"You're not my husband."
The brown haired, blue eyed man in the comfortable button down green shirt and slim blue slacks gaped at the woman in shock. "Whatever gave you that idea?"
"I know my husband and well...you're sure not acting like him. Unless you're going senile and that would be very strange as you're only 47 years old. But, you seem so different this evening. You've hardly touched your dinner. You almost look like you are...lost somehow," said the woman of the man as he sat with her at the dining room table.
"Very funny. Who else would I be?" he snapped.
The truth of the matter was, he wasn't her husband. The woman was absolutely correct. The man sitting at her table looked exactly like the man she was married to, but he wasn't. Though he was a human like she was, he was from the earth of the 23rd century. He was a surgeon, currently stationed as Chief Medical Officer on the USS Enterprise, a federation starship and normally went by the name of Doctor Leonard McCoy.
McCoy and his two companions: Captain James T. Kirk and Science Officer Spock, had been in the process of beaming down to Gamma Sudra II. Instead, due to a rip in time, they found themselves trapped into a different time and place. They'd materialized on Earth in the 20th century. The late 1960's old Earth calendar, according to Spock's calculations. To their great shock, their ship, the crew, their very lives were chronicled in something called a `television show'.
The trio had materialized into another Enterprise transporter room which had become a three sided `set'. It had bright lights overhead that put forth a great amount of heat, a large, odd looking recording device pointed at them with the name `Panavision' displayed on the side and a grouchy overweight man yelling out `cut' in a large cavernous area referred to as a `soundstage'.
Everyone in this soundstage appeared irritated with them for not following something called a script and the man who was obviously in charge sent them all to their dressing rooms. The three men finally found those with some difficulty after managing to figure out what the hell a dressing room even was. Finally the man in charge said something about wrapping for the weekend and grumbling something about blowing a budget.
In the meantime, Spock and the captain had decided that it was best for the three of them to keep up appearances that they themselves were these actors as not to upset the time stream. So they'd played along with it.
Then the captain got the crazy idea that the three of them would actually go home to these actor's families for the weekend, attempting to impersonate them, as not to upset the families of the actors.
"Well," the woman continued, "Maybe you are my husband. You have to be. But why does your voice sound so harsh?" Suspicion continued to cloud her pretty features.
Doctor McCoy smiled at her, then softened his voice. "Is THIS better?"
"De?" The woman searched his blue eyes, almost frightened of him.
McCoy looked back at her with all the confidence he could muster. He'd learned the actor's full name from an ID card known as a driver's license. It featured an image of himself on it accompanied by the guy's address in a wallet in the dressing room. 'De' was apparently the guy's nickname. "Yes!" McCoy gently grabbed onto her shoulders and returned her deep soul searching gaze. "It's me. De. Your husband!"
"Are you cracking up?"
McCoy chuckled and glanced down, it was going to be a difficult weekend with this lady. "Do you have anything to drink around here?"
"Well, that's better," the lady answered. She was apparently relieved. "It makes me feel a lot better about you that we're having our usual after dinner drink. I'll go fix it. Your usual?"
"Yeah, I'll have a Bourbon, straight up," McCoy replied without thinking.
"Bourbon? Not Vodka and water?"
He sighed. "Okay, Vodka it is." He would just have to deal with the awful taste for now. "Darlin'," he said, hoping that was the man's usual pet name for his wife, "just go fix me that drink, please? I've had a rough day."
"Certainly dear, but while I fix it, I've got lots of trash for you to take out."
"Yes, the kitchen can is filled up and I need it taken out--"
"My dear," McCoy replied indignantly. "I'm a doctor, not a garbage man."
The woman giggled. "You're saying it just like Doctor McCoy! That's sweet. Now go take out the trash."
"Alright, alright. I'm going. Don't we pay people to do that for us?"
She shook her head and smiled. Grumbling to himself, McCoy wandered around the house looking for the kitchen and found it rather too quickly. 'This house is a little too small for a movie star,' he thought. He'd been shocked when he'd pulled up to this address and saw how tiny the house was. Wasn't this guy supposed to be a movie star? Didn't movie stars live in huge mansions? At least that's what came up on the guy on the tri-corder before it was confiscated by the properties master. The man had pulled his communicator, phaser and even his medical pouch away from him, leaving McCoy feeling totally naked and vulnerable.
McCoy pulled the full bag of trash out of the metal kitchen can that stood against the far wall. He opened some kitchen drawers and found a tie to tie it up with, hoping that was how one even took out the trash in this century.
Suddenly, he heard the patter of little feet walking up. "Oh hey, little fella," he said to the dog. It took one sniff of him then growled and barked. "How ya doing, little guy? I won't hurt you."
