Futurama: The Fifth Season, Part 2
By Craig Williams
Episode Two - "Deaf Like Me"
The following morning Amy arrived at the hospital to pick Fry up. She parked her car by the main entrance, beeped the horn loudly and waited. A few moments later the doors slid open and Fry emerged, his holdall slung over his shoulder. He still had a plaster where he'd hit his head, but other than that he looked none the worse for wear. Fry threw the holdall in the back and climbed into the passenger seat.
"Thanks for picking me up, Amy."
"No problem." Amy started the car again and drove away from the entrance.
"What did Leela say when you told her I was in the hospital?" Amy didn't answer, but she clenched the steering wheel tighter. "You did tell her, didn't you?" asked Fry.
Amy blushed. "Er, I guess I forgot. Sorry!"
Fry sighed. "Great. She's probably pissed that I didn't turn up last night. You'd better drop me off when we get there so I can explain what happened. How come you forgot?"
"We got caught up watching the election coverage on TV." Briefly Amy explained to Fry how Wiseman had used the attack on the Planet Express ship to further his election campaign. Fry groaned loudly when he heard how Wiseman had mentioned him during his rhetoric.
"-And the worst part is that it's working! His popularity's gone up twenty percent since then!" Amy shook her head sadly. "Why are people so moronic?"
Fry was still angry. "That bastard! I'm gonna rip his guts out!"
As they talked Amy drove around the car park's one-way system, and they soon came to the junction onto the main road. Amy brought the car to a halt and waited for a gap in the traffic.
Fry pointed at a white car approaching from the left. "There's a gap after this guy."
"Someone's coming the other way." Amy indicated a car approaching from their right.
"You can get out in front of him. He's miles away!"
"Hey! Who's doing the driving, you or me?" Fry didn't answer, instead he watched aghast as the gap disappeared.
A couple of minutes later, they were STILL waiting at the junction, and a queue of cars was beginning to build up behind them. Finally a large gap in the traffic opened up, and Amy cautiously edged her car out of the junction and onto the main road, where she trundled along at a modest speed. Fry watched as car after car overtook them, several drivers hurling abuse at Amy.
"Is everything all right?" he asked. "I mean, no offence, but you're usually a more-" What's another word for "psychotic"? "-ASSERTIVE driver than this."
Amy looked at Fry, a fake grin plastered on her face. "Nothing's wrong. I'm fine!"
Fry watched a cyclist pass them. "Amy, you're driving like the Professor!" Suddenly a thought popped into Fry's head. "Is this anything to do with Angie?"
Amy flinched, almost sending the car into a nearby fruit stand. "Yes," she finally admitted.
Bingo, thought Fry. "Don't tell me. After hearing what happened to Angie, you're scared of being involved in an accident yourself, which is why you're driving so slowly. Amy, relax! Just because Angie was involved in a serious accident doesn't mean it going to happen to you, so you shouldn't let it get to you like this!" Fry sat back smugly, satisfied that his years of watching "Frasier" hadn't gone to waste.
"I was almost involved in one yesterday," said Amy quietly.
Fry's face fell. "What? What happened?"
"I was driving down Fifty-Third Avenue yesterday, doing about sixty, when a car comes towards me and has to swerve to avoid a collision. I didn't think much about it at the time, but after hearing about Angie's accident, I keep thinking that the same thing could've happened to me! I could've been killed!"
"Wow," said Fry, "No wonder you're so cautious today. But I still wouldn't worry so much. Nobody got hurt, and you'll know to be more careful in future. Right?"
A half smile appeared on Amy's lips. "You're right. Thanks, Fry."
They continued driving for a few more minutes, before Amy pulled up near a manhole cover. "Here's your stop. Leave the holdall in the back, I'll take it to work once I've picked up Angie."
"Thanks." Fry got out of the car, and pulled out a small lump of metal. Fry gave it a quick shake, and it extended into a crowbar, which Fry used to open the manhole cover. Amy drove off, leaving Fry climbing down the hole.
Fifteen minutes later, Fry approached the Turanga household with some trepidation. He was worried that Leela was going to be angry with him for not turning up last night. He was even more worried that he still hadn't learned any sign language. For the last couple of weeks he'd been using the Professor's electronic notepad to type written messages for Leela. The problem was that his stupid fingers made typing difficult, as he kept hitting several keys at once, making his messages difficult to read.
Arriving at the house, Fry knocked on the door and waited for someone to answer. After a few moments the door opened and Fry found himself face to face with Morris. From the glare he gave Fry it was clear that he wasn't happy with him.
"Where were you yesterday? Leela was really upset when you didn't turn up."
Fry indicated the plaster on his head. "I got injured during a mission and spent the night in hospital."
"Couldn't you have at least phoned?"
"I asked Amy to, but she forgot. Sorry."
Morris's expression softened, and he moved aside to allow Fry into the house. "In that case come in. Leela's upstairs in her room. Watch out though, she's not in a good mood after yesterday. You know how she can get."
"Yeah." Losing her captaincy had had a dramatic effect on Leela. She seemed to have lost all interest in her life above ground. Besides trips to the hospital for tests, she hadn't left her parents' home, and even then she spent most of her time alone in her room. Fry went upstairs, and opened the door of Leela's room. He found Leela lying on the bed as usual, while Munda was next to the bed, trying to coax Leela into getting up and about. Since Munda wasn't able to use sign language, she was communicating with her daughter using a deck of flashcards. She rummaged through the deck and produced a picture of a knife, fork and plate.
