Is Doctor Jekyll still here?
Copyright © 2021 By T. M. Watson
All rights reserved
This short story, ‘Drinks with Doctor Jekyll’ is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are products of the author’s imagination.
Thank goodness. We think it’s a good thing it’s fiction.
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. This work may not be copied or redistributed without the sole written consent of the author.
“All human beings, as we meet them, are commingled out of good and evil: and Edward Hyde, alone, in the ranks of mankind, was pure evil.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’
On a Friday night around ten, the bar was stuffy. Patrons loud, grasping their beer bottles and drinks like life lines, sat around the basketball game on TV. The game was Duke and Clemson, I think.
I sat at the opposite end of the long bar, around it’s corner, right shoulder next to the wall. The loud action was still in my sight, but I mentally blocked it out. Fitfully, I attempted to channel my thoughts.
The bartender delivered my drink. Splendid antidote after this damn day. It tasted great as I sipped heavily, downing half the glass. My little notebook was on the bar in front of me, but it took a few moments remembering what pocket my pen was.
The bar stool on my left was unoccupied. It remained empty until the tap on my shoulder interrupted my thoughts. Hell, they were haphazard ideas, anyway.
“Excuse me, young man. Is this seat taken?”
“No, sir. Have a seat. I don’t bite.”
“Thank you. Most of the time, I don’t either.”
I chuckled at that. He was taller than I, maybe by three inches. Slight in build, but not skinny. Pale skin, like he didn’t get outside much. Polite, with an English accent.
He indicated my drink, almost finished, with his thumb, “What’s the flavor of the evening?”
“Just drinking a Bloody Mary. Double Grey Goose.”
“Splendid,” he said, signaling to the barkeep.
The bartender lumbered over to us. The pale man ordered the same. With slight disregard, he removed a small, thin journal from his sport coat. He looked across the length of the bar. I followed his eyesight, focusing on a man, opposite us, watching the TV.
The bartender delivered his drink. “Put it on my tab, Jack?”
“Sure thing, Doc.”
“You keep a journal, too?” I said, indicating the one in his hands.
“Yes,” he answered. “At my age I’m afraid my thoughts pass like a thief in the night. One second it’s there, then gone. I have learned to take a lot of notes.”
He sipped his Bloody Mary. Made a slight smacking sound with his lips.
“So, you’re a writer,” I stated.
A slight nod of acknowledgment. “Keep a journal for my studies. My research. I should add my failing memory to that, also. And you?”
“I write fictional short stories. Spare time. Publish on the Internet sometimes. Mister..?”
“Jekyll. Doctor Henry Jekyll. Call me Henry,” as we shook hands.
“Nice to meet you Doctor Henry. I’m Thomas Thornton. Call me Tom.”
“Pleasure’s mine, Tom.” A sudden, shockingly loud, collected cheer enveloped the bar around those settled at the TV. “My, my. The patrons are quite involved in the game on television. Who’s playing?”
“Duke and Clemson, I think. I don’t follow the game. Came here to have a nightcap. It’s been a hell of a day.”
“I agree. A frantic mother-to-be knocked on my door today. She was in full labor. Things got questionable if I’d get her on the bed before the baby popped out.”
“Wow. Everything come out okay?”
Doctor Henry grinned, “Yes, indeed. She had a girl. You know, Tom, they’re rather ugly creatures when they’re a minute old?”
“Ha. I must agree. Um, where is your practice?”
“Oh, I don’t have a practice. I live in the building next door. Second floor up.”
“The apartment building?”
“I’ve never seen you in here, before now.”
“Quite so. Jack says whenever I show up is a historical moment.”
“You’re retired,” I stated.
“Supposed to be. Although, after today, one can only wonder.”
His drink was getting low, so I signaled the barkeep for two more. Jack delivered them with a menacing smile, then to the other end of the bar, watching the final minutes of the game.
“Well, thank you, Tom.”
Doctor Jekyll lost interest in the journal, tucked it back in his sport coat pocket against his chest, next to a shiny, silver flask.
“You’re welcome, Henry. Say, I’ve always wanted on of those.”
“I couldn’t help notice the flask in your pocket. In my opinion, I think their classy.”
“Yes. They serve a purpose, too.”
“What’s your preferred drink?”
He touched the outside of his coat. “This? Oh. No, Tom. This is my special serum. Only when I feel, um, out of sorts, do I take it.”
