Friday, September 21, 2012
[Prologue] Chapter 1: Back to the Beginning
Nine steps from the street to the door. Luca McKinley sighs, feeling relieved. Nine is good. At his childhood home in Lucky Palms, he had to walk exactly seventeen steps to the front door, an unlucky number if he ever heard of one.
Luca tries not to be superstitious. Really, he does. Because after all, he doesn’t believe in all that nonsense. But numbers… Numbers are different. He lives for numbers, thinks and dreams and breathes in numbers. Everything has a number to him. The number of bites he eats, the number of people he meets, the number of words he speaks.
Back home, folks claimed he was a genius. “How can you remember so many numbers?” they would ask, shaking their heads.
He tried to explain that every number has a special significance and knowing that relationship was surely safer and easier than not knowing it, but they didn’t seem to care. He could pull dates and figures out of his head like some sort of circus freak, and that’s all that mattered to them. The town genius, that’s what he was.
A knock at the door interrupts his musings. Neighbors, arriving to welcome him to the street.
“So, you’ve taken over the old Adler place?” the woman asks amicably after introducing herself as Evelyn Lockwood.
Luca nods. “Finn Adler is my stepdad,” he explains. “He sold this house to me after I got offered an internship at Jericho’s hospital downtown.”
“Glad someone’s finally moving in here,” she chirps, looking him up and down with wide, curious eyes. “This old building’s been vacant for years, ever since I can remember. I’m honestly surprised it’s still inhabitable at all.”
“Well, it does need some work I suppose,” Luca concedes.
“Work!” a small voice chimes in. “It needs a bulldozer and a wrecking ball, if you ask me.”
Luc glances down, startled by the sudden input from below. “And who are you?” he asks with a forced smile. Children make him nervous.
“Emily,” she beams proudly. “Emily Lockwood.”
“Emily!” Evelyn scolds. “What have I told you about speaking to grownups?!”
“Children should be seen and not heard,” Emily chants while making a face.
Evelyn scowls at her daughter, not wanting to make a scene in front of their new neighbor. “Well, we’d best be scooting along Mr. McKinley, but we’ll be seeing you around I’m sure.”
In all honesty, Luca’s new house needs more than a little work. With no useable kitchen, he heads out to the local sports bar to grab some dinner.
A familiar voice interrupts him during halfway through his autumn salad.
“Luca McKinley!” he calls. “Is that really you?”
“Gibson!” Luca jumps up to greet him. “How’d you know I was here?”
Gibson smirks. “April told me.”
“April couldn’t keep a secret to save her life,” Luca exclaims, smiling in spite of himself. “Where is she? Where’s Alex?”
“They’re fighting. Again.”
Luca nods. Alex and Gibson were his best friends back in Lucky Palms, and April was Alex’s high school sweetheart. The three of them moved to Jericho last year, but being a few years younger than them Luca had to wait until he graduated.
“How are they doing?” he asks quietly. April and Alex were the “it” couple in high school, but unfortunately for them “it” happened to include more fighting than loving.
“Oh, you know. They’ve broken up twice since we moved here, and April is threatening to move out again. There’s somebody else apparently.”
“I changed my mind,” Luca laughs. “I don’t really want to know.”
Gibson offers to buy the very broke Luca a drink, and he readily accepts.
They talk for a while, and Gibson tells Luc all about his latest flings. His friend has always been a bit flamboyant, and apparently Gibson has found a demographic who can appreciate his love of sparkly objects, pink flamingoes, and leopard print wallpaper.
“Cougars!” he declares excitedly. “They can’t get enough of me! I’m with Rachel right now, but you know, Luca, she has a sister who’s finer than a nicely aged bottle of wine. I could set you up if you’re interested…”
Luca chuckles. “Nah, I’m fine going solo at the moment.”
“Still not over Nicole?” he complains. “Dude, she dumped you months ago…”
Luca just shrugs and changes the subject. He’s not ready to talk about it yet.
A sleeping bag on the floor is the only comfort that awaits him when he gets home later that night. He starts his first day of work tomorrow, and he wants to be fully rested for whatever they have in store.
…Which apparently isn’t much. They give him the title of “organ donor” and tell him to find some odd jobs to do around the hospital until such a time as they need to borrow his heart or his brain or another such vital body part. He assumes that they are merely joking and that this is just some phasing thing they put all the new interns through in hopes of scaring them off, but he isn’t entirely sure.
Nevertheless, Luca heads to the library after work to perfect his logic skills. You know, just in case he needs to reason them out of something drastic.
