Sunday, April 15, 2012

Duck Hook

Doug Smithwood stood on the sixth fairway of the Deer Hollow Golf Club gazing up at a red tailed hawk carving lazy circles in a perfect azure sky. He was not so much interested in the hawk as in not looking at his playing partner’s swing. John Stein was a client and played golf with him once a week. It was a big sacrifice, but to keep John’s business, a painful necessity.

John’s swing, which was only slightly better than Charles Barkley’s, annoyed Doug but he also played so slowly that Doug nearly went mad waiting for him. His pre-shot routine surpassed that of the pros playing the final hole of the US Open.

He carefully lined up each shot, plumb bobbed the fairway, took four or five practice swings and waggled and re-gripped like Sergio. Then the mighty lunge at the ball, that invariably screamed down the fairway about eight inches off the ground, usually winding up anywhere but the short grass. Then the same thing all over again for each-and-every-shot. The one good thing you could say about John’s game: his pre-shot routine stayed consistent. A fast round for the two of them was about 5 1/2 hours. The golf club usually left five or six tee times open behind them to prevent mayhem on the course. John spent heavily in the bar and had donated the engraved granite tee-box signs so everyone made allowances.

Doug endured this torture because John had all his personal and company business with his insurance firm, and John, ever cautious, had a lot of insurance; life, health, disability, fire, theft, auto and liability…lots and lots of liability. He even had a ridiculously expensive policy to pay off the IRS estate taxes to preserve his fortune for his two lazy and ungrateful children. A meteorite could strike his Cadillac Escalade in the club parking lot and he would be well covered.

Doug played a pretty fair game of golf, except, of course, when he played with John. His usual handicap of 10 swelled by a dozen strokes on these dreaded Tuesdays, meaning that even with the strokes he had to give John, he still wound up buying dinner and drinks. Doug wrote it off as “client golf” but nonetheless suffered the weekly ritual.

While some might dispute it, Doug thought of himself as a reasonably good-looking man. At least he told himself that each morning as he gazed into the mirror. At just under six feet and lean, or skinny, depending on the light, he tried to imitate the casual stroll of Freddie Couples. He had sandy hair that at 45 showed some thinning. A careful comb-over disguised the worst of it. A lot of days on the golf course in summer and three weeks in Florida in winter, not to mention the odd trip to the tanning salon gave his somewhat irregular features a healthy glow. A weak chin and close-set eyes torpedoed any hope of making the sexiest men of the year list. The eyes he simply covered up by wearing sunglasses rain or shine. The chin? Well, not much could be done about that. He tried a beard, but it grew in clumps, like bunch grass in the high desert. He practiced jutting it out in front of the mirror. It didn’t help. As he often said to himself, “Well, you’re no Hugh Jackman, but you’ll do.”

The towns folk found his vanity harmless, if a bit amusing, and he was generally liked and regarded as honest; an essential character trait for a small town businessman. His insurance business thrived on that opinion and perhaps more so because of his sexy office manager, Melanie.

On this Tuesday, as he stared unseeing at the hawk, he thought wistfully about the lovely Melanie. In the midst of this revelry, a ball struck by the beefy arms of Dr. Eberley, the town’s veterinarian, screeched in a nasty arching hook from the adjacent fifth fairway and collided with Doug’s skull. Witnesses later remarked that it sounded like it had hit one of the substantial oaks that lined the fairways of Deer Hollow. Some uncharitably thought that “oak” pretty much described the consistency of Doug’s head. The impact caused the instant liquefaction of his skeleton and he flopped to the turf like a jellyfish tossed on the shore.

John, of course, missed the whole thing. The loud thwack occurred in the middle of John’s backswing and subconsciously altered his swing such that he struck the ball perfectly. It sailed high and straight, landing softly on the sixth green and rolled to five feet from the pin. Clearly, he had just executed the best shot of his entire life. He screamed with joy and began leaping in the air, waving his arms like a Zulu warrior. After several moments of wild celebration, John turned toward Doug to receive his praise. Only then, spotting his friend inert on the ground, did he realize he probably should go see what was up. But, first things first. He retrieved his divot, stomped it into place, carefully wiped off his five iron and placed it in his golf bag before climbing into the cart to drive over to Doug.

