Archive for the ‘Book Characters, Mandolin Case’ category

Christmas/Indie/Book Update

December 23, 2008

        Yesterday I went to visit Indie at the Nursing Home.

        “Bibey old boy, how are ya?”

        “Fine Indie.  Brought Barney some brain food.”  I hid two small bottles of Jim Beam in the skull cap cache.

        “You are a fine boy.  How’s Ms. Marfar and the children?”

       “The Christmas Queen is at her best, and both the kids will be in.  They send their love.  Me and Darrell and Summer are gonna come by when they get back from the honeymoon and pick and few.” 

        “Great!  How’s the book coming?”

        “Well, I finished the final MS revision.  The agent is gonna see what he can do with it.”

        “I love what I’ve read, Bibey.  I think it’s gonna do for Harvey County what beer did for Milwaukee.”

        “Oh I don’t think we’ll be that famous, Indie, but it has been a lot of fun.”

        “Reckon he’ll get a publisher?”

        “I don’t know, but if he doesn’t we’ll self publish.  We’ll give it six months to a year to see.  I tell you one thing that’s a fact though.  It wouldn’t have been any good without him.  He was more than an agent.  He was a dang guru. ”

        “I don’t know Bibey.  We had a great story.”

        “Yeah, I guess so.  And my agent says he’d rather have a good writer with a great story than a great writer with a lousy story.  I’m thankful that was his philosophy.  I warn’t great.  You’re the one who made it, pal.”

       “But you had the stick to to write it down, Bibey.  I’m proud of you.”

       I leaned over and kissed him on the forehead.  “I’m proud of you too, Indie.  You’re the best.  Merry Christmas.”

        “Merry Christmas to you too, son, and tell all the gang I said hello.”

        “Will do Indie.”

Dr. B


Maria Diosas (Colombian Green Card)

November 19, 2008

        Back at the time of the Mandolin Case, there was a girl who worked at Harvey Memorial named Maria Diaoas.  She came here when they started the green card visas.   Nowadays the term ‘Green Card’ is one you hear a lot, but back then it was unusual.  And I want you to know I am not making fun of anyone just because they weren’t born in this country.  Indie always said if your people weren’t Native American you came here from somewhere else.   Indie got along with most everybody, and I agreed with his views on treating people fair.

        This child stood out in the crowd as different.  Well, she wasn’t exactly a child, but more of a child in a woman’s body.  Back then most of us in Harvey County were either black or white, but her skin tones was some kinda nutmeg complexion.  She looked like one of those women on the cover of a travel magazines where Docs go to study about high blood pressure.  I never did understand why a fellow’d have to go to some faraway beach to study high blood- I bet we had a thousand folks with hypertension right here in Harvey County.

        Maria made an L.P.N while she was here, but worked as a secretary for Jim Olden, our hospital administrator.  She didn’t like to work nights and he got her a day job.

        I didn’t know the girl, but Snookers went out with her a few times.  He said she liked vodka and fancy cars and was too high maintenance for him to get along with.  Jim Olden said Snookers wasn’t kind enough to Maria, and saw to it she had a better apartment.  She bought Mr. Olden a music box that played the Dr. Zhivago theme.  One time Indie said Mr. Olden’s office was like a magical music box.  To demonstrate, he opened and closed the door a couple times over a few minutes.  Each time he cracked it open “Somewhere My Love” would come to abrupt halt.  It made Olden mad.  Indie just laughed.

        The girl was beyond mysterious, as exotic as an Italian pizza would have been in Harvey County back in the 60’s.  We were sure she came from Colombia, and her jet black hair and dark eyes fit the background.  But she also has some kinda Russian connection.  Snookers said her grandparents still lived there.  They’re gone now, I guess, that was about two decades ago.  She said her middle name was Kay.  I thought that was quite Americanized, but she would sign her name as Maria K. Diosas, instead of Kay.  Snookers said it stood for Katalina, but the cold war was winding down and she didn’t want to make that fact public.

        I think Snookers was right- she must have had some sort of Russian ancestry.  Not only did she like Dr. Zhivago (she pronounced it Doctor ‘Shee-KA- GO”- sort of like Chicago with a Spanish accent) and vodka, but she dug James Bond and “From Russia with Love.”  She liked “Goldfinger” too.  She said she preferred American men.  Snookers tried to tell her Bond was British.  She didn’t like that.  It was part of why they split after a few dates.