“Hi there, Mr. McKinley!” Emily hollers, startling Luca out of his steadfast concentration. “Whatcha doin’ here?”
Luca looks up at her and frowns. “What are you doing here?” he demands, not hiding his annoyance.
“Oh, I come here every day after school,” she replies nonchalantly as she hops into the chair across from him. “My mom works afternoons and evenings at the diner in old town, so she makes me come here to do my homework until Mrs. Callahan can pick me up and drive me home.”
“Well, you better get to it then,” Luca replies after a moment, hoping she’ll go away and leave him alone.
“I already finished it all,” Emily grins. “Let’s play chess!”
Seeing no way out of this, Luca sets up the pieces, and they begin to play. Luc doesn’t really know how to talk to children, but lucky for him Emily seems just fine to do all the talking herself. She jabbers on and on about her schoolmates and her teachers and her mom’s cousin’s boyfriend’s great uncle Fred, all the while totally oblivious to Luca’s discomfort.
Suddenly, Emily stops talking and glances up. “Checkmate,” she smirks.
Luca looks stunned. “But… How could- I haven’t been beaten at chess in years,” Luc stammers. “How’d you-”
“I don’t know. Guess I’m just awesome or something. Wanna play again?” she asks, her eyes sparkling with glee.
Emily ends up winning two out of the three games they play.
“You’re really talented,” Luca declares. He’s beyond impressed that a fourth grader could whoop him so badly. “I bet you’d make an amazing doctor someday,” he tells her absently.
Emily shakes her head. “Nah, I’m failing in math right now. I understand chess because it’s a game, you know? With a clear winner and loser. I just get it, that’s all.”
“You’re failing?” he asks, frowning.
“Numbers,” she explains. “They don’t make sense to me. It’s all just a bunch of gobbledygook.”
“Numbers are beautiful,” Luca insists. “They represent logic in its purest form. They bring order from chaos, certainty from ambiguity.”
Luca laughs at the glazed expression on her face. “Well, anyway, it’s just something to think about,” he says as he gets to his feet to leave. “Have a good night, Emily.”
The next day at the library, Luca runs into Emily again. Hoping to avoid another embarrassing loss at the chess table, he offers to help her with her math homework, and she eagerly accepts.
“I was thinking about what you said yesterday,” she announces suddenly. “And I decided that I do want to be a doctor when I grow up. But I told my teacher Mrs. Gallagher about it, and she said that I’m not smart enough.”
“And you believed her?!”
“Well, duh! She’s a teacher. An adult. She knows everything!”
“I’m an adult too, Emily, and I say you are plenty bright enough to become a doctor.”
“Really, Mr. McKinley? You think so?”
“Of course. And please, call me Luca. All my friends do.”
Emily’s eyes widen in astonishment. “I’ve never had a grownup friend before!” she exclaims.
Luca laughs nervously. “What about your mom?” he asks.
“Nah, she doesn’t like me very much. She says I’m a burden on her pocketbook and the biggest mistake of her life. I heard her telling her boyfriend, Mr. Martin, that one day.”
Seeing the dejected look on her young face, Luca grinds his teeth irritably. He knows what it’s like to be unwanted by your parents, to feel like an inconvenience rather than a blessing. It’s why he left Lucky Palms as soon as he was old enough and why he hasn’t looked back since.
“Why don’t I tutor you, Emily?” he offers without really thinking about what he’s saying. “I can meet you here at the library after school, and we can work through some of your homework problems. I bet you’ll be making A’s in that class in no time, and you’ll be well on your way to getting whatever job you want.”
“Really?” she squeals. “That’d be awesome Mr. K!”
“Mr. K?” he laughs.
“I don’t like the name Luca,” she explains. “It sounds like a girl’s name. So from now on you’re Mr. K to me.”
Between his grueling work schedule at the hospital and his afternoon tutoring sessions with Emily, Luca finds very little time to spend with his friends, but tonight he joins them for an evening of video gaming.
“You look like a librarian in that sweater,” Gibson teases as Luca sits down to join them.
“So says the guy in the hot pink flamingo vest,” Alex counters.
“Jealous?” Gibson smirks.
“Guys, can we find nothing better to talk about than clothes?” Luca demands. “You all sound like a bunch of girls…”
“I hate losing,” Gibson grumbles after Alex beats him and Luca for the fourth time in a row. “Let’s go out and meet some chicks or something.”
“Can’t,” Alex grins. “April’s coming over later. I think we’re going to get back together again.”
Luca and Gibson both roll their eyes.
