“I thought maybe you’d be happy to see me,” Janet said. “It’s only been twenty-nine years.”
The two sisters studied one another. It was three o’clock, and aside from a few people out on the patio having coffee, the restaurant was empty. “Don’t try and guilt me,” Betsy said. “You didn’t show up in Austin, Texas for nothing. Why are you here?”
Janet sighed and fiddled with her napkin. “Once I found out where you were, I wanted to drop everything and get on the next plane. I was working for a pharmaceutical company in Miami. It wasn’t a happy mix.” She began to tell her story – how she began working as a drug rep years before when she was in her early thirties, how she’d loved the job in the beginning, dressing up in heels and a sexy suit, going to doctor’s offices with her little valise of sample pills, chatting up the ladies at the front desk so they’d always be glad to see her and wave her through. She could give a good spiel about the drugs she sold, but that didn’t mean she actually knew what they did. How they interacted with other drugs. If their side effects could kill you. She just had to assume that what her managers told her was true: everything had been researched and tested, was safe, and would have lasting benefits. For awhile she was one of the company’s top salespeople. Then she began to get sick of it. If her numbers weren’t right, and she wasn’t selling enough, there’d be repercussions, threats that her territory would be cut back or that she’d be switched to a less desirable division.
The paranoia in the place was rampant. The reps were in constant competition – one person’s bad luck was another’s boon, and if you didn’t look right, if your clothes were messy, or there were circles under your eyes, or your roots were showing, or you were having a bad day because of problems at home, you were screwed.
“So what happened?” Betsy asked, shifting in her seat. “Did you get fired?”
Janet flushed under her dark skin. It irked her that her sister should immediately jump to the worst conclusion, even though that conclusion happened to be true.
“Yes, I did,” she said. “Well, not fired precisely. Just told it would be wise to look for employment elsewhere.
“So you came here?” Betsy leaned forward, her eyes gazing directly into Janet’s. “And you have no job? What are your plans exactly?”
Janet stared right back at her sister and smiled. In her soft, drifty voice she said: “Interesting you should ask. I thought maybe you, being the loving sister you are, with a big secret to hide, could see it in your heart to help me out.”
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ Pills, Victor, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/