        I’ve got some age on me, but I ain’t so old I can’t pick a pretty girl out of a line-up, and Maria was a pretty girl.  In fact, she looked dangerous.  I could spot that in a line up too.  My ladies at the office have excellent intuition and they understood it on first glance.  Her skin was somewhere in between nutmeg and honey colored.  She was 5’6″ and 113 pounds.  Dark eyed, black haired, she was a long legged lanky Latino who looked like an SI girl.  Striking would not do her justice.  I guess she might perspire but she didn’t sweat- made a lot of men sweat though.  I kept my distance from her, but Snook said she smelled like a tropical flower, and Olden wrote lousy poetry on the subject for a decade after she left Harvey County.         

        I’m not sure if I spelled her last name right, or what it meant.  Mr. Olden lives just outside of Atlanta now.  Snookers went down there to try and find out more about her, but Olden sent word he didn’t feel up to visitors that day.  If any of y’all know what it means, let me in on it.  I’m still finishing up some last minute research for the Mandolin Case, and it would help me out.

Dr. B

Martin Taylor

November 7, 2008

        You might find it strange a doctor would come to respect a bad ass plaintiff’s attorney, but in the case of Martin Taylor it is true.  Not only did I respect him, but I liked the cat.  At the same time, I was scared to death of him.  If there was ever a human being I thought could take a doctor apart in a Harvey County courtroom it would be Martin Taylor.  Indie was lucky.  By the time of the Mandolin Case, Mr. Taylor had retired.  But, whenever his son Gibson signed on as the attorney I knew it would be a tough battle.

        Martin grew up in Norfolk, Virginia.  He practiced in Chicago a while.  After his mother became elderly, he moved back home to look after her.  It didn’t matter where his law practice home base was anyway, ’cause he had cases all over the country.  He had a private pilot and flew around in a Lear Jet to tend to his business.

        In his youth he was a fine welterweight boxer, and made it all the way to Madison Square Garden.  He still retained the soul of an athlete.  As he got older he found he had to temper his competitive spirit not to flatten an  opponent just because he had the ability to do it.  Instead he channeled his energy into justice, and especially liked a spirited fight for the underdog.   Most of all he sought the truth.  One time I told him it was his only Achille’s heel. 

        “Martin,” I said.  “You have one weakness. You have to have the truth.”

        “God, Bibey.  Don’t tell anyone.  I am a lawyer, you know.”

        Even though successful boxers used their brains more than what folks know, Martin worried he might get a sucker punch, so he retired from boxing after college.  He took up golf and became a fine player- a six handicap to be exact.

        Martin Taylor was unconcerned about money, but then he had been successful enough not to have to worry.  I admire folks who use their financial freedom to take their craft to an even higher level, though, so I had no problem with that.

        Martin was 5’11 and 207 pounds.  His eyes were a dark brown.  He wore size 9C shoes.  He smoked the same COHIBA cigars as Mason Marley.  He enjoyed bluegrass and traditional music, but did not tell his colleagues.  His liked the song “It’s Done Come Time to not Know Nothing.”  His favorite movie was the CIA saga, “The Good Shepherd.”  He had me watch it and do a movie review for a law bulletin.  He read “Crime and Punishment” three times, and still watched Perry Mason reruns on the Turner Channel.

        Martin is now retired and plays golf out of the Island Club at St. Croix.  He has invited me down for some of his money games, but I have been too busy working to get there.  But if he ever ran into the right match, I’d go- Martin is a player.  One time he had a game with a cat I knew was a cheater back in high school days.  He called me for a scouting report.  It was too late for me to go play but Martin cleaned the man’s clock.  Martin Taylor is just step away from a Mafia type- best to never try and cheat a man like that.

        Another thing about Martin-  he is 100% discreet and confidential.  We are from opposite sides of the aisle, but if he were to go first, I’d take my hat off at his funeral out of respect.

        I will always believe Martin Taylor had more to do with the resolution of the Mandolin Case than what he let on.  Maybe after I retire he’ll tell me.