"Not hungry", said Leela sullenly. Munda rummaged though the deck again, and this time produced a picture of a glass with a bendy straw sticking out. Leela was just as disinterested. "Not thirsty." Munda sighed, and began searching the flashcards for something else.
"Hi, Mrs. Turanga." Munda turned and saw Fry standing in the doorway. "Sorry I didn't show up yesterday, I got injured on a mission." Fry pointed to the plaster again.
"Oh, hello Fry! Come in! I'll get out of your way." Munda took the flashcards and left the bedroom, leaving Fry alone with Leela, who had rolled onto her side and was now staring out of the window. Fry went over to her bed and placed a hand on her shoulder to grab her attention. Leela rolled over again so that she was now facing Fry. She sat up on the bed when she saw him, but if she was delighted to see him then she was hiding it well. Fry began typing into the electronic notepad. After a couple of minutes he turned it round so Leela could see what he'd written.
Leela glared at Fry, who grinned nervously before typing out another message.
>how r u
"Still deaf. What did you expect? And where the hell were you yesterday?"
Wow, Morris wasn't kidding. Fry began typing out an explanation of what had happened on the mission to Sirius IX. Two minutes passed. Three. Leela began to get impatient. "Come on Fry!" Fry began typing faster, hammering at the keys.
Finally he finished and handed the notepad over to Leela. She stared at it blankly for a while. She could make out the odd word here and there, but for the most part it looked like gibberish. Eventually she gave up and handed the notepad back to Fry. "I don't understand what you're saying!"
Fry bit his lip, trying to keep calm. He began typing again.
>yor the 1 who told me 2 type fastr
"You should try making sense as well!"
By now Fry was starting to get annoyed. Leela didn't have to be this mean to him.
>this woud b easier if u'd let me brink bonder along 2 sign 4 me
"WHAT? You want to bring Bender here? After what he did? I never want to see that bastard ever again! Fry, what the hell are you thinking?"
Fry had had enough. Angrily he typed a message out on the pad, threw it on Leela's bed, and turned to walk out. Leela read the message.
>i was only triing 2 help. Butt if that's how u fel then fine. go fyck yorself
With a sigh, Leela realised that Fry was right. She HAD been treating him badly. He'd come to visit her every day since she moved into her parents' house, and he'd taken her to all her hospital appointments. All she'd given him in return was a load of verbal abuse whenever he turned up.
"Fry, wait!" Fry stopped in the doorway, his back still turned to her. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be so rude to you. Please, I want to know what happened to you yesterday."
After a moment Fry turned round to face Leela, who was now sitting on the side of the bed. Fry sat down next to her, and picked up the notepad. After a minute he handed it over to Leela.
>wil u give me time 2 tipe it out proppely?
Leela nodded, and once again Fry started typing out his explanation, while Leela waited patiently. After about ten minutes he finished and handed the notepad back to Leela. Another several minutes passed while Leela read through what Fry had written. Soon she came to the part where Angela rescued Fry from his quarters.
"This Angie sounds too good to be true. Did she really go to all that trouble just to save your life?" Fry smiled and nodded. Taking the notepad off Leela, he added an extra line.
>shes a fantastik captin
"Yeah, that's great," said Leela sadly. Fry's face fell when he realised he'd said the wrong thing. Maybe Leela was right about him finishing his stories one sentence earlier.
>I'm sory. I didn't mean 2 upsett u
"It's not your fault Fry. It's just that-" Leela paused for a second, struggling to say what she was thinking. "It's just that it's hard for me to see Planet Express carrying on without me like nothing's happened."
Leela's eye began to water, and she sniffed loudly. Fry edged up closer to her, and put an arm around her shoulders.
"Oh, Fry" said Leela, her throat beginning to tighten. "What happened? Just a couple of months ago I was on top of the world! I had a great job, I'd finally found my parents, and things between you and me were going great. Then that walking tin can deafened me, I've been stripped of my captaincy, and the only way I can talk to you and my parents is though this piece of crap," she finished, indicating the notepad.
For a few moments Fry was taken aback, not quite sure what to say. He hadn't seen Leela this upset since that night a year ago, just before she found her parents. Finally he picked up the notepad and began typing again.
>leela, I kno things seem bad riht now, but weel find a way 2 get yor hearin back. Until then, yur parentd and me r always heer 4 u
Leela read Fry's message, then looked up at Fry, a smile breaking through the tears. Smiling back, Fry leaned across and brushed a tear from Leela's face, then she put her arms around him in a fond embrace. Raising her head to Fry's ear, Leela whispered, "Thank you."
Above the surface, Amy sat in her car, watching the front doors of the nearby Keaton Towers apartment block and beeping the horn impatiently. She'd been sitting there for quarter of an hour, and Angie still hadn't appeared. She was just about to get her cellphone out and call when the doors burst open, and Angela ran out, wearing a dark sweater and faded jeans. She had a slice of toast clenched between her teeth, and was struggling to put on her jacket. One arm was in its sleeve, while the other sleeve flapped about in the air. Amy giggled at the comical scene.
"Having fun?" she asked sweetly, as Angela finally negotiated her other arm into the sleeve and began munching the toast.
Angela sat down in the passenger seat. "Don't ask. I've had a crappy morning."
"What's happened?" asked Amy as they drove off.
"I was having this wild nightmare, and I slept through my alarm."
