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Day 48: Doctor's Office 5 (Dr. Venkman) [Fourth Shift]
this is what my science tells me
whoyougoncall wrote in damned
Reiko's session, while uneventful overall, had been at least plentiful enough in the Double-X Chromosome Department that it had taken some of the edge off the previous session with (eyeroll) the good Dr. Ingram. Factor in lunchtime after that, and Venkman actually wasn't in too bad of a mood by the time fourth shift rolled around. Comparatively speaking, anyway. He was annoyed that after all that hubbub in the morning about Dr. Burroughs, he wasn't getting an extra patient after all, making all his mental pissing and moaning earlier worthless. But at least he was annoyed on a full stomach during a now single-patient shift.

He had to raise an eyebrow, though, when he got a look at the file for the guy who was coming in. "You gotta be kiddin' me," he muttered to himself, rubbing his temples when he saw the part about who exactly Hunk Howard thought he was. Never mind Aidan or Ingram thinking they were part of some sci-fi military-esque thing that Venkman had never heard of. This guy honestly believed that he was one of the most beloved movie characters of all time. Limbs full of straw and all - or not all, considering the lack of a brain. "No place like Landel's," he added with a short sigh, hand near the drawer where his trusty bottle of whiskey rested just in case.

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Despite his insistence that he'd rather go outside, the Scarecrow found his nurse leading him in a different direction. Maybe she was going to show him how to shower correctly- thus far, he'd only been imitating what the other men did, and he had yet to have a shower where she didn't criticize something the moment he stepped from the room. His first showering experience, it was that there was still soap in his hair. Then the issues were the kind of soap he'd used (they all looked about the same to someone with little experience in human hygiene products) and that he'd not rinsed as thoroughly as she'd have liked. Today, his attempt to rinse extra thoroughly earned him a note of not drying off well enough. Along with her complaints was a stinging from the wound in his head- he had quickly discovered that soap and wounds did not mix well, and he had probably not gotten all the foamy bubbles away from it. This was all so much more complicated than just restuffing oneself with fresh straw.

Still soggy, the Scarecrow found himself escorted down a hall or two and into an unfamiliar room with an equally unfamiliar man inside. While he'd never seen the place before, something about it made him a little homesick- maybe it was the earthy color of the walls or the knick-knacks on the man's desk. He turned to ask the nurse a question, only to find she was already gone. She sure did work fast.

The Scarecrow stood awkwardly a moment, feeling the carpet beneath his bare feet (one more thing the nurse would chide him for, he expected) before he found his smile. No need to be rude or apprehensive- the man at the desk, while it was clear he wasn't one of the regular patients, didn't seem like a threat. "How do you do?" he asked.

Edited at 2010-03-17 02:47 am (UTC)

What, no charming song and dance routine about brains and lack thereof? Clearly this guy was not the genuine article.

Venkman suppressed a rolling of the eyes. At least Hunk (who, by the way, had perhaps the most old-fashioned named he'd heard so far) seemed like an actually nice guy. He could hold back a bit longer before really cutting loose. "Not bad, not bad at all. C'mon over, have a seat," he offered, gesturing to the chairs across from the desk. He kept an eye on Hunk's gait, wondering how "Scarecrow"-like it would be. Even something little like that would tell him a bit about just how far-gone this patient was.

"Don't mind if I do," the Scarecrow responded with a friendly nod, taking a couple of steps into the room. A part of him wanted to be leery of this entire situation- after all, his overall experience with the doctors and nurses of the Institute had been irreparably marred not but two nights ago. Still, the nurses during the day were as pleasant as they had been before- it seemed there was something about the nightly hours that transformed the entire building and the staff into wicked people.

Something on the wall caught his eye: was that a diploma? Fantastic! Maybe he could ask--

His thoughts were interrupted as he rammed his toe into the back leg of the chair. He winced briefly, carefully making his way around the seat and taking it before bringing his complaining foot to his hand. He could kick himself for how clumsy he was at times, though that probably wouldn't feel any better than his accidentally kicking the chair. If there was one thing he'd learned the previous night, it was that the human body was a relatively fragile thing- he had to be more careful with it!

"I really ought to watch my feet sometimes," he said with a nervous grin. "I do hope I didn't hurt your chair any."

The guy certainly had the right kind of voice for the character he thought he was, at least. He could almost hear the 1930s film grain coming out of Hunk's windpipe if he listened hard enough. The walk was definitely not quite right for a regular person, but also not as obviously floppy or loose as someone consciously trying to portray a walking haybag. That put one point of evidence in the "Actually Crazy, Not Just Trying For Attention" column. There were a bunch of other points to go through before he could get a clearer picture, though. 

Venkman glanced over his shoulder at whatever Hunk seemed to be looking at. The degrees, he guessed. That made sense - diplomas = brains in Oz, if he remembered right. Well, that settled things, then, didnt it? He could honestly say - with clear confidence - that this man had, in fact... watched The Wizard of Oz. 