"Can you feed Cheers?" came the voice from the living room. "He's hungry."
"Do this. Do that," McCoy said to the dog. "I thought I was supposed to be a goddamned movie star--"
"De? Is that you swearing in there?" called the voice.
"No, Sweetheart!" he yelled back. "It's me taking out the trash! Okay, I'll feed the dog when I'm finished."
"Be careful out front. It's still light outside. There's a bunch of children playing across the street," she warned.
"What's that got to do with anything?" McCoy wondered as he grabbed the bag. "I'll just be a minute." He was bewildered at her sudden concern for his safety. Noticing that she'd specified: 'out front' he marched out the front door, strode up to the cans at the curb and slammed the bag into one of them.
"Hey!" yelled one of the children as they spotted him. "It's Doctor McCoy!" The large group suddenly scampered across the street and surrounded him. "Hi Doctor McCoy!" they chimed in unison.
"Hi there, kids."
"Did the Enterprise blast anymore Klingons today--go on say `he's dead Jim'--how's Mister Spock--is he still on the Enterprise--is Scotty going to beam you up--has Scotty fixed the ship again--are you going to any more planets--go on say it! Say: 'HE'S DEAD JIM!'" the children demanded of him, all at once.
"He's dead, Jim," McCoy said, with a chuckle. The kids screamed and laughed with delight.
McCoy smiled quizzically as they continued to swarm around him and press. He tried to back away, but they circled him, effectively trapping him in. It was swiftly becoming uncomfortable.
"Hey kids!" called the woman from the porch. "Doctor McCoy needs to get back into the house. He's had a long day in sickbay."
"Awwwwllllll," the kids whined. Not moving an inch.
The woman stormed off the porch, stalked up and grabbed the doctor by the arm. "Children now, enough is enough. Go back home," she said sternly. "And nobody steals our roses this time. Got it?"
The children grumbled, slowly dispersed and slunked dejectedly back across the street to where they stood watching him.
"Bye kids!" McCoy waved at the now sullen crowd. "Thanks," he whispered to the wife.
"Come on Honey, let's get back inside," she insisted. She spotted the empty driveway and stopped in her tracks. "De? Where's the Thunderbird?"
'Oh oh', McCoy thought. He hemmed and hawed while he searched for a suitable answer for her that wouldn't arouse too much suspicion. He couldn't successfully drive an Earth ground car, even if the one parked in the guy's parking spot was a beauty. After much discussion and many attempts, the three of them had decided to take public transport home. Known colloquially as a `cab'. It was just like taking a cab home in the 23rd century, except these 20th century cabs were black and white with a checkerboard across the door, had ground wheels, were a lot smellier and not driven by Tellerites.
Actually come to think of it, the cabs in the 23rd century were just as smelly.
"Uhh," drawled McCoy. He grabbed her arm and propelled her back into the house. "It's still at the...uh...studio."
"Because..." He continued to fish for an answer. "It...wouldn't start. I took a cab home."
"It wouldn't start? That's strange. It's a brand new car."
"I know, I know. Damndest thing, really."
"Well, maybe the battery's dead. Did you leave the lights on?"
"Maybe," she suggested. "It has to do with you smashing into Leonard the other day in the parking lot. You know, that was really stupid."
"Yeah!" He laughed. "It IS stupid. You're right! Who gets into an accident in a parking lot?"
McCoy laughed again, uncomfortably this time. "Well there you go. That's why it wouldn't start." He breathed out, relieved. Perfect!
"Then what are we going to do for Saturday? What about driving down to Long Beach?"
"Long Beach?!" That town had long since fallen into the ocean after the big earthquake of 2189. McCoy had only heard of it from old history tapes of old California. "What the devil is so great about Long Beach?" he sputtered. The wife gave him a dirty look. "Okay okay, forget I asked. Listen, how about you and I just stay right around here? We could go for a walk up to that shopping center just up the road, tomorrow."
"Walk? In Sherman Oaks? In this heat? You'll get recognized! And mobbed!"
"You know what happened last week at Ralphs."
"Well, I'm not going to be a prisoner in this house all weekend. If I'm here, I'm damn well gonna enjoy myself."
"Maybe you could cut the lawn tomorrow."
"Don't tell me... we don't pay anybody to do that either."
As the woman threw him a puzzled look, McCoy walked into the kitchen to feed the dog. He searched around for the packets of dog food for a long while, quickly becoming frustrated.
"Hey Sweetheart?" he called out to the living room. "Where in the name of God, is the dog food?"
