Once and Again

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Reefer Madness

Inside, Rick finds Karen doing the ass-pole merengue, i.e. pacing a groove into the linoleum. There's a big red sign on the wall that says, "No firearms beyond this point." So I guess if you need to shoot somebody, you'd better do it in the waiting room. When she sees Rick, Karen clenches, "They say he's coming out." The ass-pole jabs her in the ribs, and she adds, "I need to spend a little time with him. You could pick him up later." Whatever, Mommy Knows Best. How insulting is that? Rick tries to speak, with a warning, "Karen --" but she cuts him off, declaring, "We need to deal with this right away. We can't be weak." Rick points out, "They weren't even his drugs." Karen argues that they don't know that. And then she's off again, saying, "It's been four months since he graduated. He's lost, Rick. And we're not helping him, and we need to do that, or he's going to get worse." Does Karen ever say anything that doesn't come out like a lecture? Rick snaps that he knows they need to help Eli, and reminds her that they all agreed to take the summer off. Karen's on her manic panic again, rhyming off everything that needs to change now that summer's over: "[Eli] needs structure in his life, now; he needs to get a job or go to school." Rick cuts her off loudly to say that he agrees. Maybe she can't hear him over the roar of the ass-pole, because Karen hoarsely declares, "We have to be united in this, Rick. There's too much at stake!" Seriously, where's the evidence room, because someone needs to roll Karen a nice big fatty. Rick holds up his hands as a sign of acquiescence and begs, "Could we just, not --"

A buzzer sounds behind them, and a sullen Eli is escorted out by a cop. He doesn't say anything but lowers his head, knowing the ass-pole will demand some kind of penance. He's saved when the woman at the admittance desk pounds on the Plexiglas. She calls him over to retrieve that bathtub chain with the lock on it that he's always wearing around his neck.

Out on the sidewalk, everyone heads for their cars. Eli hangs back to walk with Rick, while Karen mothers all over Jessie. Grace pesters Lily about why they have to go to school after such a "traumatic" experience. Nice try, but no dice. Jessie wants to know why Eli's going to ride with Karen, and Karen stammers that Rick's going to get his truck out of the impound. She adds that she and Eli need to spend a little time together. The ass-pole rubs its hands with glee as Karen glances pointedly at Eli. Rick calls to Eli that he'll pick him up from Karen's after dinner.

Once they're alone, Karen can't wait to lay into Eli. "You know everything's going to change now, don't you?" He insists they weren't his drugs. She stops and grabs his shoulder, giving him a steely glare and asking, "Are you telling me that you don't smoke pot?" Eli hedges by saying that it was Coop's coat. The ass-pole's no fool. Karen says that's not what she asked. Eli shoots her a wary look and starts walking away. She's right on him, saying, "Do you understand that as a lawyer, I'm an officer of the court? I can't knowingly ignore illegal activity. I can be made to testify against you in court, even though you're my son!" And even though you don't know anything relevant about his drug use. Eli can't believe what an old lady she is, and points out that it was pot and he's not exactly a junkie or a dealer. ["And, seriously? I don't know how much pot he had on him, but unless he was carrying, like, a brick, there's no 'testimony' involved. The penalty for a first-time 'recreational' possession charge is roughly equivalent to that for an unpaid traffic ticket -- you go to court, you plead 'conditional discharge,' you get a fine and probation, that's it. It's just not that big a deal." -- Sars] As a parting shot he says, dubiously, "You're telling me you never smoked pot?" Karen doesn't answer him. If she did, she didn't smoke nearly enough of it.

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Once and Again




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