Archive for the ‘Acquisition Syndrome’ category

Acquisition Syndrome: The Great Charles Thombley

June 16, 2011

        Charles Yhombley is a negotiator and the best one there is. He is from Atlanta. His people go back to before the Civil War there. They made their fortune in real estate futures right after Sherman came  through, and never looked back. Mr Thombley’s hobby is the financial revitalization and re-organization of small churches in need.

         Most of Mr. Thombley’s work is highly confidential. By his request and by necesssity to continue his mission, it was imperative the truth of his work be shown in fiction and not told in fact. This will be done in “Acquisition Syndrome.”

        I am making progress, and my condition at the moment renders me on summer vacation until August. Don’t worry; I limit my work to two hours per day and devote the rest of the day to healing; however, writing is also part of my therapy.

        Mr. Thombley ony had one ultimatum in our physician bluegrass fiction writer contract. He would only allow me to fictionalize his part of the story if I, Tommy Bibey, promised he would have a full head of hair in the novel. So in “Acquisition Syndrome” if you see a man who has code name of Del and has a hair like Del McCoury, you will know it is Mr. Thombley.

        One of my goals with my effort to write was to bring new people to our music. The Great Mr. Thombley is a sophisticated, highly intelligent, savvy Altlanta businessman. I have all respect for him. After he got to know me he became a fan and he is now true bluegrass. I guess I’m doing something right, huh?

Dr. B

Simmons Ruppert

February 6, 2011

        Simmons Ruppert of Bluegrass Motors is Raleigh’s finest new and pre-owned automotive dealer. He plays mandolin and some banjo. His head is usually shaved so his perpetual straw hat won’t blow off. (Below is a rare image sans hat drawn from memory) Simmons can see out of his right eye but wears a patch as a distraction in order to better discern a man’s integrity. He prefers bow ties or string ties, but will wear a necktie to church because both his wife and his mama think he should do so on Sundays.

        Most of his people descended from Outer Banks Ocracoke Spanish horse traders. Some of them migrated to Missouri and then later returned to North Carolina and settled down in the Raleigh area. He still has some family and bluegrass connections in Missouri.

        Simmons is world-class expert on International Harvester Scouts. His great-Uncle Bentley hobnobbed with Cyrus McCormick. They belonged to the Huron Mountain Club and had a cabin on Lake Superior. Simmons spent many summers there as a kid. 

        Rumor has it Simmons was involved in the acquisition of the famous Harvester Scout that belonged to a Mr. Piercy, who was Earl Scruggs’ agriculture teacher in high school. They raised a lot of money for the local FFA with that vehicle.

        Simmons is an important bluegrass confidant in central N.C. He’s an honest car dealer. He’ll tell you right up front he wants to make enough money on the deal to stay in business, but not enough to retire off you. He says, “Think of me like a sheep. It’s okay to shear me; just don’t skin me.”

        Simmons had important background information in “Acquisition Syndrome.” He had some dirt on Riley Harper, too. You can always trust the true bluegrass people.

        Bones followed his advice.

Dr. B

Brownie Scott

January 30, 2011

        Brownie Scott might look like a kid, but make no mistake, the child is an expert on the subject of five string banjos. She not only plays as well as any man alive, but her knowledge of prewar Mastertone banjos rivals Jim Mills. I know this is true because I have consulted sources that range from a PhD in education, an aeronautics engineer, and a world-renowned honest five string banjo lawyer. They all confirm the bluegrass truth; Brownie Scott knows banjos. 

        Brownie is world-famous all throughout Harvey County. You’ve seen her play somewhere. Her Daddy nick-named her as soon as he looked into her eyes, which were a doe-like deep fawn-ish hue right from birth. She’s only 5’3″ and maybe 105 pounds, a regular pixie, but a determined young’un. When she was in Little League she’d run right through the outfield wall to catch a fly ball. There was no give up in the child. 