By that time, Doc Eberley and his playing partner, Joe, were already sprinting toward Doug’s lifeless body. Doc was in the lead and the ground trembled as the ex-Notre Dame offensive guard lumbered to the fallen golfer.

“Call 911!” gasped Doc as John’s cart skidded to a stop beside them. Doc gently rolled Doug onto his back, checked his pulse and peeled back his eyes for a peek.

“What happened?” Asked John.

“I hit a duck hook and apparently hit Doug in the head. Look at that lump on the side of his head.”

“Uh, oh,” muttered Joe. He, above all, knew Doc attacked the golf ball like he would a home invading terrorist and that when he got his 320 pounds behind a shot, anything in the path of the ball was in danger. “He gonna live?”

“I dunno. I’m a vet not a doctor, you asshole.”

“Hey look”, exclaimed John. “There’s your ball Doc! I think you have a pretty good angle to the green from here.” Doc swung his huge head toward John, his beefy face red from exertion and stress. He opened his mouth to speak and then turned his gaze back to Doug and shook his head in disgust.

They all turned in the direction of the clubhouse as the sound of a siren carried on the wind. “They’ll be here soon”, Doc said. He bent down to check Doug’s pulse and breathing again.

“Hey guys, you want to join up to finish the round after they haul Dougie away?” asked John.

“You must be kidding. We got a guy here who may die ‘cause I hit him with my golf ball and you want to keep playing?! He’s your friend, for Christ’s sake!”

“Well, shit, I’m layin’ two up there on number six and I don’t get many chances at a birdie.” John gave a stubborn pout and turned away.

“I’m going to the hospital and I’m going to call his wife… Maryanne, is it?”

“I’m going to the bar,” Joe mumbled.

The ambulance careened into view, lights flashing and sirens blasting. It fishtailed alarmingly as it accelerated toward them. The ambulance raced up the middle of the fairway and skidded to a stop, tearing up 20 yards of turf. The two EMTs jumped out and ran up to the group. “Whataya got, Doc?” the tall driver asked.

“Hit in the head with a golf ball. Hasn’t moved since. Pulse weak and eyes dilated,” replied the vet.

“OK, you guys stand back. We’ll take it from here.” The golfers moved off to watch the EMTs check Doug’s blood pressure and pulse before loading him into the ambulance, and with sirens wailing, stormed back down the sixth fairway. Three golf carts pulled up containing the head pro, marshal and several clubhouse hangers on. They all strode quickly up to Doc.

“What happened?” They all shouted in unison.

“I wonder how many times we’ll get to tell this story?” muttered Joe.

“I’m outta here guys,” shouted John as he mounted his golf cart and drove off in the direction of the sixth green and the inevitable three putt.

Doug lay inert in a hospital bed with a Circuit City inventory of electrical equipment beeping and flashing behind him. A nurse was checking his pulse when his wife, Maryanne, swept into the room like an overweight model from the Mother Earth Catalogue. “Is he going to live?” she demanded.

The nurse turned, both startled and curious at the substance and tone of the question. ‘It almost sounds like she’s hoping for a negative response.’ She thought. “Sorry Mrs. Smithwood, I’m not allowed to discuss the condition of patients. You will have to wait for the Dr. Tyabji. He should be here in a couple of minutes.” Maryanne started pacing impatiently up and down at the foot of the bed. Nurse Jones found it odd that Mrs. Smithwood never once looked at her husband or went to his side. She stole sidelong glances at the wife to size her up more carefully. Maryanne stood about 5’6” with a stocky build tending to fat. The auburn hair cut in a short, straight pageboy framed her chubby face that was devoid of make up. The mannish clothes didn’t do her any good, the nurse mused…. ‘Sorta looks like Kathy Bates.’