"What was it about?"
Angela paused a moment before answering, "Spiders."
Amy shivered at the thought. "Yeah. They're creepy."
The two of them sat in silence for a few minutes, while they headed for Planet Express. Soon Amy turned up Fifty-Third Avenue.
"Did you hear about the accident here yesterday?" asked Angela. Amy didn't reply, so Angela continued. "This family are coming down the street when suddenly some idiot tears round the corner, way over the speed limit. The family have to swerve out of the way, they crash and the car catches fire. So now all three of them are in hospital, and by all accounts their kid's in a pretty bad way. The worst part is that the bastard who caused them to swerve didn't even stop! If it weren't for the fact it's happened to me, I wouldn't have believed anyone could be so thoughtless. What do you think, Amy?"
Angela suddenly realised that Amy had gone very quiet. "Amy, are you okay?"
"Yeah," said Amy, her voice subdued. "Yeah, I'm fine." Angela looked worriedly at her friend. She didn't seem fine. If anything, she looked on the verge of tears.
The two of them sat in silence until they pulled up at the Planet Express building. Angela got out of the car and headed for the door, before realising that Amy wasn't following her. Turning round, she saw Amy still sitting in the car.
"Amy, are you sure you're okay?"
"Honestly, I'm fine!" Amy flashed Angela a clearly forced grin. "I'll meet you upstairs in a minute."
Angela shrugged. "Okay." She turned and went inside the building. As soon as she was out of sight Amy got out her cellphone and called the hospital. A moment later the receptionist answered.
"New New York General Hospital, how may I help you?"
"Er, hi. I wanted to check on the condition of one of your patients. They were injured in the accident on Fifty-Third Avenue."
"What's the patient's name?"
Amy realised Angela hadn't told her the victim's name. "Um, I don't know." Crap!
The voice on the other end grew suspicious. "You don't know? How are you related to the patient?"
Amy couldn't think of anything else to say. "We're not related. I just-"
The receptionist cut her off. "I'm sorry miss, but it's against our policy to divulge patient information over the phone."
"But-" began Amy, before the receptionist hung up and she was left listening to the dial tone. Muttering under her breath, Amy put the phone away and got out of the car.
Angela entered the lounge to find Bender and Fry sitting on the couch, next to the sleeping Professor. Fry looked utterly miserable, and Bender was doing his best to try and cheer him up.
"Look on the bright side, meatbag! Having a deaf girlfriend has all sorts of advantages! You can play music as loud as you want, you can burp and fart without her nagging you, and when your relationship goes stale she won't be able to hear you boinking cheap trash in the next room!"
Shooting Bender an icy glare, Angela sat down next to Fry. "What's wrong?"
"It's Leela," said Fry. "She's still upset over losing her hearing. And it doesn't help that I don't know sign language. I've spent the last couple of weeks talking to her using an electronic notepad. The problem is I'm no good at typing, which means my messages all come out wrong. Then today I suggested I bring Bender along to sign for me, and she went ballistic!"
"That's lucky," retorted Bender. "Saved me the trouble of refusing to help you."
Angela ignored Bender. "So basically Fry, the problem with the notepad is that you're not good at typing, so mistakes creep into your messages. Is that right?"
Fry nodded. "Yeah."
Angela pondered for a moment. "What you need is some way for what you want to say to appear on the notepad without you having to type it out. I wonder if you could fit the notepad with some kind of speech recognition unit. That way it could record your speech and convert it directly into text."
"Is that possible?" asked Fry.
"Let's find out. Professor!" Angela nudged the Professor, who gradually came to. "Duh-eh-wha?" Once he was fully awake, Angela briefly explained Fry's problem, and the solution she'd come up with.
"-So is it possible to convert an electronic notepad to detect speech?" she finished.
"Of course! As a matter of fact I invented a device just like that many years ago. It's called a Speech/Text Translator."
"That's great!" said Fry happily. "So can you rig one up for me?"
"Oh my, no!"
Fry's joy quickly turned to dismay. "Why not?"
"I was working for Mom when I invented it, which means that Mom's Friendly Medical Supplies owns the patent. You'll have to get one from the local hospital."
"You're going to the hospital?" Everyone turned to see Amy standing in the doorway. "I'm on my way down there, I can give you a lift if you want."
Once they arrived at the hospital, Fry went straight to the receptionist, while Amy stood in line behind him. The receptionist recognised Fry from earlier that day.
"Crap, I thought we'd got rid of you. I-I-I mean, how can I help you?"
"Hi, I've got a friend who's deaf and I'm looking for one of those text translator thingies. Who do I talk to about getting one?"
"That'll be the medical officer in charge of supplies. If you'll take a seat in the waiting area, she'll see you in a few minutes."
"Thanks." Fry went to sit down, and Amy walked up to the receptionist.
"Hi, I wanted to see how one of your patients is doing. They were injured in a car accident on Fifty-Third Avenue yesterday."
"Are you any relation of the patient?"
"Yes, I'm the patient's-cousin!"
The receptionist scrolled through a list of names on the computer. "Ah yes, here we are. Joey Peters. He's on Ward Six, on the second floor."
"Thanks very much," said Amy. Leaving the receptionist, she walked over to Fry. "I'm just going to ask someone about-um-more cuteness reduction surgery! I'll be back soon."