        No boy ever complained about a girl on their team after Brownie Scott came along. She was the lead off hitter for the Harvey Jr. High Mad Hornets every year. Brownie could throw, hit, and bunt with the best of ’em, and those skinny legs could run like a middle school Bambi. She’d steal second almost every time she got on base which was often.

        But most of all Brownie could play the banjo. She was the most requested sideman in the history of home. Most of the guys who picked music with her were middle-aged men who chewed tobacco and wore Red Camel overalls. One time some fool tried to hit on her, and Snookers Molesby knocked him out cold. When he came to he said, “What made you go and do that, Snook?”

        Snookers said, “I was trying to save your life, ’cause that little girl mighta killed ya, and if she’d decided to spare you every man in Harvey County would have anyway.”

       Brownie went on to Belmont, then to Yale, where she earned a business degree. Now she tours the world. She and her husband own a recording studio; he’s a fine mandolinist and a good friend of mine. They have three children, two are dark-haired like her and one is more tow-headed and favors his Daddy.   

        Brownie was one of the messengers in “Acquisition Syndrome.” Of course the highfalutin’ never suspected her at all. They made an oft-repeated error in history; the under-estimation of country people. It is one thing to under-estimate a country doctor, but better think twice about a young lady who found a way to conquer the banjo world, ’cause that’s a tough ticket.  

        I’m still learning about Brownie, but more will follow as I sift through the back-story for “Acquisition Syndrome.”

Dr. B

Acquisition Syndrome – A Working Subtitle

January 8, 2011

        As y’all know, I’m at work on my second novel, “Acquisition Syndrome.” I’ve had several folks ask, and yes, it is a sequel to “The Mandolin Case.”

        Indie is gone of course, but his lessons are not lost on Dr. Bones Robertson. “The Mandolin Case” was a long time ago, and Bones is now up in age himself. In the story of “Acquisition Syndrome,” Bones watches medical practice morph from healing art into a business. It is not a trend Bones likes, or one he thinks Indie would be in favor of either.

        But Bones is only one country doctor. As medicine transforms from a mom and pop cottage industry to Board Room control, he has to adapt the best he can.

        Back when “The Mandolin Case” was in progress my agent and I bantered back and forth for several weeks about a subtitle. One of us, let’s see now, somehow my often excellent memory fails me for the moment as to which one of us it was ….hmm, oh well, anyway one of us decided the term “honest lawyers” had to be included in the subtitle. It became a byline that caught the eye of many a reader.

       They’d pick up the book, read that, give me a sideways look, and say “Honest lawyers? C’mon, Doc. This has gotta be fiction.”

       “It is,” I’d reply. “But it’s true fiction.”

       It’s way too early ask your advice ’cause you haven’t read much back-story yet, but I have begun to think about a subtitle for “Acquisition Syndrome.” If y’all have any thoughts, send ’em my way. If by chance yours is selected by the publisher, I promise you’ll get a free signed copy if I have to buy it wholesale and ship it out to you myself.

       Do keep one thing in mind. Last time the publisher insisted on the symmetry that goes along with threes. In “The Mandolin Case” it was “Country Doctors, Honest Lawyers, and True Music.”

       So here’s my first try at a subtitle for the next project. Any thoughts? 

       “Acquisition Syndrome” – “True Stories, Bad Money, and The Doctor Biz”

       Let me know what you think.

Dr. B

Harvey County after Indie – Billy Spurgeon

January 3, 2011

        After Indie died, it was a rough go for medical care in Harvey County. There weren’t enough docs, and not as many young people were interested in rural life. Bones and Sharma shared call, and Dr. Cecil and his partner covered Dr. Blake.

        Every time Bones thought he couldn’t go on he got lucky. The first break came when Dr. Beth Lucas arrived. Her husband was a pilot. He owned a helicopter that he would fly to Raleigh Durham when he had a commercial flight due out, so they weren’t as confined about where they’d live as some other recruits. Harvey County was right in the middle of the state and it was convenient. Dr. Lucas loved Arabian horses, and they wanted a rural location. They fell in love with Harvey County and stayed.