Dr. B

Mason Marley

November 4, 2008

        Mason Marley was blind.  She also was somewhat crippled from polio as a child, but she was up and around until middle age.  After that, a combination of post polio syndrome and arthritis wore her down, and she would up in a wheelchair.  She didn’t get out much, but a lot of folks came to see her.  If you ever meet her, whatever you do don’t call her a polio victim.  “I ain’t a victim of nothing,” she’d say.

        Mason lived on the River, a couple miles upstream from Indie’s Cabin.  To get there, go north on the bypass.  When you pass the Waffle House take a right at Harvey High, home of the Hornets.  That will put you on Lee Highway.  Follow it a mile and a half to Mason’s.  Her place is the little white frame house with the neat hedges.  Wheatie Wallenburg kept them trimmed, at least when he wasn’t in the hospital.

        I never figured out how a little blind crippled lady gathered so much intelligence, but she did.  She knew everyone.  Back then if you were to go by her place and see a white Crown Vic with N.C. Government tags, it was Wallace Walton, our State Senator.  He said he was there to check on her, but I think he came by to get advice.  Like all of us he knew Mason was discreet, and you could count on her to be confidential.  We were confident she was connected,  too, but unsure of what all her connections were.

         Mason might have been blind, but she was the best read person in the County.  She could quote Shakespeare at length.  One time Mason wrote a book on commercial real estate handicapped access regulations.  She was part of the inspiration for me to write my story.  Neuse River went out and played for the book release party at her house.  When you see a grizzled bluegrass veteran like Moose Dooley kiss a woman on the forehead, you know she is a person who has earned folk’s respect.  Mason was the only woman in town besides my daughter who my wife’d let me kiss.  She trusted her that much, and I did too.

        As far as I know Mason only got burned once.  Her book was published without the benefit of an agent.  She trusted the publisher, and then got taken adavantage of.  When I started mine she called me out to the house.  “Bibey,” she said,  “Whatever you do, don’t publish till you have an agent and a lawyer.”

        “Yes ma’am.”  It was good advice.  As a matter of fact, Mason did the background check on my agent.  After her stamp of approval, I shook hands on the deal.  She said he was clean, and you can take Mason for her word.

        Mason often wore our Neuse River T-shirt.  She loved costume jewelry and logo sweat shirts, but on weekends and holidays she always put on a string of pearls.  I guess it is odd for a Doc to say about his patient, but is spite of the fact she was elderly and gray-haired, I swear the woman in pearls exuded sex appeal.  Maybe it was because she had so much soul.

         Besides bluegrass music she also dug classical, especially anything by Beethoven.  She drank Pabst Blue Ribbon, but sometimes OBAN if she had company.  She favored COHIBA cigars, and somehow could get the real Cuban ones with the La Habana band.  I knew they were illegal in the U.S., and asked how she came about them.  She said, “GK, Bibey,” which meant General Knowledge.

        At the time of the Mandolin Case, Mason was 68 years old.  She was 5′ 3′ but looked shorter because she was in a wheelchair.  Even though I was her Doc I never knew her weight ’cause she wouldn’t tell me.  Her hair was gray, but had been strawberry blond, and she still had some wisps of color, but she didn’t dye it.  Her eyes were green.  Her favorite movie was the ‘Ten Commandments.’  She read all kinds of literature.  Hamlet was her favorite.  It made her mad when old Lady Hamlett sued Indie over he sister’s lost mammogram report.  She said it wasn’t but a few months and the delay didn’t change the course of Sissy’s breast cancer.  She was right, but Indie settled for a small amount ’cause he felt sorry for Sissy- she had been slow since birth.

        Mason was right about a lot of things.  I suspect she was influential in the Mandolin Case, but I’m not sure all the ways she intervened, and she never did tell me.  Mason was the kind to only tell you she wanted you to know, but she always told me what I needed to know.  I was very confident in her intuition, and when she told me to take her word for it, I did.  If you were to move to Harvey County, I would tell you to make friends with her right away.  You can trust Mason, and she is a good friend to have.

        She has been retired as long as I’ve known her.  I never did figure out what she did for a living.  I asked her one time, but she never told me. 