Leaving Fry in the waiting area, Amy quickly headed up the stairs to the second floor. Following the signs on the walls, she walked down the corridor until the reached Ward Six. She pushed open the doors and looked around. Her eyes fell on a child asleep in bed, hooked up to an IV and several monitors. He was heavily bandaged, and the skin Amy could see was red raw. Next to the bed sat two adults, who Amy guessed were the parents. The father had his arm in a sling, and the mother's face was bruised. Both appeared to have suffered minor burns. Amy looked at the identity card hanging at the foot of the bed, and her face fell.
Oh God, what have I done? Tears starting to trickle down her face, Amy backed out of the ward, before she turned and ran. She ran through the corridor, down the stairs, and kept running until she reached her car. She got in, rested her head on the steering wheel, and began to sob loudly.
"Mr. Fry, Doctor Moon will see you now." The receptionist pointed down a corridor. "Second door on your left."
Fry put down the issue of Cosmo he'd been leafing through and followed the receptionist's directions. Soon he came to a door marked DR. L. MOON, SUPPLIES. Fry knocked on the door, and a moment later a woman's voice said, "Come in."
She sounds familiar, thought Fry as he entered the office. Sitting behind the desk was an attractive blonde woman. A woman Fry recognised.
For a few moments Fry and Lucy stared at each other in stunned silence. Finally Lucy stepped round the desk and gave Fry a big hug. "Philip, it's great to see you again! How long has it been?"
"Must be twelve years, since we graduated from high school." Fry smiled. "Or should that be a thousand and ten?"
Lucy laughed at Fry's joke, then asked, "How did you get here?"
"A friend drove me."
Releasing Fry from the hug, Lucy gave him a playful punch in the shoulder. "Idiot. I mean how did you get to the Thirty-First Century?"
"Oh! It was an accident. I fell into one of those cryo-freezer-jiggies on New Year's Eve, nineteen ninety-nine. What about you?"
"I was terminally ill with Moon's Disease."
"What's Moon's Disease?"
"Exactly! The doctors had never seen it before, which it why they named it after me. My family arranged for me to be frozen for a thousand years, in the hopes that a cure would be found. I was frozen in two thousand and three, and woke up last year. After they cured me, they assigned me to work in medicine, and here I am. Pretty ironic, huh?"
Fry scratched his chin. "Or is it just a coincidence? Ah, who cares?" Fry turned his attention back to Lucy. "What's it like, working in supplies?"
"It's so dull! 'Miss Moon, Ward Thirteen needs more tongue depressors.' 'Miss Moon, we're out of bedpans.' 'Miss Moon, the bio-metric sensors on the third floor have failed and declared a dozen patients clinically dead.' I went through med. school for this? It sucks! To be honest I'm looking round to see if any other hospitals have better jobs going." Lucy paused to take a deep breath. "What about you, Philip? Where are you working?"
"I'm working as a delivery boy at Planet Express, a package delivery firm about a mile east of here."
"Is it any more interesting than this job?"
"It's brilliant! I get to travel in a spaceship, and meet all sorts of weird aliens. There was this one time these guys made me their emperor!"
Lucy smiled. "Sounds like fun. I wouldn't mind a job like that." She went back round the desk and sat down. "Anyway, back to business. What is it you're looking for?"
"It's a speech/text translator. A friend of mine was recently deafened after an accident."
Lucy began typing away at the computer on her desk, and a minute later a list of items appeared on the display. "Yes, we have some in inventory. They're pretty expensive though."
"One hundred thousand dollars."
"WHAT?!" exclaimed Fry.
Lucy shrugged. "I'm sorry. Ever since President McNeal allowed Momcorp to gain a monopoly on medical supplies, prices have skyrocketed. Does your friend have any medical insurance?"
"No," Fry replied sadly. "Even if she was still working for Planet Express, Hermes cancelled her medical insurance to pay for a shipment of popcorn she destroyed."
Lucy looked at Fry sympathetically. "Like I said, I'm sorry. We do have some cheaper options though. For a hundred dollars you can buy an electronic notepad."
Fry let out an agonised groan. "Thanks Lucy, but I don't think that'll help. I guess I'll just have to find some way to raise the money."
Bender was astonished. "HOW much?"
"One hundred thousand dollars." Fry sat down heavily on the sofa and buried his head in his hands.
"Wow, with that much money you could dump Leela and buy yourself a fully-operational girlfriend!"
Ignoring Bender, Angela asked Fry, "Is there anyone you can borrow the money off?"
Fry shook his head. "I don't think so. The only person I know with enough money is Amy, and she blew her allowance on her new car. I guess I'll have to find the money myself."
"How much do you have right now?" inquired Angela. Fry reached into his sock and pulled out a crinkled nine-dollar bill.
Angela stared at the coughing, choking face of George Dubya that emblazoned the bill. "Nine dollars? Is that all?"
"I used to have ten, but we tied one to a fishing line to lure Zoidberg into his annual bath."
"Oh. Ew!" Angela's face wrinkled up in disgust. "By the way, I haven't met this Zoidberg guy yet. Any idea where he is?"
"I dunno," replied Bender. "The last time I saw him, he was in a Dumpster discussing French cuisine with Jacques Chirac's head."
"Er, guys! Anybody want to help me figure out how to turn nine dollars into a hundred thousand?"
Angela and Bender returned their attention to Fry. "Do you have any ideas?" asked Angela.
"I suppose I could set up a high-stakes poker game and hustle some unsuspecting fools."
"Are you any good at poker?"
