Peggy Malkovich had been married to, Woodrow '' Stanford for two years, but to the residents of Hobe Sound, she was still referred to as 'that waitress'. Peggy had been waiting on tables at the Rain Forest Grille when Woody first met her. Woody Stanford was the golden boy of Hobe Sound. He lived in the family villa, had classical good looks, was charming and greganous, and a target for all the eager debutantes in Hobe Sound, Philadelphia, and Long Island. It was therefore a seismic shock when he suddenly eloped with a twenty-five-year-old waitress who was plainlooking, a high-school dropout, and the daughter of a day laborer and a housewife. It was even more of a shock because everyone had been expecting Woody to marry Mimi Carson, a beautiful, intelligent young heiress to a timber fortune who was madly in love with Woody. As a rule, the residents of Hobe Sound preferred to gossip about, the affairs of their servants rather than' their peers, but in Woody's case, his marriage was so. outrageous that they made an exception. The 91 information quickly spread that he had gotten Peggy Malkovich pregnant and then married her. They were quite sure which was the greater sin. ' God's sake, I can understand the boy getting her pregnant, but you don't marry a waitress!' The whole affair was a classic case of Wja vu. Twenty-four years earlier, Hobe Sound had been rocked by a similar scandal involving the Stanfords. Emily Temple, the daughter of one of the founding families, had committed suicide because her husband had gotten the children's governess pregnant. Woody Stanford made no secret of the fact that he hated his father, and the general feeling was that he had married the waitress out of spite, to show that he was a more honorable man than his father. The only person invited to the wedding was Peggy's brother, Hoop, who flew in from New York. Hoop was two years older than Peggy and worked in a bakery in the Bronx. lie was tall and emaciated, with a pockmarked face and a heavy Brooklyn accent. ''re getting' a great girl,' he told Woody after the ceremony.

"I know,' Woody said tonelessly. ' take good care of my sister, huh?"

"I'll do my best.". Cool.' An unmemorable conversation between a baker and the son of one of the wealthiest men in the world. 92 Four weeks after the wedding, Peggy Jost the baby. Hobe Sound is a very exclusive community, and Jupiter Island is the most exclusive part of Hobe Sound. The island is bordered on the west by the Intercoastal Waterway and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean. It is a haven of privacy - wealthy, selfcontained and protective, with indife police per capita than almost any other place in the world. Its residents pride themselves on being understated. They drive Tauruses or station wagons, and own small sailboats, an eighteen-foot Lightning or a twenty-four-foot Quickstep. If one was not born to it, one had to earn the right to be a member of this Hobe Sound community. After the marriage between Woodrow Stanford and ' waitress',' the burning question was, what were the residents going to do about accepting the bride into their society? Mrs. Anthony Pelletier, the doyenne of Hobe Sound, was the arbiter of all social d. isputes, and her devout mission in life was to protect her community against parvenus and the nouveaux riches. When newcomers arrived at Hobe Sound and were unfortunate enough to displease Mrs. Pelletier, it was her custom to have delivered to them, by her chauffeur, a leather traveling case. It was her way of informing them that they were not welcome in the community. 93 Her friends delighted in telling the story of the garage mechanic and his wife who had bought a house in Hobe Sound. Mrs. Pelletier had sent them her ritual traveling bag, and when the wife learned its significance, she laughed. She said, "If that old harridan thinks she can drive me out of this place, she's crazy!' But strange things began to happen. Workmen and repairmen were suddenly unavailable, the grocer was always out of items that' she ordered, and it was impossible to become a member of the Jupiter Island Club or even to get a reservation at any of the good local restaurants.

And no one spoke to them. Three months after receiving the suitcase, the couple sold their home and moved away. So it was that when word of Woody's marriage got out, the community held its collective breath.

Excommunicating Peggy Malkovich would also mean excom- municating her popular husband. There were bets being quietly, made. For the first few weeks, there were no invitations to dinners or to any of the usual community functions. But the residents liked Woody and, after all, his grandmother on his mother's side had been one of the founders of Hobe Sound. Gradually, people started inviting him and Peggy to their homes.