Dr. Tyabji burst into the room like a greyhound out of the gate, startling them both. “Ah, you must be Mrs. Smithwood!” Tyabji said. His face weaved in a broad grin and his glasses slid dangerously down his long slender nose as he spoke. “I think I have good news.” Nurse Jones noticed a slight frown ghost across Maryanne’s face like the shadow of a vulture before a weak smile creased her chunky features. “Yes, indeed,” continued the doctor in his crisp Indian accent. “We have given your husband an extensive series of tests including a CAT scan, and while he has a slight skull fracture and some minor brain swelling, which we are treating, of course, we are quite confident that he will make a full recovery.”

“But Doctor, he’s still unconscious.”

“Yes, quite. However, you must remember that he has received a severe blow to the head with some minor brain swelling, as I mentioned. When the swelling subsides,” (a difficult word for the good doctor) “he will regain consciousness. I would estimate within 24 hours he’ll be back with us.”

“Thank you, Doctor. I’ll be back tomorrow.” With that, Maryanne turned and stomped from the room. Tyabji turned to the Nurse and they both shrugged.

The next morning Doug’s best friend and personal attorney, Larry Corcoran, sat in Doug’s room talking quietly with Melanie Kulkowski, Doug’s office manager. For the last two hours Larry had been trying his best not to look at Melanie’s shapely legs clearly displayed by her very short skirt. She liked to wear them short and tight, and favored open toed high-heeled sandals. Melanie also preferred to show ample amounts of her considerable cleavage. Thus, whenever he shifted his gaze from her cornflower blue eyes, Larry was confronted with tempting glimpses of Melanie’s considerable assets. Despite her stunning body, Melanie came up a surprising dollar short of being beautiful. It was something about her face that no one could quite figure out.

With her long blond hair and preference for revealing costumes, it would be easy to conclude that Melanie was just another witless bimbo. Larry knew otherwise. He knew that behind the fa├žade of the ditzy blond lurked a shrewd intelligence and keen judgment. She ran Doug’s office with the efficiency of a Chief Boatswain's mate and the charm of an English hostess. She was obviously very concerned about Doug and every few seconds glanced his way as she twisted a damp wad of Kleenex in her lap.

Doug mumbled something incoherent and began thrashing around in the bed. Larry and Melanie jumped up simultaneously and nearly knocked each other over. “Get the doctor!” Larry shouted as he lunged for the bed to restrain Doug. Even as he grabbed him, Larry watched Melanie’s magnificent derriere bunching rhythmically under the snug skirt as she rushed to the door, high heels clattering. He gave a guilty sigh.

Doug had his eyes open and stared up at Larry in confusion as Dr. Tyabji and the Nurse Jones rushed into the room with Melanie right on their heels.

“Ah, Mr. Smithwood, I see you have decided to rejoin us,” beamed Tyabji. Doug, mouth agape, shifted his eyes from one person to another in obvious confusion. “Calm yourself, Mr. Smithwood. You are in the hospital. You were brought here from the golf course where you were struck on the head by a golf ball. Do you remember playing golf?” Doug slowly shook his head no.

“Do you recognize me, Doug?” asked Larry.

Doug studied him carefully as if he were studying mug shots. His brow creased in concentration for a long moment before he shrugged, “No idea.”

“I’m your best friend, Larry. We went to school together… K through 12. I’m also your attorney.

“Sorry. No clue. My name is ‘Doug’?”

“How about me?” Melanie piped in, thrusting forward her unforgettable chest. “I’m your office manager.” Doug’s eyes traveled from Melanie’s face to her generously filled blouse, down to the ringless fingers gripping the bed rail, and back.

“Nope. Nothing. Sorry.”