        Five years later it got tight again, but Dr. Lucas managed to get Dr. Dee to take a look at private practice. He was bored with his role as a professor at Sandhills and wanted to get back into direct patient care. He’d grown up on the farm and wanted to piddle on a tractor again. Dr. Lucas had been one of his best students and recruited him.

       The three went along fine for fifteen years, but the times they were a changing. Medicine was more of a business with each year that went by. Bones was getting some age on him, and knew retirement loomed. The work load became harder to carry, and the paperwork requirements made the job near impossible. As Bones would say, “Something’s got to be done about all these patients. They’re getting in the way of my paperwork.”

       Bones knew they could not stay independent forever, and would have to join forces with some bigger entity to survive. He also knew they would need to recruit some young people. The answer to the first question came later, but the recruitment issue seemed to have a potential solution. His name was Billy Spurgeon.

       Billy was a graduate of Harvey High, where he played first trumpet and was the fourth man in the fire on the golf team. He was tall, lanky, and somewhat myopic, with the introspection that often accompanies spectacles. Other than a better than average hand-eye co-ordination that allowed for a smooth golf swing and a fair ping-pong game, he was only an average athlete. Slender and not aggressive enough for football, he was also too slow for track. He had a good jump shot but it was offset by a limited vertical leap that precluded hoops at any level higher than church league ball. Like Bones, he knew his future was in books.

       Billy first met Bones Robertson as a high school student in the Medical Explorers Club at Harvey High. After a meeting, Billy wanted to know more about life as a doctor. Bones and his partner Dr. Dee invited him out to eat at Chang’s Chinese.

        Even years later, Dee still laughed about it. “Bones about ran the kid off before we ever had a chance. After dinner when the boy was ready to go home, Bones walked him by that old Scout of his and slapped it on the rear fender. “Now son,” he said. “You have a chance to be just like us. If you work hard and you’re honest for a lifetime, all this can be yours.’”

        With Dee’s Sandhills connections, they became community medicine preceptors, and had a couple of students come through every year. Bones went through that routine with each one who seemed to be a potential recruit, and so far each one had chosen a subspecialty in the city. When it didn’t scare Billy off, they knew they knew had a young man who might just go the distance.

       By then though, times were harder. It used to be enough just to be a good doc, but now a good relationship with patients was only a small part of the survival skill set required of a modern doctor.

        Billy did decide to join the practice. Of all the docs in the group, Billy was the most conflicted about the acquisition. As he would tell Bones, “Doc, you’ve gotten to practice the way you want for all these years. If they push you too hard, you can quit. For me it’s different. For one thing I’m broke.”

         “I’ve been there Billy. We’ll just all have to stick together.”

         For the most part they did, although it was no easy process. 

Dr. B

Billy Spurgeon

November 1, 2010

        In many ways, Billy Spurgeon was another Bones in the making. Bones always said Billy was the new and improved version. A good student, but not brilliant, Billy had one quality that made him a standout at Sandhills U. Medical School; he wanted to come home to Harvey County. He was the only one.

        Billy went to Harvey High, where he played first trombone and was sixth man on the golf team. He was lanky and dark-haired, and had a touch of myopia with the introspection that often accompanies it. He first met Bones Robertson as a high school student in the Medical Explorers Club. After a meeting, he wanted to know more, and Bones and Dr. Dee invited him out to eat at Chang’s Chinese.

        Even years later, Dr. Dee still laughed about it. “Bones about ran the kid off before we ever had a chance. After dinner when the boy was ready to go home, Bones walked him by that old Scout of his. He slapped it on the rear fender and said, ‘Now son, you have a chance to be just like us. If you work hard and you’re honest for a lifetime, all this can be yours.’”

        Bones always said every student he did that with had gone into a subspecialty in the city. When it didn’t scare Billy off, they knew they knew had a young man who might just go the distance.

        It was a big day when Billy showed up in town. Harvey Memorial CEO Marvin Stanley paraded around like the boy was his long-lost young’un.  The Harvey Herald stuck a mic in the boy’s face and asked him about Marvin Stanley and Billy said, “I’m sorry, Marvin who?”

