Bryson City Seasons — Memorial Day (Part 1)

This is from the thirty-fourth chapter from my best-selling book, Bryson City Seasons, which is the sequel to Bryson City TalesI hope that you’ll enjoy going back to Bryson City with me each week and that if you do, you’ll be sure to invite your friends and family to join us.


It started out as a very warm day for the end of May. Little did I know when the alarm went off that morning it would be my most unforgettable Memorial Day for decades to come.

The excitement had been building in town for weeks. Not only would today host one of the largest town parades in recent memory—as the Olympic torch would pass through town—but it also would be marked by a full eclipse of the sun!

Some unknown purchaser was rumored to have ordered dozens of flowers from Libby’s House of Flowers for his float. They had been delivered to Libby’s back parking lot and then clandestinely picked up, after hours, by two shadowy figures driving a rental truck.

The most devilish part of the whole surreptitious operation was that the truck from the wholesale company opened its back door just as the rental truck, with its back door open, backed up to it. The trucks were back-to-back, like two lovebugs, while the contents of one was secretly disgorged into the entrails of the other.

The rescue squad had been secretly planning its float for weeks. The Smoky Mountain mental health office had only recently begun their planning process. But it was rumored that they were planning a “Crazy Float.” No one really knew what to expect from them—after all, most of the staff members were out-of-towners!

The rest home, the library, Sneed’s Restaurant, and Bennett’s Drug Store were all planning minor entries—probably just some folks riding in the back of a decorated pickup truck.

There was a community buzz about John Cope and the folks at Cope Chevrolet. Word was that a bright red Corvette had been delivered to the dealership and was discreetly hidden in a locked shed that had no windows. Super Swain Drugs hadn’t announced any plans, but everyone knew Doc John couldn’t miss out on the free advertising the “parade of the century” would bring. Several of the women at Willa Jean’s Hair Shop were sure Doc John was the one who had ordered all the flowers.

For some reason, the hospital, doctors, and dentists all decided to sit out the parade—at least as far as hosting a float. It was generally conceded that the medical and dental professionals would have an unfair financial advantage. Why this thinking wasn’t applied to some of the tourist venues—such as the Fontana Village Resort, the Nantahala Outdoor Center, and the Cherokee Holiday Inn—was a complete mystery to me.

A number of churches had signed up to have floats. Of course, the high school marching bands from Swain County, Robbinsville, and Cherokee were signed up. But everyone knew the Swain County High School marching band would have the premier position at the end of the parade—just before the Olympic torch. No one knew who might be carrying the torch through town—or if it might be several different individuals. And everyone was abuzz about who he or she or they might be. Riders from the Graham County sheriff’s cavalry would be there, and there were rumors that the Shriner clowns from Asheville might even be coming.

Why there were more topics for gossip about this event than any in recent memory. Every hair shop, restaurant, service club, and store in town was buzzing!

Rick was on call for the practice that day, and since there were no patients in the hospital, I didn’t have to make morning rounds.

Even though it was a Wednesday, our office, like the others in town, was planning to be closed that day. Everyone would be downtown. There would be food and craft booths. A dunking booth featuring local celebrities would be very busy. We were expecting the town to be packed.

The kids and Barb were asleep, and I got up and made a pot of coffee. The smell of her favorite coffee brewing was enough to awaken her, and pretty soon, in her robe and slippers, she was sniffing her way into the kitchen.

“Happy Memorial Day, honey,” she announced, shuffling sleepily into the kitchen.

I turned to give her a big hug and a good-morning kiss. “Have you made rounds already?”

“Nope. I don’t have anyone in the hospital.”

“Isn’t it funny,” she mused, “how the hospitals always seem to empty out at holidays? Your census is down on Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, and Thanksgiving.”

“That’s true. I’m not sure why that is. Certainly, folks put off elective surgery and procedures, but even the acute hospitalizations seem to be down on holidays—except for the accidents.”

“Well, I hope Rick doesn’t have to take care of too many of those. He’s coming over to go downtown with us for the parade, and then y’all are grilling dinner for us.”

