Friday, April 27, 2012


My eyes pop open.  Something happened.  Somewhere.  Exciting.

My iPhone rattles right then on the desk.  I knew it.  Feet on the floor, I reach for my cell.

"It's  4:45am, so please speak slowly, whoever your are."

"Woody, it's me, Diego." says Diego. "There is no way you're ever going to believe what happened."

"I wouldn't know where to start, Diego.  But can't this wait..."

"I really don't know where to start.  So I'll just start." He takes a deep breath. "You know that cab show where they ask the passengers questions, like a quiz show?  Well, that's how I got the idea.  Why not me?  I can talk to people in the cab.  Make a show out of it.  I get interesting people, right?"

"Like Jerry Springer?"

"Yeah, well sorta. I guess, but no fighting.  Yeah, like that.  So guess what I did?"

"Don't tell me..."

"Yep.  I got a guy to put those little spy cameras all inside my cab.  Now everything that goes on inside is taped.  I had to tell you.  And I used it for the first time last night."

"Could work, I guess.  Why not?  Of course you'll be needing a director, and editors to watch all the footage, a post production crew, graphics, and ...distribution."

"Hey, thanks for killing a dream, here.  And how do you know so much about TV?"

"I was Rod Serling in a previous life."

"Who?...Okay, come on, I'm not done.  Here's the good part.  I got the cameras working and guess who the first person is in the cab?  Pete Rose."

My body jumps. "Who?  Pete Rose?  What?  No way."

"Fantastic, right?  First person on my show.  Charlie Hustle, himself."

"Pete Rose?  Now this is getting better. "

"You're telling me.  But you won't believe this.  He's got a smile on his face, and, are you ready, he won't stop talking, like he's had too much coffee.  He tells me he's been living in Las Vegas, and for five grand, you can have dinner with him.  Like a family dinner at some fancy hotel, but with him.  That's what he does.  And that's not all.  When he's not eating, he goes to people's homes, again for five grand and he signs a whole bunch of stuff, like baseball cards, hats, balls, anything they want.  He's all excited about it." 

"Yeah, I hear he's been doing that.  Fans still like him.  They think he's done his time."

"But wait, here's where it gets really good.  He says there's rumors that he could be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, if he breaks down and confesses about what he did.  You know, the gambling stuff.  So, he tells me, right there in the cab.  With the cameras on.  Can you believe?"

"Wait.  He tells you about the gambling?  Wholly Cow, Diego.  This is big.  Real big.  Did you get a release?"

"A what?"

"A release.  Did he sign, so you can use it on the air.  Otherwise you'll get sued.  They'll confiscate the tape.  You can't use it.  You have to have a signed release.   He'll just deny it, and say you made it up, on somebody's computer, photo shopped it, whatever."

"He didn't seem to care, talking about it.  When he was manager of the Reds, he bet on them to lose.   Fatal mistake, he said.  Guy batting .215 gets a walk off homer, and the Reds win, when he needed them to lose.  He left a pitcher in who was shot, who somehow won.   The last game, bottom of the line up rallies in the ninth.  Says he only bet on three games he managed.  Said he lost a lot.  It's all on tape.  He'd like to be in the Hall of Fame, but if not, he says his fans know how good he was."

"So that's how it went down?  It's true what he did."

"From the horse's mouth."

"Diego, maybe the National Inquirer, or the NY Post.   Maybe you can sell it to them.  They don't seem to care much about law suits.  They make more on the story than they usually pay out when they lose the case.  I'd tell Pete about it first, see how he wants to handle it."

"He knows already.  I got back to him through that reservation number.  I let him know it was all recorded.  Maybe he'd give me an intro to the first episode of my show, you know, some kind of build up.  But he wasn't all that happy about it."

"You think?"

"He didn't say much, only that he didn't know he was being recorded, and no way he wants me to show anybody the tape.  So I gave him your number, 'cause you'd know what to say to him, you being in sports and all."

"Me?  Look, Diego, you know he did time.  Marion, Illinois.  So he knows people.  Know what I saying?  I don't think I'd do anything crazy with that tape.   Wait...Diego...I got another call."

I thumb my iPhone.  "Speak to me."

"Like to talk with Brentwood Belair.  This is Pete Rose."

"Oh my Gawd.  Mr. Rose."  I freeze.  "This is...unbelievable. This is Brentwood.  I'm on the phone right now with Diego Garcia..."

"The cab driver?  Diego Garcia?  Okay, this is getting way out of hand.  I have to talk to you.  I already told him not to do anything with that tape."

"I just this minute heard the story from him."

"Oh, boy," says Pete.

"He's thinking about selling it to the National Inquirer.  I'm trying to talk with him now.  Pete, you know you're one of the biggest sports stories in the last half century."

"Okay," he says  "It was my own fault telling him."  Silence, then. "But I've thought about it.  It's time.  Everybody probably suspects what I did.  So, here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to have a news conference, beat him to the punch, you know.  I'll give my story first, so people don' t get it from some tabloid, some tape of me in a cab."

"It's time?" I say.

"I could go to court, sue, and all that, but it just makes things worse,  makes me look bad."

"But what about Diego?  He's wants to sell the tape.  What should I tell him?"


"Hello?  Pete?  You there?"

"Brentwood, I've read your stuff.  I trust you on this.  You seem to know this Diego, so please, tell him this.  He's the owner of a small cab company, right?"

"Fresh Air Cab Company."

"Yeah, so tell him I'll buy him a new cab, he keeps quiet for 48 hours.  Give me a chance to do this right.  It's time I told.  48 hours, okay."

"Pete, hold on,...Diego, you still there?"

"Woody, what's going on?"

"It was Pete Rose calling me.  So listen.  Here's the deal.  He doesn't want the story to be in the Tabloids, okay.  So he said he'll buy you a new cab, if you hold off for 48 hours before you try to sell your tape."

"But,... Woody,... I can make a lot more money..."

"You'll be in court, you didn't get any release.  And like I say, guy knows people, so you want to be on his good side, right.  Listen to me, take the car."


"The car, Diego.  It's Pete Rose.  And your tapes will be worthless once he tells his story.  It's a good deal."

"Well,...I don't know...a new car?...I guess it's okay..."

"Thanks Diego...Pete?  Pete Rose."

"I'm here."

"He says okay.  I trust him, but you should tell your story soon."

"Tomorrow.  Yeah,  I'll do it tomorrow.  I knew this day would come.  Thanks for helping me here, Brentwood.  So I can do this right.  Means a lot.  You can let everybody know I'm doing a press conference, don't say what it's about, give you a drop on the others."  Pete sighs.  "Yes, it's time.  Big weight off my shoulders..."

"Okay Pete. Thanks, I'll see ya...Diego, you still there?"

"Still here."

"So, get back to Pete, e-Mail whatever, and confirm all this.  You're getting a new car."

"Well, I guess another cab in the fleet will work out nice, idea of a Taxi TV show is still a good one, no?"

"Let's work on this first.  And Pete Rose knows a lot of very rich people.  My Gawd, he's Pete Rose.  You be his exclusive cab company when his friends are in LA.  Ask him."

"Hey, maybe this will work out.  Pete's people start talking about the Fresh Air Cab Company..."