"It's right there in front of you," she called back. "The tin can's on the kitchen counter."
"What...this?" He picked up the can. "This is dog food?" As he inspected it, he noticed the picture of a little dog that looked just like Cheers. 'Great,' he thought. 'The dog is a movie star, too.'
"And how in blazes do I open this?" he mumbled to himself, studying the can. It was sealed shut and appeared to have no way to pop the seal.
"Are you okay in there? Hurry up so you can have your drink!"
"I'm a doctor. I should be able to figure this damn thing out." He hefted the can, perplexed. He could not figure the damn thing out. As he examined it he realized that it wasn't actually 'tin' like she'd described, but aluminum, probably an alloy. Who the devil still sealed things in aluminum? Didn't they realize that it leached into the food? Was it just dog food they stored in this way? Or all their food? He opened up a cabinet door to investigate and got his answer.
He then opened up something that resembled a cold storage unit, but not as efficient, and found with relief that actually quite a bit of their food was fresh. Well as fresh as it could be in this inefficient cold storage unit. So they stored food both ways. Well, at least it wasn't re-constituted.
"De?" the woman called out impatiently.
"Just a minute," his voice rang out extra sweetly.
"Are you okay? What's taking so long?"
"I'm fine. I said, JUST A MINUTE!" He was getting increasing annoyed with this woman. Not quite to the point of being angry, but almost. It was amazing that she could irritate him as much as somebody else he knew: Mister Spock. 'I wonder how that Vulcan's getting along anyway,' McCoy thought. He smiled evilly as he pictured Spock dealing with a wife and two kids all weekend.
"Alright darlin'," McCoy finally called out, "don't be alarmed, but could you come in here a minute, please?"
She appeared in an instant. "What's the matter?"
"Just show me, quickly, how to open this can of dog food before I throw it across the room."
"What? Don't you know? But you always feed the dog. The can opener is right there. Are you feeling alright, Honey?"
"Where?!" he demanded of her breathlessly and waving his arms. "Where is the can opener?"
"Right here," she indicated. "The Rival. Sitting on the counter."
He looked at the contraption and sighed deeply. The evening was getting worse and worse.
"What? That...THING? That's a can opener?"
"You brought it home, De. It was the best that Blue-Chip Stamps could get."
Blue- Chip Stamps? Oh...right. He'd read something on the tri-corder about the S & H Green/Blue Chip voucher system prevalent in the old USA throughout the 1960's and `70's. When you bought groceries, you got stamps, when you bought the gasoline they used to power their automobiles, you got stamps. It was an incentive program to purchase things, he supposed. Maybe their economy was bad during this time. Stamps could be redeemed for anything, toys, appliances, etc. The more you had saved up the bigger and better things you could get.
"That must of cost a hell of a lot of stamps," McCoy observed.
"Two thousand," she replied without missing a beat. "See?" She pulled a little book out of a drawer and showed him.
McCoy spotted some loose stamps in the bottom of the drawer, pulled one out and examined it. "I suppose I stuck all these little stamps into these books, too."
"Well, of course you did. You really enjoy doing that. Don't you remember?"
"Sure I do...and now I definitely need a drink." McCoy shook his head at the thought of the guy patiently sticking stamps in books. He thrust the dog food can at her. "You open this. I'm going to go lie down on the couch."
"Good idea," she agreed.
He flopped down onto the sofa and nervously sipped at the drink she'd fixed him. The wide rejoined him in the living room with the dog following, still growling at him. "Nice doggie," he murmured.
"Honey," she said. "You are frightening me. Please tell me what is going on."
"What do you mean, 'I'm frightening you'?" McCoy asked, a little too gruffly.
"The dog doesn't even recognize you. You seem very, very odd. I'm worried about you. Maybe you need to go to bed early. You're exhausted. You've been working too hard."
'Sleep,' McCoy mused. 'Yeah, maybe she's got something there'. Maybe if he closed his eyes, said 'there's no place like home', then re-opened them, this nightmare he was in would disappear and he'd be back on the ship.
"How about a cigarette?" she suggested. "You haven't had one since you've been home."
"Cigarette? People still smoke in this day and age?"
"Hmmm. Maybe I will call the doctor--"
McCoy snatched her hand. "No...don't," he sighed. "Look. I can't lie to you. I just can't do it. You know your husband too well," he paused, looked at her, thought: `oh...what the hell' and continued on, softly: "What would you do if I told you a really...incredible story. Would you believe me?"
"Depends on what it was," she said. Her eyes suddenly widened. "You don't want a divorce, do you?"
