Mac sits at the kitchen table in his apartment with a glass of water in his hand. Myrna is about to go out the door to work when Mac goes into one of his zoned-out stares. He drops the glass of water. His pants are soaked. The glass hits the floor and shatters. Myrna suddenly realizes that something more serious is going on with Mac.
“My God,” she says when Mac comes back around. “If that had been a cup of coffee you could have been badly burned. We need to get you to a doctor.”
“We don’t have insurance and we sure don’t have the money,’ says Mac. “I’ve had these staring episodes on and off for awhile. No big deal. I’ll just have to be more careful.”
“No,” says Myrna. “I’m getting you to a doctor. I know someone who can help.”
Doctor Robin Herald is the Chief of Staff at the hospital in Fort Bragg but there is nothing conventional about his approach. He’s been known to prescribe worry stones to relieve stress in his heart patients. He believes in the medicinal benefits of sinsemilla. Once he was caught in bed with one of his female patients in the hospital. He dresses up in a clown suit to attend the local street fairs and boogies. He has an unquenchable social conscience. He treats the folks at Roy’s in exchange for a supply of their home grown weed for himself and his patients. And, he is a regular at the Frolic.
When Myrna asks, Doctor Herald is delighted to treat Mac.
“Myrna tells me you have staring spells, sudden breaks in consciousness, and memory loss,” says Doctor Herald.
“Yes,’ says Mac. “Once I even fell out of bed and woke up on the floor in the morning all twisted and bruised. I had no memory of falling out of bed and still don’t know how it happened.”
“Give me your right hand,” says the doctor. He squeezes Mac’s fingers. “Now the left.”
The doctor holds a small light and moves it back and forth. “Follow the light with your eyes. Don’t move your head.”
Next the doctor checks his reflexes and feels around on his neck, shoulders and chest.
“I’m going to order a couple of tests at the hospital. These will be paid for from a special fund I’ve set up,” says the doctor. “Don’t worry. I’ll get back to you after that. Take this stone. Keep it in your pocket. From time to time rub it with your hand. It will help you relax.”
Mac leaves the doctor’s office. Maybe I’ll get some answers, he thinks. At least I’ve done something and that will make Myrna happy.
Clayton, the boss and Brin drive to Ukiah. They meet with the banker whose name is Lombardi. He brags about a restaurant he just funded called The Palace. “They’re going to be one of the top restaurants in town,” he says. “They named a dish after me, Calamari Lombardi.”
“The only way we can make this work is to get a small business loan and the paperwork for that is a bitch,” says Lombardi.
“I don’t mind paperwork,” says the boss. “Let’s go.”
“Well, the first thing, you need is to prove another source of income. You know, to see you through any rough times,” says Lombardi.
“Easy,” says the boss. “Brin’s a teacher.”
“Oh, that’s good. That’ll do,” says Lombardi. “So, Brin’s your independent source of income. Good thing she’s not pregnant.” Lombardi doesn’t look up. Clayton, the boss and Brin all know but they keep their mouths shut.
Afterward, Clayton says “Good thing that wasn’t a question.”
“We’ll be open before he knows,” says the boss.
Brin doesn’t say a thing. They drive back to the coast with an assurance from Lombardi that the money will be available.
The boss is anxious to get the restaurant up and running so he pushes the envelope of the building department rules. This puts a couple of the local contractors into a snit. They fly the chief building inspector, Donald Uhr, to the coast and drive him to the construction site.
Mac watches the building inspector climb up to the floor of the newly emerging cafe. He’s a roly-poly bald-headed bigot who hates hippies and buildings that aren’t square. Clayton’s crew and the angular nature of the building plans were not a good match for the chief.
Mac sees Jacques from the Beacon looking on. Grist for his Thursday column, thinks Mac.
“Who’s the contractor here,” says the chief.
“I am,” says the boss.
“Let me see your permit,” says the chief.
The boss hands it over.
“This is a foundation permit,” shouts the chief. “I see a floor, walls and interior framing. What’s going on here?”
“Well sir,” says the boss as cooly as he can. “I’m just trying to get my restaurant built so I can put my fifty employees back to work.”
“You need the proper permits. If you were a real contractor I’d yank your license. And, what’s this between the studs? Romex? For a commercial job you need conduit.”
Clayton steps in to help out the boss. “Notice that we have 2×6 studs instead of the normal 2×4. We’re going to fill in all the spaces with fire retardant material. That makes them better than Romex.”
“Not according to the code,” says the chief even redder in the face. He puffs out his chest. “Close’em down,” he tells the coastal inspector.
A week later the boss is back in business. He files an appeal with the county appeals board and with the help of the coastal member, Francis Jackson, the board agrees that the plan is sufficient to meet the county standards. Donald Uhr is white in the face but he is forced into acquiesce.
The boss runs into another delay when he wants to put a large round stained glass window between the outside deck and the upstairs bar but the Historical Review Board quickly approves the change.
In an amazing feat, the entire job is completed in less than six months. The new Frolic Cafe opens on June 8th which just happens to be the boss’s and Brin’s anniversary.
The banker, Lombardi, drives over from Ukiah to see the completed project. Brin, very pregnant by now, stands behind the register. Lombardi doesn’t notice. By this time The Palace is already on the road to bankruptcy. Calamari Lombardi will soon be history.
The results of the tests requested by Doctor Herald show that Mac has epilepsy.
“Is that why I lost my memory?” asks Mac.
“The two could certainly be related,” says the doctor.
“Do you think I’ll get it back?” asks Mac.
“The first step is to control your seizures,” says the doctor. “Everything in due time, young man. Everything in due time.”