Pat and Betty Visit the Pharmacist

Pat stared up at the ceiling fan, spinning lazily above the bed just enough to move the air around a little. It was not hot; rather, it was pleasant in the mornings in Merida, always cooler than when she went to bed the night before. She thought about her latest sculpture, the one with the forks she had mentioned to Betty at the cafe the other day when they talked about Seidy. She still had to do something about her muchacha. That’s how Pats mind worked – as does everyone’s she presumed – moving from one subject to the next, linking along like a series of clicks on the internet that take you from one idea to the next in a few seconds in a never-ending barrage of images and information.

Thinking of the internet reminded her that she had wanted to update her Facebook profile picture which still showed her standing, smiling then, next to a man she thought she had once loved. She got up, slipped on an old extra large t-shirt with a faded University of Maryland logo and made her way through the silent house to the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. Seidy had not yet arrived. Good.

The click click click of the gas stove top annoyed her and she made a mental note to have someone come and check the burners or whatever it was that made the thing take so long to light. When it finally did, she put some water on to boil and looked through her collection of teas to see what exotic infusion was going to inspire her this morning. She settled on a black tea called Lemon Lift – what was it with those names – which was from a selection in a welcome basket that Betty had shown up with when she moved into her new home in Merida.

Betty had been a real godsend, a friend when Pat most needed one. The separation from Matthew had been the most difficult thing Pat had ever faced and the realization that she was not getting any younger as she moved into single-ness again – as well as a whole new country – made her feel uncertain and insecure in addition to being severely depressed.

She had met Betty one afternoon at Merida’s main square; two extranjeras sitting at adjacent tables having a sorbete and watching people go about their lives. Pat was still staying at a nearby hotel while her house was being readied; Betty was having a pre-comida sherbet as was her custom after a morning of dog walking and a swim in her backyard pool.

“Isn’t this sherbet the best?” asked Betty; she was having mamey. “Betty” she continued extending a hand between the two tables.

“Yes, it’s fantastic” said Pat, who had been overwhelmed by the strange flavors and had finally settled on safe and familiar strawberry. “I’m Pat” she replied and took the offered hand.

From there they had talked like old friends for what seemed like hours and when Pat finally peeked at her watch discretely, so as not to offend her new companion, she realized with some embarrassment that she had probably kept Betty from her mid-day meal, although there was no complaint from her new friend.

In the time since, Betty had adopted Pat and shown her around Centro, telling her which restaurants were good and which ones to stay away from; where she could get a cheap (and clean) manicure and pedicure – “they keep their scissors and things clean, so you don’t have to worry about an infection” she had said – and the little laundry place just around the corner where they do such a good job. Once Betty had been apprised of Pat’s emotional situation and they had come to the conclusion that most men were cursed with a defective chip that caused them to spin out of control after reaching a certain mileage, Betty also told Pat about ‘her’ pharmacist, a quiet and very serious middle-aged man in spectacles and the obligatory lab coat who worked in an hole in the wall pharmacy next to a small clinic on 57, who could discretely and without a doctors prescription, procure all sorts of medicines to combat all manner of ills.

She smiled and popped a tea bag into a cup of hot water, remembering the first time she had visited Dr. Gustavo, which was the name on the glass door of the pharmacy, in a two-tone Gothic hand painted script. Responsable: Dr. Gustavo Fuentes Alcocer, UNAM. Betty had done most of the talking, introducing her new friend and explaining that she was a little down.

Mi amiga tiene una depresion” said Betty to Dr. Gustavo seriously after exchanging the usual buenos dias and como esta usted formalities. Dr. Gustavo nodded gravely and Betty continued “necesito una medicina para ella“. Pat looked on, suitably nervous and looking the part without much effort. Betty patted her shoulder.

Dr. Gustavo turned back and looked briefly at the metal racks behind him, where little boxes and containers were neatly arranged in what appeared to be alphabetical order, then disappeared for a moment between the racks. With only the A section visible, Pat could make out a few familiar names and some not-so familiar ones. While Abilify and Afterbite sounded somewhat recognizable, there were some strange ones there like Acarbosa Tarbis and Aclasta. There were so many!

When Dr. Gustavo returned to the counter he presented Betty and Pat with a small box with the name Ludiomil. “Es como Prozac” said the doctor seriously and, after the briefest of interrogations regarding Pat’s health, handed Pat the box in a small plastic bag. Pat fished out her pesos and Betty helped sort out the colorful bills until they had the right amount. They paid and headed for the door, Betty shouting “Gracias doctor!” and Pat smiling sheepishly as they stepped out into the sunshine of Calle 57.

It seemed so long ago already. Pat shook her head and took her cup of Lemon Lift tea to the kitchen table, where her laptop was waiting obediently and clicked open her Facebook page. “15 new messages!” was the excited announcement at the top of the screen. She sat down and began to read.


Will Pat get around to updating her Profile Pic? Will she set a date for her sit-down with Seidy? Will she spill lemon tea on her laptop? Stay tuned for another installment of Ti’ho Tales coming as soon as inspiration strikes again!

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