"Okay Diego.  It's 5:00 am.  You woke me up, remember?  Like I'm going right back to sleep after this."

"Think he'd do an intro for my new cab show..."Diego's Cab,'..No, 'Inside the Hollywood Cab,'...No, no, 'The Diego Garcia Show.'  Yes, that's it."

"Focus, Diego, come on.  Forget about the TV Show.  Focus. You gotta focus here."

Help comes from:
WikiPedia/Pete Rose/Sports betting/Serling,  Google Images

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


A man with a mustache walks out of the bank on Spring Street, across from City Hall, downtown.  A lunch truck parks in the alley.

The cook's head sticks out the window.  "Lunch time, come on."  She points at the painted menu on the side.  She wears an Angel Cap.

The man smiles, checks his watch, and walks over to 'Maria's Taco Perfecto.'

"Why not, Amiga," he says.  "Un Perfecto Taco.  Let's make it two, por favor."

"You got it." she says.

The man points to his forehead.  "An Angels Cap.  You an Angel fan?"

Over the hissing of the grill, "Sure am.  Give them some time, they'll start winning.  You want chilies with your tacos?"

"Sure, why not, Maria.  JalapeƱos?"

"My own special sauce.  I use both Ancho and Anaheim Chilies.  Muy Sabor."

"Anaheim, sounds good."

A Young Man walks up.  He looks at the menu, opens his wallet, then looks over at the man.  He blinks, and points.   "You sure look familiar?  Wait.  Angel owner.  Right?"  He has a large smile.  "Right?  Arte Moreno?"

The man smiles and nods.  "That's me."  He extends his hand.

"Wow," says the Young Man.  "You're sort of in enemy territory, up here.  We're not far from Dodger Stadium.  It's just over the hill, you know?"

Maria looks out.  "What.  Arte Moreno?  No way."  She looks at the Young Man. "No way.  I watch the Angles all the time."

"You spent a ton on Pujols, and that pitcher," says the Young Man.  "Hope it works out."

"Yep." he says.  "$240 million, for ten years.  I figured that's what it would take to get a team together that had potential."

"Mr. Moreno," says Maria.  "It's okay,  Angles are in last place now..."

"Please, call me Arte."

"Arte, it's okay.  They'll start winning soon."

"It's return on investment," says the Young Man. "Must be hard to take, spending all that money, and they just can't get going.  I think it's your relief pitching."

"Well, I'm thinking long term.  Once I bought the team, I needed to trade for a few players that could make it happen."  He smiles. "We're just getting started."

Another man wearing a Dodger Cap moves to the window.  "Two Burritos.  Quickly, I gotta get back."

"Gotcha," says Maria. "Chicken or Beef?"

"Chicken, and I gotta go.  Can you make it quick?"  He reaches into the ice on the side of the truck, grabs a root beer, opens it and gulps.

Arte raises his eyebrow.  The Young Man shakes his head.

Maria says. "Arte, just about done.  Get a drink...on me."

The Dodger Cap stares at Arte.  The Young Man introduces them.

"Owner of the Angels, huh?  If that's true, you wouldn't be eating at no roach coach.  And you sure wouldn't be up here.  This is Dodger Country."  He takes another drink.  "You spent all that money, for what?  Another losing season, probably.  Pujols doesn't have it anymore.  Anyone can see that.  Stupid, all that money."

"Well,  I'm a businessman.  It was a good investment."

"You can wait for them to start winning if you want.  The Dodger the ones in first place.  And everybody else better stay out of our way."  He finishes the bottle, and pushes the empty back in the ice.

"Come on," says the Young Man. "Matt Kemp can only hope to have a career as good as Pujols.'"

Others arrive at the truck.

"My Burritos?  Ready yet?"  Dodger Cap looks at Arte, and shakes his head.

"I think I'll wait until the Angles jell,"  says Arte.  "Shouldn't take long.  You're right though, the Dodgers are off to a fast start."

"Got that right.  We're a Dodgers, and Lakers city.  Like the other day, when Matt Kemp invited that Clipper guy Chris Paul to the game.  He got booed, like he should.  Kemp should've known.  Coming onto our sacred grounds.  Clippers, Angles, Ducks, whatever, better stay out of our way."

"Dodgers would love to have Albert Pujols?" says one in the crowd.  "Worth every penny.  It won't take long, he'll be back where he was a few years ago.  Give him a chance."

"I wouldn't hold my breath," says the Dodger Cap.  "His glory days are over.  The Dodges are young. We're going to tear 'em up this year."  He sticks his head into the truck.  "Burritos?  My burritos, what's going on.  You're making me late.  Come on.

"Of course he doesn't care about his slow start," says Dodger Cap.  "A 10 year deal for $240 million?  And he gets paid no matter what.   It's crazy.  Why should Pujols care anymore, he's got somebody crazy enough to pay him."   Again at Maria, "Come oooooon."

"She's making taco first for Mr. Moreno," says the Young Man.  "You shouldn't be yelling at her, or anybody like that?"

Dodger Cap looks around.  "Who are you?"

"Just saying. We were hear first."

Dodger Cap clenched his fists.  He blinks.  "Don't get me started.  I got work to do.  And I don't have a lot of time to fool around here."

"We're not fools, my friend," says Arte.  "You're attitude is very rude."

"Arte, your tacos with my Special Chile Sauce.  Anaheim Chilies."

"What?" says Dodger Cap.  "Anaheim?"

Arte leans in front of the Dodger Cap, reaches in and takes two tacos.  "Gracias, Maria.  Muy bien."
"What, are we in Mexico?" says the Dodger Cap.  His voice rises. "My burritos.  Let's go."

"Relax now, " says Maria.  But before she could say, 'Just about done,'  he says.

"You people don't know what you're doing, foreigners taking over here.  We speak English in America, if you didn't know."

"You're in downtown Los Angeles," says one in the crowd.  "English is the second language here, pal."

Arte smiles at the Young Man. "I think I'll trade for Vince Scully next time.  That would be the Ultimate Coup."  He then looks at Dodger Cap.

"If I wasn't such nice guy, you'd be eating those words, old man." says Dodger Cap.

Arte looks at Dodger Cap in the eyes.  "Never happen, my friend."

Maria yells from the truck, "Hey, what's the mater with you?  You know, I don't like you."  She bounces out of the truck, holding a large wooden spoon.  It drips with her special sauce.   "Why don't you go get your burritos some place else."

"What?  You can't...What is this?"

"Go away," she says.  She waves the spoon, "Or I call for back up.  You Understand?"

Arte and the Young Man move toward the Dodger Cap.

 "Andale," says Maria, a tight grip on her spoon.

The commotion draws the attention of others on the sidewalk.

Dodger Cap freezes, stands there, scowls, and stomps off, back toward the bank.

"You'd really trade for Vin Scully," asks Maria.

"He would never leave.  His blood runs 1000% Dodger Blue. I wouldn't even try.  If  Dodger fans would Boo a hard worker like Chris Paul, think what they would do to me."

Arte Mareno, watches the Dodger Cap leave, picks out a taco, and bites into it.

"But, you know what?  I'd trade for you, Maria.  I'm always looking for a good cook.  This is really good, Muy Sabrosa."

