Martin Taylor/East Virginia Blues

        Martin Taylor.  Now, that is a name what strikes fear in a doctor’s heart.  And it is with good reason too.  

        Some of the lawyers are pretty easy to whup.  The ones just in the business for a crap shoot often see a case as winning lottery ticket and swing for the fences only to strike out.  Not so for Martin.  Like an ace golf hustler, when he steps on the first tee he’s done his calculations, knows the odds, and has figured within a narrow margin of error how the thing is gonna come down.  And, he ain’t gonna take a case just for the fun of it and know he’s gonna lose before he gets started. 

        Mr. Taylor is the senior partner in his firm, Taylor, Taylor, Graham and Haley out of Norfolk Virginia.  I often wondered how he wound up in Norfolk, but I found out it was ’cause his daddy was deceased, his mama still lived there, and he wanted to look after her.  I figured a big plaintiff attorney would live in Chicago or New York, but they say he loved the coast and deep sea fishing, and needed to stay close to check on his mom.  Besides, Martin had cases all over the country.  His pilot carted him around in a private Lear jet, so I guess home base was sorta immaterial. 

        I once heard of a Texan who flew all over the world for his company.  One time he stepped off the plane, and realized he’d taken the wrong flight when he landed in the wrong country.  He was undeterred.  It didn’t matter- he had business everywhere.  Martin was a bit like that.  He had cases in Vegas and LA, but also in little towns like ours.  

        Early on in the case, I had Moose send him a memo to warn him the landing strip at Harnett “International” was too short to put that Lear down here.  Taylor send back a note:  Thanks for the warning but NTW, (bluegrass for not to worry) he’d drive on down.  The message was of considerable concern in Indie’s camp- where did Taylor pick up on the bluegrass terminology?  We figured we had a leak somewhere, but where was it? 

        About the time Indie got his certified letter, some strange men showed up at Johnny’s Jewelry and Loan, our local music store and bluegrass habitual Harnett county hangout.  I wasn’t there, but Johnny called me right after they left.

        “Doc, is Indie in some kinda trouble?”

        “I dunno, how come do you ask?”

        “Some strangers showed up today and said they wanted to know what kinda Doc Indie was.  Said they was wanting to pick some bluegrass music.  I didn’t believe ’em.”

        “How come?”

         “Well, for one thing they wondered if Indie was a good fiddle man.  Everyone knows the answer to that.  And too, they was driving a Mercedes car.” 

       Hm. Unlikely they were pickers, sure enough.  “Didja catch the plates?”

        “Yep, Virginia.  The tag on the front was Norfolk.” 

        Uh oh.  Martin Taylor scouts sure as the world.  “So, what happened?”

        “We talked a while, and finally I had to ask ’em.  I said, “Where are you boys from and who do y’all work for?”  They said they’s just bluegrass guys in town for the week.  Cookie was there.”

        Oh Lordy.  “What did Cookie say?”  I was concerned.

        “Well Cookie said he didn’t know who they was or about what wuz their business, but if they wuz here to cause Indie trouble he’s gonna kick their a^^.”

       I groaned.  “GG, Johnny.  Why the heck didn’t you stop him?  You can’t talk to these kinda cats that way.”

       “You know who they was Doc?  We figured they’s Mafia types.”

        “I don’t know, Johnny, but ya’ll be careful what you say.  I know Indie appreciates the support, but in our line of work you can’t go around talking like that.”

        “Well that’s what Indie woulda said.”

         “I know, Johnny.  I know.”  Indie friends were loyal but they were the wrong kind of folks for this sort of battle.

        Back in those days, I was a consultant for the malpractice insurance carrier, Physician’s Liability, so it is natural that me and Mr. Taylor woulda crossed paths on occasion.  We were on opposite sides of the aisle, so direct contact was forbidden, but I have often wondered if our team decoded the intercepted chatter with any degree of accuracy.  

