Bryson City Seasons — The Invitation (Part 2)

This is from the seventh 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.


As Barb and I were finishing dessert, Elizabeth came to the table to check on us. Just then, Bryson City’s oldest doctor and his wife, Mercedith, stopped to greet us on their way out.

“Walt, do you, Barb, and the children want to join me for a barbecue?” asked Dr. Harold Bacon. “Mercedith will be out of town, but I’ll be barbecuing on Saturday afternoon. Would love it if y’all could join me.”

The invitation was a total surprise. Even though Barb and I lived next door to him, and even though he had seemed polite and friendly, he had never invited us over for a meal. Dr. Bacon continued. “Four o’clock at my place. I am the best barbecue chef west of Asheville. You’ll see.”

I am sure my jaw was still locked in the open position as he and Mrs. Bacon turned to leave.

When we first moved to Bryson City, Dr. Bacon had been opposed to adding any new physicians. I was quite sure that he, along with Drs. Mathieson and Nordling, had opposed our recruitment. The latter rented office space from Dr. Bacon, and the former was one of the newest doctors in town himself, having “retired” to Bryson City after a long and productive career as an osteopathic physician. I always wondered if they were threatened by the arrival of newer and more recently trained physicians.

This trio grudgingly accepted Ray Cunningham into the community just a few years before our arrival—probably because Ray had been raised in Bryson City and because he was Mitch’s partner. But Rick and I had neither of these attributes. The fact that Mitch had invited us to work in his practice somewhat mitigated their irritation with us—but not much.

When Dr. Mitchell and the hospital board of directors overruled their opposition to our recruitment, the three had decided to watch us carefully, looking for any mistakes. After finding a couple of missteps early in our tenure, one of the three—we never knew which one—brought official charges against us to the medical staff. We were told later that at the hearing to revoke our privilege to practice medicine in the hospital, a vociferous debate ensued, and by a vote of three to two, Rick and I barely kept our medical staff privileges and our professional skins.

Although we never knew exactly who voted for or against us, Dr. Nordling left town shortly after the vote, and Dr. Mathieson avoided speaking to us for quite some time. We suspected that Mitch, Bacon, and Paul Sale had voted for us—while Nordling and Mathieson had not. Ray, as chief of staff, could only vote in case of a tie. So I’ve always believed that Harold Bacon was the swing vote that saved our careers in Bryson City. But that’s just a guess.

Thus, his invitation was not a total shock—but it was a surprise. As he and Mrs. Bacon walked away from our table, Elizabeth chuckled. “You can close your mouth now, Dr. Larimore.”

“Did he just invite us to his house for dinner?”

“That’s what it sounded like to me,” Elizabeth answered. I looked at Barb, who nodded.

But why? I thought.


The next day began as a deliciously lazy morning. I awoke just before dawn, and since Rick was covering the practice and the emergency room, I would be free for the entire weekend. At the blissful thought of two obligation-free days ahead, I drifted back to sleep. However, the just-after-dawn patter of eighteen-month- old Scott’s little feet and Kate’s “sawmill whisper”—“Wait for me! Wait for me!”—woke me up. Now four years old, Kate stood boldly at my side of the bed, next to her little brother, and then loudly whispered, “Daddy, do you want to help me and Scoot make pain perdue [French for “lost bread,” otherwise known as “French toast”], or do you want us to do it by ourselves?”

I smiled. Even Kate had picked up our pet nickname for her little brother, calling him Scoot instead of Scott. Kate’s language skills had progressed remarkably. When she began speaking—at about three years of age—she spoke in complete sentences, which stunned both her parents and therapists. And, as was her habit, she would usually be up with the sunrise, and Scott followed not too much later. I wasn’t sure if her question was manipulative or just innocent — but either way it had the effect of rousing me. Imagining these two young children trying to cook with an electric skillet was more than I could stomach.

After cooking breakfast and enjoying it with the kids, I cleaned up the kitchen and waited for Barb to get up. While the kids were playing in their room, I had just enough time to step out of the back door and sit on our bench to enjoy the rapidly warming day and a second cup of coffee.

Why would Dr. Bacon invite us over for dinner? I wondered. He had seemed somewhat warmer toward Rick and me—especially since the time I worked an entire evening with him the year before to save the life of one of Dr. Mathieson’s young patients, who was dying from bacterial sepsis. He seemed to have been thankful for my work and would occasionally say howdy or nod his head in my direction when we passed in the hall.

I tried to figure out the good motives he might have—but I confess I felt suspicious.



  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)

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2017. 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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