Indian Summer/A Visit From Tag
I was at the office and Indie called me from the Nursing Home. “Hey, Bibey. You ain’t gonna believe who came to visit me today.”
“Who was that, Indie?”
“Little Orphan Annie.” Indie had a nickname for everyone, at least the folks he liked.
“Tag? What’s Tag doing in town?” I asked.
“I reckon some poor bloke’s in trouble. It ain’t you is it?”
“Not me, thank the Lord. I don’t think there is even a case on deck in the County right now.” Lucille Taggert, or Tag as I called her, was the rep for Physician’s Liability, the malpractice insurance carrier for about 80% of the docs in the State. She was a big mover and shaker in that industry. When Tag came to visit, it was most often a sign of a doc in trouble.
“Well, Indie, at least I know you ain’t in any trouble, unless you’re breaking curfew at the Home,” I said.
“Shut up, Bibey. Nah, man. I think she just came to pay a visit to an old warrior.”
“Probably so, Indie.” It was likely- I had e-mailed and told her I doubted Indie’d see his way through another winter.
I’ll never forget when Indie first met Tag. It was in the Blinky Wallendorf case I’m gonna show you about in my book. (I have Indie’s full permission.) No doubt, Indie was in a world of trouble. Betty Wallendorf was some kinda mad and hell-bent on revenge. When Indie’s insurance company sent in the cavalry, and it was Tag and Mac, I thought he was gonna balk.
“Bibey,” Indie whispered into the phone. “They’ve done sent me two little ole college girls. They ain’t gonna understand me at all.”
“C’mon, Indie. Give ’em a chance. I’ve seen ’em work several cases. Trust me, they are reliable gumshoes. They’ll do everything they can to help you.”
“Well they better, I’m in trouble.”
“I know Indie, just calm down. Didja see the article in Newsweek on whether or not women should be allowed in combat?”
“Well, some wag wrote in and said he’d survived three divorces in California and he thought women were well suited to combat. They’s them kinda women. Tough as old sea salts.”
You wouldn’t know it to look at ’em,” Indie grumbled.
I guess I could understand Indie’s concerns. After all, Tag looked like a little red-haired school girl. Indie said she coulda been Little Orphan Annie is the school play, and that’s where he came up with the nickname. I called her Tag cause she was there every time you turned around, like a tag-along.
And her sidekick Mac looked like she had escaped out of a sorority house from Meredith College. Dark haired, young, quiet, she was almost shy. It was hard to imagine how she she could be aggressive enough- until you got her in a courtroom, then it was dang ‘Beauty and the Beast’ I tell ya. Indie had nothing to fear, but on that day, his first encounter, it took some reassurance.
Those days were long gone though, and now they were old pals. “So, what did she have to say?”
“Oh, she wanted to talk about the old days. You know what Bibey? She said I was a better Doctor than what people knew, that I just good at hiding it from folks at times.”
“Well, you were, Indie. You were real good. You’re the only Doc I know who memorized all his patient’s home phone numbers. They loved you. You were good to ’em.”
“You don’t think she said it to make an old man feel better, do you?”
“Come on, Indie. Tag was never one for false praise.”
“I guess you are right Bibey. Hey, she clued me in on next year’s thoroughbreds. Said to put my money on Bob-Tail Bobbie.”
“How does she know that?”
“She’s been into horses as long as we’ve played music. Knows a fellow in Goldsboro who breeds ’em. He says this is the best one he’s ever had- a direct descendant of Seattle Slew.”
“Slew always was your favorite, Indie. Just don’t get carried away with the bets.” I worried over Indie’s addictive personality.
“Hell, you think I’m gonna save it and will it all to you, Bibey? I’m living large over here at the nursing home. I’ll be dead before Christmas anyway.”
“Hey, little ole Annie even picked Barney’s brain. (Barney was the skeleton Indie brought from his office- he kept Jim Beam stashed in the cranium.) Smoked a cigar with me, too. We placed some bets on the ponies, and then she left for Raleigh.
“Dang, Indie, that’s not proper. Tag’s young enough to be your daughter.” (Picture a freckled Rene Zellweger sipping Jim Beam out of a paper cup with Indie at the Nursing Home and you have the image.) “Besides, I wouldn’t bet against Tag on anything.”
“Don’t matter, Bibey. If I’ve miscalculated, I ain’t gonna have to pay up. I’m gonna be outta here by Christmas, and I didn’t tell her that.” Indie laughed.
“GG, Indie. Hey, what was that filly’s name again? I’m gonna watch for her in the Derby.”
“Bob-Tail Bobbie. You do that Bibey, just don’t tell anyone, and if I ain’t here, collect my bets for me. If I lose, you didn’t know nothing about it.”
“Sure enough Indie; keep the faith. I’ll be by to visit this weekend. The boys are wanting to come over and pick some music. I thought we might throw a few burgers on the grill and……”