He nodded to himself, then started turning back to introdu—


Venkman jolted in his seat at the sudden noise, then settled when he noticed exactly what had happened. "Jesus, easy on the fancy footwork, Estair," he said with a raised eyebrow, the startlement quickly wearing off. Even after all these months, he had half expected to see some bug-ugly vapor knocking things off shelves behind him. Not that he was afraid or anything. Oh no. He wasn't 'fraid o' no ghosts. He just preferred not to be in the way when one of those things was in a slimy sort of mood. Which was all the time.

More eyebrow raising was had when Hunk saw fit to take his whole stubbed foot in hand. "Oh, I'm sure no offence was taken. Chairs are known for their very forgiving natures," he answered in a deadpan. Shaking his head slightly, he noted the words "diploma," "absent-minded," "limb control issues," and "weirdo." The last one was double-underlined. With those initial notes out of the way, he moved on to the formalities. "Anyway, I'm Dr. Peter Venkman. I'll be taking care of your case for the next little while, Mr. Howard. Or Hunk. Do you mind 'Hunk'?" 

The throbbing subsiding, the Scarecrow returned his foot to the floor and did his best to make himself presentable. He'd taken one more stray glance to the wall- those were diplomas! Seeing how he had more than one, the former strawman determined that this Dr. Venkman had to be a very intelligent man indeed.

Still, knowledgeable or not, the Scarecrow wasn't sure he could trust the doctor any farther than he could throw him. He was working for the Wizard Landel, after all. He kept in mind everything he'd learned so far, his own experiences and those experiments on his friends still weighing on his mind. Everyone acted so differently during the day- it couldn't be that the daytime staff was a part of the Wizard Landel's game as well, could it?

"I don't suppose I do," he answered, warily watching the doctor's pen scratch its way across the page before him. He'd used that name, the same as Dorothy. That couldn't bode well. "It does seem like an awfully silly name, though."

He was looking at the degrees again. He normally wouldn't have minded someone being impressed by them, but he did find it a little unsettling how the guy seemed to fixate on them with such wide, excited eyes. He was half-tempted to just chop the papers up into a fine powder and let Hunk try to snort them like some kind of brain crack. Ah, but then what would he use to keep conning convincing Landel about his status as a legitimate scientist? Priorities, priorities.

"Well that's one small area in which you're not crazy. That's a good sign," said Venkman with a short chuckle. 'Hunk' didn't seem to resemble anything like a good name. The guy could really use a nice, normal name. Like Peter. Or Ray. Or Egon. "Is there, uh, something else you'd, prefer?" he asked, able to guess at what he might hear. Tapping his pen idly against the desk, he added pointedly, "Maybe something in the way of an 'S' name?"

"As a matter of fact, there is!" the Scarecrow said excitedly. He'd hardly met anyone he hadn't already known in the last day or so- well, not since the day he'd had the clever little thing put in his head, now that he thought about it- and hadn't yet had a genuine chance to try out the new name Peter had given him. He'd expected he'd introduce himself to someone new with it, and this opportunity would do nicely.

"I was talking with an acquaintance a couple of days ago," he started, eager to get right to it, "and we both found that 'Hunk' didn't suit me at all, and going by 'the Scarecrow' seems to leave most folks downright confused, so we set about coming up with a new name to call myself. Tell me what you think: Frank Westerning."

Venkman was silent for a moment, lacing his fingers under his chin. "Well, it's a better name than 'Hunk,' I'll give you that." Of course, that wasn't exactly a huge feat. And unfortunately for his patient, Venkman was of the opinion that one fake name was enough for one person. Two was just getting greedy.

He noted down the name given, and that another patient had been responsible for helping Hunk come up with it. "Now, you mentioned a name that interests me a bit more there. 'Scarecrow.'" Venkman tilted his head, then asked, "How far down the Yellow Brick Road'd you have to go to get called that?" He shrugged a bit, waiting to see what kind of reaction he got.

The Scarecrow was a bit surprised that Dr. Venkman knew about the Yellow Brick Road. So many people he'd met had never heard of Oz, and others hadn't the slightest idea of what a scarecrow was in the first place. Then again, with all those diplomas on his walls, he was bound to know at least a little something about everything, including far-off places like Oz and the Emerald City. Impressive!

"Well, I didn't have to go very far at all," he answered honestly. "I mean, I was made a scarecrow to begin with and set up in a corn field near the Yellow Brick Road, so I really had the name before I got to there. I'm not a scarecrow now, but I was back in Oz, you see."

Edited at 2010-03-21 07:09 pm (UTC)

The genuine surprise in Hunk's face and his straight-up explanation of where he had come from was disappointing, but (sigh) expected. He really did think he was the Scarecrow of Oz. It was enough to make Venkman feel a headache coming on. God, how did they all get like this? Sure, there was stuff in the psychological literature that pointed to conditions like the ones he'd been seeing for the past few days, but nothing was quite like the specific cases he'd seen. Everyone seemed to have a very specific, elaborate alternate life in their head, and many of them seemed to be based not on original personalities created solely by the patients, but on existing fictional characters or worlds. He knew Landel's was a specialty hospital, so of course he'd see a bigger concentration of cases like these than he would at a general mental hospital. But all he had to do was look at the sheer number of patients in the cafeteria on any given day to start wondering: how could there be this many of these bizarre nutcases?