"No! It's nothing like that. And I'm not having an affair, either," he added, anticipating her next question. "But Sweetheart, hear me out, I have something really, REALLY bizarre to tell you. So...I'll just come right out with it," he hesitated, then blurted out: "I'm not really your husband. I look exactly like him. But I'm not. I've been trying to pretend I'm him all day, but I just can't fool you. I'm sorry."
"WHAT?" She jumped up from the loveseat. "Wha—What's the matter with you? What do you mean, you're not really my husband?"
He stood up too. "If I finish telling you the whole truth, will you please just try to remain calm?"
"Okay," she said weakly and sat back down. "I think I'm gonna faint."
"Well you're in good hands if you do. You...uh... know that television show that your husband is in?"
"Yes! I'm really that guy that he plays on that television show. I'm Doctor Leonard McCoy, Chief Medical Officer of the USS Enterprise. It's all real! I'm really from the future! You see...there was a...some sort of ion storm or something...it's uh...like a cloud of electricity...and uh...our transporter malfunctioned and here we are!" He grinned. "You see we were beamed into this television studio set that looks just like our very own Enterprise...and...why are you looking at me like that...?"
"Now I'm REALLY calling the doctor!"
"No! Don't! Okay Sweetheart? Just don't. Just...come on."
She huffed at him, folding her arms. "Don't 'sweetheart' me! You're making me very angry, De!"
"Well, first of all, the name's not De. It's Leonard."
"Uh huh." The woman sighed in frustration. "And... I suppose that Mister Spock is a real person, too."
"Actually he IS real. With real pointy ears. And so is Captain Kirk!"
"Why are you doing this to me? It's not funny!" Tears welled up in her eyes.
"Oh...please...don't cry." McCoy reached over and patted her arm. "Look. You didn't believe that I WAS your husband when I first came home, so, now I'm telling you the truth. I'm most definitely not him."
"So then, where IS my husband?" she asked, tightly.
McCoy stared up at the ceiling. "Up on the Enterprise in the 23rd century. Probably trying to make sense of my sickbay. Hopefully not messing the place up."
The wife got very quiet. "Will he be okay?"
"Well, I guess I should be lucky that you aren't Toby Jack," she replied dryly.
She looked up, lost in thought. "I hope De's okay."
"He's fine! Honestly! Chapel's probably looking after him. And he'll be back just as soon as Scotty can pull US back."
"Chapel? As in Nurse Christine Chapel?" She became angry again as McCoy nodded happily. She got up and stormed off.
"Oh, what now?" he asked. He heard her open the glass door to let herself into the backyard. "You don't believe me, do you," he yelled out.
"No!" she called back, "but now I think you ARE having an affair. With that Nurse Chapel gal!"
"Listen!" McCoy got up and followed her out to the backyard. "When your husband does return, he's going to have just as fantastic of a story as I do."
"So will the other two. You can ask them."
"I know those two guys you work with and they all love a good practical joke and this is just one of them, isn't it. It's not funny at all. Imagine, getting your wives involved in your crazy stunts. First Leonard's bicycle, now this!"
"I don't own a bicycle," McCoy replied. 'Wow', he thought as she snapped her head around. 'If looks could kill.' He walked over to the yard to avoid her glare. "Oh my, this is beautiful. I haven't walked on grass like this in a long time."
"You're out here working in the yard every weekend, De. Oh right--I forgot--you don't have grass in the 23rd century," she snapped.
"Well, we do! But not on the Enterprise. And there's nothing like the grass on Earth. I haven't beamed down to Earth in a long time."
"Don't say that so loud!" she hissed. "We do have neighbors!"
McCoy grinned. "Sorry." He sat down on the grass cross legged. "Gee, this is nice. Look at all those beautiful roses."
"You planted all those," she sniffed.
"Awwllll, hey..." he said, beckoning to her. "Come sit down here with me."
"Don't you want us to sit in the lawn chairs?"
"No...let's sit right here, on the grass." He patted the ground. As if on cue the dog came bounding out of the house and walked up to him, growling softly. "Does this dog do this all the time?" he wondered.
"Cheers!" she said. "What's the matter? It's your daddy!"
"I've never seen this breed of dog before." McCoy attempted to whistle at it to make friends, but the dog wasn't buying it. It bared its teeth and barked sharply.
"It's a Schnoodle," she said.
"A cross between a Poodle and a Schnauser," she replied hesitantly.
"And what the devil is this?" He looked at a large moving shelled object, slowly making its way up to him through the grass, pausing every once in a while to munch on a blade.
"What are you talking about? That's Myrtle."
"This is a Myrtle?"
