Snookers Molesby was instrumental in the Mandolin Case. I’m sure if you went over to the Nursing Home and asked Indie to name the three people that meant the most to him in the ordeal, Snook would be one of ’em.
I first met Snook in Junior High. We were in P.E. together, and he was the only guy in the class who could hit a softball into the pasture across the street. When we were in the ninth grade he smoked cigars and went out with older girls who wore short skirts. Snookers would ride off every day with some high school girl who drove a convertible. We waited on our moms to carpool us home and wondered just how he got away with all that. Our moms hated Snook. His folks were split, and his Dad drank a lot and didn’t care where he was.
I am proud to say I got Snookers started in golf. My dad bought me a set of clubs, and Snook and I would go to the Park and play out of the same bag. We could play all day for fifty cents. It was only a nine hole layout but Snook and I would hoof around as many as 54 holes in a day. He was shooting in the 70’s within a year, and became our star player in High School.
They had a bowling alley at the Park back then, and Snook taught me how to bowl and shoot pool. But when the sharks came around and wanted to gamble, Snook said I was off limits.
“Come on Snook, I’m good enough to play,” I’d complain.
“Yeah Bibey, but you don’t need to get mixed up with them boys. You’ve got a brain in your head, and your Daddy will send you to school.” Snook was protective like that.
I tried to help Snook, too. He got in a fight with his girl friend the night before the State Golf Championship, got drunk, and wound up in jail overnight. Coach gave me the money, made a few calls, and sent me to bail him out. Even in those days, folks seemed to think Tommy Bibey was a respectable kid. I guess they figured I could make his case as good as anyone.
Anyway, I told the Sheriff we had to have Snook to win. “Sir, you know I’m telling the truth. We need Snook. Look at it this way. If you let him out to play it’s gonna bump me off the roster, so you know I’m in it for the team. Besides that, Snook’s gonna remember this tournament for the rest of his life. You gotta let him play. He’s a better golfer hung over than I am sober.”
I think they were gonna let him out anyway. Snook shot 68 and won his second state Championship. It was the only time I ever got mad at him. “Dang it Snook,” I said. “Most guys would kill to have as much game as you. I can’t stand to see you throw it away.” Snook didn’t quit, but I never saw him drink too much again. Maybe he did, but he wouldn’t let me know of it.
Another time he almost flunked History. He had to make an ‘A’ on the final to get a ‘C’ in the course. I crammed every fact in his brain I could that last night. The next day, the test was all true/false type questions. Mr. Biggers had copied it out of a work book, and every false question had the erroneous part underlined. I didn’t take but one look, and went up front to see Mr. Biggers.
“Mr. Biggers, I hate to tell you, but all the false parts are underlined. The ones that are true ain’t marked. This is gonna be an easy test.”
Mr Biggers studied the paper a moment and wrinkled his brow. “Son,” he said. “Just don’t tell anyone.”
I didn’t tell, but Snook and I were the only kids in the class to make 100 on the test. Snook was upset. “If I’d known he was gonna do that, I wouldn’t a wasted all that time studying, Bibey.”
After high school, I went off to school. Snook went to Florida and played the J.C Goosie Space Coast Tour. He was a PGA rabbit and qualified for a few events in the big show, but without any financial backers couldn’t make a go of it and had to come home.
He went to work in maintenance at Harley Memorial. Snook ruled the Hospital. He had a weekly card game in Central Supply, where he fleeced CEO Jim Olden’s nephew Jerry on a regular basis. That’s where he first met Indie.
Jerry never told Olden about the Central Supply poker game. He was afraid he’d get fired. Plus Snooker’s people said they’d go to the Board and tell the trustees how Jerry and Olden skimmed supplies. They said they went to charity but we all knew they sold some of ’em and the rest wound up at Dr. Blake’s office. Blake was the only doctor in town whose exam sheets were stamped ‘Harley Memorial.’
After I came back home, me and Snook were closer than ever. As we got older, he saw me and Indie about like brother and father figures. He had almost no opportunity for higher education, but began to study my old college texts. I guess Snook was the only maintenance guy I knew who read Thoreau. He was a bright guy, and almost memorized ‘Walden Pond.’
It took a long time for Snook to settle down, but he married Amy when he was thirty, and was faithful to her. One day Amy came to see me at the office. I remember it well cause I had a med student with me, and I told him I was sure she was very ill. He asked me how I knew and I said, “She says she’s tired. Amy ain’t never been tired a day in her life. She’s the only woman in Harley County who can keep up with Snookers Molesby. Plus she’s pale.”
“What do you think she has?” he asked.
“I hope she’s about to bleed to death from an ulcer ’cause I can fix that. Unless we’re lucky, this is gonna be bad.” We drew a stat blood count. She had acute leukemia. I sent her to my favorite oncologist at Sandhills, but she was dead in eight months. Snookers never went out with a woman again. He said he was too old, but we all knew there could never be another Amy for him.
After Amy was gone we about adopted Snook, and he’d come over to the house for Thanksgiving when he wasn’t off playing golf.
Snook and I both rated ‘Andy’ as our favorite T.V. show, and he liked the movies ‘Cool Hand Luke” and the ‘Sting.’ His favorite restaurant was Harley Billiard and Bowl, and we played golf together at River Run. Snook not only knew the rule book, he played by it. Once a year Olden would invite him to the Country Club to play the one day Member/Guest, and Snookers would clean house for the boss. It was the only day of the year Olden paid any attention to Snookers, though.
In addition to his weekly card game at the Hospital Snookers kept an eye on other activities. He flew under the radar with ease. Olden had no idea that a man with a broom could understand all those big words, so Snook was the ultimate plant in the Mandolin Case. I can’t wait to show you how he did it.
Olden shoulda known, but then a middle aged man who tries to date girls half his age would never understand a guy like Snook. I bet in Junior high those girls who drove those convertible cars didn’t pick Olden up after school either.
I knew who those girls were, but Snook made sure I didn’t go out with them. “Them’s not the kind of girls you need to bring home to mama Bibey,” he’d say.
I figured Snookers wouldn’t steer me wrong. I played a lot of golf with him, and never saw him cheat once. I bet back in Junior High Snook wouldn’t have helped a fellow like Jim Olden find his way in the world. Snook would say a man like that deserves whatever happens to him, and it ain’t nobody’s fault but his own.
But Indie- Snookers wanted to help him any way he could, and he did so in the Mandolin Case. We felt the same way about Snook. When he was out of insurance a while me and Indie were the only Docs who would see him and cut him a break on his bill.
You could trust Snookers. Shoot, I’d let him drive my daughter all the way to California, but I wouldn’t let Jim Olden take her across town. As far as women, Snook had been there and done that before any of the rest of us knew what that was. Olden, though, was like a testosterone poisoned little boy who couldn’t think straight half the time. When you know folks as long as I knew Snook, you know who you can trust and why.
Olden was a relative newcomer in town, but Snook swiped his old year book and tracked down his people. He took a couple of Olden’s old girlfriends to lunch, but it was for surveillance reasons only. It turns out our intuition as to Olden was on the money. Even all these years later they remembered him as a geek, and they weren’t surprised he wore Speedos in middle age. You can’t fool anyone you went to Junior High School with.