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Thank You, Stanley

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“Please hold for the White House Chief of Staff.”

Stanley Keyworth froze in his seat for a moment, and then made a grab for the TV remote. The screen came to life just as the line clicked and he almost didn’t hear the greeting as he scoured the ticker for news of death or destruction.

“Stanley, it’s Josh Lyman.”

“Josh, is everything OK?”

“Yes! Yes, sorry. Of course. Getting a call from this number… sorry.”

“It’s OK, as long as you’re OK…”

“I’m good, really.”

“Well then what can I do for you?”

“I have a question.”

“Fire away.”

“Donna and I were wondering how far ahead you took advance bookings.”

“How far ahead I what now?”

“See, the thing is, Stanley, it’s pretty much a given that any kid of ours is going to need years of therapy…”

Stanley smiled wide, but allowed his erstwhile patient to get to the punchline.

“…and it looks like we are in fact having kids. Well, a kid. For now.”

“That’s really wonderful news, Josh, congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

“You doing OK?”

He could practically hear Josh beaming down the phone.

“Yeah.”

“Good. Because, you know, sometimes major events like this, even good ones, they can cause…”

“I really am good, Stanley.”

“I’m glad.”

The doctor couldn’t help the faintly questioning tone that crept into his voice. He was very fond of Josh and genuinely happy for him, but he hadn’t spoken to him in years.

“Listen, Stanley, I know it’s weird for me to call you like this. I swear I’m not actually calling everyone I know, although it’s tempting.”

Stanley chuckled appreciatively, but when Josh spoke again he had grown serious.

“I’m calling you, Stanley, because I’m not entirely sure that this would be happening to me if it wasn’t for you. You… you helped me. A lot.”

“You helped yourself, Josh. And if I’m not much mistaken, Donna helped you too.”

“She did. She still does. But if you hadn’t… set me straight, I wouldn’t have known what to do. I wouldn’t have let her.”

“Well, Josh. I’m very glad I got the chance to do that. And it’s really nice to hear that I helped. Even though you were one of the easiest cases I ever had.”

Josh roared with laughter.

“I was pretty offended by how easily you diagnosed me, wasn’t I?”

“I think you badly wanted not to have PTSD. I can understand that.”

“Yeah.”

“Someday, you should tell some folks about that. Help me make it easier on the next guy.”

“Someday.”

“So I take it that this baby doesn’t mean you’re getting out of the game anytime soon?”

“Believe it or not, I actually thought about it.”

“I do believe it.”

“Donna talked me out of it. But – get this – Toby Ziegler actually thought it was a good idea.”

“I believe that too. I agree with him, but you’re not calling me for advice.”

“Well, I still appreciate it. I’ll take it under advisement.”

“You’ll send me a picture of the kid?”

Josh chuckled.

“You bet.”

“It’s good to hear from you, Josh.”

“It’s good to talk to you. About, you know, good things.”

“The very best things. Congratulations again. And best wishes to Donna.”

“Thank you.”

“Anytime, Josh. Goodnight.”

“’Night, Stanley.”

The line went dead. Alone in his office, Stanley switched the television back to ESPN.