        I know some of it was on the money.  One time we played the eastern Virginia Folk Music Society festival.  I remember it well ’cause we played the slot right before “The New Dixie Pharaohs.”  We were on stage, and lo and behold I spotted Martin Taylor in the crowd.  He was incognito in a wild Hawaiian shirt and straw hat, but I am sure it was him. 

        We opened with the East Virgina Blues and I dedicated the song to my Mafia friends in the audience.  No one but the Moose knew what the heck I was talking about, and we changed the words to the tune.

        It goes:  “I’ll go back to East Virgina, North Carolina ain’t my home

                       “I’ll go back to East Virgina, leave them North Carolinians alone.

        We changed it to:

                      “You go back to East Virginia, North Carolina ain’t your home.

                      “You go back to East Virgina, leave us North Carolinians alone.”

        Of course we played it so fast no one noticed the difference, but I am sure Martin Taylor did.  He turned to the guy next to him, some dude in a dark suit and sunglasses, and the two of them began to laugh. I’m sure we didn’t scare them one bit. 

        I was gonna go out in the crowd after our set and to check and see for sure it was him, but before we finished our last song, he and the guy in the dark suit split.  I hung around to take in the Pharaoh’s set- they rocked.

        Someday I’m gonna look up Martin Taylor and see what all he thought about it all.  For now we we could only communicate in code.  I needed my insurance, and any mingling with the enemy was off limits.  I’m certain Martin couldn’t afford to be caught hanging out with the likes of me, either.

        One thing is a fact though- Martin Taylor is one more tough character.  Indie was outmatched on this one.

         I don’t want you to worry, so I’m gonna go ahead and let you know Sissy is O.K.  That is the most important thing.  Next time we’ll see how her case played out, and what happened to Indie.

Dr. B

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6 Comments on “Martin Taylor/East Virginia Blues”

  1. mrschili Says:

    Doc, I’m going to talk as an English teacher first, ok?

    You have a wonderful knack for storytelling. I can hear the voices that you write, I can see the scenes and imagine just the kinds of people who are players in your tale. You mix styles with grace and confidence – ”and finally I had to ask ‘em. I said,” stands up beautifully next to “I have often wondered if our team decoded the intercepted chatter with any degree of accuracy” without feeling forced or artificial in the least. Your use of details is spare and effective, and you manage to say a lot more than what’s represented on the page – your choice of words coveys meaning far beyond the surface. Even though you didn’t ask me, I’m telling you that you have a genuine talent, and I’m so very glad that you’re using it.

    Okay, now I’m switching into reader-mode to tell you that I’m SO enjoying this story! I often wonder what characters are like beyond the roles they play (the idea of the mafioso who’s desperately in love with his wife and daughter, for example, or the seemingly mean-hearted lawyer who is a softy at home), and I’d be really interested to find out what a conversation between you and Martin Taylor would sound like….

    Keep writing!

  2. drtombibey Says:


    You are so kind. My agent seems to think I have some sorta talent, but he ain’t ever run across anyone like me and don’t know what to make of it.

    I know this- I sure am having a good time and making a lot of new friends.

    Oh, and as far as Martin Taylor you are a most perceptive woman. (women often are that way) There is much more to come (mostly in the book) on him.

    Dr. B

  3. Parson Bob Says:

    Ah, what a great model Brother Martin is for us aspiring legal beagles. Perhaps he has a web site I can bookmark. In the meantime, I’m off to get an Hawaiian shirt for the bluegrass festival this weekend.

    Oh, and I’ll get to shake and howdy with the honeymooners, too. I’m told that at their wedding it was pretty much even money on whether they’d make it, but so far, so good.

  4. drtombibey Says:

    Parson Bob,

    Brother Martin is a pro for sure. Study hard young man, he’ll be a tough one to catch.

    They say if you get thru the first year, most of ’em make it. My money is on the kids, too.

    Dr. B

  5. pticester Says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m sure you’ve got a million funny stories from your profession. I’m off to check out your blog now.

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Lord knows I have a life time of material. Thanks for checking in and come back- I always enjoy input from new visitors.

    Dr. B

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