“Understood. You have a condition?”
“Yes, we can call it that.” Jekyll thought a moment. “Of course. A condition,” he said, turning to me. “You have an inquisitive nature, Tom.”
“I’m a writer, Doc. Always asking questions. Forgive me if I crossed the line. Don’t mean to get too personal.”
“Not at all, Tom. I prefer the inquisitive. How’s a person to know if they don’t ask?”
My pocket notebook got put in my jacket. A few moments of silence passed as Henry’s focus again was on the man across the bar, still engaged in the final seconds of the game.
“Do you know him, Doctor Jekyll?” Apparently I’d pulled him out of his trance.
“That man, with the green jacket is the husband of the woman who had the emergency birth today.”
“He should be home taking care of her. I wonder why he’s here.”
“I don’t. The man’s a deviant. He’s scum. What you Americans refer to as an asshole.”
“Would you two like another?” Jack the Bartender asked.
“Sure, two more,” I responded.
“Let me buy this one.”
“I have it, Doc. My pleasure.”
“Thank you, Tom. You are quite the gentleman.”
“I enjoy your company, Doc. What has that man in the green jacket done?” I discreetly pointed across the bar.
Doc Henry Jekyll leaned towards me, away from inquisitive ears. “I followed him today. He was extremely disappointed his wife gave birth to a girl. Never before heard such diatribe directed at a new mother.”
“What the fuck is his problem?” Somehow, a rage inside me surfaced, thinking of the new mother left alone.
“Their residence is on the main floor of my building. I listened through the door as I was in the hallway. Heard him slap her around as she cried out. She’s probably hurt. I immediately called the authorities.”
“Why isn’t he in jail? Why didn’t the cops take him away?”
“Good question. However, I have a close, dependable acquaintance who will administer his due justice. He’s waiting until the time is right.”
I dropped the subject, as I was feeling the vodka’s effect. The instant rage in me had subsided quickly.
The crowd thinned out soon after the game ended. Doc Henry and I kept talking, but I didn’t have his full attention. Jekyll remained focused on the green jacket man, who was so drunk, he didn’t recognize the doctor, the man who delivered his daughter that same day.
After midnight, only Jack the Bartender, myself, Doc and green jacket remained in the bar.
“Last call, gentlemen!”
“No, thank you,” Doctor Henry responded.
“Okay,” Jack said, speaking directly, and close, to Doctor Jekyll. “I gotta go downstairs for a few moments, Doc. Long as you’re okay?”
“No worries, my good man.”
Soon as Jack turned, Henry Jekyll grabbed the flask from his pocket.
“I’m going to the pancake house for an early breakfast, Doc. Care to join me?”
“Sounds nice. I like pancakes.”
“Great. I’ll drive,” responding as I stepped from the bar stool.
“Where’s your car, Tom?”
“Parked outside, three cars up from the front door. Black Chevy Tahoe.”
“I’ll be out in a few minutes. Go, on ahead please.” he said with an intense voice.
Moving to the door, perplexed at his response, I turned to see Jekyll take a pull from his flask.
“Go, Tom! Now!”
Doc Henry was at the Tahoe five minutes later, breathing heavy. His skin was sweaty, his face a deep red. Not the familiar pale man I’d gotten to know over drinks. I was terribly concerned with his condition, although he was coherent enough for conversation.
“I saw you drink your serum, Doc. Why?”
“Because, Tom. I find drinking the serum is more personal than carrying a gun.”
Driving to the pancake restaurant, Doctor Jekyll explained to me who he really was. Although my mind couldn’t comprehend how he was here, in the car with me, and, still alive, I did not feel threatened. Dare I say we became friends.
We ordered our pancakes, coffee, and, a glass of water to go with my Tylenol. Jekyll explained to me how Mister Hyde appeared when I left the bar ahead of him. Still trying to understand, a visitor slid in the booth on my left side.
“Thank you for joining us, Jack. You remember my good friend Thomas?”
The bartender nodded, not saying much, other than, ‘Hello.’
“Tom, I’d like to introduce Jack the Ripper.”
We shook hands and I asked him, “How can both of you still be alive?”
The server approached with a glass of water for Jack and took his order. When she walked away, Jack said, “As long as our legends are alive, well, so are we.”
We clicked our drinks together in a toast.
. . .
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