Dr. B

Betty Wallendorf

November 2, 2008

        All y’all who’ve read my blog a long time know I have all respect for women.  I had a wonderful Mom who saw to it I had whatever I needed to grow up.  She let me play baseball and golf, but she also took me to the library every week.  She was an English teacher, so what little bit of culture I have is from the way she talked every day.  She was my first music influence, too.  When we had birthday parties she’d play the piano.  I was impressed.  I do think it worried her when I took up guitar, though.  She was afraid I might turn into a Beatle.

        I was lucky enough to marry good, and now I’m growing old with the same woman who somehow manages to stay young.  She gave me two fine children and the mandolin I play every day.  How could a man ask for anything else?

        I have a daughter I not only love, but respect, and I’ve worked along side of twelve women for more than two decades.  I get along with them just fine.  So, I don’t see how Betty Wallendorf could make a case I’m against women.  But she might try to.

        I put off this post a long time.  My dear mom used to say if you couldn’t talk nice about someone not to talk about them at all.  I thought about Betty Wallendorf at length, and decided to tell you about her anyway.  I figured if y’all were gonna read the story you deserved to know the truth.  But I have to say- I hope mama doesn’t read this.

        Betty had a motto.  I heard her say it in Sunday School class myself, so I know it for a fact.  She bragged she was the one who came up with it too.  She’d say, “There only two things that matter in life- Money and Sex.  If you have one, you can get the other.”

        I guess I could stop there, ’cause that says what you need to know about Betty Wallendorf.  She was that shallow.

        I didn’t know until some time back that Blinky was a fine baseball player when he was a young man.  He got hit in the head with a wild pitch right about when the Braves were gonna sign him.  He became a mechanic.  Betty didn’t have any use for him after that.  I don’t know why- he was one of the best ones in town.

        Whenever Blinky’d get real sick, she’d leave him at Indie’s office and tell him to call her when he got out of the hospital.  Sometimes I thought Blink would be better off if she hadn’t come to pick him up .

        Betty lived by her sex and money mantra, but she never acted funny towards me.  Maybe she thought I’d run her down, or perhaps it was ’cause my Marie is a black belt in karate and would jerk a knot in her neck.  Better she deal with Marie than my Marfar.  She’d a killed the woman.

        Like I told you before, Betty did make a pass at Indie once, and he flat turned her down.  Made her mad too.

        I will give her one thing.  When she was young, at least according to Indie, Betty Wallendorf was one more good looking woman.  She is now 5′ 3″ and 185 pounds, but Indie says she was 118 when she was 21.  She was a petite woman who wore size 7 1/2 AAA shoes and a size 2 dress back then.  Her hair is brunette, but Janie the Beauty Operator dyes it to keep it her old color.  He eyes are blue, and they are still striking.  I’ll bet she was a knock-out as a young woman.

        Her favorite song was always “We’re in the Money,” and her actress is Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”  She read part of Michener’s Hawaii, but didn’t finish it.  You won’t be surprised to learn she enjoys “Sex in the City,” and “Desperate Housewives.”

        Not long ago, the Preacher gave a sermon I liked.  I remember he said with God a little bit of righteousness goes a long way.

        I’m gonna pray about it and ask for forgiveness, but I can’t think of much righteous or good about Betty Wallendorf.  When I do, I’ll post on it right away.

        For now, though, I need to go take in the church service.  Betty was  mean woman, but I feel bad to be so harsh towards her.  I’m gonna go pray for forgiveness, ’cause I don’t believe in grudges, and they ain’t good for you anyway.

        Come to think of it, I like to think redemption is one of the themes of my story.  None of us are perfect.  All we can do is our best, then ask forgiveness for the rest of it.  And that’s what I am gonna do today.

        Talk to y’all first of the week.

Dr. B


October 27, 2008

        Tag was the lawyer assigned to Indie’s case.  Her real name was Lucille Taggert, but Indie nicknamed her Tag, and it stuck.  When she first showed up at his office Indie did a double take, excused himself, and called me.

        “God almighty, Bibey.  They’ve done sent me one of the Bobsie twins.  I’m doomed.”  Tag was indeed young.  With her freckles and red hair she coulda passed for Little Orphan Annie in the school play.  All she lacked was to pull her hair back in pig-tails, but she wore a modern cut like what you’d see on cover of the Ladies magazines at the office.

