Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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 Chapter 31

An Outburst

     Tim thought that he had had some surprises, but this was the biggest one since the demise of his parents. Audrey called at nine in the morning, San Diego time, and said, “I’ve got some pretty bad news. Jimmy dumped Meredith for a young Chinese girl who’s also a mathematician. Meredith is now in a hospital in the psych ward.”


Audrey continued, saying various bad things about Jimmy. Tim let her run on, and finally asked, “Have you seen her since it happened?”

“I’ve just been there to visit. I had to go through two sets of locked doors and found her huddled in a corner of the so-called ‘day room.’ It’s a dirty disgusting place. They’ve also taken her clothes and put her in one of those silly little hospital gowns.”

“How is she?”

“Apart from looking utterly defeated, she’s calm and rational. We talked for an hour. She naturally wants to get out, and thinks it’ll happen sooner if she obeys the rules. But she’s found that she can pretend to take pills and palm them. She says she doesn’t need any drugs, and I believe her. They’re trying to chemically lobotomize people to make them passive and easy to deal with.”

“Was her family there?”

“Her parents are being truly weird and counter-productive. I think we’re her family.”

“Can Sharon and I help?”

“I think Howie and I do need help.”

“If it’s so serious that she has to take leave from college, she could come here.”

“I think your sunniness would help, Tim. And Sharon can manage anything.”

Audrey was so upset that it was hard to make out exactly what had happened. In addition, the cell phone connection was bad. Finally, she said, “I can’t talk any longer. Call Howie.”

Before he could do so, Sharon turned up. Her reaction was simple. “Meredith sheltered me. I’ll shelter her.”

“Okay. I’ll call Howie and find out more.”

Howie was pretty collected. “Meredith went to Jimmy’s place, and found the girl there. Meredith then attacked her. Lots of blood, but no serious injuries. I’m living in the same house, so, with all the screaming, Audrey and I came running.”

It turned out that Meredith had been bi-polar all along, under the control of drugs. However, the sudden defection of Jimmy had been too much. Howie continued, “The Chinese girl ran away, her clothes half ripped off, and Jimmy stood there frozen. Meredith then attacked him, and he just put his arms over his head. Audrey and I eventually took her off to the ER. She was still screaming and totally out of control when we got to the hospital, and, unfortunately, they had to handcuff her.”

“I’ve heard that people in that state are abnormally strong.”

“That’s it! I’m bruised all over, and she showed no signs of slowing down. They eventually shot her with a sedative.”

“Audrey said the parents aren’t much help.”

“They won’t visit. I don’t know why.”

Later in the day, after Sharon talked with Audrey, she explained to Tim, “Meredith’s mother is taking the how-could-my-daughter-do-such-a-thing attitude. She’s acting as if Meredith is in jail for holding up a bank.”

“She must have known about the illness.”

“Sure. But she apparently didn’t realize that it could have a violent side.”

“It probably never did before.”

“Anyhow, her mother’s full of shame, wondering what people will think. The father’s afraid of being sued.”

“They must have enough money to buy off the Chinese girl.”

“Again, it’s shock.”

“For that matter, I would never have guessed that Meredith could go off like that.”

“Nor would I.”

Tim paused a moment, trying to imagine the scene, and then moved to a different tack, “When Audrey first called, it sounded as if she wanted to kill Jimmy. But I don’t really feel that way.”

 It surprised Tim a little when Sharon replied, “I think Meredith clung too hard too long.”

“Yeah. No one thought it was a great match.”

“Jimmy’s going to be a great star, not in a popular sense, but in universities. People will nudge each other when they see him walking down the street, and say, ‘Do you know who that is?’”

“It was already a little like that last year.”

“And people will point to his wife in the same way. Reflected glory.”

“I thought women were supposed to make it on their own these days.”

“Sure. We can do just fine. But that’s because most of us don’t think we have to be movie stars, or some other kind of stars. Or married to stars. I don’t want you to be a football star so that I can be the sister of a star.”

“So that’s Meredith’s weakness.”

“Yes. But I still love her.”

“I wouldn’t say I love her. But I’ll do a lot for her. Is Diana also star obsessed?”

“I don’t think so. American football stars aren’t stars for her. Ted was, but she saw through him.”

“Then, Meredith’s problem will be that she’s lost her star, and isn’t likely to find another.”

“I guess in part.”

“The other part will just be missing Jimmy.”

“Well, Tim, we’ll all miss Jimmy.”