Fry slapped himself on the forehead. "Damn! I knew there was a catch somewhere!" Suddenly an idea struck him. "I know! What about the stock market?"
Angela considered it for a moment. "Actually that's not a bad idea. Okay, you don't have much to begin investing with, but place it in a solid firm like Momcorp and you'll soon be making money hand over fist. Come on, let's set up an account!"
The three of them went though to the conference room, and used the internet link to set up an online account. Soon they were studying a list of firms.
Angela pondered some of the major industries on the list. "Momcorp's stock rises nearly every day. Trouble is a single share now costs over seventy dollars. There's Sweet Dreams Inc., the subliminal advertising place, but their shares haven't done so well since it was claimed that beaming subliminal advertisements into dreams causes people's heads to explode."
"That's a load of crap," observed Bender, as he drank a bottle of beer. "It's almost as dumb as when they claimed alcohol increases violent tendencies." Bender finished the bottle and hurled it at Fry, who ducked and watched the bottle crash through a monitor.
Angela continued studying the stocks. "How about this medical company, Black Healthcare Facilities? They haven't been around long, but their stocks have been rising consistently for several weeks now. And the good news is that their shares are still cheap enough that you can buy a couple with your nine dollars, Fry."
Fry waved a hand at Angela. "Forget about that. Look at these guys!"
Angela followed Fry's glance. "Manchester Buccaneers Sports Concern? Fry, their shares are only worth one cent each!"
"Exactly! With all those other stocks I'll only be able to buy one or two shares, but with the Bucs I can buy hundreds, which means in a couple of weeks' time I'll be much better off!"
"But Fry, that's not how shares wo-"
Angela's protest trailed off, as Fry was already punching keys. "Four dollars gets me four hundred shares." Fry fed the nine-dollar bill into a slot on the computer bank, which deducted four dollars from the bill's value.
"Why not just use all your money and get nine hundred?" asked Bender.
"According to this the company only has four hundred shares." Fry pulled the bill out of the slot and glanced at the screen again. "What does 'controlling interest' mean?"
Angela sighed. "It means you've bought the company's entire stock! Oh Lord, that makes you the owner!"
Fry's jaw dropped. "I own a sports team? Great!"
"Do you even know what sport they play?"
"Sure I do! It's the one with the ball and the stupid rules, isn't it?"
Bender gave Fry a slap on the back that left Fry gasping for air. "Congratulations, skintube! You've got your own sporting empire! Now let's go celebrate, I know where Hermes keeps the good champagne!"
Fry and Bender headed into the lounge, leaving an astonished Angela sitting alone. "Hello? What about the hundred thousand dollars we're meant to be raising? Hello?"
A few hours later everyone was packing up to go home. Angela was going to the locker room to pick up her jacket when she heard a soft sniffling sound. Peering round the door she saw Amy sitting on a bench in the locker room, her head in her hands. She looked up as Angela entered the room.
"Amy? I was wondering where you were. Are you ready to-" Angela broke off when she saw the wet streaks down Amy's face. "Amy, what's wrong?"
"That accident. The kid that got injured." said Amy softly. "I went to visit him when I was at the hospital with Fry. He really looked a mess." The memory brought on a fresh wave of emotion, and more tears began to flow.
Angela sat down next to Amy and put an arm around her shoulders. "Yeah, I know. It sucks. But I was listening to the news earlier, it sounds like he's going to be okay." Angela paused as a thought struck her. "How did you manage to visit him? I thought hospital security only let in relatives of patients."
"I told them I was his cousin."
"Why? Why was it so important that you see him?"
Amy gulped. "I-I had to see how he was."
Angela raised an eyebrow. "Why?" Amy opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out, and she promptly closed it again.
"Come on Amy," said Angela. "What's going on? You've been acting weird all day!"
After what seemed like an age, Amy began to speak. "I dunno how to tell you this. The person who caused the accident-" She broke off, unable to continue.
"Do you know who it is?" asked Angela suspiciously. Amy nodded. "Why haven't you told the police?"
Amy's voice was almost a whisper. "It was me."
For a moment Angela just sat there, not believing what she'd just heard. "What?"
Amy looked up at Angela. "I caused the accident. I was coming to work yesterday, and my mind was still on my vacation. I was driving too fast, not paying attention to the road, and they swerved off the road to avoid me. Even worse, my mind was so caught up I didn't even notice they'd crashed, which is why I drove off."
Angela pulled away from Amy, and stood up. "I don't believe it." Her shock turned to anger, and her voice took on a harsher tone. "How could you be so irresponsible? Not only do you cause an accident by driving stupidly, but then you drive off without checking to see if they're okay! What if any of them had been killed? Did you even think about that?"
Angrily, Angela grabbed her jacket out of the locker and slammed the door shut with a bang. "I'd credited you with more sense. Turns out you're no better than the guy who caused my accident." Angela turned her back on Amy and started walking out of the room.
Amy's words stopped Angela in her tracks, and she turned round to face Amy again.
"I shouldn't have driven off afterwards. Like I said, I wasn't paying attention. The worst part is that this morning I was counting my lucky stars for having AVOIDED a serious accident. I never thought that they might've crashed trying to avoid me. Then after you told me about the accident I felt guilty, so I went to the hospital to see how the kid was. I thought that if I saw he was okay, then I wouldn't feel so bad anymore. But now the image of him lying there is stuck in my head, and all I can think about is that what's happened to him is my fault. What do I do?"
