He looked sadly at it, taking in the cracked and pitted surface. He was going to need new ones. The mold by-products had eaten all the strength out of the ceramic.
"The world's coming to a sad state of affairs when a man's forced to do his own dishes, my friend." He remarked to Ross as he turned around from the cupboard. He did a double take. Ross was wearing a white surgical mask and only his eyes showed.
Chandler threw his hands up. "Whoa, I gave at the office."
"Are you finally done? Is it safe to come out?" At least that was what it sounded like. With the mask covering Ross' snozzola it was hard to tell.
"What's with the mask? You appearing on ER as a special guest? The corpse they couldn't save. Or are they doing auditions for a new version of the Frito Bandido?"
"I'm allergic to molds and your last attempt to out do Louis Pasteur almost did me in." Ross lifted the mask and sniffed cautiously. He decided that it was safe and dropped the mask down around his neck.
"With that nose that has to be the large, economy size. Besides, whose this Lewis guy and what does he have to do with my dishes?"
"He was the first to discover antibiotics. If he could've seen some of your collections there, he would've probably discovered penicillin in his mold cultures ten years sooner."
"And to think I may've frustrated the march of science. I could send them with you next time and when your friend Lew is done playing with them, he could send them back, clean."
"Pasteur's dead, so are those dishes, and the only place I'd send them would be the dump. If you don't want to do dishes, I'd suggest paper plates."
"You ever try to cut a steak on a soggy paper plate? Besides the last time I served one that way my date ate both steak and plate and said it was the best meal she ever had."
"I bet that was Janice."
"You're right. You become clairvoyant?"
"No. I just know the lady whose voice is going to take the place of the Democrat's donkey at their next convention too well." Ross draped his arm over Chandler's shoulder. "My advice to you is get a dishwasher or get a life."
"That's not a bad idea, actually."
"The dishwasher or getting a life?"
"The dishwasher. Getting a life takes too much effort."
"I was afraid you'd say that. So where's Joey?"
"Where else? Over at Taneka's. That's where he's at every night. It was his turn to do the dishes but I couldn't wait any longer."
"When was it his turn?"
"Let me see. Sunday or it might have been Saturday. I gave up waiting when the jungle got too high."
"Only a week? That stuff grew fast."
"I had it on a diet of Superthrive that I got as a bonus when I ordered my miracle can opener and magic jar lid twister for only 19.95 with shipping and handling. The Sunday I was referring to was back in January."
Ross smiled. "Looks like Joey may've finally found a woman who can put up with him."
"I can't decide whether it means she's certifiable or Joey's grown up."
"From all the dishes you did. Bet on the former."
Chandler sighed. "Lately for all the time he's spent here, I might
as well be rooming with the invisible man. In fact that might've been better. I wouldn't be able to see his laundry. Just smell it."
"In Joey's case I always thought when it came time to pay the rent was when he became the invisible man."
"Hey, real good, big guy. Score one for the nerdy person. I'd never thought I'd say this but I almost miss Eddie and note that I said almost."
Ross paused by the door. "Well, I'm going over to Fields. I hear they're having a sale on microwaves and I need one. Do you want to come along? You might be able to get a dishwasher that fits this place. I hear they come in all colors."
"I don't care what color my dishwasher is. I have only one requirement and that is she doesn't hog the blankets." Chandler reached over and spun one of the Foosball players on its rod above the game board. "Aint nothing going on here anyway." He remarked sadly.
Chandler stared at the sparkling new dishwasher sitting in the kitchen corner and shook his head. "Joey, it'll never replace you, buddy." He pushed one of the buttons.
"Wheeee. Whirr. Whirr. Chug-a-lug." The washer replied.
Chandler's face lit up. "Although it does sound like you when you've had a couple of brewskis." He pored himself a foaming glass and pushed the buttons again as he asked. "And who do you like in the ball game tonight?"
"You think so, huh?"
"Bzzt! Whirr! Clunk!"
"I got five bucks here that says the Mets win."
"Yeah, I don't blame you. That's a sucker bet."