They were eager to see what his bride was like. ' old girl must have something special orwoody never would have married her.' 94 They were in for a big disappointment. Peggy was dull and graceless, she had no personality, and she dressed badly. Dowdy was the word that came to people's minds. Woody's friends were baffled. ' on earth does he see in her? He could have married anyone.' One of the first invitations was from Mimi Carson. She had been devastated by the news of Woody's marriage, but she was too proud to reveal it. When her closest friend had tried to console her by saying, ' it, Mimi! You'll get over him," Mimi had replied, ''ll live with it, but I'll never get over him." Woody tried hard to make a success of the marriage. He knew he had made a mistake, and he did not want to punish Peggy for it. He tried desperately to be a good husband. The problem was that Peggy had nothing in common with him or with any of his friends. The only person Peggy seemed comfortable with was her brother, and she and Hoop spoke on the telephone every day. ' miss him,' Peggy complained to Woody. ' you like to have him come down and stay with us for a few days?" can't." And she looked at her husband and said spitefully, ''s got a job.' At parties, Woody attempted to bring Peggy into the conversations, but it was quickly apparent that she 95 had nothing to contribute. She sat in corners, tonguetied, nervously licking her lips, obviously uncomfortable. Woody's friends were aware that even though he was staying at the Stanford villa, he was estranged from his father and that he was living off the small annuity that his-mother had left him. His passion was polo and he rode the ponies owned by friends. In the world of polo, players are ranked by goals, with ten goals being the best.

Woody was nine goals, and he had ridden with Mariano Aguerre from Buenos Aires, Wicky el Effendi from Texas, Andres Diniz from Brazil, and dozens of other top goals. There were only about twelve ten-goal players in the world, and Woody's driving ambition was to be the thirteenth. ' know why, don't you?' one of his friends remarked. ' father was ten goals.' Because Mimi Carson knew that Woody could not afford to buy his own polo ponies, she purchased a string for him to play. When friends asked why, she said, ' want to make him happy in any way I [email protected] When, newcomers asked what Woody did for a living, people just shrugged. In reality, he was living a secondhand life, making money playing skins at golf, betting on polo matches, borrowing other people's polo ponies and racing yachts, and on occasion, other people's wives. 96 The marriage with Peggy was deteriorating rapidly, but Woody refused to admit it.

"Peggy,'he would say,'when we go to parties, please try to join in the conversation." should I? Your friends all think they're too good for me.", they're not,' Woody assured her. Once a week, the Hobe Sound Literary Circle met at the country club for a discussion of the latest books, followed by a luncheon. On this particular day, as the ladies were dining, the steward approached Mrs. Pelletier. '. Woodrow Stanford is outside. She would like to join you.' A hush fell over the table. ' her in,' Mrs. Pelletier said. A'moment later, Peggy walked into the dining room. She had washed her hair and pressed her best dress. She stood there, nervously looking at the group. Mrs. Pelletier gave her a nod, then said pleasantly, '. Stanford.' Peggy smiled eagerly, ', ma'am." won't need you. We already have a waitress." And Mrs. Pelletier turned back to her lunch. When Woody heard the story, he was furious. ' dare she do that to yoiu!'He took her in his arms.

"Next time, ask me before you do a thing like that, Peggy. You have to be invited to that. luncheon.' 97 11 didn't know,' she said sullenly.

"It's all right. Tonight we're having dinner at the Blakes', and I want "I won't go!" we've accepted their invitation." go." don't want to go without you."'m not going.' Woody went alone, and after that, he began going to every party without Peggy. He would come home at all hours, and Peggy was sure he had been with other women. The accident changed everything. It happened during a polo match. Woody was playing the number one position, and a member of the opposing team, trying to stroke the ball in close quarters, accidently hit the legs of the pony that Woody was riding. The pony went down and rolled on top of him. In the pile-up that followed, a second pony kickedwoody. At the emergency room of the hospital, the doctors diagnosed a broken leg, three fractured ribs, and a punctured lung. Over the next two weeks, there were three separate operations, and Woody was in excruciating pain. The doctors gave him morphine to ease it. Peggy came to visit him every day.

Hoop flew in from New York to console his sister. Ifis physical pain was unbearable, and the only relief Woody had was from the drugs the doctors kept prescribing for him. It was shortly after Woody got home that he seemed to change. He began to have violent mood swings. One minute he was his usual ebullient self, *nd the next minute he would go into a sudden rage or a deep depression. At dinner, laughing and tellingjokes, Woody would suddenly become angry and abusive toward Peggy and storm out. In the middle of a sentence he would drift off into a deep reverie.