Angela sat back down. "There's only one thing you can do," she said, more calmly, "and I think we both know what it is."
Amy nodded. "Go to the police. I know I should. But I'm scared. Would they send me to prison?"
"I don't know," answered Angela. "Maybe. Nobody was killed, so maybe they'd let you off with a fine. But at least you'd know you'd be doing the right thing. The police never found who caused my accident, so I never got any closure. If you turn yourself in, then at least it'll be the end of the story, for both you and the family."
The following morning, Bender was sitting in the lounge idly flicking through the TV channels when Fry entered the room.
"Hey Bender, turn over to the business news, will ya? I want to see how my investment's doing!"
Bender flicked onto Bloomborg TV, where a nondescript man in a smart suit was speaking.
"Citizens of Manchester have reacted angrily to Philip J. Fry's take-over of the Buccaneers sports franchise. As you may recall, Fry was responsible for the collapse of the Momcorp take-over of Planet Express three years ago that resulted in a galactic collapse of share values. True to form, the news of Fry's take-over has sent Buccaneer shares spiralling, to a new low of minus one cents a share."
A chill went down Fry's spine. "This can't be good, can it?"
Bender was perplexed. "How the hell can a share be worth minus one cents?"
Fry hurriedly pulled the five-dollar bill out of his sock. "I think I'd better sell off these shares before anything bad happens."
Fry and Bender rushed through to the conference room, where Hermes was setting up the morning staff meeting. Fry sat down at the computer bank, fed the bill into the slot, and called up his brokerage account details. He pressed a few keys, and a "SHARES SOLD" sign flashed up on the screen.
Fry breathed a sigh of relief, and pulled the bill out of the slot. "There, that's done. Good thing we saw that report, otherwise-" Fry broke off as he stared at the bill, dumbfounded. "What the hell? It says here it's a ONE-DOLLAR bill! HERMES!"
Hermes looked up from the agenda he was writing out. "What's de matter now? Did someone beat your Tetris high score again?"
"No! This stupid computer's crapped out! It just stole four dollars off me!"
Hermes walked over to the computer bank. "What were you doing at de time?"
Fry quickly explained about his need to raise money, buying the shares and their subsequent collapse. "So when I went to sell the shares, it took four dollars off me instead of giving me money back!"
"How much did ya say de shares were worth when you sold them?"
"Minus one cents each."
For a moment Hermes just stared at Fry. Then he burst out laughing, leaning on the table to stop himself falling down.
Fry watched Hermes' outburst with a feeling of dread. "What?"
Finally Hermes composed himself and he cleared his throat. "The value of your shares sunk so low you had to pay someone to take them off your hands!"
Fry stared blankly at Hermes.
"Don't you get it? When you sell shares, the value of de share is what you get paid. In dis case, de value is less than zero, so you're being paid a negative number, which is de same as you paying them!"
Fry stared blankly at Hermes.
"Didn't you ever do negative numbers at school?"
Fry stared blankly at Hermes.
"Oh, never mind." Hermes returned to preparing for the meeting.
"So you've got one dollar," said Bender. "Cheer up! I can still set you up in a high-stakes game of poker. I just have to round up some of the local bums."
"Don't bother," retorted Fry. "I know just what I'm going to do with this dollar. Something I should've done a long time ago."
"One Instant Lotto ticket, please!"
"That'll be one dollar."
Fry handed the bill over to the shop assistant, who tore a ticket off a roll and passed it to Fry. Fry left the shop and sat down on the kerb. Silently he scratched and sniffed the first square. One liberty bell. So far, so good. He moved on to the second. Two liberty bells. He moved on to the third, then hesitated, his finger poised over the square. If this failed, his chances of helping Leela were at an end. Well, at least until next payday. Still, he'd already bought the ticket, so there was no point worrying about that now. Fry scratched the final square, and inhaled deeply.
"LIBERTY BELL! I WIN! I WIN!" Fry jumped up and punched the air with his fist. He ran back inside the store and showed the ticket to the assistant. After checking the ticket, the assistant took a bill out of the register, fed it into a slot next to the roll of Lotto tickets, and punched a few keys. He removed the bill and handed it over to Fry, who simply stared at it. One hundred thousand dollars!
Thanking the assistant, Fry ran out of the store, and all the way back to Planet Express. He burst into the lounge to find Bender there, watching TV and drinking beer.
"Bender, the ticket won! I got the money!"
At the sound of the word "money" Bender's attention left the TV and turned to Fry. "That's great! You'll be able to buy that speech thingy for Leela! Or twenty-five thousand crappy sports teams! This calls for a celebration!" Bender pulled a bottle of champagne and two glasses out of his chest cavity. He was in the middle of pouring when Hermes entered the room, looking disgruntled and holding a lengthy sheet of paper.
"Have you seen dis month's phone bill? It's though de roof with all these long distance calls to de Nimbus! Where in Amarillo is Amy?"
Bender looked up. "Oh, that reminds me. We got a call from Angie earlier. Amy's turned herself in to the cops."
Fry almost dropped the champagne glass. "What? What for?"
"Turns out she's the one who caused that car crash the other day. Angie wants us to get down to the station as soon as possible."
Fry put the glass down on the table and turned to leave. "Come on. We're better leave now." Bender followed him out the door, pausing only to drain Fry's glass.
When they arrived at the station they found Angela sitting alone near the front desk. She stood up as soon as she saw Fry and Bender enter, and went over to them. "What took you guys so long?"