"Swish. Chug a lug. Gurgle. Gurgle."
"All right. I'll take the Dodgers. But you got to give me three to one.
Bing Bong. Bing Bong.
Hey I can't understand you. Did you learn a foreign language? Oh. You say that's not you. It's the doorbell. Wait there, I'll be right back."
He opened the door and his heart began to race when he saw the woman who was standing there. She was only the most gorgeous, drop dead young lady that he'd ever seen. Her hair was raven black and fell in waves down over her shoulders almost to her waist. She was stacked so much that it was spilling out of her loosely buttoned shirt. She smiled and he felt the room temperature rise nearly ten degrees.
"Hi. You must be Chandler." The red, pouting lips said.
"The last time I checked I was. What can I do for you, Miss? A lot I hope."
"Joey has told me so much about you." She stepped into the room and pressed her bosom up against his chest, proving that everything he saw was real.
"Uh, you don't believe in wasting time, do you?"
"Why waste it getting to know each other when we both know where this is going? " She licked her lips and he had the feeling that a lioness had just stepped out of the bush in front of him. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him very emphatically and passionately.
As they spun towards the bedroom together Chandler whispered to the
washer. "I think we'll have to cancel the bet. I just got a better offer."
Later as he lay on his bed with a silly grin on his face he said. "I can't believe we just did that."
She leaned over on her elbow and smiled at him but as the sheet dropped away, her smile was the last thing he was looking at. "If you can't, then do you want to try it again?"
The apartment door slammed and Chandler grabbed for the sheets. The girl just leaned back on the pillows as the bedroom door opened. Joey looked in and blinked in surprise with Taneka looking over his shoulder.
"Sis, what're you doing here?"
"Sister!!?" Yelled Chandler. "You mean I just slept with one of your sisters again?"
"Yep." Joey grinned at the naked woman who was pulling her shirt on. "This is my youngest sister, Megan, the one we all thought was inhibited when we were growing up. We thought she'd end up a nun. That's why you didn't see her before. She was off at finishing school."
Chandler stared at her. "Lord, she does have a finish." She stuck her tongue out at him. "What're the rest of your sisters like if youre inhibited?
Megan smiled. "No one can live up to Kathea. She did the whole football team not once but twice in the same night in a VW bug and then we had to drag her away from the soccer team. She does like her kicks."
Chandler grinned. "Obviously a team player."
Joey nodded. "Kathea's a wild one all right. Just be glad she didn't come to visit instead of Megan."
Megan sighed. "I wish she had. Your friend was not the challenge I thought he'd be."
"Challenge? I'm a challenge?" Chandler's grin grew. "In what way? My demands? My kinky habits? My super stamina?"
"Joey has the whole family convinced you're gay."
Joey spread his hands. "Hey, man. I had to tell them something to explain your actions with my other sister. They all said you were a lunatic. I said you were drunk, had no girl friends, and were gay." He grinned. "It worked too. They were all sympathetic and forgave you. However, Dad wants me to carry a pistol in case you get fresh with me." He smiled at Megan. "And Megan here considered you a challenge. Maybe you ought to be thankful."
Chandler pulled his pants on under the covers and came scrambling out of the bed to face Joey. "Thankful. After you told your whole family about my sex life?"
Joey frowned. "I shouldn't have?"
"What did you do? Sit down around the dinner table and say 'pass the cranberries and oh by the way my friend can't get it on with a woman'? That makes a cute Curier and Ives card for Thanksgiving."
Megan chipped in. "Actually, it was while we were opening Christmas presents."
"That's even better. I'll bet it was a Kodak Moment too."
"Actually, Dad used a Leica." Megan said.
"I don't think I Leica you or your family very much." Chandler's ears were starting to glow red.
Taneka sighed. Megan was just feeding Chandler's rage. She decided to defuse the situation. "I think we'd better leave the boys to their discussion. Why don't you come and tell me about your trip." She reached out a hand.
Megan drew back. "Who are you?"
"I'm your brother's girl friend, Taneka." The African-American woman said.
