Posted tagged ‘writer’s corner’

Bluegrass Barber Shop/The Making of an Author

September 6, 2008

        I like to keep y’all updated whenever I get an article placed.  In the last issue of the Laurel Magazine of Asheville there is one I wrote while on vacation this summer called ‘The Bluegrass Barber Shop.’  The Laurel can be accessed on my blogroll.

        I was real proud they chose me, but my editor, Mr. Paul Howey, said not to get the big head.  His boss wanted it written up by a bluegrass mandolin picking doctor, and the one he knew in Tennessee was tied up, so I got the gig.  (Sometimes availability trumps ability)   

        Mr. Howey is a good’un.  Any cat who wants me to play bluegrass music a half a day with a bunch of fine pickers, write up an article on it, and pay me to drive up there to boot can be my boss any day.

        With this article, I reckon I am now promoted to ‘author.’  (Definition:  A writer who has been published three different places.)  On the other hand, Clive Cussler has already claimed the title ‘His Authorship’ so maybe I better stick to being Tommy Bibey, bluegrass picking doctor writer.

        But, no matter how you cut it, this writer gig is one heck of a lot of fun.

Dr. B


Exhumed-Excerpt of Chapter 41

August 29, 2008

Chapter 41:  Exhumed 

        Dawn broke.  Did the ruse work?  Was Snookers able to convince Olden his case was in jeopardy?  All I could do is wait on one of the scouts to call.
        It warn’t long.  Light-thirty.  Six bells. My computer flashed an e-mail alert.  Ms. Cindy had logged onto the blog.
        “Me and Ranger Dog were out for our morning walk and wish to confirm.  There is a body and that body is Blinky.”
        I responded.  “Positive ID?”
        “Yep.  Correct headstone anyway.  Plus Jim Olden was ecstatic.  He said to take him to the morgue now, then re-bury that S.O.B. just as fast as you can.”
        “Got it.  No question, then.  That is a positive ID.  Anything else?”  I typed a response.    
        “Yes.  Do not trust Mr. Olden.  Betty Wallendorf was all but slobbering over him.  Ranger Dog growled at the man.  Ranger likes everyone- Olden must be a cheat.”
        “I always trust the intuition of young women and old dogs, Ms. Cindy.  Thanks for the heads up.”
        “Not a problem Bibey.  Y’all play ‘Lonesome old Graveyard’ for me in your next set,” she replied.
        “Will do.”  Ms. Cindy was a good’un.  I reckon I’d better get down to the morgue and see what was gonna shake out.
        I sauntered in.  “Hey ya’ll, Dr. Mortimer around?  I promised I’d bring him Darrell’s new gospel CD.  Lord a mercy it’s good.”  Everyone looked very nervous, and of course I had no idea why.  “Lord, y’all look like you’ve seen a ghost.  Ain’t y’all used to dead people by now?”…………..

        Well, back to Indie’s current situation.  I am pleased to report he is a little better.  Right after the holiday I’m gonna check another chest x-ray and be sure this pneumonia clears 100%.  I’ll let you know how it looks.

Dr. B

Betty Wallendorf and Jim Olden, CEO

August 22, 2008

        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.

Dr. B

Betty and The Mean Woman Blues

August 19, 2008

        Nowadays Indie leads a quiet life at the Nursing Home.  He’s content to play a bit of music and tend to his garden.  He makes sure all the ladies at the home have a fresh rose on their birthday.
        His existence was not so peaceful all his adult life.  Not only had Indie been a busy Doc, but you could count on him to be the last man to leave a jam session, and he and his pal Blinky went on many a hunting and fishing trip.  For a while they owned a boat, but they got lost at sea and had to be rescued by the Coast Guard.  Their wives made them sell it, but they remained the best of friends, perhaps even closer than ever after the “Great Rescue” as they called it. 

        I got over to see Indie again tonight.  Marfar brought some fine shrimp and cocktail sauce, and we had a regular feast.  After supper she had to split to go to the Quilt Guild show. 

        “Indie, let me walk Ms. Marfar out to the car.  I’ll be right back.  I’m gonna visit while she goes to the show.”

        “Sure enough, Bibey.  I’ll baby sit you for an hour,” Indie said.

        I walked with Marfar to the parking lot, and kissed her bye for the evening.  “I’ll be home after a while.  I was on call last time I talked to Indie, and our visit got cut short.” 

        “Well, Indie ain’t long for this world.  Better give him his flowers while he is living.  I’ll catch you at the house after the show,” Marfar said.  “Y’all enjoy your visit.”  That Marfar was a good’un.  I hope she wins the blue ribbon.  I went back to check on Indie. 

        When I came back in, Indie was finishing off supper.  “Bibey, you tell Ms. Marfar she’s welcome any time. Them’s some fine shrimpies. Beats the hell outta that streaky meat you used to bring to Galax.”

        “Glad you enjoyed. I’ll send your compliments.  So Indie, what was the deal with Betty Wallendorf?  That woman had a vendetta against you, brother.”