“Well,” interrupted Dr. Tyabji, “Temporary amnesia is not unusual in cases like yours Mr. Smithwood. You received a nasty crack on the noggin, as they say. Your memory will return in a day or two and then you will be as good as new. For now, that’s quite enough. I think you two should move along and let Mr. Smithwood get some rest. You can come back tomorrow. The nurse will give you a little something to relax, Mr. Smithwood. I will look in on you later.”

Larry and Melanie reluctantly moved to the door and were nearly run over by Maryanne and one Stephen Cotter, Pastor of the New Hope and Commitment Church. Tall, serious, sporting a graying van dyke and ridiculously slender sunglasses, Cotter nodded a greeting at Larry and Melanie. ‘Asshole’, thought Larry. Doug had confessed one night after a few too many beers that he thought the church was a cult. On one of those drunken evenings he’s said they should call it “The Church of What’s Happening Now”.

Maryanne had joined five years ago and had become obsessed with the place, spending all her time there. She had let herself go, gaining 50 pounds and refusing to wear feminine clothes or make up. Their sex life regressed from “not too often” to “never”. And, as Maryanne gave increasing amounts of money to the church, the battles over money escalated to epic wars. Larry had grilled Doug repeatedly on whether he was bonking the charming Melanie who obviously held more than feelings of respect for her boss. Doug had vehemently denied ever touching Melanie and said he respected his marriage vows. Larry believed him. Doug held out the hope that she would get over this fixation with the church. Larry, being the cynical lawyer, remained convinced that Maryanne was doing more on her knees than praying with the slimy pastor. He thought Doug likely shared this suspicion.

Maryanne glared at Melanie and growled, “Out of my way, Ms. Kulkowski.” They’d known each other for eight years and never managed to get beyond the formal form of address.

“You shouldn’t go in there, Mrs. Smithwood. He’s awake but the doctor wants him to rest now.”

“Bullshit!” Maryanne swept Melanie aside with an effortless swing of her thick arm and lurched through the door. She immediately collided with the slight Tyabji knocking him on his backside. As he skidded to a stop on the polished floor, his stethoscope spun to the floor, his glasses dangled from one ear and his careful comb over flopped over his eyes. He uttered a loud expletive, probably in Punjabi, and gave Maryanne a black scowl.

“M-M-Mrs. Smithwood, you must leave. I will speak to you in the hall.”

Maryanne ignored him and stomped to the foot of the bed. “So, you’re awake.”

“Who are you?”

“I’m your wife, Turkey. Don’t pretend you don’t know who I am.”

“Get out of my room. I have no idea who you are.”

“Mrs. Smithwood,” Tyabji pleaded, “I must insist. Your husband needs no stress at this time. You must leave at once.”

“Butt out, Dr. Curry Powder!” Maryanne shouted.

Pastor Cotter eased up next to Maryanne and gently grasped her arm. “Let’s go Mary. He needs to rest.” She relaxed, shot Doug a final glower and then let Cotter lead her out the door like an obedient dog. Tyabji looked at Larry and Melanie standing stunned in the doorway and raised his arms, palms up in the international sign of “beats me”.

“Mary?” Muttered Melanie, “That’s weird!”

Larry and Melanie strolled down the hospital corridor heading for the exit. “She hates my guts,” observed Melanie. Larry stood a head taller than Melanie even in her high heels. It afforded him an excellent angle to admire the delightfully mysterious valley between her breasts.

“Why’s that?” he asked without much interest.

“You’re staring at my tits, Larry…”

“Sorry, Melanie.” He flushed a bright crimson and cleared his throat in embarrassment.

“I think you’re gaping at a couple of reasons.” She replied dryly.

Doug awoke when the first glimmer of dawn brightened his window. He tried to open his mouth and discovered his tongue felt and tasted like a dried buffalo chip. He turned and reached for the plastic cup of water on the side table and the motion provoked a headache that pounded like a huge Japanese drum. After taking a few gulps he lay back on the pillows and began to think.

Where am I? Hospital. Golf ball. Check.