"Sorry, it was my fault," said Fry. "Where's Amy?"
"She's on the phone. Her hearing's next week, but since she's already confessed it shouldn't take long. Problem is bail's been sat at ten thousand dollars. I can't afford it, and like you said, Amy spent all her money on her car and her vacation. She's calling her parents to ask them to pay up. Wait, here she comes now."
Fry and Bender turned in the direction Angela was indicating to see Amy walking towards them, accompanied by an officer. From the expression on Amy's face it was clear that the conversation hadn't gone well.
"So, how much cash are your folks sending over?" asked Bender. Fry and Angela exchanged uneasy looks.
"They're not," said Amy, a note of panic in her voice. "They said I'd been irresponsible, and started going on about stuff like me running out on Kif when he was about to give birth, and when I let Zoidberg drive my last car. They think I need to learn a lesson, so they've refused to send me any money."
She looked at Fry and Bender. "Guys, I know this is a lot to ask, but do either of you have the money?"
"I'm cleaned out," replied Bender. "Last time I play poker with 'Five Aces' Pete. You know, I'm fairly sure he cheats somehow, but I can't put my finger on it."
All eyes turned to Fry. "Have you got anything?" asked Amy.
Fry paused momentarily before answering. "Nope. Sorry. I just blew my last dollar on a Lotto ticket."
A sick feeling began to form in the pit of Amy's stomach as realisation struck her. The officer placed a firm hand on Amy's arm. "Please come along, miss." Fry and Angela watched helplessly as Amy was led away. She turned her head to look back at them and they could see her starting to cry again. Finally Amy and the officer disappeared round a corner.
Angela sighed. "I guess there's nothing more was can do here. We might as well get back to Planet Express and let Hermes what's going on."
As the three of them left the station, Bender gave Fry a hearty slap on the back. "Congratulations, meatbag. I never knew you had it in you! I was worried you were going to waste your money helping Amy, instead of leaving her to rot while you get the translator for Leela!"
Angela overheard Bender's comments. "What? Fry, I thought you said you didn't have any money!"
"Er-um-well-" Fry stammered, unable to think what to say.
Bender cut across him. "No money? Are you kidding? Fry won a hundred thousand on the Lotto!"
Angela turned to face Fry, who was glowering at Bender. "How could you?" she snapped. "Amy needed your help in there and you let her down! I know how much you want that translator, but can't it wait another month or two?"
Fry decided to stand his ground. "No it can't. You don't have any idea how miserable Leela's been recently. At the moment she can't even talk properly with either me or her parents! She needs that translator!"
"Fry, I'm not saying it isn't difficult, but right now Amy needs your help more."
"Why? She's only going to be in jail a week until the hearing. After that they'll probably let her off with a driving ban and a slap on the wrist."
"Okay, let's say they do give her a slap on the wrist. Say with a fine. We already know her parents won't help her, and none of the rest of us has any money. If you don't help she could end up going to prison!"
For a moment Fry pondered over what Angela said. Then he dismissed it with a wave of his hand. "No! Look, I'm really sorry that Amy's in trouble, but at the end of the day it's her own fault for causing that accident in the first place. What happened to Leela was an accident, and she doesn't deserve to suffer for it."
Angela sighed. "Fry, no-one's denying that it's Amy's fault she's in this mess. I was as pissed as you when I found out she'd caused that accident. But she's trying to make amends for it and she needs our support. Please, if you're not going to bail her out now, at least hold on to the money until the hearing."
For a few moments Fry said nothing. He pulled out the bill from his pocket and stared at it, unsure what to do. He desperately wanted to just go to the hospital and pick up the translator. But Angela was right, Amy needed their help, and right now he was the only one in a position to give it. His mind wandered back to the car accident he and Amy had been involved in several years ago, when he'd ended up stitched to Amy's shoulder. If it hadn't been for her, he'd probably have died on the spot. Dammit, I guess I have my answer.
Fry sighed and placed the bill back in his pocket. "Okay, I'll hold on to it for now. We'll see what happens in the hearing. Jeez, who died and made you Alan Alda?"
"Thanks, Fry." Angela gave Fry a quick hug, then trotted off in the direction of Planet Express.
Bender gave Fry a hard punch in the shoulder that made him wince. "Damn you and your conscience! I knew it was too good to be true!" Bender walked off after Angela.
A week later the Planet Express crew were in court for Amy's hearing, and everything was proceeding as expected. Amy had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and injuring other road users, and the judge was about to deliver her sentence. Amy glanced briefly to her left. She saw the child's parents glaring furiously at her, and her gaze dropped ashamedly to the floor.
Fry sat in the second row from the front, between Bender and Angela, nervously fingering the hundred thousand dollars in his pocket. Bender saw Fry's hand twitching in his pocket. "Jeez Fry, can't you wait till we get home?"
"And so," the judge was saying, "your driving license will be revoked, and you will be banned from driving any land vehicles for a period of two years." A few murmurs filtered through the crowd, while up front Amy crossed her fingers and hoped that was all she'd receive.
"Ordinarily, you'd be looking at some serious jail time for this, but since your family own this judge, this courtroom, and several key politicians, the prison sentence will be quashed-"
The room was filled with louder murmurs and a few gasps. Fry breathed a sigh of relief. She's gonna get off! I can get Leela the translator!
The judge banged his gavel hard. "SILENCE! As I was saying, the prison sentence will be quashed, so long as Miss Wong pay a ninety thousand dollar fine."