“Me and Luca will go alone then,” Gibson decides. Turning to face Luc, he asks, “But you’re going to change right? I mean, a sweater? Seriously?”
“Jealous?” Luca winks.
“We’re getting you laid tonight,” Gibson declares as he settles himself down at a table and surveys his surroundings.
“I told you, Gibson. I’m not ready to start dating yet.”
“Sex does not equal a relationship, dude!” he retorts. “What about her? She’s fiiiine.”
Luca just shakes his head and keeps quiet, hoping that his friend will find another distraction to keep him occupied.
Which he does. Rachel Lancaster arrives a little while later and wholly succeeds at dominating Gibson’s famously short attention span.
That is, of course, until Gibson politely suggests that they move things to the privacy of the elevator, to which Rachel responds that she’ll need much more persuading than that if he expects her to woohoo in public.
Apparently, persuasion is Gibson’s specialty.
Having been ditched by both of his friends in favor of other women, Luca decides that he has had enough and heads home to his life as a bachelor. He doesn’t need a woman in his life, or so he tries to convince himself.
(In the background, Margaret Henson, the mayor’s wife, hits on the semi-famous professional athlete Lucas Fox, but realizing the importance of maintaining a good working relationship between his team and the local government Lucas refuses her advances. That, and Margaret Henson will hit on anything that moves.)
Luca was recently promoted to paramedic, and with his new job comes new responsibilities. Today, he is in charge of running a vaccination clinic at the local cemetery. (Yes, the cemetery…) There have been rumors lately of a mysterious disease killing toddlers and children in rural areas of Sim Nation, but as of yet none of these cases have been confirmed. Still, people are growing uneasy about the whole situation, and in an attempt to stave off panic the county government has decided to hold these free clinics in order to show people that “they care”.
Naturally, none of the vaccinations prevent anything more than the common flu, but it’s the effort that counts (or at least they hope so anyway).
Vanessa Hartwell wonders if ANTIFREEZE is safe to inject into a pregnant woman.
Luca assures her that it is. “After all, I’m a doctor,” he tells her. Well, he will be soon enough…
The following afternoon at the library, Luca has to deal with an unexpected medical emergency. Richard Henson, Jericho’s snooty mayor, is not feeling so well.
Adrienne Rivera looks on in disbelief. “I can’t believe I voted for such a sissy,” she mumbles irritably.
Luca is on the job in minutes. Luckily for Mr. Henson, he just happens to have a pocket-size defibrillator on hand.
Emily watches in awe as Luca checks his vitals, runs through his symptoms, and comes up with a diagnosis. It doesn’t matter to her that the old grouch was just suffering from a sudden onset of food poisoning. In her eyes, Luca is a hero, and she decides right then and there that she wants to be just like him when she grows up.
Evelyn, Emily’s mother, got promoted recently and often works late, so Luca, who lives just next door from them, has begun taking care of Emily in the evenings. Tonight, Emily wants to hear a bedtime story, and Luca happily obliges.
“That was so cool today at the library!” she tells him enthusiastically.
“What? The thing with Mr. Henson?” Luca asks.
“You saved him!” she exclaims.
“From a nasty bout of vomiting perhaps, but nothing more.”
“Would you save me, if I ever got sick?”
Luca smiles and tweaks her nose. “Of course, squirt. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
“Promise?” she demands with a big fat yawn.
“Promise,” he replies with a smile.
Welcome to my new (…old) legacy! I decided to start over (again) because I was terribly, miserably unhappy with my last attempt, and I really want to write something that I’m proud of. For those of you who followed my old legacy (or legacies), Luca McKinley is Danielle McKinley’s oldest child and my chosen heir. After weeks of consideration, I decided to age him up to a young adult, move him to Jericho, and start fresh. I am so sorry for not finishing up my last generation, but it got to the point where I simply couldn’t bring myself to play anymore due to my frustration with Danielle and her story. At least with Luca I am enjoying myself once again, which is, after all, the whole point of this challenge (in my opinion at least).
Because I’m sure inquiring minds want to know, Gibson, Alex, and April (who is a bit camera shy) are all from Lucky Palms. They were Luca’s childhood school mates and his best friends growing up, and I couldn’t bear to leave them behind in the desert.
Anyway, I just want to say thank you to all of you guys who have stuck with me so far. I am going to do my best with this legacy, and maybe someday I will actually finish ten generations!
P.S. I had no idea that inactive Sims could autonomously woohoo in public, but good ‘ole Gibson had to go and show me a new feature of the game. Of course, Rachel really did refuse his initial woohoo request, but I guess he eventually won her over. =P