Who am I? Douglas R. Smithwood. Check.

Where do I live? 527 Maple Grove Drive. Check.

What do I do? Own an insurance agency. Check

Who is my wife? Maryanne. Check.

Who is my best friend? Larry. Check.

Who is Melanie? Hmmm. Check.

He closed his eyes trying to ignore the throbbing pain and feared that his skull was about to explode. As he pondered his circumstances and his current situation, a crude and diabolical plan started to take shape. Despite the pain, he smiled.

The next morning Doug had just pushed aside his breakfast tray when Dr. Tyabji walked into the room followed by Maryanne. She was attired in her usual costume of bib overalls, a green, waist-length, cloth coat and work shoes. Doug stared at his wife, his eyes wide and his mouth twisted in the distorted oval of horror. “Good morning, Mr. Smithwood,” chirped the ever-cheerful Tyabji. And, seeing the look on his face, “Are you alright?” Doug gaped open mouthed at Maryanne as the doctor continued. “I have great news, Mr. Smithwood. We are discharging you this morning. You can continue your recovery at home. I am confident that your memory will ret……”

Doug broke him off with a scream. “Noooooo!!! She wants to cut off my legs!” He flailed and thrashed as his screams assaulted their ears. The breakfast tray went flying sending plate, cup and silverware scattering in all directions. An IV stand next to the bed crashed to the floor and skidded to Tyabji’s feet as Doug continued screaming at the top of his lungs.

“Out, Mrs. Smithwood,” shouted Tyabji. “Out, out, out!!” Maryanne bolted for the door, narrowly avoiding another head on collision with a nurse and orderly that were rushing in. All three grabbed Doug who went limp once Maryanne had left.

“She wants to cut off my legs!” He moaned as tears welled in his eyes. “She wants to tie me to the bed and cut off my legs! She’s crazy! Keep her away from me…. Please!”

“Now, now, Mr. Smithwood. Everything is fine now. You just relax.” He nodded at the orderly who jabbed a needle in Doug’s arm. In seconds the drugs delivered Doug to a quieter world.

The doctor left the room muttering with his head down in deep thought. As Nurse Jones approached he asked, “Is Mrs. Smithwood still here?”

“No, Doctor. She ran straight out the door.”

Dr. Tyabji walked briskly down the hall to his office. He punched in a number on his phone and sat back in his chair. “Dr. Goldstein, please. Thank you.” He waited. “Ira. Ashok here. Fine, thank you. Look Ira, I have an unusual case here and was hoping you could stop by this afternoon? Sure, 4 o’clock would be fine. Yes, thanks.”

At mid-morning the next day, Larry and Melanie sat in the waiting room of the hospital as Dr. Ira Goldstein approached. He was dressed in a natty checked suit, tailored white shirt and a red bow tie. The bushy mustache and dark rimmed glasses vaguely reminded Larry of a younger and better-dressed version of Joseph Stalin. After introductions and identifying himself as the clinical psychiatrist called in on Doug’s case, Dr. Goldstein got down to business. “Mr. Corcoran, I am told you are Mr. Smithwood's attorney?” Larry nodded. “Do you have power of attorney?”

Again, Larry nodded and added, “Yes, I do.”

“Good. Well, here’s the situation. Mr. Smithwood seems to have developed a case of trauma induced paranoid schizophrenia.”

“What?!” they both responded in unison.

“Yes, regrettably. He seems to have developed an unnatural fear of his wife. I met with his wife and I think I have discovered the root of these fears.” Larry and Melanie leaned forward. “I noticed that she bears a striking resemblance to Kathy Bates as she looked in the movie ‘Misery’.”

“Huh?” exclaimed Larry.

“You know, Larry. The movie with James Caan. Bates kept cutting off body parts to keep him around,” Melanie explained.