        It was a no-nonsense look that fit.  When Tag opened up her briefcase and went to work, she was no kid, but a serious woman.  At the same time, she had grown up in the country and understood Indie better than most city folks. 

        When Indie’d get mad and cuss Tag would say, “Now Indie, I know you feel that way, but you gotta talk like your mama’d want you to.”  She knew horses and Indie won a few bets in the Derby based on her advice.

         Indie could be an emotional sort, and it worked out best to have a lady lawyer.  I think some high powered man mighta laughed at him.  Then all those bluegrass boys in Harvey County woulda beaten the guy up and Indie’d been in worse trouble than what he was to start with.  

        Tag could be be emotional too, though not as much as Indie.  She kept it in check most of the time.  When she did get mad though, she could send those male lawyers running for cover.  Jackson Leggett, the lawyer for Harvey Memorial made some comments about Indie’s character as to his relationship with little Molly, and it was a lie.  Well, Tag went right over to their headquarters and cussed ’em out.   They issued a formal statement of apology in a half hour. 

         Poor Indie spent a lot days just plum pissed off, and it was Tag who could get him outside the case.  “It’s just a thing, Indie,” she’d say.  “Something to work through.”  Tag knew all the bluegrass sayings, and could talk turkey with Indie ’cause of it.  Sure, it was a business to her, but she understood even though Indie was a rough sort, the Mandolin Case hurt his feelings.  After all, Blinky was his best friend, and in his heart he never believed he had done wrong.

        All you lady readers are gonna dig Tag.  She was plenty feminine, but she made her way in the world on toughness.  Who said women couldn’t fight?  In a war of ideas and words, I’d want Tag on my team any day.  Indie later went back and apologized to her for his first impression.  “Young lady, you’re tougher than a pine knot.  My hat’s off to you.”

        “For heaven’s sake Indie, don’t take off that cap.  The reflection of the sun’ll hurt my eyes,”  she said.

        “Shut the hell up, Tag.”  They both laughed.

        She and Indie talked like that to each other.  Folks who didn’t know them thought they were disrespectful.  I’m sure my readers know better.  

        Tag busted right through the glass ceiling and went to the top of the heap, and it was all on merit- she was Physician’s Liability’s top gun, and the first woman to be an ace for the company.  At first Indie thought she was a rookie cause of her youth, but he apologized.  Tag laughed and said it wouldn’t be the last time.  Besides, in her line of work she found it best to be underestimated, and to look young and innocent was a strategic advantage. 

        When we looked back, we were sure Physician’s Liability sent her ’cause she was a seasoned veteran.  Tag was the one they’s send when they were worried.  They knew the Mandolin Case would be a long slog right from the get go.

        Freckled, red haired, Tag was 5’9″ and 125 pounds.  She had hazel eyes and a smile ’bout like Mona Lisa when she had the goods on someone.  Picture Renee Zellweger with freckles and you’ve got it.  She was educated at Chapel Hill, both undergrad and law school, and did medical/legal defense work throughout her career.

        Her favorite T.V. show was Andy, so me and her got along good.  She loved Indie’s version of the fiddle tune ‘Rag Time Annie’- Indie said she looked like a little rag doll- but she was woman enough not to take offense.  Tag was a Southern girl, and loved ‘Gone with the Wind’ and ‘Steel Magnolias.”  She’d cry in the same places every time and warn’t ashamed of it.  And she shouldn’t a been – Tag was one more tough young-un. 

        She grew up around horses and still knew how to ride, so it was easy for her to get to know Molly Tenbrooks in a hurry.  By the end of the Mandolin Case, she and Indie bet on the ponies on a regular basis.  Half the time they gave each other IOUs, and at the end Indie owed her $57.23.  He paid up right away.  Said it was the best investment he ever made.

        Tag loved the Beatles, and also Doc Watson.  She came to love Bill Monroe too after she got to know me and Indie.  After hanging out in Harvey County for a few years, she was just one of the guys, and won our eternal respect.

