In place of Louis Roney’s regular column, here is an original fictional short story, written by our columnist.
My name is Maxwell X. Cannon, MD. I'm an eye, ear, nose and throat doctor here in La Jolla.
In the years since I graduated from medical school, I have telephoned my sister Maggie every Monday night, and she calls me every Thursday. This way, my somewhat straight-laced sis and I have developed a friendship we never had as kids. She is two years younger than I. When she was 15, I was dating gals 19 or older.
My own life has been a gallimaufry of sorts — a hodge-podge with perhaps too much Tabasco, and not enough plain potatoes. If you haven't lived the life of a well-off single roué who likes the ladies, don't knock it.
Anyhow, as I am a doctor, and my sister is a housewife avec chic, I believe she finds something to pique her interest in my sometimes bizarre and colorful personal life.
When she was 27, my sister married a nose and throat-man – Halifax
Turner – a partner in our firm, a neat guy I enjoy playing squash with.
Maggie's marriage has been seemingly routine up to now.
After college, before I entered either of the medical schools willing to take me, my patriotism overpowered me when I heard “The Stars and Stripes Forever” played by a Navy band in a parade. Two days later, I was a U.S. apprentice seaman headed for Navy medical school and whatever came later. Eleven years after that, I retired as a lieutenant commander, M.D in the Navy, and joined brother-in-law Halifax's team of M.D.s.
My gallivanting around the world on Navy ships, and stopping in exotic foreign ports, will be taken up in an unexpurgated private travel-log, if I ever get around to writing it.
During those Navy years I felt that I was free as a bird, a home-lovin' man, and I didn't care whose home it was.
Seriously, all the while I assumed that my sister was leading a proper and conventional married life with Halifax as her husband.
She was, so far as I knew about her. But not so was her dapper husband.
Halifax was a darlin' guy all right!
He and sister Maggie had met at a cocktail party. It had been a whirlwind romance. They were married almost before the last martini was down the hatch. Why not? They were both single, young and had the where-with-all to start a career-marriage solidly in the black.
The first year of their marriage, my sister Maggie worked away at her job as partner in the real estate firm from which we doctors, Halifax and I, plus another doctor, Frederick Alton Baker, leased our spacious medical suite.
The suite was decorated in tasteful decor and sported a pretty secretary as well as a bevy of attractive nurses.
A jaded citoyen du monde like me might ask, “With a lineup of gals like that on the payroll, who needs a wife?” I hasten to add that I was acting as though I was the only person among us who was enjoying that proper bachelor standard of licentiousness.
Nevertheless, there was never a hitch in my sis Maggie and Halifax's marital bliss, until one day when sis answered her front doorbell.
“Hello, are you Maggie?” asked a slender striking brunette.
“Can't deny it,” said sis, stepping out on the front porch.
The visitor said, “I'm Lara. ” “And?”
“I was just curious,” said Lara.
“About what?” asked sis.
“About you. I guess your Halifax's' second—or maybe his third....”
“Wife of course,” said Lara. “ I was Hal's No. 1 … I think.”
“My God! I never heard about this.”
“Don't worry, the divorce is legal. And Hal's OK about sending me his monthly check for Gary and me.”
“Our son. He's 5 now — cute little devil.”
“Does Halifax visit Gary?” asked Maggie.
“Oh yes! He meets Gary in the park a lot, and takes him for rides in his Lexus with the top down,” said Lara.
When Halifax got home late one afternoon, Maggie said, “Halifax, you are a miserable low down bastard!”
“What's wrong Maggie?” he gasped.
“I've been checking things out,” said Maggie. “Your ex Lara came to see me several months ago. She was trying to figure whether I was No. 2 or 3 in your register of brides and brides to be.”
“I asked Lara, ‘Which one am I, No. 2 or 3 of your G.D. list?’”
“What did she say?” asked Halifax in a loud whisper.
Maggie paused, “Lara says her lawyer tells her he's pretty sure she's No. 1, but she says she wouldn't bet the farm on it because you continually were having affairs and always had a succession of women on the string. Anyway, Lara said she's got a nice husband now who doesn't need to know any more, but that Gary is the son of her marriage to you.”
Maggie continued, “After I had said goodbye to Lara on the porch, she left. I went in the house and I've been thinking over everything Lara told me, and I've been making some phone calls.”
“Now I didn't know whether to blow up or throw up!” Maggie said to Halifax.
“I'm still not sure what number I am in your parade of babes. So, I'm leveling with you, lover boy, tell me your next squaw, or I'm siccing Ben Green on you with instructions to throw everything in his law book at you.”
Halifax took a mint from a dish on the hall table and put it in his mouth.
He looked at the ceiling and said slowly, “Maggie, I've just have been trying to protect you from things that might hurt you,” he said.
“Come on, Halifax!”
“OK Maggie, are you any better off now that you found out all this stuff? I was just stupid.”
“You were stupid, all right,” said Maggie. She walked over and faced Halifax squarely.
“This is the moment I've been waiting for, for you to hear something straight from my mouth. I have long made my decision and now I'm telling you.”
Halifax sat down slowly on the hall chair.
“What's so important?” he asked. “Your recent pregnancy test checked out fine, didn't it?”
“Yes,” she said.
“I guess you've surprised plenty of dames in your happy life of affairs,” said Maggie.
“Meaning?” he said.
“Meaning two things: One, the name of my son-to-be is entered in his future Harvard class, years from now.”
“And?” asked Halifax.
“Number two: The recorded name of my future son is Frederick Alton Baker Jr.”
He jumped up, “Are you kidding — you and Fred?” he gasped.
“But you are married to me!” Halifax shouted.
“Oh! Don't worry, you'll be receiving a Certified Letter from Ben Green. He's handling my divorce from you, which you, of course, cannot possibly not contest. ”
“And you and Fred?”
“Why not? Tests prove Fred is the father. ”
“How did you get to know Fred that well?”
“Simple. I met him in your office. Gossip and phoning around gave me the rest. Things just happen.”
I said softly, “Good-bye sister dear” and hung up. I poured two fingers from a cut-glass carafe and gulped a swallow. I silently resigned as the “champion spoiler of women's reputations.”
How did my demure little sis Maggie beat me at my own game?