Amy turned to her parents, who were sitting in the front row. "Mom! Dad!" she hissed. "Help me!"
"Sorry Amy," said Leo, "but you have to learn to take responsibility for your actions!"
"Besides," interrupted Inez, "You can find a good man in prison, much better than squishy alien."
"But mom, it's an all-female prison! The closest they have to a man is that Ukrainian swimmer who was thrown out of the Olympics for doping offences!"
"Yeah? Well you should hook up with her. With all that testosterone in her system she MUST be able to father grandchild!"
Amy turned back round, her eyes downcast. "I can't-I can't pay the fine, Your Honour."
Fry felt a sudden elbow in the midriff. He turned to see Angela looking at him expectantly. "Fry, what are you going to do?" she hissed urgently.
Fry's fingers again went to the bill in his pocket. "I don't know," he said uncertainly.
"Fry, she's gonna go to jail!"
"I know, I know!"
"Miss Wong," said the judge, "Since you are unable to pay the fine, I have no choice but to-"
"WAIT!" All the eyes in the room turned to Fry, who stood up, waving the bill frantically. "Your Honour, I can pay the fine."
"Very well. Please approach the bench."
Fry edged past Angela and the Professor, then walked down the aisle to the front of the court. He handed the bill to the judge, who examined it briefly, before entering it in a slot on the table. A moment later, he removed the bill again and handed it back to Fry, who stared sadly at the phrase TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.
The judge turned to Amy. "Miss Wong, you're free to go."
People began to leave the courtroom, while quiet conversation started amongst those who remained. Only Fry and Amy were silent, Amy as she sadly watched the parents walk out, and Fry as he continued to stare at the bill.
"I can't believe it! I was so close!"
Fry sat despondently in the lounge at Planet Express, Angela and Bender sitting either side of him.
"It's your own fault," said Bender gruffly. "No good deed goes unpunished!"
"Don't listen to him," said Angela. "You did the right thing."
Fry wasn't going to be consoled. "Yeah, but the right thing isn't gonna get Leela her translator, is it?" He buried his head in his hands, lost in thought, and failed to hear the door open and shut.
Fry looked up and saw Amy standing over him. "Oh, hi."
"Look, Angie told me how much trouble you'd gone to to get that money, so I felt like I owed you a favour." Amy handed Fry a rectangular package. "Hope you like it."
"Thanks," said Fry flatly. He tore the wrapping off the package and his face lit up. Inside was a box, labelled MOMCORP SPEECH/TEXT TRANSLATOR.
Fry jumped up and hugged Amy. "It's fantastic! Thank you! But where did you get the money from?"
"I sold my car. Now I can't drive there wasn't any point hanging on to it."
"Thanks. I really appreciate it. I've gotta go and show Leela!" Fry let go of Amy and ran out of the room.
Bender rose up off the sofa. "All's well that ends well. This calls for a celebration!"
Angela smiled. "Hermes just bought a new bottle of champagne to replace the one you drank yesterday, hasn't he?"
"Damn straight!" Bender followed Fry out the door.
Amy sat down heavily next to Angela, who looked across and saw that she still looked a little glum.
"Amy," she began, "That was a nice thing you did for Fry. And I'm proud of you for having the guts to turn yourself in."
"Please don't be proud of me. I feel like crap. If I hadn't been so stupid, I wouldn't have had to turn myself in to the police in the first place, and Fry wouldn't have had to save my ass in court." Amy sighed. "And that kid would be up and about now, instead of being stuck in hospital."
Angela sighed. "Amy, look. You made a mistake. All of us do at some point or other. The two important things are that you admit to your mistake, and that you try to learn from it. By going to the police you admitted your mistake, both to yourself and to everyone else. In the long run it'll make you feel much better than if you'd kept it a secret and let it eat away at you. As for learning from the mistake, eventually you'll be able to drive again, and you'll know not to drive so recklessly."
Although Amy still wasn't smiling, she seemed a little happier. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Thanks."
Angela stood up. "Now let's see if Bender's got any of that champagne left."
Amy followed Angela off the sofa, and the two of them headed for the door.
"So what do you think of it, Leela?"
Leela smiled with delight as Fry's words flashed up on the translator's display. "Fry, it's wonderful! Thank you!" Leela leaned across and kissed Fry on the cheek, causing him to blush. "But how were you able to afford this?"
"It's an interesting story. It all started when Amy was driving me from the gwmoph mif mf"
Leela looked up from the translator, the smile still on her face. "Fry, it doesn't work when your mouth's full of cake."
Hermes surveyed his office with pride. He'd spent nearly two weeks getting his office ready for the upcoming inspection, and everything was just so. All that remained was to shred a small stack of documents that were sitting on his desk. He lifted the stack, and was just about to shred it when he spotted a letter that had been hiding at the bottom.
Placing the papers off to one side, Hermes sat down and opened the letter. For a few moments Hermes stared at it in disbelief. Then he threw the letter in the air in celebration, and spun wildly on his swivel chair, sweeping the papers off his desk as he went. "I don't believe it! It's finally happened! YES!"
Eventually Hermes calmed down and brought the chair to a halt. Then he got up and went around the room, recovering the scattered papers and placing them in the correct numerical order. Then he ran the whole lot through the shredder.
TO BE CONTINUED
Thanks to Doug "Zed 85" Hilliard for beta reading, and to Rye Guy and Ramon 51 for their support.