The only way around the awkwardness was to treat Ava like a business partner. I saw the way she looked at me, but the lines around our 40 year old eyes meant something. That something wasn't reanimating a 15 year old relationship.
"What do you know about Anson Cluber?" I asked.
A streak of grey invaded her blonde hair when she ran her pale, manicured left hand over her bangs and sighed uncomfortably.
"I only know him by reputation. He's a rock star in the cardiac medicine field. Anson Cluber pretty much invented heart nanosurgery, you know, robotics. Supposedly he created robotic heart surgery techniques with this weird Doctor named Connor Bulas. The rumor is Bulas makes bio-engineered food crops in Montana or South Dakota or somewhere else. Dr. Cluber has had an amazing career as a surgeon. When I was in medical school I was selected watch him perform surgery at Georgetown Medical Center, near Washington D.C. It was incredible. Remember when we saw The Rolling Stones in '94? I saw a cool concert by a cool band. You were in church, having a religious experience. It was like that with Dr. Cluber that day. He made a double bypass look like Keith Richards playing Sympathy For The Devil."
I had to give Ava credit, her analogy was perfect. Hearing her compliment Cluber made Sympathy For The Devil play in my head.
"How do you have his office number, Ava?"
She fidgeted in her round swivel chair, almost breaking the black seat as she reached for her chart and tried to think of an answer.
"Well, I know a doctor that interns at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. He idolizes Dr. Cluber. I guess you could say we both idolize him. When my friend got a job at that hospital I made him give me the number in case something ever came up there. Then I got married a few years ago and some opportunities became unattainable.
From the disappointment in her voice, I realized Ava was still the same person she was when we dated. She was always looking for an advantage with people and situations. I decided to go ahead and let her into my problem.
"Help me, Ava. Be my doctor. We can figure out a way to get Cluber to fix my heart. Ava, I need for you to meet my, friend. I think she may be my sister. Her name is Breann Lucos. She has the same condition I do. In fact, Cluber or Bulas or both, delivered us as babies, two days apart. I think they gave us these robot parts. If I get her to come down from New York, will you treat her too?"
Ava clenched her face. Lines of stress filled her jaws and I could see her move her shoulders away from me for the first time since I had been in her office. She was as insufferably selfish as she was in her mid twenties.
"Caleb, we need to focus on you. We can get a consult for your friend. The more eyes on this the better, right? New York? Good God, Caleb, there are amazing doctors there."
The irony of Ava helping people by being a physician wasn't lost on me. She was all about Ava all the time.
"No, I think we have to keep this a tight circle. We don't know if Cluber and Bulas are keen on helping us. They could have done these opreations without my parents' consent. I mean, I had a heart attack eleven years ago, struggled with social anxiety disorder, and blinding headaches, yet, until 4 days ago, I had never heard their names. Now, I'm told I'm dying? I think you should engage Cluber but not use my name. Let him figure out who I am, and see what he does."
Ava, dropped her defensive stance and looked into my eyes.
"Caleb, of course I'll help you. There's a lot of water under our bridge. I know that sounds cliche. Finding out you almost died while hanging with former friends of ours at a Braves basbeall game hurt. We're exes, not enemies. I missed you. I worried about you. I'll meet your New York girl. But, if I'm going to be your doctor and your friend, I have to do it my way. You owe me that for how things ended with us."
I owed her nothing. The last thing I remember about our relationship her drunkenly kissing some medical school wannabe in her class at a bar in front of all of our friends and throwing a beer mug at me when I broke up with her.
As I buttoned my shirt, Ava put her left hand on my right arm. I looked down at my wedding ring, swallowed hard and said,
"I'll put Breann Lucos in touch with you today. Please help her. I have to make some phone calls. I'll get back with you in a day or two. Let me know what Cluber's office has to say."
She smiled broadly at me as I walked out of the room, I returned it with a smirk. I felt pain shoot through my chest. I knew getting involed with Ava and possibly Anson Cluber, was wrong. I had to dance with the devil if I was going to live.
This is another offering of the story I am writing. The other episodes are here:
2) personality crisis
3) serendipity 6
4) Hot Dog Harbinger
5) Goodbye Stranger
6) House of Irony
8) Dead Man's Party
9) Hope Springs A Turtle
13) The Girlfriend Experience
Today's song is pretty obvious. Mick and Keef got a lot right over their 40 plus years together. Sympathy For The Devil is one of their best.