Episode 19 From Hubbard, Wisconsin – “The Gossip”

Since Sachin Patel and his wife Smita arrived in Hubbard (Episode 13, “Sachin’s Early Days”;) they demonstrated a bit of Gujarati entrepreneurship by purchasing the Diplomat Motel on the west side of Hubbard. The Diplomat, built back in 1964, isn’t exactly a palace, but it serves as a refuge for travelers on a budget and also for construction workers who are in Hubbard for an extended stay. Sachin bought the place on a handshake and got financing from the previous owners, who were happy to rid themselves of the drudgery of room cleaning and constant guest complaints.

While the Diplomat’s leaky plumbing and wobbly bath fixtures presented a huge problem for the previous owners, they weren’t a turnoff for Sachin. As bad as the toilets and showers look to the average American, they were luxurious compared to the toilets in India. When a guest complains about a dirty toilet or a shower with low pressure, Sachin just smiles and says, “You know, sir, the rates here are really cheap. You can’t find a better deal in town.” Like a lot of motel-owning Patels in the United States, Sachin was determined to squeeze every penny of revenue from the place, with a minimum of repairs.

In addition to brewing Sachin’s massala chai and the preparation of his dal dhokli, chapatti, lapsi, and other Gujarati delicacies, Smita worked at the golf pro shop in the summer and fall. During those months, Sachin hired a full-time maid. After all, if Smita could make enough at the pro shop to pay the maid’s expenses, why not free her from the cleaning duties for part of the year. This summer’s maid was none other than Silvia Iocco, a body-pierced twenty-something who was the only one that replied to Sachin’s ad in the newspaper. When he first looked at Silvia, Sachin wanted to close the door, but he figured he might as well give her a try. She proved to be relatively dependable, showing up on time and getting all of the rooms clean prior to guest check-in. Her cleaning prowess was less than perfect, but it was good enough for the Diplomat’s clientele. Sachin’s only complaint about Silvia was the fact that she is an incessant gossip. Every day Silvia came to work with a tale for Sachin. It might be about someone who had to be driven home from the bar last night, or a girl at the technical college who just discovered that she is pregnant, or the guy who sideswiped a BMW with his rusty pickup truck. In any case, Sachin detested her daily diatribe, but put up with it due to his need for her cleaning services.

Well, it turns out that Silvia was not only a gossip, but a snoop as well, for she had overheard the conversation that Smita and Sachin had about the condom that disappeared from Bill Haley’s golf bag. (Episode 17, “Susan Johnson’s Summer”;) Thanks to Silvia, this unfortunate slip-up on the part of Bill Haley was no longer going to be confined to the kitchen of two discrete Hindus. As circumstance would have it, Silvia’s aunt just happened to be a dental hygienist who works for a nice young dentist named Craig Johnson!

One rainy Tuesday afternoon in the dental office of Craig Johnson, DDS, a patient had not shown up, giving Dr. Johnson and his hygienist a few moments to talk. Getting up her nerve, the hygienist said to Craig, “You know, Dr. Johnson, there is a rumor going around town that you might want to quell. This is difficult for me, but I wanted to tell you about it before you heard it from someone else. It appears that there might be some hanky-panky going on between your wife and the golf pro at the Hubbard country club. A couple of weeks ago this Bill Haley character took your wife golfing early in the morning with a condom in his golf bag. Word has it that when they returned from the round, the condom was missing. I wouldn’t have brought this up, sir, but gosh, it is all around town.” Craig was shocked, angry, devastated and disappointed. A flood of emotions and confusion raged through his body. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to confront Susan with such an outrageous story. If she was innocent she would never forgive such an accusation. He had to verify for himself whether this was true or not. After a couple of days he came up with a plan. Despite the fact that he was a hacker, he reserved a tee time to shoot a round of golf with his buddies.

During the round Craig kept thinking, “Where on this golf course could a man carry on an affair with a woman at 6:00 a.m. in the morning? He found a probable answer along the thick woods of the fairway leading up to the 7th hole. It looked like an abandoned maintenance shed, back forty feet or so from the edge of the woods. Trying not to be too obvious he took a quick look at the building. It was still in good condition with a padlock on the door. Craig couldn’t see if there was anything inside because the windows were covered with canvas curtains. There was only one thing Craig knew for certain; this was the only indoor spot on the whole golf course that would possibly serve as a rendezvous point for Susan and Haley.

The next day Susan left the house at 5:30 a.m. for her daybreak golf lesson with Bill Haley. Craig left for the course at 5:35, heading straight for a country road that was only a few yards from the maintenance shed on the 7th hole. By the time Craig got out of his car and positioned himself hidden in the woods near the shed, it was 6:20 a.m. He figured that without other golfers ahead of them and using a cart, it would take a minimum of 45 minutes for two accomplished golfers to reach the 7th hole. No less than ten minutes later he saw Bill and Susan’s cart zip though a small path and park behind the maintenance shed. Craig shuddered. Sweating, he slowly approached the shed. He could hear their voices inside, especially Susan’s. It was her voice, but didn’t sound like the wife he knew. She sounded like a temptress, and a successful one at that. He didn’t have to listen very long. Five minutes later, without divulging his presence, he walked back to the car.

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