        Tag is one of the great stories of the Mandolin Case.  Old men should never be prejudiced.  A young woman can teach ’em a few things about the world if they’ll listen.  Indie could be stubborn, but he respected Tag.  When she spoke he paid attention.

        It’s a good thing he did.  In the Mandolin Case, Indie needed all the help he could get.

Dr. B

Wheatie Wallenburg

October 25, 2008

        Wheatie Wallenburg was a junkie.  At the time of the Mandolin Case he was middle aged, and on towards elderly.  Demerol was his drug of choice, and all the Docs in town knew it.  Wheatie got his name ’cause he loved the Breakfast of Champions cereal.  His usual breakfast was a bowl of Wheaties, a bag of barbecued potato chips, and a cigar.  Indie told him it was too many browns, but he couldn’t get Wheatie to change.

        Indie was his Doc, and I took care of Wheatie what little bit of time Indie was gone.  Wheatie was a house painter and yard man, and took pride in his work.  No one trimmed shrubs as neat as Wheatie Wallenburg.

        I don’t know how Wheatie got hooked on Demerol.  It was a long time ago.  I do know he was an ex-Marine and was in the first wave to land on Iwo Jima.  He didn’t talk about it much, but one night I made rounds at the hospital and some old war movie was on.  Wheatie just sat there and cried. 

        He only opened up to me on the subject once.  When you hear a man talk about how he’d spread sand on a boat deck in anticipation of combat so he wouldn’t slip on the blood of his buddies…..  well after those stories I never could find it in me to be too judgemental of Wheatie.  He lived through hell so I could live in peace the way I saw it.

        One time the State Board got after Indie and insisted he send Wheatie to rehab.  Indie thought it was a mistake to do that, and I agreed, but the Board threatened to yank Indie’s license so he complied.

        The second night there Wheatie asked for his Demerol.  And the way he told me, he was polite about it.  When the attendant refused, Wheatie hit the man over the head with a Thunderbird wine bottle.  The guy had to have stitches, and filed assault charges.  Ted David got it reduced to probation.

        We knew rehab was a mistake from the get go.  Wheatie had flash-backs and thought he was in a brig.  When you’ve been stabbed in the shins with a machete for begging for water, I can see how a man would think that way.  

        Wheatie in rehab was a wild animal in a cage, and both Indie and I knew it’d be that way.  It is hard for a guy who wears a suit and issues periodic pontifications to understand a cat like Wheatie Wallenburg.

        Wheatie came home and life returned to normal.  He’d check in the hospital twice a month for his Demerol, and Indie’d give it to him.  At first the Medical Board complained every so often, but at Christmas Indie’d write and tell them of Wheatie’s troubles.  He’d close and ask if any of them would kindly look after him.  After a couple of years the letters were returned to sender. 

        Even though Wheatie drank cheap wine he couldn’t be bought for any price.  He said me and Indie were the only folks from that side of town who paid him any mind, and he never forgot it.  Mason Marley was on a fixed income but paid him for his yard work upon completion.  At the end of the month, Indie’d find an odd job for Wheatie whether he needed it done or not.  Wheat worked one day for Jim Olden years ago, but he stiffed him, so Wheatie didn’t go back.  Olden was lucky Wheatie didn’t break his knees.

        One time Wheatie saw they were gonna have a ballet at Sandhills.  He begged me and Marfar to drive him over there, and we did.  He sat in the back seat on the way home and never spoke till I pulled up in the driveway.  “Thanks, Doc.  That’s the most beautiful thing I ever saw in my life.”  At first I though Wheatie was just taken by the picture of the girl in the paper- she had quite a set of legs- but I’m sure he was touched by the performance.  Poor Wheatie.  I wonder how his life would have been if he’d grown up picking the mandolin intead of picking out machine gun nests full of young men to blow up.

        Wheatie was 5’8″ and 165 pounds.  I told him he would put on some weight if he quit smoking, but he didn’t buy into the idea.  He wore 10 1/2 DD shoes.  He lost a couple toes from frostbite one winter, and his feet were flat.  He said they had been all his life, but somehow he hid it from the recruiters when he volunteered.