The Young Man aims his iPhone, and as he takes their picture, Maria says, "And Arte, you don't have to pay me no 240 million dollars either."

They all laugh.

help comes from:

Google, Google/Images,

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Two seventh graders ride the bus.  The game starts in two hours.  The Taller Boy pushes up his sleeve, and looks at his upper arm.  He pulls down his sleeve, then pushes it up again.

"Sore arm?" asks the Other.

"No,"  he says.  "I'll be ready when the game starts."
The Other looks down at a notepad in the Taller Boy's lap.  It's a drawing of a Wolf's Head, with the words, 'Passion on every Possession.'

The Other raises his eyebrows.  His voice is low.   "Are you serious?  You're kidding, right?  A tattoo?"

 The Taller Boy fingers the notepad.  "Thinking about it.  Maybe. Maybe not."

"What about your parents.  Geez, mine would go nuts, I even said the word.  They're real old school.  Tats are only for criminals and low lives.  Hip Hop Thugs."

The Taller Boy holds up his notepad.

"I like it." says the Other.  "The teeth.  The eyes.  It's for basketball.  Passion on Every Possession, not really for anything else.  Color?  Red eyes for the wolf?"

"I'm thinking of a grey wolf, with light blue eyes, and large white teeth...or maybe red teeth.  And yeah, it's a basketball tat."

"Can you actually get one?  Don't you have to be 18?"

"Not a real problem," says the Taller Boy.  "I'll find a way.  Lebron got Chosen 1 on his back, and he was still in high school."

"I think I'd get like a snake, a rattlesnake maybe.  Tail on my left arm, it coils around my neck, and the head comes out on my right arm.  Like, the Worm, himself, Dennis Rodman.  Talk about Tattoos."

A man, a whistle around his neck, turns in his seat and looks back the the two.  "I've been listening.  Thinking of getting a tattoo?"

Both boys look up.  The Taller Boy closes his notepad.  "Kinda let's everybody know how serious I am about playing."

"You do it, but remember, it lasts a life time," says the Coach.  "Guys, it's not like a girl friend, who lasts for a month or so, then she's gone.  You'll be looking at that tattoo for a long time.  Don't do anything crazy.  Instead I'd spend my time working on my jump shot."

"There's only a few Pros who don't have tattoos," says the Other.  "Andrew Bynum, but maybe you just can't see them.  Some don't care what people think, like Matt Barns."

The Taller Boy opens his notepad and looks at the wolf.  "I like this.  It'll make me feel great on the court."

"Business Tattoos, if you're going to do this," says the Coach.  "Put on a suit, nobody sees your tats.  Come on, guys.   You're only in the seventh grade.  Kevin Durant, he's got a chest and stomach covered in tattoos.  He puts on a suit, you'd never know."

The coach opens his shirt.  "Got it in the Army.  Marks a time in my life.  Part of my personal history.  But that's just me.  Remember,  Shaq asked his mom's permission first, before he got the Superman.

"Maybe when you get older, you'll think of your body kinda like a diary.   Allen Iverson, he's that way.  His history is on his body."

"Coach, I don't want to be like Birdman Anderson, or Kenyon Martin, with his girl friend's lips tattooed under his right ear.  A wolf, I think it'll make me play better."

As they single file out of the bus, The Taller Boy unbuttons his shirt and just above his navel, A Coy Fish.

"What is this," says the Other.  "You already have one?"

He smiles, "Yeah, about six month ago. Coy Fish, for luck.   But the coach is right.  It's better I practice my jump shots.  But, can you see me going up for a rebound, and that Wolf on my arm.  I'll have every High School scout in the country knocking down my door to sign me."

Help comes from:

Google/Images/Birdman Anderson/
WikiPedia/DennisRodman/Allen Iverson/BirdmanAnderson,

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I sit in my usual booth in the back of the Montana Galley, nursing a tall glass of buttermilk, while I size up a horse in the fourth at Santa Anita, a nag by the name of, 'Skullduggery,'  when:

My iPhone vibrates.
"Speak to me," I say.

"Hey, like to talk with Brentwood... Is this Woody?"

"Well,"  I say.  "As I live and breathe. Diego Garcia.  How's the Fresh Air Cab Company doing?  Still six cabs?"

"Thinking of adding a seventh, okay, but this isn't the reason I'm calling.  Kobe, okay?"

"Kobe Bryant?" I say.  "He takes a cab?"

"Had my Green TownCar down at LAX, he calls me, okay, so I shoot over to the private planes, and he just jumps in and says he needs to go to Staples.  And that's not all, okay.  Guess who jumps in right beside him?"

"Chris Paul."

"No, crazy, it's Mike Brown, the coach.  Can you believe?"

"Very interesting," I say.

"Okay, so I ask them how they got my number?  Kobe says he had my number, okay, 'cause I used to drive for Smush Parker, and sometimes Kwame Brown, and Sasha Brown.

"So okay, you ready.  This'll be dyn-o-mite for your sports column in the Valley Post Picayune.  Just give me a plug okay, Fresh Air Cab Company, okay?"

"Depends, Diego.  Whatcha got?"

"Okay, okay, so, my good friend Modesto Merced, one of my drivers, we talk basketball, so I know, okay.  So I says, Mr. Bryant, do you need more leg room, you know, 'cause of his bad shin.

"He says no, real fast, then looks at Mike, and Mike says, no also.  Then he says quickly, Kobe's okay, but adds, He's really in pain, but I think we'll manage.  I see them looking at each other."  Diego breathes deeply.
"Kobe and the Coach in my cab. So?  What do you think?"

"I think this is getting better.  Please, continue."

"Okay, okay.  Know what I think.  Nothing's wrong with Kobe's leg.   Brown's just giving him time off before the playoffs.   I'm thinking this, okay, from their Body language, and the way they answered real fast."

"So Kobe's not hurt?  That what you're saying?"

"He's being rested.  Modesto told me all about it, okay.  Here's what he said.  Kobe makes out like he's got a bad leg.  The other teams think he's not 100% when he comes back.  So they play him differently.  Double team Gasol, or Bynum instead."
"Diego, look," I say.  "The Lakers have won 4 out of six with Kobe on the bench.  They could easily have lost those games, then what?"

"But the Lakers got good players, if they work as a team.  Brown, was watching Kobe dribble 10 seconds off the clock, then make 35% of his shots.  Modesto says, He'll make his shots, but what about the other 4 Lakers?  Sitting on the bench Kobe can see this.  The Lakers win games as a team.  Brown knows he can't tell Kobe not to shoot.  This lets Kobe see for himself.  Brown had it figured that way."

"So your friend thinks Kobe won't shoot as much when he comes back," I say.

"Okay, good question, so I ask Kobe, Mr. Bryant, The Lakers are winning with you on the bench.  How do you feel about that?  And you know what he says?"

"I'm listening," I say.

"Not much I can do about it.  Then Brown says, He's got such a bad leg, he has to be on the bench.  Then Kobe says loudly, Oh, yeah, with my bad leg.  But it should be heeled by playoff time."

"But Diego," I say. " What if the Lakers had lost all those games, they'd be behind the Clippers, and third seed."

