Unbreakable Players

It had been a bad month.

Dan hadn't smiled in weeks, and instead went around with a look of perpetual suspicion, as if only his own vigilance could protect him from further harm. Last Friday at the six o'clock rundown, Dana had remarked how much he resembled Elmer Fudd and Dan had immediately developed a psychosomatic stutter, unable to speak coherently until Jeremy pointed out that Porky Pig was the one with the stutter and Elmer Fudd just had trouble with his R's and V's. Feeling unappreciated, Danny had sulked for the rest of the night, shoved into a corner of the office and avoiding any sort of eye contact.

Casey himself had been plagued with parking tickets and spilled coffee. He now owed half his next paycheck to the city of New York, and wardrobe didn't trust him around liquids anymore, only surrendering a tie to him in the final minutes before air. Yesterday not even that had worked and anyone watching closely would have noticed he had a different tie on after the second commercial break. And people had noticed. Sally most pointedly. She'd followed him all over the building, pestering him until he'd been forced to admit he'd dribbled coffee on his tie like a toddler with a sippy cup. She was still laughing a day later.

And now this.

It was square and brown and on his desk. "What's this?" he asked, sure it couldn't be good.

"That is a box," Natalie said, cruising in with a clipboard and an armful of stapled papers.

Casey gave her a Casey McCall smile. "I can see that, Natalie. What's in it?"

"That I do not know," Natalie chirped, dropping a packet on his desk, throwing one over the back of the couch and then speeding out of the room again.

Dan resurfaced from behind the couch, dusty and frowning. "How did she know I was back here?"

"You've been back there since the Elmer Fudd incident," Casey said, poking the box with a pen. It took a small step toward his keyboard.

"Untrue!" Dan declared, sounding strangely cheerful. On his knees and leaning over the couch like he was, he appeared ready to give a puppet show. "I came out for rundowns and coffee. And consequently also for several trips to the bathroom."

"You're a braver man than I, Dan Rydell. Come over here and open this box."

Dan vaulted the couch like a cowboy and sat down with a bounce. "That I will not do, my friend. You will recall not a few weeks ago that this very building was the subject of a terrible bomb scare."

Casey stopped poking the box. "I don't know what's more alarming, that you're talking like a Dickens character or that this could be a bomb. On my desk."

Dan put his arms along the back of the couch. "It's not a bomb."

"How do you know that?"

"I know."

Casey pointed. "You know what's in this box?"

Dan stuck his feet out in front of him, balancing the heel of one sneaker on the toes of another. "I might."

"Do you want to tell me?"

Dan wiggled his feet. "Nope."

"Ah," Casey said, wheeling out from behind the desk. "I notice you're in a better mood."

"I have come to a decision," Dan said, smiling, and not one of his slow brittle smiles, but a wonderful happy grin that Casey hadn't seen in a while.

He wheeled closer. "Tell me."

Dan put a foot on Casey's chair. "This past month has been shitty. And I've been, well, a maniac. But I'm done with that."

"You're done being a maniac?" Casey repeated.

"You can say that again, if you like," Danny offered, moving his foot from Casey's chair to Casey's thigh.

"You're done being a maniac," Casey said again, not seeing any evidence to support Dan's claim.

Dan made a spreading hand gesture. "What we have here is a cool guy. I am that guy, Case."

"Right now I'm wondering if you've hit your head. Or maybe inhaled too much dust during your time behind the couch."

"Casey, Casey, Casey," Dan said, shaking his head. "Be with me now."


"It's a good day, Casey."

"Yeah," Casey said, watching Danny smile at him.

Dan leaned forward suddenly, putting his foot back on the floor and pulling Casey's chair even closer. "You know what else? Tomorrow is going to be even better."


"Yeah." Danny put a hand on Casey's knee and kicked a lever under his chair, making it shrink with a hissy sigh.

"Uh oh, losing altitude," Casey joked as his sinking chair put him at eye-level with Dan.

"I've decided to be happy," Dan said seriously. "Wanna help?"

Casey swallowed. "I do."

Danny smiled again and Casey loved to see it. A month without Danny smiling was too long, and if there was a way to let Danny smile like this every day, Casey would do whatever he could, whatever it took, because Dan deserved to smile.

"Great," Dan said, leaning in to kiss him despite the fact that the door was open and the walls were made of glass.

There wasn't a bomb in the box. There were twenty-four Foosball men instead, each with a hat and jaunty green or yellow shorts. Casey held one up while Danny bounced on his toes and explained the players were unbreakable, with tapered back toe, counterweight heads and "other Foosball things I don't fully understand." There were two more boxes in the conference room, and in the right hands, said Dan, their contents would bring forth the most awesome Foosball table known to mankind. Casey believed him.

The show that night was one of the good ones. Their script was sharp and witty, Casey didn't spill anything on his tie, and Danny was smiling like nothing made him happier than reporting soccer scores for teams he'd never heard of. After the show, they put the Foosball table together in their office, and when it was standing in the middle of the room, they turned off the overhead lights and sat on the couch with a beer and talked about tomorrow.

It was a good day.