        Stanley was infuriated, but the paper didn’t print it when Stanley threatened to pull an ad campaign for the new radiology center. 

        Billy was country, but he wasn’t dumb. He put his stock in Bones. “You gotta throw your hat in the ring with someone; I’m gonna put mine in with Doc. He’s like Indie; when the chips are down he won’t stand for a lie.”

        Bones considered it one of the highest compliments he ever got.

        Billy went to work and paid his dues without complaint. Bones was glad to get some time off, but was careful not to overdo it. Going from three docs in the call rotation to four was a luxury none of them took for granted.

        Back when Billy interviewed for med school, they asked him why he wanted to be doctor. He said, “I’m a lot like Dr. Bones Robertson. I’m good with books, and I want to help people.”

        “That’s what they all say,” they said.

        As it turned out, Billy Spurgeon was as simple as that; happy enough just to be a solid country doctor. It all changed with the case of the local Chrysler dealer, Jim Downs.

        I don’t have a thing against car dealers. Here in Harvey County Phipsy’s a good’un, as is Simmons Ruppe (Ruppert) of Bluegrass Motors over in Raleigh. I never did trade with Jim Downs though, and I had my reasons. He never did anything to inspire Billy to trade with him either.

Dr. B

Riley Harper

October 27, 2010

        I first learned about Riley Harper in a bluegrass background check. Ruppert caught up with him in Raleigh when he tried to trade a mandolin for a used car. Harper said it was a Gibson his grandfather bought in the Great Depression. Of course it was no such thing. Riley Harper had a ton of money and made all of it cheating someone else out of theirs, but Ruppert had to threaten to take Harper to small claims court to get him to pay for the used station wagon he bought for his wife.

        Mama always said if I couldn’t say something good about someone to not say anything at all. I guess I could stop now with Riley Harper. I have no use for those who are not loyal.

        But I told Mama, I said, “Mama, if I don’t write about the bad guys, how are my friends gonna know how to spot ’em?”

        “Hm. I suppose. I guess it’s okay if you write about them, just don’t hang around ’em.”

        “Yes, Mama. I inherited my radar from you, you know. I won’t even let ’em take me to lunch.”

        “You are such a good boy.”

        “Indie used to say I was a Boy Scout.”

        “My goodness, Indie was such a rogue.”

        “Yeah, but we loved him anyway. At least he was an honest rouge.”

        Mama smiled. “”Yes he was dear. I just wish he hadn’t had that affair with that little hussy from France. It took Immogene a long time to get over that.”

        “I know Mama, and you’re right, but at least he was sorry.”

        I’ll be back soon to tell you more about Riley Harper.

Dr. B

Acquisition Syndrome

October 18, 2010

        I have a lot going on, but the success of “The Mandolin Case” has convinced me to get back to work on my second book, “Acquisition Syndrome.” It is a story that documents  the demise of medical practice as a cottage industry, and its evolution into a business. I’m not sure it was such a good thing, but now that process is complete, I want to document what happened. Just as in “The Mandolin Case” I’m gonna use the medium of true fiction.

        I don’t look for it any time soon, but maybe some day the pendulum will swing back, and medicine will be about people again. As Moose Dooley once said, “When I got into health care I thought we’d talk about germs, but all we talk about is money.” The better people are informed as to the inside true story, the more likely the system could someday return to some semblance of rational.

       But for now medicine is a business. And it will stay that way as long as someone can make a million dollars as a scooter salesman and see little but trouble for efforts to encourage people to walk.

        As the old doctor would say at the end of every Medical Staff meeting confrontation, regardless of the issue at hand, “Gentlemen, I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong here, but I think it’s got something to do with money.” He was always right, and that is why the subtitle for the story will be along the lines of “Something to do with Money.”

        I will keep you posted as it goes along. I hope to have a Grisham style outline completed by the end of the year, and a very serious MS ready for my editor Dorrie by the end of 2011. Stay tuned.

