Content Caution: Trigger topic #171
The familiar ringtone sounded, and Clair glanced at her cellphone to see Ally’s name and picture smiling at her. She swiped right to answer the call. “What’s happening, Chica?!”
Ally’s tone matched Clair’s as she responded “Hey, hot Mama! All kinds of things are happening, that’s why I’m calling!”
“Spill. I’m listening,” Clair laughed into the phone.
“So do you know Dr. Brown?”
“He’s the cardiologist downtown, I thought maybe you called on him. You still rep that stain, right?”
“You know I do! You only quit our team last year,” Clair said rolling her eyes at her best friend asking such a silly question. Clair searched her mind. “Dr. Brown? The name doesn’t sound familiar, he’s not on my regular routing.”
Ally continued, “he’s in with Dr. Wan and Dr. Siegal.”
Clair recognized those names, “yes, yes, I’ve sampled that office before. What’s the news?”
“I’m getting there, don’t rush me!” Ally now dove into a long back story about Dr. Brown and his wife, Susan. Ally had become friends with Dr. Brown over the years and shared with Clair how bad she felt for his wife, Susan. Ally described Dr. Brown as very flamboyant. He always had his hair coiffed just so. He always vacations with his best buddy every year. “Well anyway,” Ally continued, “Bridget just called me to tell me, she saw Dr. Brown and Dr. Wan in the back office together. She walked in on them during a lunch she was doing in the office. They asked her to wait in the lunchroom and they’d be right in, but she said it was an awkward vibe she got from the two of them. When she shared that information with staff in the lunchroom, they shared knowing looks with one another.
Clair was losing interest. “Is there a point to this story? I have a list of shit to get done today, girlfriend!”
Ally said, “sometimes you don’t know your husband is gay.” Which pulled Clair back into the story. “Susan had no idea her husband is gay, and she is his beard. She has ignored all the signs forever.”
“Just because he has a close friend he vacations with and he likes flashy clothes, it doesn't mean he is gay,” Clair protested to her friend. “Why do you care anyway?” Clair asked.
“I just think it’s sad that Susan doesn’t know and the rest of the staff in the office, do know.”
“You mean they think they know,” Clair corrected Ally.
“No Clair, I mean they know. Trust me, they know.”
“Okay, well that was an interesting story. Thanks for sharing,” Clair feigned appreciation and started to say her goodbyes.
“Clair, I’m not done. I do have a point.”
“Well, I wish you’d get to it,” Clair said with a smile, knowing her friend loves to drag out a simple point.
Ally took a deep breath and said, “sometimes wives don’t know their husbands are gay.”
“You said that already. Is there something I’m missing?”
“Sometimes wives don’t know,” Ally repeated slower.
“Do you think your husband is gay?” Clair asked Ally.
“Nooooo, I don’t think my husband is gay.” She said and then let the silence hang in the air.
“You think my husband is gay? Why? Why would you say that?” Clair asked, surprised.
“I’m just saying sometimes other people can see things more clearly than people that are too close to the situation.” Ally sympathetically explained.
“What is wrong with you?! Did you wake up today and think, who’s life can I ruin today?!”
“No, you know I love you. I’m just staying, didn’t you ever suspect that maybe Shawn is seeing someone?”
Clair’s face flushed red, and she tried to keep her tone even. “No, Ally, I have never wondered if my husband is having an affair with a man. Do you have something in particular you’d like to share with me that brought you to this conclusion? Or are you just bored?”
Ally stumbled over her words, “You know my brother works with your husband, Shawn…”
Clair cut her off. “So, that long ass story you just told me was the big lead-up to this revelation you wanted to warn me about; that I’m the stupid wife you feel bad for?! Is that it?”
“Clair, I’m not trying to make you mad. I’m just trying to help.”
“Make me mad! Trying to help! Why would I be mad? You are trying to blow up my life with a pointless story about some doctor, that may or may not be true; just to present a feckless story suggesting that my husband prefers men to me. I’ve gotta go. We won’t be coming over tonight or any other night for that matter. You need help.”
“I’m sorry Clair! I’m sorry. I thought you kinda knew! Please don’t be mad at me!”
Clair missed the days that you could slam down the phone into the base receiver for added emphasis. She hit the red dot on her cellphone screen as her heart raced with anger. That girl is messed up, she told herself. She was able to focus all her energy on her former best friend, Ally. “She is such an asshole!” she screamed to no one.