“Precisely, Ms. Kulkowski.” Replied Ira, sneaking a peek at the restless puppies undulating under Melanie’s sheer silk blouse. “The amnesia is blocking his normal memory, so his deep subconscious fears are coming to the surface. Apparently the movie made a lasting impression on him. However, given time for Mr. Smithwood’s injuries to heal and treatment, I think we can manage a full recovery for him. Umm, he does have adequate medical coverage, I assume.”

“Yes, Doctor. He’s an insurance executive,” said Melanie.

“This hospital is not a suitable environment for treatment of this type of illness. I would like to recommend the Greentree Rehabilitation Center over in Avalon. It’s an excellent facility with plenty of activities and a first rate staff. No high maintenance patients, if you know what I mean. I think he would be very comfortable there, and quite convenient for me to continue his treatment. What do you say Mr. Corcoran? Shall we sign the paperwork now and get Mr. Smithwood on his way to recovery?”

“What about Maryanne… his wife?” asked Larry.

“Well Mr. Corcoran, since Mr. Smithwood is incapacitated and you have his power of attorney, you are tasked with the responsibility of acting in his best interests. His wife really has no say in the matter.”

“OK. I guess long term care is what’s best for him,” Larry replied sadly. “Can we see him and explain this to him?”

“Of course. I think that would be appropriate. I’ll see you in the waiting room when you are ready.”

Larry and Melanie slipped quietly into Doug’s room. He was awake and watching a baseball game on TV with the sound muted. “Hi Doug,” said Larry. Melanie waved. Doug just nodded. “I suppose you don’t remember us?” He shook his head. “Look Doug, the doctors think you’d be better off in a place where you could relax and get well, some place other than this damn hospital. That OK with you?” Doug simply nodded. “Alright, buddy, we’ll take care of it. We gotta run now so you just take it easy, man. We want you to get well soon.”

As Melanie followed Larry out the door she turned back to look at Doug. Tears blurred her vision as she stepped out the door. She stopped, stood motionless and thought, ‘Did he just wink at me? Nah.’ As Larry headed down the hall to meet with Ira, she turned back and opened the door, peering around it. Doug was grinning at her… a big shit-eating grin. He waved and winked again. She shut the door and said aloud, “Damn!” With heels clicking on the hard floor, she pulled out her Blackberry and typed, “Larry, we gotta meet.”

Maryanne sat across from Pastor Cotter in the curiously over decorated living room of his rectory house. She was garbed in her usual costume while Cotter sported a carefully tailored dark suit, custom made shirt and red Hermes tie.

“That asshole Corcoran signed the papers to get Doug committed. He’s going over to Greentree in Avalon.” Spat Maryanne.

“What’s the diagnosis?” asked Cotter.

“Paranoid schizophrenia from the crack on the head. At least that’s what the Jew psychologist, Goldstein, thinks.”


“Yeah, whatever.”

“Look, maybe this is the answer to your prayers. Let him sit there for a few months and then file for divorce on the grounds of loss of companionship and sexual services.”

“Ha. What sex?” Maryanne snorted.

“Hear me out. Whether he recovers or not you can still claim the same grounds. Keep in mind that his insurance and settlements for his injuries, plus his other assets will amount to a considerable amount of money. You should be able to get at least half, especially with the right attorney.”

“Go on. I’m listening.”

“We have an excellent lawyer representing the church. I’m sure I can convince him to take your case free of charge, assuming, of course, that you would go ahead with that large donation to the church we discussed.” Cotter looked up with a benign expression.

“Deacon Mary?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“You’re brilliant, Stephen! I love this plan.”

“Wonderful. I’ll call Eldridge in the morning.”

“Er, Stephen…. Right now I’m so excited I think I need something to relax.”

“Were you thinking a drink or something more ah, physically relaxing?” Cotter made an obvious effort to adjust the bulge in his trousers. She caught the move and smiled shyly.

“Do you think we could change into the white silk prayer robes? The sensation of the silk against my skin makes me feel very spiritual.”

“Of course, Dear. Let me fetch them.”