"According to Modesto, third seed, Memphis, is a better match up.  Okay, Woody, so listen to this.  I ask Kobe, Kobe, how do you like coaching.  Lakers are winning when you're on the bench.  Maybe we shouldn't fix it if it ain't broken?"

"You said that to Kobe Bryant?  Brilliant, Diego.  He'll never ride with you again," I say.

"Okay, know what happens next.  Modesto was right.  Kobe says, Say what?  You don't think they need me?  Then Brown says, Course we need Kobe.  But I think we can all see how the team is doing as a team.  We all work well together.

"Then Kobe says, Gotta admit, coaching, I've been doing good at that.  Much more relaxing than playing, no ice downs after the games.  I can see my kids more, you know.  He looks out the window.  I just need one more championship ring, one more than Michael.  Then he grins at Brown and says, This coachin's real easy."

"Sure, says Brown, when you're winning.
"Okay, okay, now we get to Staples.  They both say thanks for the ride, nice tip, okay.   Kobe, big smile, jumps out, then Mike Brown says, Hey Kobe, careful with that leg, and Kobe says, Oops, Oh yeah, my leg, then they smile at each other and walk toward the employees door."

"Maybe what you're telling me is true.  But, they're certainly taking a chance.  This layoff could make Kobe rusty for the playoffs, there's only four games left in the season."

"But," says Diego. "Makes sense.  Kobe get's his rest.  They give the impression he's got a leg problem, and Kobe sees first hand how teamwork wins games."

I sip my buttermilk.  This does make sense.  Who would make a better coach than Kobe Bryant?

"Oh boy.  Sorry, gotta go," says Diego.  "Somebody needs a Fresh Air Cab ride.  Later, Woody."

"Thanks Diego.  Keep me informed."

I thumb my iPhone, and spin it on the table.  It's crunch time.  The Lakers have only four more regular season games.  I lean back in the booth.  You know, maybe there's a whole lot more to this Kobe Story than him just sitting on the bench.

Help comes from:, Google/Images, Wikipedia/Kobe

Sunday, April 15, 2012


A young lady in high heels, carries two Macys bags into Gasoline Alley at the B.P. Biloxi Motor Speedway.

"Mary Sue, where you been?"  The voice comes from under a bonnie blue stock car, The General Nathan Forrest.  "We got qualifying coming up in about half an hour."  He slides out, wiping his hands on a oily bonnie blue rag.

"Been shopping, what'd you think?.  Went to the Mall.  And that's not all. Oh, and I changed my name."

A  pin drops.  Or shall we say a lug nut?

"I've been thinking about this for a few months now and well, I went down and got it done.  Put in the application anyway.  They'll let me know in the mail.  It'll take about two weeks."

The man rolls out and stares up at her.  "What?  You changed your name?"  He blinks.  "What?"

"Yup," she says.  "No more Mary Sue Billingsley.  Branson, come on.  It's like that Lakers guy Ron Artest.  He's now Metta World Peace.  If he can do it, so can I."

Branson stands up, and kicks the dolly back under the car.

More lug nuts.

He rubs his forehead. "Tell me you didn't change it to something...crazy."  He leans against a workbench.  "Please, Mary Sue."  He breathes deeply.  "What have you done?"

"Branson, give me some credit here. I want to rid myself of my wild past.  You know, start new.  I 'm a rookie in the major leagues of NASCAR.  This Saturday I could be sitting on the pole in the 2012 Gerbers Baby Food Pascagoula 400."

"So," says Branson.  He takes a deep breath. "What did you change it to?"

"FlowerChild."  She smiles.

A bucket full of lug nuts.

 "What do you think?" she  says. "Hey, it's been on my mind.  And today I did it."

"What?  FlowerChild?  What?"  He loses his balance, and almost falls.

"Yup," she says.  "FlowerChild Free Food for All."

"Free Food for All?  You gotta be kidding.  Mary Sue?  What are you thinking?  FlowerChild Free Food for All?   You didn't?  Tell me you didn't?"

Branson looks out at the racecourse.  Others are qualifying. He looks at them, then stares at the top of the grandstands.

"But, Mary Sue," he says.  "What about your fans?  They know you as Mary Sue Billingsley."

"I'm not crazy."  She drops the bags on a bench, and snaps the top on a bottle of water.  "I want to leave my past in the past.  I was that crazy, mouthy broad, crazy with a Capital K, learned to drive running illegal...whatever....DUI's, that time in jail for aggravated assault.  I want to put that all in the past."

"You think that's what they want, Mary Sue..."

"It's FlowerChild."

"Okay, FlowerChild.   But, all that craziness in your past, that 's why they like you. They're your people.  They're not looking for any... FlowerChild.  And Free Food for All?  Where did that come from?"

A younger man enters the garage.  "'Sup guys.  We going to be in the front row this week?"

"Ask Mary Sue,  Oops I'm sorry.  FlowerChild Free Food for All."

"Who?" he says.  "What?"

"Me," she says.  "I changed my name.  I'm more patient now, laid back, not so crazy,  no more fighting in public.  I looked it up.  It's like John 3:3  I'm born again."  She smiles at  him.  "Ozark, it's still me.  Just a new name, that's all."

Branson looks at her.  "You were Miss Sorghum, and runner up Miss Texarkana.  You have that long blond hair every time you take off you helmet .  Best young female driver since Danica, Junior Dirt Track Champion 5 years running.  That's the Mary Sue they want.  They don't want a FlowerChild."

"Dick Trickle, now there's a name.  Don't tell him I said that."  Ozark laughs.

No," says FlowerChild.  She sips here water. "No, it's done.  No more Mary Sue Billingsley,   You know, when you think about it, Jesus would approve.  Give to the unfortunate, give to the poor. Nobody should go hungry.  How can that be bad?  That's a good thing, right?"
"I like it," says Ozark.  "We'll have large flowers painted all over the General Forrest."

"This isn't happening," says Branson.  "What about our sponsors?  Maybe if we were racing in San Francisco, or West L.A., maybe.  Mary Sue?  You can't be serious?"

"Branson, it's not like I quit driving.  It's what I do.  World Peace didn't quit basketball.   I'm still one of the best young drivers around, you know that."

"Every TV camera out there'll will be in here wanting interviews," says Ozark.  "I think it's kinda cool."

"Thank you."  She raises her water bottle.  "I like you, Ozark.
He blushes.

"We got sponsors, Mary Sue," says Branson.  "Winn-Dixie, Carolina Bank and Trust, Hilton Head Medical Center, British Petroleum, Biloxi WingStop, and I think Rush Limbaugh is...was... thinking about sponsoring the car.  But with the name FlowerChild?  I don't think any of them are into anything Free.  They should know about this.  See how they feel."

Branson pulls out his iPhone.

"I'll talk to them," says FlowerChild.

"No, I'll call the boss.  He'll know what to do."

His iPhone is ringing.

"Hello...Mr Montgomery?  This is Jasper.  Jasper Branson.  How you doing Sir...I know you're busy, but..."

He listens.

"I'm still here.  Yes, it's about Mary Sue...yes...Mary Sue...NO, No, she fine, she'll be qualifying in about half hour, it's well, you're not going to believe this.  Okay, okay, she's changed her name."

He listens.

"That's right.  Changed her name...yes sir..yes sir...FlowerChild.  That's right but there's more.  FlowerChild...Free Food for All."

