Like many physicians Dr. B did not read the contracts carefully. He didn’t note the clause stating he could be fired at any time. The idea that an insurance company would dare tell him how to practice medicine never crossed his mind. Sometimes while he was waiting to be fired, Dr. B found himself wondering how something so obvious could also be so secret. America’s largest insurance companies had taken over the practice of medicine, yet no one seemed to notice.
They first laid eyes on one another in the spring of 1986, when they were both admitted to the cystic fibrosis wing of Dallas’ Presbyterian Hospital. Kimberley Marshall was then sixteen, thin and winter-pale and beautiful, her red hair falling down the back of her pink nightgown patterned with little white hearts. David Crenshaw was eighteen; he wore his usual hand-me-down T-shirt and faded gray pajama pants and oversized glasses that turned dark in the sunlight.
Marie was seven years old today, and the sweat was for her. She arrived at the sweat lodge clutching a baby doll and a bottle of Mountain Dew. Gayle Niyah-Hughes, her mother, had brought along a Care Bear birthday cake for afterward and some prayer ties that she had made herself.
Spring is the best of seasons in Duval County. The dust that hangs in the South Texas air for the rest of the year has returned for the moment to the pebbly soil, tamped down by the rains that accompany the dying thrusts of winter. The huisache is in bloom, and for once the brush seems almost benign. Spring is the most welcome time in Duval County for another reason. It is the season for politics, an activity that has attained the status of a sport in the land the patróns once ruled.
Editor’s note: You could be forgiven for not immediately recognizing the name Clinton Manges when news broke of his death in a San Antonio nursing home on September 23, 2010. Some readers may have remembered that he was the owner of the short-lived San Antonio Gunslingers, which were part of the now-defunct USFL and featured a young Rick Neuheisel at quarterback.
A psychohistory of Mary Cleave would begin at the age of two, on the potty, where her mother taught her to read. From that time on, Mary always associated toilet training with higher education, eventually earning a doctorate in the field of sanitary engineering. Her mother was a high school biology teacher in Long Island, the third generation of a line of naturalists; her father was a trumpet player and conductor. For extra income the Cleaves operated a summer camp on Lake Champlain, in the cool Adirondacks.
In May of this year Woody Dinstel sat down at his desk in Houston to write a letter. First he looked at the watch. It was a gold Hamilton Masterpiece, slim and heavy. On the back was engraved WOODY DINSTEL UPON RETIREMENT FEBRUARY 1, 1978, EXXON.
Russell Thayer held the world between his outstretched hands. “This, over here, is Hawaii,” he said, jiggling his right hand, “and this,” jiggling his left, “is Dallas. We fly a 747 between them, the only 747 we’ve got. To make a 747 pay off, you have to have a long haul with a lot of people on board. Now, it turns out that the distance between Dallas and Honolulu is exactly right. If it were any shorter, you couldn’t fly it as efficiently. And if it were any longer, you couldn’t turn it around for the daily round trip.”
THE ENGINES OF THE DC-9, taxiing out to the takeoff stand, send a soft vibration, a pleasing electric jiggle, coursing through the plane; Dr. John Hill, tired after the long Las Vegas weekend, is lulled to sleep. It had been an enjoyable little vacation, a respite from the seemingly unhazardous task of being one of the world's great plastic surgeons. He has seen many of his former patients in Vegas, all of them wealthy, some of them famous.
Them Texas fellers, hmmh? Hell. Ah guess they prob'ly made this town, y' know.
THERE'S MAYBE A DOZEN OF them left now, men like Ned, wandering through Vegas like Banquo's ghost in dusty gear, living artifacts of the Pre-Neon Epoch. They were prospectors back then, solitary seekers after Fast Money, picking their way across the Nevada hills in much the same manner as their spiritual descendants plumb the crystal canyons of the Strip in search of the same end.