Judge Harry Blackburn lumbered into the conference room like the big bear that he resembled. He carried himself with the round-shouldered slouch of large, heavy men. Peering over the glasses perched on his prominent and very red nose, he twitched his Groucho-like eyebrows and rumbled, “Good Morning, folks. I am Judge Blackburn and we are here today to consider the matter of the divorce between Mr. and Mrs. Smithwood and the disposition of assets in that divorce. All parties have agreed that my decisions will be final. Correct?” He glanced around the table for agreement. They all nodded in agreement.

“You folks will have to answer verbally so the steno can record your answers.” They all responded with a muted ‘yes’.

“Mr. Corcoran, I understand you will be acting for Mr. Smithwood who is indisposed and currently residing at Greentree. I have a copy of the power of attorney authorizing you to do so among the other documents provided to the court in this matter.” He glanced at Larry who voiced his agreement. The Judge flipped open a file and hummed to himself, his eyebrows bobbing like two mating marmots as he shuffled the papers within.

“Mr. Eldridge, in addition to representing Mrs. Smithwood I understand that you are also the attorney for the New Hope and Commitment Church. Are you here representing any interest for the church in this matter?”

“Oh no, Your Honor. As you know, an attorney has many varied clients. The church’s interests are not an issue here.”

“Then you see no conflict of interest with this case?”

“No, of course not, Your Honor.”

“Good. Then in the interest of full disclosure I should state that I had my grand daughter abducted from that same church and sent to deprogramming. I am happy to state that she is doing well now and is a sophomore at Colgate. This presents no problem for you I expect, Mr. Eldridge?”

“Ah…..” Eldridge hesitated and frowned. Thinking.

“Come, come, Mr. Eldridge. We both have a past experience with the church but it is in no way connected to this case. Right?”

“No, certainly not Your Honor.” The judge glanced over at the court stenographer who nodded slightly. Maryanne shot Eldridge a worried look.

“Very well, then. I have read the doctor’s reports on Mr. Smithwood’s condition, especially the extensive file submitted by Dr. Goldstein who has been treating Mr. Smithwood for the past six months. It appears that his condition has not improved and the prognosis is that he will remain as he is now for the balance of his life.” He again glanced at Larry who responded.

“Yes, Your Honor, all medical authorities recommend permanent long-term care. Therefore, I….”

“It’s bullshit!” Maryanne interrupted. “He’s faking it. He just wants all the money and that won’t leave any for the chur--OOOOPH.” Eldridge had jabbed a sharp elbow into Maryanne’s ribs. She glared at him with angry porcine eyes.

“What my client means, Your Honor, is that she feels the division of assets, as proposed by Mr. Corcoran, are unreasonable and will not allow her to live in the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed.” Eldridge smiled at the Judge who was frowning skeptically.

“I think we are getting ahead of ourselves here,” offered the Judge. “Why don’t we let Mr. Corcoran lay out the assets in question and his proposals and then we can have that conversation? Proceed, Mr. Corcoran.”

“Thank you, Your Honor. As you know from the report, Mr. Smithwood had two insurance policies for disability: one for a catastrophic occurrence, i.e. his total inability to function; and another under his medical policy for long-term care. In addition, there is the award from the suit against Dr. Eberly for his errant golf ball and the settlement with the golf ball and club manufacturers as well as the Deer Hollow Golf Club. Since he can no longer manage his insurance business, I have negotiated the sale of that business.”

The Judge smiled. “You have been busy Mr. Corcoran.”

“Yes, Your Honor. Everyone seemed quite happy to settle this matter quickly.”

Maryanne jumped from her chair and slapped away her lawyers restraining hand. “You assholes are being conned. Doug is no nuttier than I am,” she shouted.

Judge Blackburn slowly raised his pale blue eyes and stared at Maryanne. “That seems to be a matter for some debate, Madam. Now sit down and kindly shut up. Continue, Mr. Corcoran.”