He raises his eyebrows and holds the phone out at arms length.  He looks at FlowerChild,
then at Ozark, then closes his eyes.

FlowerChild smiles and sips her water.

"Sir...sir...that's right.  FlowerChild Free Food for All.  Yup...yup...yes sir."

His head down, he listens.  "Yes...yes...Yes sir, I'll tell her.  Yes, okay...yes sir.   Okay I'll tell her."

He stuffs his phone back into his pocket, and stares out at the top of the grandstands again.

"So?" she asks.

"I think I heard, Has she lost her mind, yelled at least five times, but here it is.  The next three races.  You're a rookie, so they're looking for results.  But they didn't seem all that nervous.  Matter of fact, they thought something like this would get us a ton of publicity."

"Told ya," says Ozark.

"That's how I wanted it to be." she says.
Branson stares at Ozark.  "We live and die with our sponsors.  They won't like anybody changing their name.  FlowerChild, no way."

"Scott Speed," says Ozark.  "You think that's his real name?  Don't tell him I said this, but I have my suspicions."

"I gotta get ready," says FlowerChild.  "It's my new life.  Free distribution of food, so nobody goes hungry.  I hate that feeling.  Jesus was poor all of his life. He would agree, I'm sure.   Guys, it's the right thing to do.  If my fans or my sponsors can't see that, well, so be it.  Now I gotta get ready to qualify."

Ozark laughs.  "Branson, relax. Come on, if anybody can pull this off, it's Miss Mary Sue. I think, there's going to be a whole new energy around here. And I can feel it already."   He leans back and gives a rebel yell. 

Branson stands there and rubs his forehead with an oily bonnie blue rag.

Help comes from:
Wikipedia/RonArtest, MettaWorldPeace,

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


"So, Mr. Rothstein, on the night in question, what did you do?"

"I am part of my neighborhood watch.  Every Tuesday nights, once a week, midnight to 5 am.  It is okay by me, since I do not have Nine to Five employment."

"And what happened?" asks the Defense.

"He comes up behind me, his arms get around my neck and pushes me off my feet.  Look, right then I am afraid for my life.  So, I pulls out my  9 mil... Roscoe... I am sorry, my hand gun, and blast him.  I am shooting, you know, for my life.  I aim for his leg, so he will stop.  I  do not want to kill him, but the bullet instead goes straight through his head."

"So, you shot him in self defense?"

"Yes, sir."

"No further questions."

"Your turn, Mr. Prosecutor." says the Judge.

"Thank you, your honor.  Now, Mr. Rothstein, had you ever met Mr. McMullin, the man whom you claim attacked you?  Did you know him?"

"Objection, your honor.  Irrelevant." says the Defense.  "Makes no difference if he knew his attacker or not.  He was afraid for his life, so he fought back.  Could have been his twin brother, he was still fighting for his life."

"Your honor," say the Prosecutor.  "This goes to Mr. Rothstein's state of mind.  If he knew Mr. McMullen, there would be more to this than simply an attack from a stranger."

"I'll allow it, but I want to see the relevance here.  Please, Mr. Rothstein, you can answer the question."

"Never set eyes on the guy before in my life.  He just jumps me, on my back, so I do what has to be done."

"Are you absolutely sure about that, Mr. Rothstein.  Remember, you're under oath."

"Objection.  Asked and answered, your honor.  And the insulation that Mr. Rothstein is not truthful, is very rude."

"Rude?" says the Judge.  "It is rude, but I'll allow it.  Sustained.  Mr. Rothstein knows he's under oath.  Okay, continue Mr Prosecutor."

"Thank you, your honor.  Now, the prosecution offers into evidence, Exhibit A."  He  waves a photograph in the air.  "This picture is of Mr. Rothstein sitting in the second row of a college basket ball game."  He hands a copy to both The Judge  and The Defense.

Mr. Rothstein stares at the picture.

"Do you remember now, Mr Rothstein." asks the Prosecution.

"I am not remembering this.  I look so young."  His hands shake.

"It comes from a photograph in the Valley Post Picayune, August 31, 1990.  You're at a basketball game, Mountain Junior College.  And who is this?"   He points to a player in the foreground.

Mr Rothstein's lips twitch.  "I am not sure.  This picture.  This is a long time ago."

Two very large men in suits push through the doors, and sit in the back row.  They stare without blinking at Mr Rothstein.
"The player is the deceased, Mr Rothstein.  The person you say attacked you without provocation.  The person you said you never met."

"Okay," he says.  "I might have met this player, but that was at least twenty years ago."

"What if I said we contacted all the players on that team.  They seem to remember you."

Mr Rothstein looks out again at the two men in the back row.  One slowly opens his coat.  He shows a large gun in a holster.

"Objection, your honor," says the defense. "Where is all this going.  A twenty year old picture.  Some college basketball game. Your honor, come on."

"Overruled.  Please continue.  Mr. Rothstein, do you remember when you had your picture taken?"

"Now that I am thinking about it, Judge..."

"Subpoenas are going out this afternoon to those players.  Can you guess how they will testify?"

"Okay, I knew him.  Okay?  He played basketball back then.  Is that a crime?"

"You were a Las Vegas gambler, and isn't it true you were working with players on this team."

"Objection.  You Honor.  So, Mr. Rothstein knew his attacker.  He was still attacked.  I still don't see the relevance."

"You honor, if you will, a little rope here?"

"Move it along, Mr Prosecutor.  Short leash.  This better be good."

"And Mr. Rothstein, isn't it a fact you not only knew these players, one of whom was the person you killed, but you were paying them to shave points.  Isn't that true?  Their games were fixed."

A pin drops.

Mr. Rothstein moves in the chair, and stares again at the two large men in the back row.  The men  fold their arms.  Without smiles, their faces are red. They flex their fingers.

"Oh, my Gawd,"  he says.  "I am as good as dead.  How can this be happening?"  He drops his head.

"Excuse me, Mr Rothstein?  I think we know what happened back then, don't we."

The two men in the back stand up, move slowly toward the doors, then quickly leave.

Mr Rothstein breathes deeply. "I planned everything.  It was a money machine, let me tell you.  It will all come out anyway."

"What will come out?" asks the Prosecution.

"I'm from Las Vegas.  I brought back the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, but in 1990.  Who knew?  And it's been a secret ever since.  I made bets against Mountain Valley College, games when the team had no chance, which back then was most of the time.  All they had to do was to lose by more than the spread, and I win big.  I paid them plenty, do not get me wrong."

"So you did know the deceased?"

"Yes, so what?  I knew him."

"And he was there that night, why?  Did he want more money, maybe to keep quiet about the fix?  We know his blood alcohol was three times the legal limit."

"Objection.  Blood alcohol limit, is not in evidence, nor is it relevant.  Mr. Rothstein was attacked from behind..."
"No." says Mr Rothstein.  He raises his hand.  "Here's what happened. Somebody is going to rat, anyway.   McMullen has loose lips.  We cannot take the chance of him telling the world.  And, you are right,  he wants more money to keep quiet. Since I already am a neighborhood watch person, I tell him to come over, we need to talk.  Just scare him, that's all, but he jumps me.  I had to shoot him, to save myself."