"Joey, you didn't tell us you were dating someone like her."
Taneka's eyes got hard. "Like what, honey?" There was a dangerous under current to that question. Chandler got ready to duck. The wrong word from Joey's sister and the result would be equivalent to tossing a torch in a gas storage tank.
Joey said very tightly. "Watch your mouth, Sis."
Megan looked puzzled. "Why? Don't you see who she is? She's got to be at least ten years older than you." Both Joey and Chandler let out sighs of relief.
Taneka blinked and finally laughed. "Then, honey, take some advice
from your elders. There's a time to speak up and a time to shut up and you've already long-passed the latter." She took Megan's arm forcibly in her hand and practically dragged her from the room. "I can see you and I are going to have a long and interesting conversation."
Chandler closed in on his roommate. "Now, what do you mean telling all your family about my love life?"
"Is that what you call it?"
"That's low, Joey."
"Hey, man, I'm sorry. I didn't want to tell them you were gay but you got to remember what's considered normal sexual activity in my family."
Chandler's head reeled. Kathea and the whole football team in a VW? "Forget it." He said in resignation. Trying to get Joey to treat anything seriously was a lost cause.
"So, how'd you like her?" Joey said glad to change the subject.
Chandler waved his hand at the bed. "Down there she's an over achiever." He raised his hand to the region of his heart. "Up here? She's built like an ice box and just as cold inside."
Joey sighed. "You ought to have lived through my childhood. Megan was considered one of the better ones. By the way Taneka and I came over because we had something to tell you."
Chandler grabbed his friend's arm. "You didn't pull a Ross and get her pregnant did you?"
Joey stepped back in shock. "No way. I may be dumb but I'm not Ross type dumb. No, Taneka has a three-month job doing an efficiency analysis for some company out in Los Angeles and she wants me to come along. She says it would give me a chance to make some much-needed Hollywood connections that would help my career."
"That all sounds fine but what about the rent here?"
"Well, Taneka found someone that was quite willing to take the place for those three months."
"It'd better not be Eddie. Man, I couldn't go through the gold-fish mangler again."
"No. It's not Eddie. It's somebody named Lou who needs a temporary summer place. He's an electrician who's doing contract work."
"Well, that sounds OK. But you'll be back?"
"Man, you couldn't keep me away from this place. You're my best bud." They shook hands, grinning at each other.
"Hi, guys." Joey said to the gang in Monica's apartment. "I'd like you to meet my sister Megan. Megan this is....."
"Ross. Joey has told me so much about you." She gave Ross a full hug. Ross got a befuddled look and tried to offer a pat to her back. He jerked his hand back when she wiggled her pelvis against him.
"Uh, hi." He saw Rachel giving him a stony look and he hurried to disengage himself from what was suddenly a one hundred-pound bomb. "Rachel, look who's here. This is ..."
"I know who she is." Rachel's tone implied that she also knew what Megan was, too.
"And these two over here are Monica and Phoebe." Joey hastened to add.
"Hi." Monica said coolly from the couch.
Phoebe looked disappointed. "Don't I get a hug like Ross?"
"Sure." Megan gave Phoebes a hug that made her ribs protest. Megan wiggled her hips while she did so.
Chandler looked at Joey who shrugged. "Megan doesn't discriminate."
Chandler shook his head. "The current runs both ways?"
"Up stream as well as down."
"No wonder your family didn't care when you..." He shook his head.
Phoebe disengaged herself from Megan. "Well, that was nice. Rachel or Monica, do you guys want a hug? She gives really neat ones."
Monica shook her head. "I'm all hugged out today."
Rachel stayed where she was and put her arm around Ross' waist. "And how long are you going to be in town?" The tone implied 'and when are you leaving?'
"I'll be around for the next month. I have some appointments with some modeling agencies."
Rachel grinned. "I'll sure you'll fit right in. Did you know that short hair is all the rage with models these days? Ouch. Ross, you pinched me."
"Ixnay with the hairsy." He whispered.
"Oh, all right. Where'll you be staying?"
"I just met the most wonderful guy. His name is Lou and we're going to share an apartment I found."