Dr. B

Message in a Blog Bottle

November 9, 2009

        I sit here at the Deep River Blues Coffee Cafe and I’m in awe.  When I was growing up here we only had the Billiard and Bowl until Hardees came in, and pizza was an exotic international food.  I can’t believe Harvey county has come far enough to have our version of Starbucks. They got all kinda coffee in this place, and I can’t pronounce the names of any of ’em.  Usually I just get the house black but every so often I’ll order a new fangled one.  “How ’bout one of those high-test hoop-tee-do cold caramel ones with the crushed up ice?”  I asked.

         “Tough day, Doc?”  The kid at the counter is a blonde haired girl, but she acts about like a bartender.  “You mean the frappacino?”

        “Uh yeah. That’s fine. Make it a double shot of that espresso jazz and put some whipped cream on it.”

        “Yes sir.  Coming right up.”

        I slumped into the corner easy chair and tapped into the Wi-Fi.  When I was a kid Hi-Fi was fancy.  We’ve come a long way.

        I e-mailed a friend in Australia.  I’m about like Jimmy Stewart.  I love the old hometown, but there was also a part of me that wanted to fling responsibility to the wind and see the world.  In a way the Internet has allowed me that without leaving home, but has also whetted my appetite. 

        But as my daughter always said, “Daddy, there’s not a frivolous bone in your body.”  I never would have gone without  a reason for the trip.  That reason is the reader, and we want to meet all these new people I have met in my writer journey.  My book is my travel ticket.

        Not that I want to give up my day job.  I still love it and the interaction with the patients.  But as the book draws nigh, I’m also gonna have to see the world before I get too old to  go.  Then I’ll come back home, check into Harvey Nursing Home without complaint, play bingo every Monday and teach mandolin lessons to anyone who’ll visit, ’cause I got to do it all.

          When I started my blog it was like a message in a bottle.  I tossed it out from our little desert island here, watched it bob away and drift off into the distance, and waited to see if anyone would respond.  One day someone far across the ocean found it on an isolated beach where it had washed ashore.  They popped the cork and fished out the message.  

        “My wife and I love home but we also want to see the world.  We love bluegrass music, writing, and art.  We only want to go where we already know folks of like mind.  To tell you the truth, Harvey County is a small place.  We’re a little scared of strangers.  When I finish my book can we come visit a bookstore near you?”

         The answer was yes, and to a degree I never dreamed of.  I have already learned a bunch from you guys and look forward to plotting my course over the next few years to get everywhere I want to go.

        All that is gonna take a lot of time.  As the publishers look at ‘The Mandolin Case’ some have already inquired about an outline for a sequel.  (Thank goodness I have one)  I work steady as a Doc every day and it is hard to fit it all in.

           I hope you guys will bear with me.  Today I want to tell you of a slight change in my publication schedule.  In some ways it will be more; in some ways it is less.  I plan to post a brief  ‘Thought of the Day.’ (at least most days)  Often it might dove-tail with my ‘Song of the Day’ on FaceBook.

         Instead of three long posts a week I’ll do one long one on Mondays.  I’m gonna call the ‘Monday Morning Post.’

        I hope this change will allow me to commit to the support of ‘The Mandolin Case’ I will have to give it, and also the time to write the sequel I have started.

        At the same time, I admit I fear the thought of the loss of even one reader.  I have come to enjoy your regular input.  Like a doc without patients a writer with no readers might as well call it a day.  I have learned much from you and hope you will all continue the journey with me even though my format will have to change a bit to get it all done.

        So I send another message in a bottle from Harvey County and float it out to you again.  I hope you’ll stick with me.  The total time I give to the blog might be cut in half, but I hope the books will make it up to you.  Hey, at this point y’all about gotta read them ’cause some of you made it in the story by virtue of your visits to Harvey County.

        As Tim O’Brien would say I won’t say so long ’cause I ain’t going anywhere. (or something like that)  So I’ll be in touch and see ya soon. 

