Timberlain Lilley reluctantly opened her eyes to find Remy standing above her with a glass of something she thought looked like pureed poop and smelled just as bad.
“Wakey, wakey, Timberlain,” Remy crooned. “The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and it’s snowing here in New York City.” Remy thought he could actually see Timber’s brain begin to process incoming information, and her eyes opened wide when she realized the import of Remy’s words.
“Nooo!” She croaked in disbelief, and ran to the nearest window where she confirmed outside was unmistakably downtown Manhattan.
“What am I doing here? Where is this place?” Timber’s distress level was on the rise.
“This is my new apartment.” Remy said innocently. “About time you got your ass here to see it. Kind of pricey, but an excellent location. And wait til you see the home gym.”
“This is sooooo wrong, Remy. “You took advantage of me when I obviously had too much to drink. This is NOT a funny joke. This has Scotty written all over it. I have to get home.” Timber insisted.
Remy sat down on the edge of the bed, noticing Timber had bled through her pajama pant leg onto the sheets. “Come on Timmie. sit down here and talk to me.”
Timber hesitated, looking around the room and Remy saw fear bloom in her eyes.
“This is not a dream.” She said plaintively. “I’m really here.”
Remy patted a spot on the mattress next to him. “Come sit down, let’s talk about the different ways you can get yourself home.”
Timber, now wary of what might be happening, walked hesitantly back to the bed and sat.
“Are you cold?” Remy asked, noticing she was shaking, and Timber shook her head no. Remy pulled the blanket off the bed and put it around her shoulders anyway.
“Timber, this is truth day, so I’m just going to say what’s in my heart and on my mind. When I saw you yesterday, I wanted to cry. All of us, Coop and Scotty, even Puck, we were all shocked, and I don’t know about the others, but I’m scared out of my mind for you. So scared I brought you here in the hopes of persuading you to let us help you get well.”
Timber put her head down, hands over her eyes and sniffed back tears.
“Don’t hide your eyes from me, we’re having an conversation here.” Remy told her. “Look. I want you to look at this,” he said sternly. Timber reluctantly took her hand away from her face to find herself staring at a picture in Remy’s phone.
“Do you recognize that woman?” A sob escaped from Timber and she hugged the blanket around her. “That’s you Timber. That’s you, what? Five years ago? You sent me this picture. Look at you in your cap and gown. How regal you look. You have the gold little pointy thing and all those other suckers on the stage only have white.”
“That’s a V-Stole. The pointy thing.” Timber sniffed.
“A V-stole? See, I didn’t even know that. You’re always teaching me something new. Where was that picture taken Timber?” Remy waited for an answer.
“London.” She finally sniffed.
“London. That’s right. This is from the London School of Economics. And what are you doing there?”
“Getting an honorary degree.” She sniffed.
“That’s right Timber, the London School of Economics gave you an honorary doctorate just to get you to come talk to them about your Community Capitalism idea. Twenty-five years old. You didn’t even have your real doctorate yet, and all these brilliant economists came to honor you and ask you about your theory. Pretty heady stuff. Pretty damn impressive don’t you think?”
Timber’s only answer was a sob.
“You know how proud he was of you that day Timber?”
“Not proud enough to come.” She snapped.
“No, no, he was working. We had a game and he had to be there.” Remy told her.
“He wasn’t pitching. He sat with his butt on the bench eating sunflower seeds. He could have come.” She argued.
“That’s not the way it works Timmie, you know that. He had a contract, he had to be there.”
“He wouldn’t even ask.”
“He couldn’t Timber. He knew his fiancee’s honorary doctorate was not something they were going let him take a game day off for even if it had been local. But he was so proud of you. He put a nameplate on his locker that said Future Mr. Dr. Timberlain Lilley. He used to say Lopez’ wife might have the biggest boobs but you had the biggest IQ.”
Remy thumbed to another picture. “Look, look at this one, Timber.”
“Timber glanced briefly and then scrunched up her face as if it hurt to look at it. “That’s you with that crazy short haircut you got right after you moved into the Lilley Pond. Look at your face Timmie.” Remy pressed the phone closer to her to make sure she had a good view. “Look at how beautiful you are there.”
Timber turned away and started to cry. Remy took her hand. “I want you to look at these Timber. I want you to remember how lovely you were. “Look at your skin. Look how your eyes sparkle. I can practically see the mischief in them. You know you are a Yankee legend. Hardly a game would go by when someone didn’t bring up what Lilley’s crazy wife had done to some poor sucker on the team. Usually Scott,” Remy added, which got a tiny snort that passed for a laugh out of Timber.