Joey frowned. "Where did you meet him, sis?"
"Down at your apartment. After we hit it off so well, he decided he wouldn't take yours. But don't worry he knew somebody who wanted to sublet in his place. In fact the guy's moving in right now."
"What's his name?" Chandler asked.
Megan frowned. "I'm terrible with names."
Rachel whispered to Ross. "That's because she never knows a man longer than one night." He grinned weakly.
"Did he say anything?" Chandler pressed her.
Megan's face lit up. "He said he had to get his fish."
"Please, God, not Eddie." whispered Chandler.
"That was it. It was Eddie. I knew it was a simple name."
"Nooooo!!" Chandler nearly ran Megan down as he threw himself through the door.
He hurled himself around the corner just in time to see the back of a man entering his room. On the man's shoulder a large fish tank sloshed. "Hold it right there, you goldfish mangler!!"
The man turned and stared and Chandler stared back. It wasn't Eddie. Unless Eddie had adopted the Alexi Lallis soccer-playing look.
The redhead put his tank of fish down and held out his hand. "You must be Chandler. Mine's Nelson."
Chandler took Nelson's hand cautiously. "Not Nelson Eddie by any chance."
"Hey I like your sense of humor. Most people our age wouldn't know the fellow I'm named after."
"Megan, you make even blondes into rocket scientists." He muttered.
"Never mind. Welcome aboard for the next few weeks, Nelson. I'll try and give you a hand after I get done taking a buddy to the airport."
An hour later Chandler handed Joey his bags from the trunk. "It's not going to be the same without you, bud."
Joey smiled. "With Nelson you won't even know I'm gone."
Chandler closed the trunk lid. "I pray you're right. Otherwise I might grab the first jet and join you."
"Your arms wouldn't fit around the fuselage. Besides you'd spoil my time with Taneka. You know what they say about three's a crowd."
"No, Mister Genius. Tell me. I'd really like to know."
Joey whacked him on the arm in retaliation.
Chandler grinned. "So, this thing with you and Taneka. Is it for real."
Joey looked around before replying. "To tell you the truth it scares me. I'm not sure I'm ready to be tied down to one flower when there's a whole garden out there."
"You better be careful the flower doesn't catch the bee pollinating where it shouldn't or you'll be yelling 'It's Raid!!!'"
Joey snorted. "Great advice from a man who can't have a relationship except with women who already have children."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Janice for one and that girl at the hospital when Ben was born for another."
"Hey, I..." Chandler didn't get to finish as Taneka came bustling up. "It's the flower of Joey's life." He said to her, giving Joey an evil grin.
"Why how sweet." Taneka gave Chandler a kiss and linked her arm with Joey's. "Come on, Love, we have a plane to catch."
"You're going to need a bigger net than I think you have." Chandler said to himself as he waved goodbye to them.
Joey was not too sure what he was getting himself into when he approached the stained-glass door with the logo "Roberstein and Lichtfingers, Theatrical Agents, Par Excellence". This was the head office for the agency that his agent worked for. He had expected something a little cleaner and fancier. The paint was peeling from the walls and there was the smell of mold in the air.
He was almost knocked down as the door swung open and a midget stormed through. The little man with the black beard turned to yell through the doorway. "This ist der lastest time you cheetest the great Stromboni. I take my business else where."
"Ha!" A shrill voice crackled off the walls. Several paint flecks fell to the floor to mingle with their already fallen brothers and sisters. "How much need is there for trained monkey acts?"
"You awt to knew. You belung to one."
"You can't leave. You owe us money."
"Just like all the other jumps on your sucker list. Well, I didn't sign the contract dese time. So long, blood sucker."
A thin Ichabod Crane type of a man poked his head out of the door. "It's Lichtstein, I mean Lichtfingers. Go and be cursed. We still have all those suckers in New York paying us good dough for their blighted dreams." He noticed Joey standing there for the first time.
"And what do you want?"
"I came to see you about a job. I have a contract." Joey might be slow on the uptake but already he was realizing where his opportunities and money spent on these frauds had gone.