"No. It's a turtle. You don't know what a turtle is?"
"Well yes, I've heard of them, but I've never seen one before. We don't have turtles in the 23rd century. They're extinct," McCoy explained, then sighed. "Any more pets I should be concerned about? What about a cat? Or a rabbit? Or a goldfish? How about a hamster?"
"No, this is it. Just a dog and a turtle. So they have hamsters in the 23rd century, but no turtles?"
"No turtles, but I have a hamster in my quarters."
"Uh huh." She rolled her eyes.
Suddenly, there was a loud ringing noise. The woman looked over at McCoy, slowly got up, muttering as she went into the house. McCoy watched her leave, then reached over and picked up the turtle, examining underneath it.
"De! I mean...Leonard...I mean...De! I don't know what the hell I mean, you've got me so nervous," the woman called out from the house. "It's for you."
"What's for me?" Was that some type of communications device he'd heard? If it was, who the hell would be signaling him?
"The telephone call is for you! Come in here and answer it! You have a lot of explaining to do, buster!"
He gently laid the turtle back down, got up and walked into the house over to where she was holding a black device. Presumably the `telephone'. He looked at her before speaking into it. She stormed off. He timidly held it up to his ear as he'd seen people do in old images of earth, hoped he was speaking into the correct receiver. "Uh...De, here."
"Bones?" The voice of Captain Kirk rang out on the other end.
"Jim? Is that you? Why the hell are you so chipper this evening? I've noticed you've learned how to use this thing."
"Oh, I know quite a lot about life in the 1960's old Earth calendar. It was a breeze," Kirk said, happily.
"Well good for you, because I can't even figure out how to open up a can of dog food. Aluminum cans Jim. They store food in aluminum!"
"Do they? That's disgusting."
"I want to go home. Now. Jim."
"I'd of thought you of all people would be able to function in this century. Whatever happened to 'I'm just a good old fashioned country doctor?'"
"That went out with the damned Blue-Chip Stamps, Jim!"
"Never mind. What do you want, anyway?"
"What's the matter, Bones? Not getting along with the wife?"
"No. Half the time she doesn't believe it's her husband, but when I tried to tell her who I really was, she didn't believe that either."
"So that's why she asked me what your name was. It's not a good idea to tell these people the truth about us, Bones."
"Relax Jim. She just thinks her husband's snapped. But on the bright side, they have a turtle!"
"I thought you knew so much about Earth in the 1960's. They have a turtle named Myrtle! It's an Earth reptile, with a shell."
"Myrtle the turtle?" Kirk and McCoy laughed at that in unison. "Turtles are extinct, Bones."
"They are, aren't they. Too bad. God Jim, I'd love to take some of this creature's DNA back home with us to clone. It's gorgeous!"
"You're not taking Myrtle home with you!" the woman's voice rang out.
"I thought this was supposed to be a private telephone call!" McCoy yelled back at her.
"Wow," said Kirk. "You two really aren't getting along. Bones, you don't seem to get along with anybody, do you."
"You be quiet, Jim. You try getting along with someone who questions your every move."
"That's too bad, Bones. I've been getting along famously with my...uh...his...wife. She's really something. She and I have been...you know...getting acquainted."
McCoy nearly dropped the phone. "Are you out of your mind?" he whispered sharply. "You can't sleep with another man's wife!"
"I figured that since I look exactly like the guy I'm impersonating, there was no harm in it," Kirk said breezily.
"No HARM in it? Jim! I can personally think of twenty- five different ways that it could go absolutely wrong. And, If you think, I am also...going to do that...you can forget it. No way in hell, am I taking advantage of another man's wife!"
"Well, Bones, I'm sorry you feel that way. You're going to have to find a way to deal with your own situation till Monday. Try not to kill each other, okay? I've got to go."
"Yeah, but Jim--" McCoy heard a click on the receiver and the captain was gone. He slammed the phone down onto the hook. Doing so seemed so satisfying. He needed one of those things in the 23rd century.
McCoy slowly, reluctantly rejoined the wife on the sofa in the living room. She fumed at him for a very long time. He sat, slowly sipping his drink, not speaking to her, till he couldn't stand it any longer. "Look, I'm really sorry about all this." He waved his hand between them.
"Doctor McCoy, really! And to think I almost believed you! That's not what Bill said on the phone, you two need to get your stories straight."
McCoy held out his hands in a 'mea culpa' gesture and shrugged.
She threw a pillow at him. "Oh...you!"
"I had you going for a moment, Carolyn. Didn't I?" He laughed.
She finally looked over at him, and joined him in the hysterical laughter.
thanks for reading!