Author’s note: Bob and Tayo made some valuable points during their discussion with Doris, as does Juliet when she visits her friend, but we heard the same advice when Anna and Doris chatted at the hospital canteen after the latter’s TRI victory, and the story needed to evolve at this stage.
“You’d think I committed murder, the way everyone talks about me,” I groaned, playfully bouncing my nephew on my knee, his parents watching while lending an ear to yet another woe.
“Uh-oh, why do you listen to these people, Dee?” Juliet wondered, sipping her Don Simon fruit punch. “What do they know?”
“It’s not that easy, Jules. A few days ago, I overheard Dr. Ijere call me a sellout who only cares for the easy money, which is why no-one sees me at Future Hope these days. Has he forgotten I now work part-time? He called me a disgrace to our profession because I’m using my title to chase TV fame instead of saving lives. I’m not one to start fights, but I was mad; in fact, I caused a scene, and the MD wasn’t happy. It’s not just Dr. Ijere either; you know Toyin Ossai-Okoro, the lady who writes the column “Mascara” for The Vanguard? Apart from accusing me of stealing the limelight at the TRIs with my ‘boob job’—it’s not funny, Freddie!—she also criticised her fellow media pals for over-saturating their airtime and newsprint with news of ‘Doris, Doris, Doris’, and described me as a fame-hungry brat. Can you imagine? Now I know how Chidiebere felt when we spoke on the phone last Christmas…”
“Dr. Chidiebere? What do you mean?” asked Fred.
“He was thinking of quitting The Doctors at the end of the previous season because he was tired of those crazy fans chasing after him, but he also said no-one took him seriously anymore. I told him to hang in there because the show is nothing without him, and I really mean that. The guy really helped me when I was a clueless beginner on the show, kindly introducing me to everyone, showing me where everything was… He’s one amazing dude—a good doctor, and a good father—yet all everyone thinks about is that face and those guns. Okay, so maybe he doesn’t receive my sort of criticism, but I fear people won’t take me seriously because of that Ossai-Okoro woman, and others like her. I did tell Chidiebere to take the rough with the smooth and stick to his guns though, no pun intended.”
“And why aren’t you taking your own advice?” asked Juliet. “Don’t listen to those jobless people, they’re just jealous because you made more money in one day than they probably will in their lifetime. Who cares about them? Do your thing, honey, don’t let them… Hang on, what’s this?” Juliet’s text alert vibrated in her pocket, and I disappeared into the kitchen for some more beef from the stew pot. When I returned, she waved her gadget in the air in horror…