The man frowned on hearing Joey's Italian accent and then said. "Listen, you tell Mr. Pizano that he'll have his rent money by next week at this time. Here." He stuffed some money in Joey's hand. "That ought to be enough to keep you happy for a week and you can forget about the contract." He winked. "If you follow my drift."
Joey nodded. "I follow more than you think." He turned and headed back down the stairs.
The midget looked up at him as they neared the door to the street. "So, you work for Mr. Pizano, eh?"
Joey frowned. "No. What happened to your accent?"
The midget shrugged. "Nothing here is what it seems. Lichtfinger got the idea I was a pint-sized version of that puppet master character from Pinocchio and he wanted the fake accent. I ditched it when I ditched him."
A shadow fell across them. They looked up to see a large pockmarked man who made Julie's friend Alexi look small.
"Either one of you two, Lichtfinger?" He growled menacingly around a mouthful of golden teeth. His scarred fingers lovingly caressed a bulge in his right pocket which seemed to suggest blackjack.
The midget grinned evilly. "He's right upstairs and he told me that he was going to hide his money where that shit for brains goon of Mr. Pizano's would never think to look for it. He said the guy could kiss something while he was looking too."
The pig eyes lit up like two small blast furnaces had just come on. "Thanks." The ground seemed to shake as the big man went through the door.
"And now we run for it." The midget took off laughing with Joey right on his heels.
"I'm not sure coming to LA was one of my better ideas." Joey gasped "I miss NY already."
Back in NY Chandler was staring at the bowl of silver flecked fish. Some were as big as the palm of his hand. They were certainly unusual with those jutting jaws, and those eyes - they just seemed to follow him.
He wondered what type of fishfood they ate. He didn't see a container. The fish rose to the surface and stared back at him as he looked down at them. Maybe they were itchy. He wondered if they were like seals and wanted a scratch.
As his hand approached the surface, the fish seemed to become even more excited.
"Hey!!" Nelson's voice called out.
Chandler jerked back as four of the fish leaped out of the water, just missing his retreating fingers. There were several audible clicks as their jaws snapped together.
"Man, don't be feeding my piranha like that. You'll give them
indigestion." He upended a small bowl with two goldfish into it into the tank.
"Indigestion? They were trying to part me from parts I've grown attached to." He watched the water boil. Joey, bud, I miss you.
"So." Said Julie as she mixed Paynes Grey and a dab of Yellow Ocher together to make the green tint for the surfaces of the leaves in the landscape that she was painting. "What happened after you learned the fish were too friendly?"
Chandler sighed as he stared out the window at the traffic creeping along Broadway. "He fed them some goldfish right in front of me. We then had a discussion about the feeding rights of predators." Little Alice gooed in his arms and swung her pudgy fists in the air.
"That sounds like mine or Ross's lines. We're the paleontologists."
He grinned. "Hey, I've got a college education, too."
"You do a damn good job of hiding it, just like you do everything else." She dipped her brush tip in the puddle of green on her palette and squinted a little as she applied it to the leaf surfaces.
"You should've seen the water boil when he dumped those fish in there. You think I should try and get Eddie, the goldfish mangler, together with him sometime? They're perfect for each other."
Julie put her paint brush aside. "I think you should stop using your wit to avoid things you're uncomfortable with have a serious conversation for once."
"What do you mean?"
Julie sighed. "Let me answer your question with one of my own. How often have you been coming up here the last month?"
"Oh, a couple of times I guess."
"How about every other day and sometimes twice in the same day."
Chandler grinned. "I'm just attracted to beautiful woman. Aren't I Alice?" She giggled as he blew a gust of air at her belly button.
"You're doing it again." She gently took Alice from him. "It's time for your nap, honey."
"Which one of us are you talking to?"
Julie shook her head. "Do you see what I mean. Anytime someone wants to be serious you turn it into a joke."
"Hey I'm just having a little fun. But, I can be serious if I want to be." He declared as he followed her into Alice's room.