"Three times over the legal limit? Could he even stand up?"

"Well, yes, I guess.  He just would not listen."

"But you should know the Statutes of Limitations have long past on something like fixing  Junior College games?"

"Criminal Prosecution maybe, but those players are some powerful people today.  What we did cannot be made public.  They were just college kids then, looking for money for books and well, we just went with it, it works so well.  They made plenty, enough to pay for graduate school, law school.  One started his own software company."

The Judge hammers his gavel.  "Bailiff, take Mr Rothstein into custody.  And the others on that team need to be questioned, ASAP."

"It made us all rich back then, and it will work today, easy.  But you get one rat, and the whole thing is a bust.  Rats are rats whether they are humans or rats."  He looks up at The Judge.  "You know Judge.  How do you protect yourself from rats?"

"Couldn't tell you, Mr. Rothstein.  Seems to be the only flaw in your system.  Oh, and shooting the rat.  That too is a major flaw."

The aftermath for the five major players:

Congressman,  George "Buck" Weaver , Center, resigns and gives a long farewell speech thanking everybody he ever knew, says he is so ashamed, he's a family man, will help humanity, etc., etc., etc.

Jaguar, Land Rover, Bentley Dealer,  Claude "Lefty" Williams,  Small Forward, sells his dealership, and is now traveling.  Producers are anxious in a part travel, part Jerry Springer type reality TV show.  Lefty has personality.

Goldman Sachs Stock Broker, Oscar "Happy" Felsch,  Power Forward,  increases his client list five fold.   Clients think when it comes to making money, Happy is not afraid to think and operate way outside the box.  He will not be afraid to use insider information.

And their Point Guard, Shoeless Joe Jackson, is found to have nothing to do with the killing, or the fixing of any game, and even though he averaged 22 points per game, he only averaged 6 points in the fixed games.
None of the players saw trial. The prosecutor thought he would never convict anyone on the word of a Las Vegas gambler slash game fixer.  While the D.A. considered prosecution, Mr. Rothstein's attorney signed him into WITSEC, Federal witness relocation.
So, he could be that nice older gentleman who just moved in next door. Except, Mr. Rothstein on his last day of captivity, played in a Hold 'em poker game, lost big, then claimed the game was fixed and refused to pay up.  He had three bullets in his chest within an hour.

Help comes from:,,,

Sunday, April 8, 2012


I sit in the back booth at the Montana Galley, nursing my usual large glass of buttermilk.
Two young men sit in the next booth.  You know how I hate to eavesdrop...but...

"He'll be here in a few minutes.  Papers I have to sign.  Finally we're moving into the big leagues."

They look at their menus.

"You'll be seeing your Dad on TV?" he says.   He smiles. "It's a big company, too.  They own all kids of different brands, like brake drums, cosmetics,  BodySlamXXL Clothes, all kinds of stuff."

A man with a duffel bag and a briefcase slides into the booth.

 "Hi, Wolf," he says, holding out his hand. "Madison Avenue.  Thanks for coming guys.  Please, call me Mad."

"Mad, I brought my son. Rawley."  They shake hands.

Mad rubs his hands together. "Lunch, did you guys order?  They got something here called a Peyton Manning.  Rawley. do you like sea food?"

"Some, I guess.  Tuna."

"It's really good.  Two waffles, peanut butter, jelly, and lobster.  You like lobster?"  Mad  looks at Wolf. "What's not to like, right. We'll order Rawley, The Junior.  No lobster."

The waitress brings two Cokes, and pours coffee for Mad.  And they order.

"Okay," says Mad.  "Let's get started."  He opens the duffel Bag and pulls out a pink and red shirt.  On the back in large letters, ' Aunt Olga's Pumpkin Pie Filling.'
"Use to be Turkey was only eaten at Thanksgiving.   Now it's standard lunch meat.  We're hoping that in  less than Five years, people'll be eating Pumpkin Pie at every meal, not just on holidays."
"Pumpkin Pie?" says Rawley. "And you'll be wearing this?  It'"

"Son," says Mad.  "Your Dad'll be the face of Olga's for all fishermen.  It's one of our new brands."

"Olga's Pumpkin Pie Filling?" says Wolf.  "What?"

"Who watches fishing shows on TV?" says Mad. "Older retired guys, who now have time on their hands.  They cook more.  Why not Olga's Pumpkin Pie Filling?"

The waitress brings Two Peyton Mannings, and a Junior.

”Why not?" says Wolf. "NASCAR's Bobby LaBonte, is sponsored by Bushes Beans, Kevin Harvick, it's  Jimmie Johns Sandwich Shops, and Rickey Stenhouse, he's got Rice Krispies Treats painted all over the hood of his car."

Mad reaches down and pulls papers from his briefcase.

"Okay," he says. "Here's your class schedule.  You'll get a two day crash course in how to bake pumpkin pies."

Rawley looks up at his Dad. "Pumpkin pies?"

"Yup," says Mad.  "Every Saturday you're not fishing you'll be either at a Target, or Bass Pro Shop, or maybe a Winn DIxie,  showing everybody how to bake pumpkin pies with Olga's Pumpkin Pie Filling."

"But, I don't know much about baking pies?" says Wolf.  "I'm a Pro Fisherman.  We've been using a Pork Frog. I caught three in less than an hour last night.  I like the pork rather than those plastic trailors."

Rawley smiles. "How about the spinner we made out of that can opener?"

"That's all well and good, but it really doesn't matter,"  says Mad. "We got it all covered.  We need you on that victory stand, so everybody will see the big face of Aunt Olga, on your shirt."

He pushes the paperwork toward Wolf.
"And  we're going to get your Tundra painted, all pink and red.  Your picture'll be along side Olga's on the side.  We're thinking maybe bus ads, the week of the Western Open.  This is great.  They'll come for your truck, it's all set up."

Wolf looks down at Rawley.  "You like the waffles?  This lobster is really good."

"Now, every time you catch a Large Mouth,  the TV camera boat will be there.  This too will take a little practice.  We'll have ten good size Bass hooked under your boat. With a little practice, you'll be able to get them on the line like they were just caught.  We'll show you how it's done."

Wolf looks over at Mad.

"We'll have a diver under your boat, so we'll tell you where to drop anchor.  It's all mapped out. He'll help you on the final day of large tournaments."

"Divers, under the boat?" says Rawley.

"We picked you Wolf because of your  personality.  Leave it up to us to get you up on that victory stand."

Rawley pours syrup on his waffles, then looks up. "That's not really fishing, Dad."

"It's really tough, Bass Fishing," says Wolf.  "A lot of the other guys have fish waiting of them too"

"Rawley," says Mad.  "At this point we're getting your Dad into the top ranks.  And he's getting $10,000, to help him get started.   It's up to him now.  We might not be here some day."

Rawley nods, and stuffs a large dripping waffle chunk into his mouth.
"We're also looking for somebody for the annual Kona Billfish Tournament.  Somebody who can go both ways.  You know,  Lake and Ocean.  A real fishing champion.  Depends on how far you want to go with us.   A national best-selling cookbook, bake on the Food Network.  Sky's the limit with Aunt Olga."

"So," says Wolf.  "I guess I won't need the fishing patterns of the lake.  I had it worked out with maps over the last three years, who caught what, where."

