Betty Wallendorf and Jim Olden, CEO
When I visited Indie Thursday he wanted me to bring my mandolin. I pulled it out of the case.
“Whatcha wanta hear Indie?”
“Ah Bibey, you know the Cherokee Shuffle is my favorite. Lord I wish I could still fiddle worth a damn.”
“The ‘Cherokee Shuffle’ it is, Indie. Only the best for you,” I said.
“You know what, Bibey? That Marfar of yours is a good’un. No wonder you was able to walk the straight and narrow. A woman that pretty who can cook like that and play the bass too? God Almighty.”
“Yep, I married good Indie. You did too, brother. Ms. Jenkins was a sweetheart.”
“She sure was Bibey. I hate it about that one time.”
“You mean the little French foreign exchange student?” I asked.
“I’m sure Ms. Jenkins forgave you Indie. Anyone could see how that could happen. Dang if that girl didn’t know how to wear a sweater.”
“Yeah boy. She had better curves than a slope shouldered guitar.”
“You boys still picking?” Indie asked.
“Yep, we’ve got a new record coming out. Remember when we were here for Nursing Hone week? Someone recorded it, and it came out pretty good. We’re gonna call it Live at the Convalescent Center.”
“Damn, that’s good Bibey. I like that.” Indie smiled. ‘Live at the Convalescent Center.’ Can I write the liner notes?”
“Sure Indie. I played the ‘Shuffle’ through a few times.
“So, Bibey, you wanta hear about the first time Olden and Betty tried to get me?”
Yeah, Indie go ahead.” I noodled through a few more lines, and then put the mandolin back in the case.
It didn’t get far, Bibey. Betty had me hauled into Olden’s office right after Blink’s first stroke. Hell, she said I’d told Blink it was just a spell, and he could wait and come to the office Monday. Can you believe her crap? I didn’t hear a thing about it until it was over.” I knew it was gonna be trouble. Betty’s car was in the parking lot right next to that little piss-ant hospital attorney, Jackson Leggett.”
“So, how’d ‘ya dodge it?”
“I knew I needed an ally, and I ran into little Molly Tenbrooks on 3-West. I offered her and her fellow my motorcycle for the weekend.”
“You talking about the ‘47 Chief?”
“Yep. Genuine ‘47 Indian Motor Sports Bike. Former Nevada Highway Patrol moto-cycle cop ride. Well, Molly got real quiet. She knew I was in trouble.”
“I guess so. You never loan out your bike.” Other than his fiddle, it was Indie’s only serious material possession.
“Anyway, I told Miss Molly she better find Blink for me in a hurry. I left the keys in her mailbox.”
“So how did it play out?”
“Olden and Leggett were giving me down the county, and the damn fools tried to get me to sign some kinda under the table settlement. Can you believe it? Well about then Blink showed up and the game was over before it started. Blinky was pissed. I thought he’d clear the decks. He told ‘em as long as Blinky Wallendorf was alive warn’t no one gonna sue Indian Jenkins.” Indie laughed at the memory.
“I guess that was that.”
“I got in a few more shots. That crazy Olden told me he had a responsibility to the Board to uphold ethical standards for the institution.”
“Good Lord, Indie. What didja say?”
“I told that sumbitch if didn’t leave me alone I’d tell the Board about the twelve grand he spend on horse sperm for that loser nag of his. The money came right outta of the hospital budget, you know. And if that didn’t convince ‘em I’d tell what he was up to with that little Russian intern girl. Hypocrite.”
“Boy, Indie, you know everything. I sure wouldn’t want to get in a fight with you.”
“Yeah, and on the way out the door I told Betty Wallendorf if she bothered me again I was gonna tell Blinky and the rest of the world all about her. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about telling Blinky, but I knew they were only married on paper. He had told me he was resigned to it, and gonna see it through to the end, so I didn’t see any point in making it worse for him. You reckon I done right by him?”
”Sure, Indie. You always did right by Blink. He was in a bad spot. You handled it the best you could.” Poor Indie, still worried about Blinky’s reputation all these years later.
“So what did Betty say when you said you were gonna tell?” I asked.
“Only time I’ve ever seen her at a loss for words. Blinky left, and before I split I told her for the life of me I didn’t know why someone as powerful as Jim Olden would be sleeping with anyone as old and ugly as her.”
“Indie. You didn’t!”
“Yep. Wanted to say it ever since that night at the Country Club. I didn’t know about her then, but if I’d said it then it wouldn’t a come across so good anyway. It was all I could go just to get outta there that night. She’s mean, but Lord have mercy she did exude sex appeal in those days. But by the time of that meeting it was years down the road, and she hadn’t held up so good. By then it was the whole truth and nothing but.”
God bless ole Indie. One thing you can count on outta him is the truth. I thought for a minute. “Tell you what Indie, if you run into Betty Wallendorf, tell her I think she’s old and ugly too.”
“Will do, Bibey. Will do.” He laughed.
I knew he wouldn’t- it might get me in trouble.
I got my mandolin back out of the case. How ‘bout that ‘Lost Indian,’ Doc?”
“Awh shut up, Bibey.”
Indie drifted off to sleep. I closed up Barney’s skull, then packed up my gear and went home. Betty hated Indie, but it seemed to me Indie should be the one to hold a grudge. If he did, it never showed. Awh, he’d talk a bunch of mess, but there warn’t a mean bone in the man. Even after all Betty Wallendorf put him through over the years, I never heard him wish her any ill will.
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