Julie laid Alice down in the crib and spun the mobile that was far enough out of grasping hands and yet close enough to be interesting. "Let's put that to a test." She told him as she led him back out of the room. "Will you promise to be serious for five minutes?"
"Sure. Scout's honor." He held up two sets of split fingers. "Oops. that was the Vulcan 'live long and prosper' greeting or is it the death grip? I get them confused all the time."
"All right. I promise."
Julie took a swig of Seven-up and calmed herself before she asked.
"Chandler, how many women have you dated? I don't mean casually. I mean seriously. Where you actually thought you wanted to marry them."
"Whoa. When you meant serious. You weren't kidding."
"Just one. I told you about Janice."
Julie nodded. "But when did you decide you wanted to marry her?"
"I don't know. Just before she went back to the guy that fathered her child."
Julie frowned. "Did you become serious about her only after you found out she had had a child?"
He squirmed. "We'd been dating long before that."
"Answer the question. Did you feel you wanted to marry her only after she had the child?"
His eyebrows went up. "What are you trying to imply here." He had the urge to do a Groucho Marx impression but barely suppressed it.
"You're avoiding the question again." Julie stared at her hands.
"Chandler, Ross told me about the pregnant woman at the hospital that you adopted. I guess what I'm trying to ask is are you only attracted to women with children or to a woman for who she is?"
Chandler swung his arms in agitation. "What is it with everybody lately. First Joey and now you. Why are you asking all these crazy questions?"
Julie bit at her lip. "You've been coming up here an awful lot. Even more than Ross. Ross said I shouldn't read anymore into it than that you had a thing about families since you're own went down in flames. However, I think it's more than that. So what I want to know is what you're intentions are. Toward me as well as my daughter." She waited expectantly.
Chandler went pale. "Oh, man. Scotty, beam me up. Now." He turned and ran.
Julie sighed after the apartment door slammed. She stepped into her own room and gazed at a picture on her dresser. "I guess I got an answer." She said softly to the image. The picture gave no reply.
Joey sighed as he sat on the bench. He took off his shoe and rubbed his aching foot. Pounding the pavements of LA was not as glamorous as it had sounded in the Big Apple. How many cattle calls had he gone to in the last two weeks? He'd lost count after ten. They all seemed the same and they all had the same result. Zilch. He wouldn't even had those chances if he hadn't found that new agent willing to take a chance on him.
'Correction.' His conscience said. 'Taneka found.'
He sighed again. How could he have fallen so low that even his non-acting girl friend had more clout than he did?
'You know why.' His conscience chided him. He nodded wearily.
He'd been shocked to find out that he'd been labeled as a bad risk after his stint on the soap opera. It seemed that he was the one who'd been blamed as uncooperative and pigheaded and not the writers who'd taken offense at his flippant remarks about making up the script as he went along. Now he was forced to line up with all the other extra want-to-bees instead of getting script reading chances. He knew he'd do good if he got the opportunity. But how was he going to get it? He'd do anything to act.
"Yes! I'll do anything to act!" He shouted.
"Spirit. I like that in a man."
He looked around in shock, realizing it wasn't his conscience.
A stunning redhead was giving him the look and he suddenly felt like a slab of beef in a butcher shop. She smiled and tapped her fingers on the script she was carrying. "Come on down to 313 Rednear tonight at nine. I just might have something that will benefit both of us." The look she gave him over her shoulder rolled up his socks.
'This will be a mistake.' His conscience said.
"Not if I want to make it."
'At any price? Including Taneka?'
Joey growled softly. "Where did you come from? I never had such a butt-inski conscience before."
'You never had so much to lose before.' Came the soft reply.
"Well, I did this number with that lady in New York and you weren't there. So, forget it." This time his conscience had nothing to say. He strode off boldly whistling the marching song of the Seven Dwarfs.
Chandler on the other hand wasn't stepping out boldly. In fact he was grouching around Monica's apartment. "Why is everybody so damned concerned about my relationships with the opposite sex? You tell me, Monica. I'm a normal guy. I can have a relationship whenever I want to. I just don't want to. Besides this bullshit about me being only attracted to women with children is ridiculous."