 "With practice, they won't see the fish all that much.  You'll do fine.  Keep smiling, and keep talking.  That's why we're paying you the $10,000."

Mad pushes more papers across the table.  "Sign here, and initial here...and here...and here.  Good."

Mad gulps a fork full of lobster, looks at his watch, and pulls out his SmartPhone.  "I gotta go, guys. Enjoy your lunch. We have your eMail so you'll be getting all the instructions.  Oh, I almost forgot."   Mad hands them an envelope.  He stuffs the signed paperwork into the briefcase, and waves.

Wolf opens the envelope and shows it to Rawley.  They smile.

"So you don't really have to... really catch any fish?" asks Rawley.

"I guess that's how it's done. I knew there was a reason the same guys are always high in the rankings.  I know the fishing part. It's this cooking Pumpkin Pies?  I gotta practice.  A lot."

Wolf holds up the pink shirt.  They look at each other and laugh.

They slide out of the booth.  Rawley holds a doggie bag, his waffles.

As they walk past my booth, I hear Rawley,  "If this is how it is with these fishing tournaments, well, I can help you make the pies.  We'll make the best old Aunt Olga has ever seen.  Right Dad?"  

Help comes from:,
(The Peyton Manning, see 'The Rehab of Peyton Manning,

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Two young ladies sit in the coffee shop at the Valley Greens Golf Course, pitch and putt, nine hole, par 27.

Two men wait on the first tee.  They stand alone. One looks at his watch.

"How about those two?  Expensive clubs, a lot of show."  Her finger winds her blond hair.  "They're looking for a foursome.  Perfect."

"If they were that good, they'd probably be playing at Riviera."  They bump fists, diamonds on their fingers. One checks her red lipstick, the other sticks her gum under that table.

With a large smile, "Hello, are you two looking for a foursome.  We'd be more than happy to go alone with you.  What do you think?"  Again the smile.
The men look at each other, then at the young ladies.  "We're waiting for some friends, but..."  Again he looks at his watch.  "They're so late."  He pulls out his iPhone, "I'll call."

"I'm Peoria, and this is Aurora.  We're from Illinois.  I saw that the Masters is this weekend.  That gave us the idea to come out and play golf today.  We took some lessons, so we won't hold you back too much."

The man on the iPhone waves his hand.  "It's okay.  They said go ahead without them."  He looks at the young ladies.  "I'm Hawthorne, this is Downey.  We're L.A. locals."

First tee, 105 yards straight par 3.

Peoria looks at her bag,  "What should I use, this Five Wood?  Or this one?  Eight Iron?"

"I think the Eight Iron," says Downey.  He looks at Hawthorne, and raises his eyebrows.  "We'll stand back so you'll have room."

She whiffs.  "Wait."  She giggles.  Again, she swings.  The ball bounces about 50 yards out into the fairway.

"I'll use this one, a Five Iron." says Aurora. "Maybe it will go farther?"  She swings.  The ball flies off the tee, but slices off to the right, into a patch of trees.  "Oh, boy," she says.

Downey and Hawthorne tee off.  Both balls land just off the green.

"Wow, you guys are good," says Peoria. "You guys gotta teach us."  The girls giggle.

"Maybe if I get good enough," says Aurora.  "I could win one of those Green Jackets."

Hawthorne looks at Downey,  They both smile.  "Well, Aurora, even if you got good enough to play at Augusta, it's only a man kinda thing.  Women don't get Green Jackets."

"Well, that's not fair," says Peoria.  "Don't they let women play there?"

"It's an all men golf club.  You can play, but you can't be a member."

"There is a problem this year," says Downey. "Seems they let the CEO's of their corporate sponsors wear the Green Jackets.  CEO of IBM is a lady, so we'll see  how it goes."

They find their balls and hit up onto the green.

"Doesn't seem American to only let men become members, even though it's a private club.  Women have to fight for everything,"

"The members vote on it, and that's what they want."

Downey looks at Peoria's rings.  "Let me ask you this. We usually play for a few bucks per hole, just to make it interesting.  $5 per hole. Winner take all."

Peoria looks at Aurora.  "Come on.  We can't beat you two.  Are you trying to hustle us?" She giggles, and clutches Downey's arm.

"If you don't want to, that's okay." says Downey.

"You know," says Aurora.  "$5 isn't that much.  Might make us concentrate better. What do you say, Peoria?"

"Why not, unless it gets out of hand, you know." says Peoria.

They all shake hands. Deal. $5
Walking along the fairway.  "You know, if that men only policy at the Masters effects their TV ratings, they might think about changing their unfair rules."

"That's just the way it is, I guess," says Hawthorne.

"I think if they give Green Jackets to male CEO's, then they should grow up and give them to a lady CEO's as well.  Are these guys still living in the dark ages?"

Holes three, four and five go the same.  The ladies shank their shots, hit thin.  They whiff way too much.

Sixth Tee, dog leg left with a sand trap.
"Ladies, a proposition." says Downey.  "Since you each now owe us $25,  let's go for double or nothing.  That way you can quickly catch up.  Maybe on this hole.  What do you say?"

Aurora blinks at Peoria.  "Like I said before, I think we're getting hustled.  Let's get this straight.  We'll play this hole, it's got a trap...Yikes...$25 each?  Why not.  We could get real lucky."

Deal.  $25. Double or nothing.  They all shake hands.
The sixth hole isn't much better.  Their sand trap play is dreadful.  The ladies double bogey.  Downey a par; Hawthorne a bogey.

At the seventh hole, Aurora elbows Peoria.  "Okay guys," says Aurora.  "Let's do this.  $200 bucks.  Only way we'll ever get our money back.  We each owe you $50.  I'm Feeling real lucky.  And," she smiles, "I think you two are starting to get tired."

"Deal," says Downey

"Deal," says Hawthorne.   Instantly.

They tied on the seventh, but on the eighth, it happens.  303 yard par 3.  Five Wood, Aurora is on the green, and Peoria, using a Three Iron, rolls her tee shot ten feet from the green.  The guys land in high rough.  We're they tiring?

"You know," says Aurora.  "If Tiger Woods said something about this anti-female mind-set at Augusta, maybe something would be done.  Who watches golf if Tiger isn't playing."

"You girls sure got better in a hurry," says Downey.  "Those tee shots were really good."

"I just swung her hard.  On the green, can you believe."  She points to some trees.  "I think your ball is way over there, somewhere."

The seventh hole.  Aurora, par 3, Peoria a bogie four, while Downey takes a Double bogie, Hawthorne loses his ball and takes a triple bogie six.  Sweat forms on Hawthorne's forehead.

"Playing golf is sure more fun than watching it on TV, you know.

Hawthorne makes a low sound through his teeth.

"If the Masters doesn't get women involved this weekend," says Aurora.  "I think I'll play golf rather than watch it.  Augusta National isn't really a private club.  It holds one of the biggest tournaments in the country, sells tickets to the public, wants millions to watch on TV.  It's a money making operation.  C'mon now."

"Okay, guys," says Peoria.  "This is the last hole.  Guys against the gals.  Let's call us all even.  We each put $500 in the pot.  One last hole. Winner takes the pot.

Ninth Hole.  102 yrd., par 3.