        “Yeah, Bibey.  Betty had the mean woman blues for sure.”  Indie wheeled over near Barney, the skeleton he’d kept in the corner of his office for years.  It was about the only item from the practice he’d brought with him when he moved in.  Indie was very fond of Barney, and everyone at the home knew to leave the skeleton be.  Barney sat in the corner with Indie’s stethoscope wrapped around his bony neck and never said a word.   It’s a good thing.  Lord, if Barney the skeleton and Indie’s fiddle could talk- what tales they’d tell.  I told Indie it didn’t matter, though.  He was the only guy I knew who kept his skeleton out of the closet in plain view anyway.  I was Indie’s Doc, and he told me all.

        “Check the hallway, Bibey,” Indie said.

        “Yes sir.”  I went to the door and looked around.  I saw no stragglers.   “Looks O.K., Indie.” 

        He reminded me again about the manuscript  “Now Bibey, you keep my secrets while I’m alive, but I want you to drop that S.O.B. in the U.S. mail on the way home from the funeral.”  Indie was blunt like that.

        “Yes, sir,”  I said.

        Indie hooked Barney by the rib with his cane, and pulled him close.  Years ago he had used a bone scalpel to fashion a trap door out of the skull cap.  His closest associates knew he kept his valuables there, but it was a secret held close to the vest.  He retrieved a couple of small bottles of Jim Beam.

        Indie fished around in the drawer of end table at the bedside, found his Dixie cups, and poured himself a drink.  “”Care to speak to Jimmy Beam, Bibey?”

        “Better not, Indie.  Thanks, though.”

        “Suit yourself.  I don’t offer him to everyone you know.”  Indie poured me a Coca-Cola.  “Well, Bibey, like I said, when Betty was young, she was quite a looker.”    

        “Hard to imagine, Indie.”

        “Yeah, well you forget Bibey.  I was in town a long time before you even went off to college.  Blink was the first guy I met when I came to Harnett County.  We were instant friends, and he was my first patient.  He asked if I’d take care of the whole family, and I said sure, I’m a Family Doc.  Not a problem.”

        “So that’s how you wound up being Betty’s Doc?”

        “Yep, and it was a mistake from the get-go.  Hell, the woman came in on the first visit and told me all about what was wrong with Blinky and their sex life.  I saw it as trouble.  I wouldn’t even go in the exam room without my nurse; you can be sure of that.”

        “So, how did it go bad?”

        “One night the Country Club had a membership drive.  I only went as a favor to Blink, and it turns out he only went to get Betty off his case.  Anyway, I had no interest in a membership, but they had a good card room and some free booze, so me and Blink went down to the basement to play poker.  Blink got sick, and I had to take him over to emergency room and give him some IV fluids.

        “So what has any of this got to do with Betty?”

        “Everything.  I realized I’d left my durn wallet in the card room and went back to get it.  When I got back to the club, everyone had gone home except Betty Wallendorf.  She was waiting on me.”  Indie poured up a second drink.  “Now Bibey, you gotta understand.  At that time Betty Wallendorf was a good looking woman.”

        “You and Betty Wallendorf?  Indie, I ain’t believing this!”

        “Ssh, Bibey.  You’re too loud.  And no, it didn’t go that way.  No way.  Blink was my best friend.”  Indie turned up his drink, then crumpled his Dixie cup and tossed it across the room into the trash can.  “She came up and said, ‘Indie, didja lose something?’  And man, she used that kinda voice that can lead a man around on a leash.”  I said, ‘yeah, I think I left my wallet.”

        Indie fidgeted.  “So, she strolls up and mashes ‘em right up agin me.  She had on some low cut thing you know.  Damn, she was good looking Bibey.”

        “Indie, you didn’t didja?”

        “Naw Bibey, but I was still young and testosterone poisoned.  It took all the will power I had.  Anyway, she said, ‘It’s right here, Indie.  Your’s for the looking, and the taking.’  Mercy sakes, Bibey.”

        Indie scratched his forehead with his left hand just like I’d seen him do when he was worried about a case.  I’d never seen him so nervous.  I’d a loved to have been a fly on the wall that night.  “So Indie, what didja do?”

        “I reached in there, snatched my wallet right out from betwixt her boobs and got the hell outta there.  Never went back to the club again.”

        “Was that he end of it?”

        “Nope.  She called me at home the next night.  Can you believe that?  Lord God, if Ms. Jenkins hada answered the phone….”

        “What did she say?”

        “Women are very intuitive, Bibey.  I mean at the club, I turned her down, but she knew good and damn well she’d made me sweat, and she enjoyed it.  The woman just flat told me Blinky was a bum.  Said any woman in town would love to get laid by a young doctor like me.”

        “Good Lord a mercy, Indie.  What didja say?”

        “Shoot, I said, well that’s a funny thing, Ms. Betty, ‘cause you’re the first woman in town that’s offered except Ms. Jenkins, and she don’t very often.  It was a lot easier to deal with over the telephone.  I guess I got the message across, ‘cause she transferred her records the next week.”

        “I guess that was the end of that.”

        “Yeah, except the woman hated me ever since.  She tried to sue me when Blinky had his first stroke.”