Monica raised an eyebrow as she cleaned the glass in the apartment window. However, she said nothing. Phoebe kept her head buried in her magazine.
"I had lots of dates with Janice before she got pregnant. So that buzzes off that whole fucking thing."
"Gee, Chandler. I never heard you swear like this before." Phoebe said.
"Yeah? Well, you never saw me this upset before."
Monica paused in her dusting. "It sounds like someone in here just hit his midlife crisis."
"Midlife crisis? That's a bunch of hooey. Men don't have menopause." He snapped.
"And they supposedly don't have biological clocks either but if you were a woman I'd say you were acting like yours just struck midnight."
Phoebe considered this. "Actually, Monica, I think it's too tightly wound."
Monica grinned and flipped the end of her duster at Phoebe.
"Why," Shouted Chandler. "Are all you women so concerned about whether we men end up with partners. There are quite a few of us that are quite happy being single, thank you. I for one don't have any intention of getting married anytime soon."
Phoebe considered this. "You remember the movie, Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot?"
Chandler smiled. "With Stalone? Sure that was great. Wait a minute are you trying to say I'm like his character. That I'm afraid of commitment."
Phoebe shook her head. "I'm just remembering a line that his mother told him which goes something like "you'll wake up someday at age 65 all alone and wishing that you had somebody who cared about you."
Chandler glared at her. "Pop psychology from a movie. Thank you, Doctor Brothers."
Monica put down her duster. "Chandler, you might ask yourself this. Are you denying what she and Joey said because its wrong or because you're afraid it might be true?"
"This is ridiculous. I don't have to stand here and take this when I can go some place and lay down. Hasta La Vista, Baby." The door slammed.
"I bet he said something like that to Julie, too." Phoebe said
"No bet." Monica replied.
"What do you think he'll do now?"
Monica considered this. "Run to Ross for advice?"
Phoebe chuckled. "That's like the blind leading the deaf."
"That almost makes sense, Pheebs."
"Let me get this straight." Ross said as he held his son Ben in his arms. "You've come to me for advice about relationships?" He chuckled. "This is way too cool."
"It's ridiculous is what it is." Chandler was leaning back against the desk in Ross' study. "Isn't it? I mean about me being attracted to Julie because she has a child. I just like children. That's all."
"Well, you have been up there a lot lately."
"So have you."
"I've got an excuse. I'm the father."
"Well, I'm one of the godfathers I guess. Will you listen to me. Next I'm going to be hearing Al Pachino whispering in my ear about family responsibilities."
"From what Joey told his parents you're lucky you're not the fairy godfather."
"Dig down deep in that sack, Ross. You might find something funny there yet along with all the Abott and Costello routines."
"I think it's from Henny Youngman. If you really want my advice. I'd ask myself the question. If I never saw either one of them again, who would I miss the most? If it's my daughter, then you've got one answer. If it's the mother, then you've another."
"What if it's both?"
"Then you may have a problem. I could recommend a good shrink."
"Oh, no. You're not putting me on some couch so some bald idiot with a pencil and pad can ask me about bed-wetting. I came to you for help and you give me banalities. I should never have asked a guy who's had such a problem with relationships."
Ross frowned. "What do you mean by that."
"Your first wife left you for another woman. You broke up with Julie after getting her pregnant and now you nearly broke up with Rachel. It's not a seal of good housekeeping, is it?" Chandler bit off as he opened the door.
Ross considered this; then said softly to Chandler's back. "But at least I had relationships. How many have you had?" Chandler went stiff and then he turned.
"I'm sorry, Ross. I deserved that. I was out of line."
Ross smiled. "What else are friends for?"
"Ross, I don't know what I want."
"I'm afraid I can't help you there. But I think I know someone you need to talk to before do anything else and that's the lady concerned."
Chandler raised an eyebrow. "You mean Julie?"
Chandler signed as he shut the door. "Yeah, maybe she knows a good shrink."