She sat in her car in the parking lot of the next doctor she was scheduled to see. Suddenly work seemed pointless. Why is Ally always in everyone’s business? Clair thought, I don’t know the private lives of the doctors I call on. Ally does less product detailing and more personal snooping than any other representative I’ve ever encountered.
She picked up her phone and dialed her mother. She barely waited for her mother to say hello before she yelled, “Ally is such a jerk! You’ll never believe what she said to me.”
“Well hellllooo to you too,” her mother said calmly. “What is Ally up to now?”
“She says my Shawn is gay!”
“Is he?” her mother said, more of a statement than a question.
Clair thought to herself, I know better than to call my mother for sympathy. Ugh, I never learn. “No, mother, he is not! I have to run into this office. I’ll call you back later.”
“Okay Sweeeetie, have a good day,” her mother said in her usual sing-song way.
Clair hung up her phone and tucked it into her rep detail bag. She tried to get her thoughts straight on what she was going to discuss in this office. She grabbed the latest clinical study on diabetes and exited her vehicle. The sun immediately overheated her in her black suit. She picked up her pace to the front door of the building. The cool air conditioning was a welcome relief as she stepped inside the lobby of the two-story building. She turned right and opened the glass door into the Desert Diabetes Clinic.
Lesley greeted her from behind the front desk. “Hi Clair! You just missed your friend Ally.”
“Ally? Why was she in here?” Clair questioned. She could feel her face turning red and tried to think calming thoughts.
“Oh, she just popped in to bring us coffees. She is so sweet.”
“She is something,” Clair said through a fake smile. I am so done with her, Clair thought, reassuring herself that she wouldn’t have to endure that embarrassing topic with Ally again. “Is Dr. Fulton in?”
“He is enjoying his coffee in his office as we speak. You can go back.”
Clair handed Lesley some product notepads, “thank you.”
Clair waved to Dr. Fulton as she approached his office door. He smiled and rose to greet her. "Have a seat," he motioned to the chairs in front of his desk.
Clair slid into the closer chair and settled her bag at her feet. “Do you need any samples?”
“I have been handing out a lot of samples this week. Yes, I could use some more.”
Clair readied her handheld computer to accept his signature for samples to be shipped to the clinic. “Have you seen the latest Molar, Sacks, and Delmar data?” she asked as he signed.
“Yes, it’s very impressive. Double blind, large test group. It bodes very well for your product. The lowering ability is impressive, and I don’t think it’s class effect. I’ll take that copy of the study. Thank you for bringing it in.”
Clair stood and shook hands with the doctor. “Do you have any questions for me?”
“Has it been added to any new formularies?”
“Thank you for asking. Yes, it has finally been added to Kaiser.”
“Fantastic. You know we see a lot of Kaiser patients.”
Clair made small talk with Lesley before she headed back out to her car.
Clair threw her bag onto the passenger seat as she slid into the driver’s seat like always. She quickly started her vehicle and headed for home. She still felt emotionally drained remembering every detail from Ally’s call, years had done nothing to numb that memory. Had Ally been in the same parking lot with her? Watching her as she delivered that weird message to her? Had she seen her scream after she hung up? Her thoughts wandered as she drove. A drive she had made thousands of times. She merged onto the highway and knew she’d be home in her husband’s arms soon. By the time she pulled into her garage and closed the door behind her, she was feeling calm. What people won’t do to ruin someone’s happiness, she thought. She was so sad that she had not seen Ally’s jealousy sooner. She and Shawn were best friends. Two people couldn’t be closer. She knew many friends and family were envious of their marriage. She closed her eyes and let her head rest on her seat for a moment, before walking into the house and calling out to her husband, “I’m home, Love!” That thought made her smile.
I’m home love, she whispered alone in her car as she opened her eyes. If only, if only, she hadn’t listened to her friend Ally all those years ago, she would be walking into her happy stable home with her gorgeous husband waiting for her right now. She imagined him smiling and waiting for her as she came through the door. Instead, deafening silence was awaiting her. She and Ally rarely spoke anymore. Truth was, she didn’t have any close friends anymore. Her divorce had broken her. She only went through the motions day to day and today was like the last nine hundred, empty.