Dr. B

The Negotiator

November 3, 2009

        This guy is just too good for you to miss.  I hope to secure his permission to tell more of his story in a second book called ‘Acquisition Syndrome.’  He had a peripheral involvement in ‘The Mandolin Case,’ which is now under review by several publishers.  He asked that I hold off on his full story until it is released.

         His name is Charles Franklin Thombley IV.  His everyday car is a Sunbeam Tiger, which is an Alpine with a 260 except he exercised an option for the Ford 289 V8.  He once won a sportsman’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Tiger had a car phone just like the one Maxwell Smart had.  The car was similar too, but Mr. Thombley’s is British racing green rather than red.  He thought it provided better camouflage. Somehow Thombley was connected with Max and guys like him, and I suspect he was a major factor in thwarting Chaos.  Mr. Thombley has not changed and remains just shy of middle age, still youthful but also wise.  

        He was an advisor in the Mandolin Case, but always stayed behind the scenes.  His involvement was so clandestine he does not appear in that novel.  If you asked him about it, he and the Chief would enter into the cone of silence.  He is tight-lipped and will only agree to his story in print if I encode it to the degree that I have de-identified him.  We are in high level negotiations at this time, but after he reads ‘The Mandolin Case, I believe he will go along.

        His people are from Atlanta and got their start in the business world at the time of the Civil War.  They bought up real estate futures right after Sherman came through, and never looked back.  Charles went to Oxford on a rugby scholarship, and has a three handicap at an exclusive club in Augusta he preferred not to name.  He owns lake-front property throughout the South and a home in Europe.  He usually wears sunglasses.  If you go out to eat with him in Atlanta, the owner of the restaurant will call him ‘Sir’ and seat you at a private reserved table in the back.  He is old southern but he married a lady from above the Mason Dixon line.  She was a Hamilton, and I think her people came from money.  It wasn’t new money. 

         He wears dark Italian suits and red ties.  He is of medium build and average height, but little else about him is average.  He has a wavy head of hair about like Lyle Lovett except there is just a hint of gray in the temples.  All the women want to meet him, but he is solid loyal to his wife.  He is also loyal to his clients.

          He doesn’t work from a contract, and never sends a bill.  Instead he conducts business on a handshake.  He always says, “I will do my best for you. You have to decide what it means to you and then determine my fee.”  Everyone who works with pays him well because they want him to stay on their team. 

        He is booked as steady as the guitar man I told you about a few posts ago.  Except for a few weeks off in Paris every year he always has a gig.  He remains available to his clients even when he Europe. He also has business there.  He sings in the church choir.  His favorite hobby is the financial revitalization of under-capitalized southern churches.

        In my next post I am going to give up the only work secret he will let me disclose at this time.  As I said we are in negotiations for the rights to the sequel to ‘The Mandolin Case.’  This story will reveal his ways in greater detail.  He will have to proof the manuscript to be sure it is sufficiently encrypted.  This process might take a couple years, but it will be worth it.  You will want to get inside his world because to tap into any small part of his skill as a negotiator will be invaluable information for you. 

        I can tell you this.  He reshaped the medical landscape in Harvey County, and cut a wide swath right down the Interstate all the way through the Tobacco Triangle a few years back.  One year my band played a gig in Raleigh and a doctor came up to me and said, “You and that masked man out of Atlanta changed everything and it was all for the better.”

         I told him it was a nice complement but I couldn’t take the credit.  It all belongs to Mr. Thombley.

        So, here is the one secret he will allow me to disclose at this time.  He often decides which clients he wants to do business with based on a pick-up truck.  Now, I know you must wonder.  How can a pick-up truck help a sophisticated man like Mr. Thombley decide which clients are trustworthy?  I have to go back to the doctor gig, but promise to explain this in my next post.

        Never worry about Dr. B.  You have come to know me well.  I have a good grown-up doctor brain, but I am just a little boy and have the heart of a child.  I do not understand business, and have no chance against the sharks who now circle the medical waters.  Don’t worry though.  He is the only man I know who understands business but also has a heart, and he looks after me.

        I am in good hands, because he is the negotiator, and he took me under his wing.

Dr. B