He wasn't in the mood to hurt his head over this right now. For the moment, Venkman just rolled with what he was given. He just had to do his job and get the patient to snap out of Movieland somehow, right? So he was going to do just that. "Right. Of course. Back in Oz. Filmed in fabulous Technicolor, right?" he answered flatly. "How's Judy Garland these days? She still got those red slippers, or did she sell those to score more drugs?"

Okay, all this talking Dr. Venkman was doing now was going over the Scarecrow's head. It was frustrating to be so ignorant, especially when in the presence of someone as educated as the doctor, but what could he really do about it? He'd only had his human brain a short while, and while he was happy to have one at all, it couldn't possibly measure up to the one the Wizard had given him. Until he could learn how to use it properly, these sorts of complicated topics were undoubtedly going to leave him baffled.

The Scarecrow tried to pick out something he did know from Dr. Venkman's words. He didn't recognized the name he'd said, didn't know where Tecknicolor was, and hadn't any idea what he meant by 'sell those to score more drugs,' but he did mention red slippers. It was a small point of familiarity. Maybe the case was that he was so learned and knew so many names that he'd gotten Dorothy mixed up with someone else entirely? It was bound to happen when you had that much knowledge crammed into a single mind.

"You mean the Ruby Slippers?" he asked, attempting to sort out all the information Dr. Venkman was giving him. "The girl who owned those was Dorothy Gale. Well, they were owned by the Wicked Witch of the East before her, but I don't know what her name was before the house landed atop her."

Not even a hint of recognition on the more real-world terms, only on the part related to the story. He was going to be a tough nut to crack. Venkman was going to have to go for the more direct approach. "Hate to break it to ya, 'Frank,' but the Ruby Slippers are probably owned by some rich prop collector or museum curator at this point. Before that, they were the property of MGM Studios. Along with whatever other pairs they made, of course, 'cause God knows they probably couldn't just rely on one pair for the whole movie shoot," he shot back quickly. "And Judy Garland is Dorothy Gale, just to be clear. Least a version of her, anyway."

He looked Hunk dead in the eyes then, hoping to drill this last point home, "She's the one who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. The film. The piece of popular entertainment. The fiction."

The Scarecrow frowned, feeling a wave of utter confusion and naivety. Curse his lack of brains! The fact that he was so far from home probably didn't help his lack of understanding, either. He scratched his head a second, feeling the area where the doctor had patched his head back together. It didn't hurt nearly as badly as it had the day before, but it was still unpleasant to the touch.

Something dawned on him- the doctor, despite his diplomas, seemed to believe Oz wasn't real, just like Dorothy had during her visit. Was it that he was bewitched, as well? If a man so learned believed that working for the Wizard Landel was a good idea, it was possible. Then again, maybe it was just that Oz was so far away from the Institute that no one had ever heard of it.

Still, there were questions left on the Scarecrow's mind- Dr. Venkman was naming all sorts of unfamiliar and somewhat unsettling things to the former strawman. When he got back to Oz, he really needed to get out of the Emerald City more often- see the world, learn more about the land beyond the desert. "I think you've lost me somewhere, Doctor," he said with a shake of his head. "First of all, what's a film?"

Venkman almost hit himself for not having seen that one coming. That whiskey was sounding like a better and better idea all the time.

"You're kidding." Baffled silence from Hunk's side. "You're not kidding." Venkman sighed heavily, lolling his head back a bit before deciding to humor the patient briefly. "Okay, it's what you get when you have a bunch of pictures strung up all in a row, then run them by through a machine really fast. Then the light from the machine shows the pictures on a screen in front of it. Creates the illusion that the things in the pictures - for example, let's say a Kansas girl, a dog, a Tin Man, a Lion, and a Scarecrow walking down a Yellow Brick Road - are all moving. Add sound to it, and presto, you've got moving, talking film. A 'movie,' if you will."

The strawman entwined his fingers and twiddled his thumbs absentmindedly as he listened in silence to the doctor's explanation. This all sounded extremely complex, far beyond any sort of magic or machine he'd ever come across. The moving picture sounded a lot like what he'd seen during his experimentation- that tingling went down his back as he thought about it, seeing himself in the image as if he weren't in his body at all. Did that mean someone had been watching Dorothy's journey to the Emerald City from afar somehow, seeing everything that happened through this 'movie'? The thought that they'd been watched the whole time by some unknown person or persons and never had the slightest clue about it was undeniably spooky.

Spooky and fascinating. Something like this movie had to exist, as unbelievable as it sounded- Dr. Venkman knew about them, all of them, right down to Toto! Surely he'd seen it himself, or maybe even shown it to the Wizard Landel. Was that how they found him in Oz? Was it something he did during the trip that made them bring him (and possibly Dorothy, given that the one who had visited the strawman had truly been her) to the Institute?

"Well, that sounds incredible!" he said, hearing excitement bleed into his voice. "And people can watch this 'talking film' and see what happens to folks they don't know? Who would make such a thing? And why?" He had to stop himself from asking any more questions- it was just such a thrill to finally meet someone who not only knew about Oz, but about his friends as well.

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