        “Gosh, Indie.  I never heard about that one. 

        “I tell you what, Bibey, it’s another long story.  I’m pooped out man, but can you come back next week?  I need to tell you that one, too.” 

        “Will do, Indie. Anything else you need?”

        “Yeah, Bibey.  How ‘bout bringing some women?  It’s been a long time since anyone has offered.”

        “Shut up, Indie.”  I’d known Indie long enough to know when he was kidding.  At least, I think he was anyway.

A Little Help From My Friends

August 14, 2008

        My agent wrote the other day and said he wanted me to think about web sites and blog updates.  He wants me to get all this up to speed before a big presentation late fall.  Some crowd in New York might take a look at the whole package (manuscript, blog, website) to decide if they want to publish Tommy Bibey or not.

        I have a couple of thoughts on that.  My first one is HELP!  I am reminded of the little girl in ‘Gone with the Wind’ who said she didn’t know nothing about birthing no babies.  Well, I know very little about publishing, or web sites or blogs either.   So, I thought the best place to start on all this would be to ask my readers.  If you guys have particular web sites or blogs you think have visual appeal, let me know.  I would like to look at them as I enter this next stage of development.

        It occurred to me this country doctor is swimming in deep water.  I know about birthing babies, but I don’t know nothing about writing no book, or publishing either, so I appreciate any insight you might offer.  One thing to keep in mind is this.  I don’t have enough political capital in the literary world to issue any ultimatums, but in the process I don’t want to change who Tommy Bibey is.  For that matter, I can’t.  When Flatt and Scruggs went to Carnegie Hall, they played bluegrass music.  They ain’t a thing wrong with classical, but they couldn’t be that all of a sudden and neither can I.  You have to be what you is.

        Also, I want to reassure you of one thing.  I promised you a book, and there will be a book.  The more involvement I have with folks who know what they are doing the better, because I think it will be a much better book for the process.  But, if all the publishers turn me down, I’ll self publish.  However, I believe the book will better than if I had self published without the benefit of the process of maturation as a writer.  (I’ve still got a ways to go.)

        So, if you see things you think might dress up Tommy Bibey a bit (I realize that is a tall order) let me know.  I’d like to scope ’em out and so would my agent.  Like everyone else in the world, if I’m gonna make it, I’ll need a little help from my friends.

Dr. B

I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant/Temple’s Law

July 14, 2008

        I didn’t know I was pregnant.  No, not me.  That would be a tad too fictional, huh?  However, it is possible for a woman to become pregnant and get all the way to term and not realize she is with child.  (In the end it will make itself known, though.)

        A gentleman from Mike Mathis Productions of Pasadena, California read my blog, and contacted me to consult on a series they had in the works with the Discovery Heath Channel called, “I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant.”  As a Doc I have seen this phenonenon before, and it brought back a number of memories.

        My first knowledge of the concept came from my Community Medicine mentor and all around bluegrass doctor hero, Dr. Peter Temple, back when I was in med school at Sandhills.  Peter had a series of laws the student had to memorize to get an “A” in his rotation.  (You could only make an “A+” if you could also pick bluegrass music on his front porch on Wednesday night.  Guess who his A+ student was?”)

        Anyway, his most important law was Temple’s Law Number ONE.  It was: “A woman is pregnant till proved otherwise.”  This is a very important doctor rule, perhaps the single most important one I learned in medical school.  Armed with Temple’s Law, in all these years I have never x-rayed a pregnant woman.  In fact, as a third year med student I was the hero of daily rounds (a rare occurrence I assure you) when I canceled an IVP ( a kidney x-ray with a fair amount of radiation) ordered on a patient whose missed period was overlooked by a Doc who should have known better.  Temple’s Law.  As we say in bluegrass, it is a good’un.  (As is Temple.)

        I residency, the first patient I saw who was unaware of her condition had made it to the eighth month.  I’ll never forget her chief complaint. (doctor talk for what is wrong)  “Doctor, I don’t know what’s happened, but my belly be swolle and my gym shorts don’t fit like they used to.”  I delivered her baby and a second one, too.  (She was aware of number two right from the missed period.)

        After I got out in practice some of the older Docs told me about house calls they’d made to check on someone with abdominal pain only to become involved in an emergency home delivery.  And I had a few patients who had been told they could not get pregnant and were certain their nausea and vomiting were due to terminal cancer.  (Talk about a reversal of fortune in fifteen minutes!)

        Mathis Productions hoped I might have some recent patients who would like to tell their story on national T.V., and I had to tell him I did not at this time.  My patients have grown older with me, and mine is more of a geriatric practice these days.  However, they sent me Episode 101 on DVD, and I found it both accurate medicine, and fast paced entertainment.  I told them I would post on the blog for them and scout around with my colleagues.  Some of my GYN friends will be on the look-out, and I had to send a copy to my old pal Dr. Temple.  He’s seen it all twice.

        If y’all know of anyone who got to term and got surprised with a baby, contact Mike Mathis Productions at the e-mail below.  They’d love to hear your story.  I hope it has a happy ending- those are my favorites.

Contact e-mail:

Dr. B