“Thank you, Your Honor. I have proposed placing these assets in the trust fund established for Mr. Smithwood’s care. He is quite a young man and the costs of hospitalization and treatment over many, many years will be considerable. A projection of these costs prepared by a firm specializing in this area is attached to my proposal.”

“I object,” interrupted Maryanne’s lawyer.

“You can’t object, Mr. Eldridge” the Judge responded. “This is not a courtroom. You have no jury to impress with theatrics here.” Eldridge slumped in his chair.

Larry continued, “I have further proposed that Mr. Smithwood’s other assets; his house, summer cottage, two automobiles, boat, stock portfolio and 401K be allocated to Mrs. Smithwood. The value of these assets is in excess of $1.5 million dollars and should sustain her comfortably for the rest of her life..”

Maryanne howled in protest, “This is robbery! He gets nearly $8 million dollars and I get screwed! This is a scam!”

The Judge turned his steely gaze at Maryanne. “Mrs. Smithwood, I should point out that it was YOU who petitioned for divorce. Now then, I have carefully studied this matter and thoroughly reviewed the figures with full consideration of Mr. Smithwood’s requirements. I am entering a ruling that the divorce is final and the assets distributed according to Mr. Corcoran’s outline. This matter is concluded.”

Maryanne pivoted in her chair and cuffed Eldridge on the back of the head knocking his careful hairdo askew. “Idiot! You said I’d get at least $5 million in cash, then I could give the church a million!” Eldridge ducked another swing at his head.

“Control yourself, Mrs. Smithwood or I shall call a deputy!”

Larry casually strolled barefoot down the white sand beach relishing the warm sun and the views of the swaying palms and the sparkling Caribbean waters. He carried a tall, sweating glass and was dressed in a floral Hawaiian shirt and swim trunks. With dark sunglasses, he scanned the long stretch of beach looking for his friends. He finally spotted them on lounge chairs in the partial shade of a tall palm tree and approached. “Hi, guys. You look comfy.”

“Hey, Larry. Looks like you’ve gone native already. When did you get in?” asked Doug.

“Last night. Hi, Mel, you look ravishing. I wasn’t aware that they made swim suits smaller than my sunglasses.” The microscopic blue bikini defied the laws of physics and any pretense at modesty. The jewel in Melanie’s perfect navel transfixed him as it twinkled in the sunlight.

“Eat your heart out, buddy,” Doug laughed as he followed Larry’s gaze.

“Any problem getting out of Greentree?” Larry asked.

“Nah, remember you set it up that I was in there at my own request, so I just packed up and walked out.”

“Excellent. I went over to the bank this morning. I transferred your trust fund to the Caymans Bank and Trust. I also signed the papers creating the “International Rehabilitation & Treatment Center”. Your care will now be under their auspices. It’s a numbered company with Melanie as the only director.

“My, my,” Doug exclaimed. “You’ve been a very busy boy since you got to town.”

Larry acknowledged the compliment with a modest bow. “So Melanie, what kind of treatment does the famous IR&T have in mind for our Mr. Dougie here?”

“We’re thinking that an extended European tour might do him a lot of good,” Melanie responded.

“No doubt.”

“I will be going along to insure his care is adequate.”

“Totally appropriate, I’m sure.”

“By the way Larry, we have a tee time at 9am tomorrow,” Doug interjected. “You’re gonna have to give me at least ten strokes. Due to the long lay off, I seem to have developed a nasty hook.”


Patrick said...

Hi Dick,
I really liked the Duck Hook story. You should write more!
Take care,

heide said...

Love the story. Not to be nit-picky, but Kathy Bates' character smashed James Caan's character's ankles with a sledge hammer... no amputations. Keep that keyboard clicking then gather your stories up together for publication. There are some great, smaller publishers out there, especially with the event of ebooks. One in Portland is called "Puddletown Publishing". My friend, Roxanna, has some books published with them. If you'd like, I can get the information for you.