“I’ll never forget the time Scott dropped that pretzel on the floor and you picked on him until he vacuumed your entire house because some salt might have fallen off it it.”
“Salt is a very abrasive substance,” Timber sniffed. “And it has been known to travel.”
“See, you still have your sense of humor.” Remy gave her a little push, shoulder to shoulder. “That’s good to know.
“The guys never let Scotty live that one down, you know. Every so often someone would leave an apron on his locker, and whenever anyone from another team wanted to trash talk him they’d say, ‘Oh yeah Avila, go Hoover something.’ But I’ll tell you a secret, Timmie, all the guys, they’d rag mercilessly on whatever poor guy you were picking on, but everyone wanted to be that guy because you made life fun for us. You certainly kept us all humble, and that was good for us too.”
Remy used his thumb to flip to another picture. “You see this one? Come on, look. You know what this was?”
“Yankee wives baseball game.” Timber croaked.
“That’s right. And that’s you on first base. Look at you in your little short shorts. You’ve got your pony tail coming through your cap like all the cool kids do it. And you must have had a hit, because most of you ladies sucked so bad we didn’t let you walk one another because we’d never get out of the top of the first. And that’s me, first base coach. I look good there don’t I? Come on, Timmie look. Look at yourself. I want you to really look. You’ve got it coming and going. Little round butt. Little round breasts. Little cheerleader legs crouching there in your leadoff stance. When you walked through a room every head turned to watch you Timmie.”
Timber cried openly now and Remy stood, still holding her by the hand and led her to the mirror. Timber screwed her eyes shut, but Remy stood behind her, holding her by her shoulders. “No, don’t close your eyes Timber. This is truth day. Look at that person in the mirror. Who do you see there?”
Timber sobbed, shaking pathetically, hands covering her eyes so she wouldn’t have to see what she had come to. Remy led her back to the bed, handed her a box of Kleenex and sat down next to her.
“So here’s my offer, Timber.” He told her as she mopped her face. “If you want to leave, there’s the door. I have to warn you, you have no clothes but the pjs you’re wearing, no ID to get on a plane, no cash, no credit cards, no phone and no one here is going to help you get any of those things. I suppose you can call the police or maybe you can find someone you used to know here who will take you in, but if you walk out the door right now I can’t care what happens to you, because it will break my heart.
“Now if you would like me to help you get back home, then I want you to give me the day.” Remy told her. If you cooperate with me today to try to find some answers as to what we can do to bring back the beautiful woman – the smart, successful, awesome woman you were – then at the end of today, I will present our plan to get you back to being that woman. If you don’t want to stay and fight, I will help you get home. But I want today Timmie. And it won’t work if you don’t cooperate. If you don’t participate.”
The room was quiet for what seemed like a long time except for Timber’s sobs while Remy waited her out “What would I have to do?” she finally asked.
“Good question.” Remy sounded heartened. “An excellent question. And I am going to tell you everything, so there are no surprises. First, you are going to drink that protein shake I just brought you…”
“Ooh Remy,” Timber shook her head. “My stomach is not…”
“These things are not negotiable. If you puke it up, I will make you another one. After you have your shake, you will take a shower. There is shampoo and conditioner and body wash in the shower. There are towels under the sink and a bathrobe on the back of the door. By the time you are finished, Puck should be here with a toothbrush and other drug store shit for you.”
“Pete?” Her head shot up. “Why Pete?”
“He volunteered.” Remy answered. “When you are done with your shower, you will come down to breakfast, which Coop will be making. The Foot Locker across the street opens at 9:00 and we will get you something to wear for the day. You’ll get dressed, come down to the gym and meet a friend of mine who is a PT – a physical therapist – and he is going to do an evaluation of your hands.
You will then have a delicious high calorie snack and then you and Scott are going to visit his brother Miguel, who is a big shot doctor, and who has agreed to see you over his lunch break.”
“Scott has a brother named Miguel?” Timber asked. “What kind of woman names one kid Scott and the other Miguel?”
“Your job Timber,” Remy refused to be sidetracked, “is to cooperate with him. You have to answer all his questions truthfully. No lies. If there is a question you feel you are going to lie about, I want you to decline to answer rather than lie.
