The Vindication of Dr. Hepplewhite
by Phillipa


*This is firmly tongue in cheek*
I was thinking about poor Doctor Hepplewhite and the sudden outpouring
of...ummm, dislike and decided to be contary and give the guy a positive
role and a story.


The large stout figure in the bar chair looked despondent. Dr
Hepplewhite, for it was indeed he (or him) sipped his Guinness and sighed
profoundly. His mood was black: he was musing on the injustice of fate.
When he signed up for that little miniseries "Hornblower" he never
expected to be showered with praise or applauded in the streets. A job
was a job after all, and when you were built like a banana pudding and a
toupee no longer covered the bald spots on your head, you were not
inclined to be picky. It would be watched and forgot, he thought. Wrong!
The blasted thing took off like fire, and soon the crew was being
showered with affection...all except Hepplewhite.

He did not mind it at first. The outpouring of frenzied affaction towards
that lad with an unpronounceable name was only to be expected from the
silly females who spent their free time glued to a flashing square box.
He was the hero after all. Young, dashing, and if you liked that type,
handsome. Hepplewhite marvelled privately at the rabid devotion. The
laddie desperately needed nourishment. "How on earth are they falling for
that bag of bones?" The only desire the star invoked in the doctor's
generous bosom was to give him a sandwich.

However, soon the madness seemed to spread. The unfortunate Archie was
next on the hit list. He recieved 37 proposals of marriage, 245 proposals
of less moral nature, and 7 offers from the "Whip 'n' Chain" magazine. The
groaning post boy had to cart delicately addressed missives to his cabin/oubliette/strait-jacket three times a day, that is until he dropped on the job. All this did not improve Mr. Kennedy's twitching. Dr Hepplewhite began to feel a bit hurt (not to mention more than a bit puzzled). The
guy had fits for goodness' sake! He twitched and screamed and his
shaking was most unappealing. Besides he seemed like a walking
disaster: getting hit on the head, and generally getting mistreated,
abused and picked on by every passerby he met. This did not seem to Dr.
Hepplewhite a good qualification for a long term relationship, unless one was into
collecting insurance that is. "Maternal instinct perhaps," he
mused, consoling himself that after all the young 'uns deserved their
place in the sun.

That theory was soon shot to pieces as well. Captain Pellew, ("and a
shameful behavior it was, in a man his age," considered Hepplewhite),
began to dissapear of an evening and return with a strong scent of
perfume and lipstick smears behind his collar. The table in his cabin
had to be sent to the cabinet-makers' for repair 3-4 times in the last
month. The legs caved in during an accident, and the rats left long
tooth and claw-marks on the varnish. So the Captain said. On a saturday
evening he was heard to exclaim that he liked the job. It had unexpected perks.

Even Styles was approached by a few fool-hardy females apparently
unafraid of rabies or attracted by rats.

Soon, everyone had a following, loyal, slavering harem. Everyone, save
Hepplewhite. He tried to take it in stride. Tried to tell himself that he
was a plain, peace-loving, quiet man. That there was no envy in his
heart. But he knew it was all a lie. When he saw Edrington, his upper lip
stiff and his lower lip curling, stroll into the bar hurriedly buttoning
his uneeform and picking long hairs off his lapels, a feeling of grey
despondency entered his heart. "What does he have that I don't? All he
does is sit on a horse and make sarcastic remarks. If they want a horse,
they should move to a farm!"

He knew that the men were sniggering behind his back. After all, look
what company he was in: Simpson and Tapling: a greasy-haired sadist and a
butter-ball. And after all, HE was a professional man, maybe not
inspired, but conscientous. With his own income. "And the hair I have,
such as it is, is my own after all!"

And then, suddenly there was the last straw: not content with neglecting
him, the two of the slavering females cast him as a villain. Not only did
this make him even less popular than before, it put Simpson out of job
and that worthy was eying HIM askance now. And he didn't want for the
psycho to go after HIM. Didn't he have enough fun with Kennedy?

So now Hornblower had his own nightshirt line, and he, Hepplewhite was
faced with a prospect of unemployment and poverty: the two females had
written him out of a job!

Taking a last gulp of his Guinness, Dr. Hepplewhite came to a decision.
That was it! He was not going to take it anymore!
Sighing heavily, he rose and headed towards StairMaster.