“I am? I didn’t know that.”

“Yes, you are! Rick and I decided that on his day off.”

I smiled as I poured our coffee. Rick and Barb were extremely close, and on his off day, he’d go to our house to have coffee with Barb and chat.

“Come on,” I invited, “let’s take advantage of the quiet. How ’bout we go sit on our bench?”

“Count me in.” Her beautiful smile caught my eye and, as always, relaxed and attracted me. It had since I was five years old. “Not too long until Independence Day,” Barb observed as we walked to the bench outside our house. The morning was still cool, and the scattered clouds and mist—for which the Smoky Mountains are famous—drifted slowly over the peaks bordering Deep Creek.

“Why are you thinking about Independence Day?” I wondered out loud.

Barb was quiet for a moment as we settled on the bench.

“Wow, it’s so beautiful here,” she softly commented as she took in a slow, deep breath. I smiled to myself. This deep breath was one of the ways Barb told me she was comfortable and felt safe. But I still suspected something was up.

“So what’s the deal about July Fourth?” I asked again.

“Oh, nothing,” she replied as she stared at Deep Creek Valley. “Something, I think.”

Then she turned to me. “Walt, you know how you docs are not really doing anything for this Memorial Day. And you all usually don’t do anything special for the Fourth of July?”

“Well, it’s kind of a tradition that we don’t. At least that’s what Mitch said.”

“But don’t you think it’d be good for the docs to participate in a community event?”

I was beginning to smell a fish. “Barb, we donate our time to the athletes. We give money to the athletic fund, the community theater, and every kid who comes to the office asking for any sort of charitable donation.”

“But you’re not really giving yourself.”

“What? Of course we are. Either Rick or I are at every football game and most home basketball games.”

“I know, but that’s in your profession. I think you should do something personally.”

“Where are you going with this?” I asked very suspiciously.

“Well, I volunteered you to participate in a community event on the Fourth of July. And it’s for a good cause. It’s to raise money for the rescue squad and the fire department.”

I was quiet for a moment—imagining myself flipping pancakes at a community breakfast, serving a meal at the senior center, or, in the worst case, sitting in a dunking booth at a local carnival. I wasn’t even close.

“Walt, I’ve signed you up to compete in the Miss Flame contest.”

  1. The Murder (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  2. The Arrival (Part 1)(Part 2)
  3. The Hemlock Inn (Part 1)(Part 2)
  4. The Grand Tour (Part 1)(Part 2)
  5. The Interview (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  6. Settling In (Part 1)(Part 2)
  7. First-Day Jitters (Part 1)(Part 2)
  8. Emergency (Part 1)(Part 2)
  9. The Delivery (Part 1)(Part 2)
  10. The “Expert” (Part 1)(Part 2)
  11. The Trial (Part 1)(Part 2)
  12. Shiitake Sam (Part 1)(Part 2)
  13. Wet Behind the Ears (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  14. Lessons in Daily Practice (Part 1) — Anal Angina(Part 2)(Part 3)(Part 4)
  15. White Lies
  16. The Epiphany (Part 1)(Part 2)
  17. Becoming Part of the Team (Part 1)(Part 2)
  18. Monuments (Part 1)(Part 2)
  19. My First Home Victory (Part 1)(Part 2)
  20. Fisher of Men (Part 1)(Part 2)
  21. Fly-Fishing (Part 1); (Part 2)
  22. Something Fishy (Part 1)(Part 2)
  23. A Good Day at the Office
  24. An Evening to Remember
  25. Another New Doc Comes to Town
  26. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Part 1)(Part 2)
  27. A Surprising Gift
  28. The New Year (Part 1)(Part 2)
  29. The Home Birth (Part1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  30. The Showdown (Part1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  31. The Initiation (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  32. Home at Last (Part 1)(Part 2)(Part 3)
  33. One Big Fish
  34. Memorial Day (Part 1); (Part 2)

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2019. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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