“After your appointment with Dr. Avila, Scott is going to get you some lunch, and drive you to meet me at Dr. Chen’s office.” Remy pushed on.
“And what kind of doctor is Dr. Chen?” Timber asked. “As if I didn’t know.”
“Yes. He’s a psychiatrist. He specializes in grief counseling and he works with the families of police officer killed in the line of duty.”
“Grief counseling.” She repeated.
“Right. He’s a nice guy, I’ve met him.” Remy assured her.
“So basically he’s someone who passes judgement on other people’s pain? Are they doing the steps right? Are they staying too long in bargaining? Shouldn’t they be moving along to guilt? Know what I think? I think he’s probably a Star Trek alien who thrives on the pain of others.”
“Well I’ll set my phaser to stun,” Remy assured her.
“You mean to kill don’t you? Stun isn’t going to help against a Pain Sucking Alien.”
“A valid point. I will bring my light saber just in case.” Remy promised, and then, recognizing her teasing was an attempt to hide her nervousness, promised in the most sincere voice he could muster, “I’ll be right there with you, Timmie. Every minute. I’m not going to leave you all alone again.”
Timber nodded three times but said nothing.
“Now I repeat.” Remy told her. “You will be cooperative. You will be truthful. And you will behave yourself. You will also give Dr. Chen permission to talk to me about his evaluation, and you need to do the same for Scott and Dr. Avila.
“After we are done, I will bring you back here, where you will have a delicious high calorie snack of no nutritional value whatsoever as a reward, and you can hang out while the guys and I discuss what we think we can do to help you get back to being that beautiful woman in those photos. After we present our plan, you will have some time to think your options over, and then I expect you to commit to stay here and follow the program we design for you for the whole six weeks until spring training starts. No. ‘I’ll try it out and see if it’s too hard’. And I hope to God you stay Timber. I pray to God you stay. But if you decide you want to go home, I’ll see that you get there, and then we are done. Because I will not watch you do this to yourself.
“So what will it be?” Remy demanded. “Will you give me the day? One day?”
Timber sat sniffling, head resting on her hands, which covered her eyes again, but made no reply.
“Come on Timmie.” Remy encouraged her. “You can do this. I promise I will not let you down this time. You can count on me, but I can’t do it for you. I need you to fight for yourself.”
Remy put his arm around Timber and drew her into his side. “Timmie, remember in the hospital, when you’d been pushing for hours and you decided it was too hard and you told the doctors they could all go epidural themselves, you were done? The doctors were getting ready to do a C-Section because you gave up on yourself. Do you remember what I told you?”
There was another sound out of Timber that might have been an attempt at a laugh. “You told me to ‘man up.’”
“That’s right,” Remy squeezed her. “I told you to ‘man up’. And then what happened?”
“I bit your thumb.” Timber said promptly and Remy snorted at a memory he had all but forgotten.
“That’s true, I still have the scar, see?” He showed her his hand. “But you know what I’m talking about. What happened after you decided to not to give up?”
“I pushed her out.” Timber sobbed.
“That’s right. Three big pushes later she squished right out.” Remy smiled. “And I was in awe of you that day, Timmie. No shit. Genuine awe. And I need you to find that kind of brave again. I need you to man up. Help me Timber. Help me make you well again. You are 29 years old. You are so so smart. You can do such great things. Me and Coop and Scotty, we play a game where you hit a ball with a stick; we don’t add anything of real value to the world. You have helped so many people lead better lives because of your Community Capitalism. And Timber, if you don’t give up on yourself, who knows what other great things that big brain of your is going to come up with in the future? Please don’t let me down now Timber. One day. Can’t you give me one day?”
Timber heaved one last sob, was still for a moment and then took a deep breath. “If I’m going to the doctor I need a razor,” she croaked. “I haven’t shaved my legs in a month. And don’t repeat that to Scott because he will make woolly mammoth jokes all day.”
“I have a razor you can use.” Remy promised.
“And not the one you use to carve lightning bolts into your woman’s public private zone.”
“No, ma’am. Remy smiled. “I keep that one under lock and key.”
Timber sat up straight and met Remy’s eyes. “OK Then. One day.”
Remy wrapped her up in a bear hug. “That’s my girl.” He said. “Thank you. Thank you.” He kissed the top of her head. “Thank you for a second chance to do this right. I am not going to let you down this time Timber.
“Just hang on to me.”