"That's $2 grand?" says Downey.  "$500 a piece?"  The men blink, but slowly nod.  Game on.

Aurora's easy Nine Iron shot puts her ball 2 1/2 feet from the hole.  Downey's Seven Iron lands at the top of the green.  Peoria's Nine Iron is on the green, and rolls and rolls and rolls, within five feet of the hole.  Hawthorne lines up his tee shot, works his feet, waves his Eight Iron, again, and again, then swings. The ball veers right, through the trees, over the Sixth Hole's fairway through more trees and lands on the Fourth Hole's green. 

Downey putts.  The ball runs past the hole.  A six footer coming back.  Peoria putts, comes close, about two feet.  Aurora steadies herself, and holes out, a birdie, winning the hole and the $2,000.

They wait for Hawthorne to find his ball and get back in the fairway. Determined to finish, he takes a quadruple bogey seven, four over par.

They sit at a picnic table outside the coffee shop.  Downey pushes a check for $1000 toward Peoria.
He stands and says, "You ladies are good.  Way too good."

Hawthorne stands and glares.

Then Downey begins to laugh, looks at the young ladies, then at Hawthorne.  Hawthorne shakes his head, and he too laughs.  Without looking back Downey waves to the girls. They laugh all the way to the parking lot.

Peoria holds up the check in the air and smiles. "Now, let's go buy ourselves Green Jackets."

Help comes from:,, Wikipedia/Masters

Monday, April 2, 2012


They sit above the finish line at Santa Anita.  Hampton sits with  his partner, Newport, and their  escorts from Vegas, Pepper and Ginger.

Hampton holds the front page of the Daily Racing Form:
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert had a heart attack early Monday in Dubai where he was preparing to run Game On Dude in the $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race.

Hampton's SmartPhone vibrates.

"Hello, is this Hampton.  This is Bob Buffert.   How you doing?"

"Bob.  Bob Baffert.  This is crazy. I'm reading the Form, you're on the front page." 

"Yeah, I'm over here in Dubai, the the World Cup, and well.   I was feeling bad coming over here, then it hit me.  Heart surgery.  Doctors put in three stents in my arteries.  Got real tired after visiting the barn.  It was Jill, my wife, called  the paramedics."

''They caught it just in time.'' says Hampton.

''I sure hope so.  But when you have Sheik Mo come visit you ... then you know you're getting the best treatment possible."

"Sheik Mo?" says Hampton.

"He like rules Dubai.  Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum,  He came by he hospital. He owns Darley Stud and Godolphin Racing, one of world's best thoroughbred breeding and racing stables."

"When are you coming back?  Be here for the Santa Anita Derby?"

"Well, it's been a bad trip all around.  This heart surgery, and Game on Dude, didn't come in.  He started 14th, so it was a rough race.  Chantell is a world class jockey.  She did what she could.  I'll  have to call Joe Torre too.  He's part owner.  Hard to tell the owner he lost a race, but he probably already knows anyway."

"Who's he talking to," asks Pepper.

"Bob Baffert," says Newport.  "World class race horse trainer.   His horses are in the biggest races in the world.   He's won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes  Belmont Stakes, all the big races."

She stares up at Newport.

"You've seen him.  The guy on the race shows they interview...with the white hair?"

She nods.  "I think I have,"  she says.

"Race is about to start, Bob," says Hampton.  "I know you wanted my horse, but I want to see it run.  If it does well, I'll get him in the Santa Anita Derby next week if I can."

"I liked it when I first saw him.  He's got potential.  I'd buy him myself. But I'd change his name, you know.  Sorry I can't be back to watch it with you guys.  Good Luck, Hampton."

"See ya Bob, and get well."

The announcer says, "The flag is up.  And...there they go.

Ginger and Pepper jump and giggle.

"Breaking on top it's Speedy, from the inside we have Flat Out, Pronto, and Zippy is right there.  On the outside it's Chop-Chop, along side Lickety Split.  Two lengths back to Grease Lightning, Helter Skelter, moving between horses it's Double Time, Head Long, then it's Hustle, Fasterthanaspeedingbullet, and Rocketship."

The four stand still, then look at each other.

"I see him," says Hampton.  "Yellow and red checks, number 14.  I think that's him."

"Around the First Turn, It's still Speedy by a length, Pronto second, a nose ahead of Flat Out, Zippy, and Chop-Chop.  First quarter in 21 and one.  That's fast folks.  They're flying."

What's the name of our horse, I forget," says Pepper.

"Unresponsive," says Ginger.  "Come on Unresponsive.  He's in the race, right?"

"Well, where is he?" says Pepper.  She points toward the horses.  "I didn't hear his name.  You sure this the right race?"

"Yes, my dear," says Hampton.  "He's back there...somewhere."  He scans the horses with binoculars. "I think that's him.  He's pretty far back."

"...Grease Lightning, four lengths to Double Time, and Helter Skelter, and Head Long,  Like Wildfire to Head Long,  then WikiWiki and  Vamanos.

"They're rounding the far  turn, and into the stretch.  It's Speedy now by a length, but  they're coming to get him.  And down the stretch they come.  They're five wide.  It's Speedy by a nose, on the rail it's Pronto, Zippy, and Flat Out...and on the outside, from far back here comes...Who is this? It''s   Unresponsive?  He's out in the middle of the track.  Unresponsive?  60 to one shot."

Yes," says Newport. "That's him. Go, Unresponsive.  Go, go. go."

He's got the speed," says Hampton.  "Keep going Unresponsive.  Keep going."

"...He's fourth, now third, passing Pronto.   It's Speedy striding in the lane, but not for long...It's  Unresponsive'  Now by a length, they'll not catch him today, now by five length, Unresponsive. This is unbelievable.  Unresponsive, from last to first.  No longer a maiden, Unresponsive wins it, by eight lengths, going away.  Holy Cow.  Chop-Chop a distant second, and Speedy noses out WikiWiki a fast closing fourth.  Incredible.  What a pedigree.  He's a grandson of, believe it or not, the great Sluggish."

"We win," says Ginger.  "We win."

Hampton and Newport high five.

 Pepper ad Ginger jump and wave their winning tickets.

"$100 to show,"  says Newport.  "I got them each a ticket.  First time either has ever been to a real race track.  Two girls from Vegas, they're really excited.  They're always fun to have along."

Hampton looks at his SmartPhone. Again it vibrates.

"Already, I'm getting calls wanting to buy Unresponsive.  Four already and we haven't even been to the winners circle.  I know Bob will want to buy him.  I'm waiting 'til he gets back."

The ladies jump and giggle, and giggle some more.
"Come on Ladies." says Newport.  "We gotta get our pictures taken in the winners circle.  This is great."

"What do we win." says Pepper.   She stares at her ticket.

"60 to one." says Hampton.

She looks at Newport, then at Ginger.

"Ladies," says Newport.  "You're both rich."

Both ladies jump and giggle, and giggle some more.

"But, I don't know if I want to sell him now," says Hampton."  The Santa Anita Derby is next Saturday. This is really exciting.  A $10,000 claimer.  Who knew?"

Help comes from:
Wikipedia/Bob Baffert,
and check my post,  'A Visit With A $10,000 Claimer,