Joey on the other hand had other worries. He was finding it nearly
impossible to get out the apartment that he and Taneka had rented for her stay in LA without arousing suspicion. The problem was that his conscience hadn't gone away as the time for the meeting with the redhead approached. In fact it had gotten even more reproachful. It had even forced him to buy a dozen roses and a bottle of Lancers for dinner that night to shut it up.
If he'd wanted to get out of the apartment this was a move that backfired because Taneka had had a bad day at the office. "Oh, Joey baby." She said softly her eyes misting up with tears. "You're the best thing that ever happened to me." Then she had kissed him and one thing led to another and, well, let's just say they didn't have dinner and let it go at that.
By nine thirty Joey found himself in the ridiculous situation of trying to extract his arm from underneath a naked woman without awaking her. Since Ross has already described this situation we skip ahead to the point where he tickles her neck and causes her to roll away and now we find our hero about to make his exit.
He has his hand on the doorknob when a sleepy voice asks behind him. "Where you going, lover man?"
"Uh, I need to get a pack of cigarettes."
Taneka sat half up and frowned. "You don't smoke."
"Well, I, uh, I need them for a part I'm reading for."
"Oh. Well, don't take long." She leaned back and stretched fluidly. "I'll be keeping the bed warm until you get back and then we'll really heat this place up."
So, at exactly midnight in New York, Chandler is standing in
front of Julie's door wondering if he should knock while at the same time in Los Angeles Joey is standing in front of the redhead's door. Two men and two doors. If they go through them or walk away, then their lives will be changed forever. Two men facing their crunch time or hour of decision and its not even the Twilight Zone.
Chandler knocked on the door. Not once but several times. Finally, a sleepy-eyed Julie opened it. "Chandler? Do you know what time it is?"
"Well, it's not Howdy Doody Time."
Julie started. "Are you drunk?"
Chandler shook his head. "I've been totaling t's all night until Mister T total me to get a move on, sucker." He put a hand up. "That's one thing you're going to have to get used to, I'm a wise cracking fool and I always will be. That's not going to change even if we start seeing each other."
Julie blinked. "Are we going to be seeing each other?"
"That's what this conversation is going to determine, I think."
She opened the door. "I guess we could talk about it over a cup of tea."
While she made the tea, Chandler leaned idly against the doorpost to her bedroom. He glanced inside and on the dresser he saw the picture she had talked to earlier. A smile lit up his face as he recognized whom she had painted. "Even better than the one she did of you, Ross." He turned as she brought the cup to him, very confident now how this was all going to turn out.
The next day Chandler met Joey at the baggage claim area in La Guardia. "Hey bro." He shouted. They slapped hands and then embraced. "God I missed you." Chandler said. "The old foosball table has been mighty lonely without you."
"I take it Nelson didn't work out."
"Oh, he was all right. It was just I got tired of Jaws reruns."
"I'll explain later. So did you find anything in LA?"
"Yeah. I landed a part. I'm to go back in November for the shooting."
"You're kidding. That's great. What did you get?"
"I'm playing a gangster's sidekick for a mob movie."
"Hey, then Taneka's advice really worked."
Joey swallowed. "I have something I want to talk with you about."
"That's funny so do I."
Just then Julie came up with Taneka on her arm. "Joey." She cried. "Taneka just showed me the engagement ring. Congratulations." She gave him a quick kiss and then slipped her hand into Chandlers while Taneka hugged Joey.
Later as Chandler helped Joey unload the suitcases, he asked. "What brought all that on? I thought you weren't sure."
Joey looked haunted. "I've suddenly acquired a conscience. I tried to be a bee among the flowers. That's how I got the part and now it won't let me sleep." He grabbed Chandler's lapels. "I never had a conscience before. It's driving me crazy."
Chandler put his arm around his buddy's shoulders. "Welcome to the real world, my friend, and in your case it is indeed just like Melrose Place. But don't worry, I'll be there for you. Hmm. That sounds like a song I know."
Two men stood in front of doors. Both went through and now must live with the results. One has just started to realize a dream and the other has proved that sometimes dreams can be nightmares.