“I wonder if Meredith scared away the Chinese girl.”

“Even if she did, I don’t think Meredith can come back to him.”

“No. It looks as if she’ll be coming to us.”

“I’ll try to find out when.”

     Later in the afternoon, when the sunlight was softening, Tim went rowing with Enoch. They each took an oar, and after a few problems of coordination, they made the boat move quite handily through the little channels between slips.

     Out in the middle of the large Quivira Basin, sea lions had taken over one end of the long and stinky bait barge, almost sinking it with a couple of thousand pounds of combined weight. Two big males, sleek and black, were barking loudly and trying to push one another into the water. Just as Tim and Enoch passed, some thirty feet away, there was a loud splash as the loser tumbled. Enoch looked at Tim in amusement, and Tim replied, “I’m sure there’s some high-minded moral to be drawn from this.”

“I suppose the winner does get to monopolize the females.”

“Instead of doing a lot of ‘my hero’ stuff, they may just open their flippers or whatever.”

“Unlike so many NFL players, the winner doesn’t seem to be doing a celebratory victory dance.”

“He’s being cool, as if he’s used to winning.”

“Maybe he is. On the other hand, he may have misinterpreted the situation. The females may prefer the more gentlemanly sea lion now swimming to the bully on the dock.”

“Always a possibility.”

“Are we more advanced than the sea lions, or just less honest?”

“Probably less honest. I’m rather cynical today, but I am edging toward a kind of honesty.”

“How so?”

“I really don’t want to play any more. Without a decent quarterback I won’t even be able to pile up yardage in garbage periods.”

“Plus, if you quit now, it’ll be on a high note.”

“That, too. And I’m skipping practice again today, so they’ll keep suspending me. They’ll like that, since they don’t have to pay me. Then, they’ll trade me at the end of the season. However, if I convincingly announce my retirement, no one’ll trade for me, and the Sailors will be stuck. So they might pay me a chunk not to officially retire even if I’m not playing.”

“They must’ve originally wanted you to play.”

“That was when they thought they could win some games, Now, they’re beyond hope.”

“So, what’re you going to do?”

“Financially, the worst thing I could do is quit tomorrow and tell everyone I won’t play for anyone ever again. But it’ll make me feel better.”

“Have you enough money?”

“Something like sixteen million in the tank.”

“Will you miss football?”

“In some ways, certainly. But that day has to come in a few years anyway, probably after a serious injury.”

“I hardly have a decision to make. I’m automatically paid for the year, and my contract’s only for one year.”

“Melissa thinks no team will hire you after your interview. I hope I didn’t persuade you to do something you’ll regret.”

“No. We don’t have as much money as you, but Sharon and I are set for life. The rest would just be greed.”

“I’ve already gone much too far into greed. Of course, we may find that we miss the recognition, adulation, and even notoriety.”

“I wasn’t a star to begin with.”

“You got much more attention than most punters. There are probably a hundred thousand people who know who you are.”

“That’s a scary thought! There must be a million or more in your case.”

“Much of my attention is negative. But it’s still attention. There are dogs that like to be beaten because it shows that someone cares.”

“God, Enoch, anyone who thinks such thoughts needs to quit!”

“Quite so. Will you help me convince Diana?”

“I’m surprised that she needs to be convinced.”

“Those TD plays of ours made a deep impression. They remind her of ballet.”

“She must have no idea of the violence. Didn’t my broken leg leave an impression?”

“It was a nice clean break with no blood. Besides, you don’t hear the sounds of collision up in the stands.”

“I’ll tell Sharon. She’ll have more influence.”

“I dare say.”

     When they got back to the slip, they found Sharon herself waiting. She called out cheerfully, “Someone in the Sailors’ front office called, and gave me a message for you. They usually supervise injured players, and have them do various kinds of physical therapy. However, they’re not renewing your contract, and thus see no need for future contact with you.”

“Did you reply?”

“I asked whether they were going to fulfill the present contract and pay you through the end of the season. The man said that, yes, the deposits would continue to be made to your bank account. The idea seemed to depress him, and I asked if your medical expenses would be covered. That seemed to depress him still further, but he said that any reasonable bills would be paid.”

“And that was it?”

“I said that we were eminently satisfied with the idea that there would be no future contact between ourselves and the Sailors.”

Enoch asked, “Are you happy with that, Tim?”


“Good. One problem solved.”

Bill Todd -- Tim and Sharon
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