“Um, Mr. Sterling, where are we?”
The generic 1970s low-rise office building masked the terrible secret contained within. Roger Sterling, Sr. centered her face in his rearview mirror and glared under furrowed brows. Her hungover and concerned teenage eyes radiated an innocence he knew all too well that she lacked, and in a way, he mused, she was not unlike the structure his Porsche now found itself in front of.
The Hope Clinic For Women, the equally inconspicuous sign silently answered, and Senior shifted his gaze toward its fluorescent, off-white glow. His phone beeped, and he reached down toward his belt clip to check it, only to find a “How is everything going?” text from his wife. Senior’s mind, however, was on other women, women who came before the mother of his children, women who he had driven to this very spot when he had less miles on him and his cars had more.
“This,” Senior solemnly announced, “is Plan B.”
“You know you could have just bought Plan B at Walgreens or CVS or wherever,” Jack, his beleaguered son’s big, said from the passenger seat. “We really didn’t have to drive the whole way out here.”
“You can what?” Senior asked, his daydream cut short. He stared at the young man in mild confusion. Sterling’s son’s jezebel followed the conversation and leaned forward to get a better look at the building from the back seat.
“Oh my God,” she gasped. “Is this an abortion clinic?”
“You’re not Catholic, are you?” Senior asked. The girl’s face flushed red with embarrassment. Sterling wondered to himself why she would think being Catholic was that big of a deal.
“What?” Jack continued, shooting a confused look toward Hope Clinic. “Plan B. You just walk up to the counter at a drug store and buy it. It’s a pill.”
“Get the fuck out of here,” Sterling deadpanned, floored by this revelation. Surely the boy was mistaken.
“No, seriously,” Jack explained, attempting to stifle a laugh. “It’s like fifty bucks.”
Senior’s mind raced. “Fifty bucks?” he thought, a Grinch-like smile spreading across his face. Fifty bucks at a drug store was an easy enough charge to hide from his wife. Certainly she would expect him to make at least one trip there during a boozed-filled college weekend with his son. Quickly backing the Porsche into reverse, Senior flew down the road with a smile on his face, whistling along to the radio. The storm had broken, and he could see the light again.
Jack stared at his little’s father from the passenger seat in a state of amused disbelief. Alumni, after all, rarely failed to disappoint. Junior’s hookup from the night before remained paralyzed by embarrassment in the tiny back seat. It had taken plenty of convincing to get her from the stall, through the hordes of hungover, laughing fraternity guys, and into the car in the first place, but she had known it was necessary. Now, she wondered to herself if a teenage pregnancy would have been less embarrassing.
Arriving at Rite Aid, Senior bounded from his car seat with an almost child-like level of excitement. Gone was the foreboding office park, for they had returned to the world of dependable chain stores, logos, blacktops, and assorted shrubbery. He tilted his seat forward for the girl to get out of the car, and she did so willingly enough, but quickly took pause when she realized that not only was Jack also getting out, but Roger Sterling, Sr. himself was not getting back in, either.
“I…uh, I can handle this one myself,” she muttered, gently pleading with them while shielding the sun from her hungover eyes.
“Nonsense,” Sterling replied, his smile genuine. “We’re here to support you the whole way. Plus, I think I’ll get a Gatorade and some snacks for Junior–I mean, Roger.” Senior kicked himself mentally, hoping he didn’t accidentally embarrass his son.
Without saying another word, she turned and walked through the front door. Jack and Senior quickly followed. Senior turned right for the pharmacy, but both Jack and the girl knew it was merely hanging from a hook in an aisle.
“We’re looking for Plan B,” Senior triumphantly announced, dinging the bell on the counter for the pharmacist’s attention as he looked for the miracle drug. Mere feet behind him, the girl stopped dead in her tracks. The box containing the morning after pill fell from her now-frozen fingers, hitting the floor, as her eyes widened. Senior turned to look, wondering if he had accidentally embarrassed her again, but where he expected more blushing, he only found fear. His eyes looked to Jack for guidance, but Senior’s generational guide now seemed as confused as he was.
“Sarah?” a man’s voice behind Sterling asked. A single tear came to the girl’s eyes as they continued to widen.
“D-dad?” she stammered, as she followed her father’s gaze to the floor. The decorated cardboard box sat unclaimed. On its cover, it proclaimed that the pill only required “one step,” but now, they had gone one step too far..