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Beta: Fantastically, encouragingly and speedily beta-ed by Dorilon. Thanks!
Copyright: Edgar C. Gambodge, Elizabeth Lightbody and Martha Grosbeak are mine. Sadly so are Father Michael and Gruner.
Warning: In my Oz universe, many of the events from the last two episodes of Season Six are fictitious.

Settling the Bill: The Magnificent Mr Gambodge (11/17)

by Rosybug


Edgar Carraway Gambodge was even more impressive in person than on TV. He stood well over six feet tall and was of astonishing girth. He had clad his girth in a biscuit-colored, imported, Savile Row suit of exquisite cut and fabric and a peach-pink silk shirt of epic proportions. Toby wondered if he could use it as a tent when Gambodge was finished wearing it. But the crowning glory was Gambodge's tie, a stupendous, pale-gold symbol of power and authority that flowed down his ample front like Zeus's tribute to Danae. It was secured by an ochre pearl tie-pin. Toby had never seen an ochre pearl before, but he knew this one was real.

Gambodge's skin was rich and creamy mocha, his eyes expensive chocolate, his large hands well manicured. His close-cropped black curls were shot with silver. He spoke at a deliberate and stately pace and moved with a deliberate, but graceful, rolling motion that was not dissimilar to that of a bull elephant-seal, on his way to the ocean after a hard day's sunbathing. Gambodge filled the interview room with a subtle waft of lavender and lemongrass. And the rich aroma of a great deal of old money.

He opened his enormous soft caramel leather briefcase and extracted a plastic bag that contained two capacious polystyrene take-out tubs of marinara vermicelli and two see-through plastic tubs filled with generous helpings of tiramisu. He pressed one of each on Toby and opened his own with a grand gesture.

"Shall we begin, Mr. Beecher?" he intoned.

"I'd like to discuss my parole situation," Toby said urgently, still holding his tubs.

Mr. Gambodge dropped the paper napkins in the trashcan and pulled out four crisp white linen ones instead, one of which he unfurled onto his lap and a second that he tucked into his collar. He invited Toby to do the same, but Toby felt the second napkin was superfluous in his case. Mr. Gambodge delved into his briefcase again and emerged with silver knives, forks and spoons.

"We don't have much time," Toby prodded.

"We have as much time as we need," Mr. Gambodge pronounced. "Now, Mr. Beecher, how may I help you?"


"I just don't see how you can get back my parole. I broke the law and was caught doing it," Toby concluded.

"Mr. Keller has told me his part in it and has urged me to use it in your defense -" began Mr. Gambodge, taking another swirl of pasta into his mouth.

Toby caught his breath.

"But I have advised him not to - it's not strategic. It serves no purpose. It would even be better to contest your original sentence, which was severe, and explain that your subsequent behavior was the result of the psychological trauma you sustained while incarcerated. But fear not, I have many tricks up my sleeve. All in good time, Mr. Beecher, all in good time."

He patted Toby's forearm with an immense slab of hand and dabbed his own mouth with the napkin that was tucked into his collar.

"Are you going to finish that pasta?" he asked after a pause.

Toby admitted he was not, so Mr. Gambodge did.

Over the tiramisu, Mr. Gambodge verified certain points with Toby about his sentence and his sojourn in Oz, his treatment there, the company he kept. Toby skirted around his relationship with Chris. Mr. Gambodge appeared to notice the omission.

"Mr. Beecher, I am aware of the delicate and painful nature of your relationship with Mr. Keller - he sketched me an outline when he consulted with me."

Toby pursed his lips, wondering exactly what Chris had sketched.

Noticing this, Mr. Gambodge interjected:

"I understand that your relationship with Mr. Keller has been troubled, but (forgive me for intruding) it is clear to me that Mr. Keller loves you deeply and places great value on his relationship with you. He is heavily invested in making it work for both of you."

"Is that a condition of your helping me?" inquired Toby, feeling a tinge of indigestion.

"Good Heavens, no!" averred Mr. Gambodge. "I mention it merely out of concern for the mutual interests of two clients."

"I'm sorry," Toby said. "I've been through a lot lately and I've got certain...trust issues."

"Perfectly understandable," Mr. Gambodge assured Toby. "By the way, Mr. Keller sent a gift for you and asked that you would tell me if you needed anything."

"Other than my freedom?" inquired Toby.

"We'll do our best to clear the matter up as speedily as possible," said Mr. Gambodge, withdrawing from his briefcase a small brown paper bag with black string handles.

Despite himself, Toby wondered what on earth or under it Chris could possibly have got him. He had a lurking suspicion that whatever it was, it would be a vast improvement on socks. The bag felt quite heavy in his hand. He decided to open it when he was alone. Or as alone as he could possibly be in Lardner.

"Leave it all to me, Mr. Beecher," Mr. Gambodge began tidying up the variety of goodies that littered the table. Soon the file, notebook, spectacle case, palmtop (that looked ridiculous perched atop of Mr. Gambodge's immense palm as he pecked at it with the back of his gold pen), cell phone and tableware had disappeared into the briefcase's recesses.

"Thanks," said Toby helplessly.


Back in his cell, Toby opened the bag and rummaged in the tissue paper. He found a glass bottle inside that he recognized, with a catch in his throat, as his father's brand of aftershave. There was a note with it that read:

"Toby - I know you feel real alone right now, but I want you to know that you're not. We'll get you out. Your mom told me this was the aftershave your dad used to wear and I thought it might make you feel a bit better, knowing how much you loved him and how he always looked out for you. I can't watch your back from out here, so stay awake and tell Gambodge if there's any hassles. Love ya, C."

Toby unscrewed the lid and smelled his father come to life again, smelled his childhood before the world turned to shit. He wanted to go back there. He splashed some of the cologne onto his hairy cheeks.

When O'Reily returned to the cell some time later, his sharp nose told him what was different right away.

"You wearing aftershave, Beech?" he asked. "You don't look as if you've shaved."

"Keller sent it," Toby told him, his mouth quirking a bit. "My father used to wear it. Chris thinks it's sexy."

"You two are so fucked up," O'Reily shook his head in disbelief.

For the first time in a long time, Toby wanted to laugh out loud.
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