         Indie taught Wheatie enough bass guitar to where he could get by, and he sat in on some jam sessions at the Cabin.  His favorite was ‘That Good Old Mountain Dew,” and he was proud he could play or sing it in any key.  He did not read much.  His T.V show was ‘Mr. Ed.’  He thought a talking  horse was hilarious.  When someone said it was too silly Wheatie scowled and said he’d had all the serious he wanted in the Pacific.  They didn’t bring it up again.  He liked ‘Driving Miss Daisy.’  He would leave the room if someone turned the channel to a war movie.

        Indie said we should accept Wheatie for what he was, and besides that Wheatie left his life on Iwo Jima.  Indie respected everyone for what they were, and I tried my best to be like Indie on that.  

        You will enjoy more on Wheatie in the Mandolin Case.  He might only be a yard man and a Demerol junkie with no education, but he was a big help.  I need to take him back to the Ballet.  He liked that.

Dr. B

Snookers Molesby

October 17, 2008

        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.

Dr. B

Blinky Wallendorf

October 15, 2008

        I never knew Blinky Wallendorf’s real name was Herman until after he died.  We all called him Blinky.  He got the nickname from a nervous twitch of his right eye.  Indie said it was a tic.  Betty Wallendorf was not satisfied and took Blink to a neuro-opthalmologist at Tobacco Triangle U.  He diagnosed it as involuntary blepharospasm of undetermined etiology, but it was still a tic.

        To break down the doctor talk for you, involuntary means Blinky didn’t have any control over it and undetermined etiology means I don’t know… what the hell it is.

        Of course Betty Wallendorf went all over town and told everyone how this high powered specialist was so much smarter than Indie, and Indie never said a word.  In truth the guy called Indie after the work-up and said, “Hell Indie, it’s just a tic.  I don’t know what the woman wants me to do about it.”

        Indie never said anything in public, but he did tell Blinky he thought part of it was stress from the void in his sex life, which made Betty Wallendorf all the madder.  It was true though.  Blinky and Betty hadn’t had sex in ten years.  Betty was a mean woman, but Blink never cheated on her.  I’m not sure if it was virtue or a lack of opportunity, though.

        Blinky might have had a nervous twitch of his eye, but he had a steady hand.  He was a fine poker player.  He and Indie played every Friday at Pete’s place.  Blinky could shoot pool better than anyone in town, and he was a great drop thumb banjo man.  He was lousy on the dobro, though, and worse with the fiddle.  He said Indie was the only guy in town smart enough to play the fiddle.  That made Betty mad too.

        Blink was a short, stout fellow, 5’7″ and 220 pounds, and much of it in his belly.  His sparse hair was a mousy gray, and his eyes were grayish too.  He had arcus senilis, that peculiar ring around the cornea you see sometimes.

        Like me and Indie, bluegrass music was his favorite.  He knew all the words to ‘Mother’s not Dead, She’s Only a Sleeping,’ and ‘Please Daddy, Don’t Drive Drunk No More.’  He liked country too, especially Dolly Parton.

        Blink wasn’t much of a reader, and tended to favor Batman comics.  Indie gave up on trying to interest him in literature, but still loved him like a brother in spite of his lack of formal education.

        Blinky was Indie’s best friend.  When he died I thought it was gonna kill Indie too.  One thing I always admired about Indie was his loyalty.  He never dissed Blinky.  After Blinky was in the grave, there were a few times Indie might coulda made himself look a little better to blame it on Blinky’s habits.  But, to his credit, he never did.  

Dr. B

More On Indie Jenkins

October 13, 2008

        I got an e-mail today from Citi Bank.  They requested I update the account information for Henry “Indie” Jenkins.

        I hope that rascal ain’t overdrawn again.

        When I looked at it close, though, I thought it was one of those scams.  It was the Ethiopian branch. That makes no sense, ’cause Indie ain’t never been out of town except for the Galax Fiddler’s Convention and to the beach the week of the 4th. 

        Of course maybe there’s another Indie Jenkins in Ethiopia, and we received the communication in error.  But, I think we’re safe to ignore the request.  Indie had a bad week at the Nursing home, and I don’t want to worry him.  I’ll check with the bank tomorrow.  If he’s bounced a check I’ll cover it.  But I think it’s a fake, and I doubt they’d come from Ethiopia to get him anyway.

Dr. B