He became forgetful. He would make dates and not show up; he would invite people to his home and not be there when they arrived. Everyone was concerned about him. Soon, he became abusive to Peggy in public.

Bringing a cup of coffee to a friend one morning,,Peggy spilled some and Woody sneered, ' a waitress, always a waitress.' Peggy also began to show signs of physical abuse, and when people asked her what happened, she would make excuses. ' bumped into, a door' or ' fell down,' and she would make light of it. The community was outraged. Now it was Peggy they were feeling sorry for. But when Woody's erratic behavior offended someone, Peggy would defend her husband. ' is under a lot of stress,', Peggy would insist. ' isn't himself.' She would not allow anyone to say anything against him. 98 99 It was Dr. Tichner who finally brought it out into the open. He asked Peggy to come see him in his office one day. She was nervous. ' something wrong, doctor?' He studied her a moment. She had a bruise on her cheek, and her eye was swollen. ', are you aware that Woody is doing drugst . Her eyes flashed with indignation. '! I don't believe it!' She stood up. ' won't listen to this!" down, Peggy. It's about time you faced the truth. It's becoming obvious to everyone else. Surely you've noticed his behavior. One minute he's on top of the world, talking about how wonderful everything is, and the next minute he's suicidal.' Peggy sat there, watching him, her face pale. ''s addicted.' Her lips tightened.

"No,' she said stubbornly. ''s not." is. You've got to be realistic. Don't you want to help himt ' course, I do!' She was wringing her hands. ''d do anything to help him. Anything." right.

Then let's start. I want you to help me get Woody into a rehabilitation center. I've asked him to come in and see me.' Peggy looked at him for a long time, then nodded. ''ll talk to him,' she said quietly. 100 That afternoon, when Woody walked into Dr. Tichner's office, he was in a euphoric mood. ' wanted to see me, doc? It's about Peggy, isn't iff -'No. It's about you, Woody.' Woody looked at him in surprise. '?

What's my problemt ' think you know what your problem is." are you talking abouff ' you go on like this, you're going to destroy your life and Peggy's life. What are you taking, Woodyt '." heard me.' There was a long silence. ' want to help you.' Woody sat there, staring at the floor. When he finally spoke, his voice was hoarse.

"You're right. I've ... I've tried to kid myself, but I can't any longer." are you ont '." Goff ' me, I've tried to stop, but I ... I can't." need help, and there are places where you can get it.' Woody said wearily, ' hope to God you're right." want you to go to the Harbor'Group Clinic in Jupiter. Will you try iff There was a brief hesitation. '."'s supplying you with the heroint Dr. Tichner asked. 101 Woody shook his head. ' can't tell you that." well. I'll make arrangements for you at the clinic.' -- The following morning, Dr. Tichner was seated in the office of the chief of police. ' is supplying him with heroin,' Dr. Tichner said, ' he won't tell me who.' Chief of Police Murphy looked at Dr. Tichner and nodded. ' think I know who.' There were several possible suspects. Hobe Sound was a small enclave, and everyone knew everyone else's business. A liquor store had opened recently on Bridge Road that made deliveries to their Hobe Sound customers at all hours of the day and night. A doctor at a local clinic had been fined for overprescribing drugs. A gymnasium had opened a year earlier, on the other side of the waterway, and it was rumored that the trainer took steroids and had other drugs available for his good customers. But Chief of Police Murphy had another suspect in mind. Tony Benedotti had served as a gardener for many of the homes in Hobe Sound for years. He had studied horticulture and loved spending his days creating beautiful gardens. The gardens and lawns he tended 102 were the loveliest in Hobe Sound. He was a quiet man who kept to himself, and the people he worked for. knew very little about him. He seemed to be too well educated to be a gardener, and people were curious about his past. Murphy sent for him. ' this is about my driver's license, I renewed it,' Benedotti said. ' down,' Murphy ordered. ' there some kind of problemt '. You're an educated man, rightt SY es.

The chief of police leaned back in his chair. ' how come you're a gardenert ' happen to love nature." else do you happen to love?"

"I don't understand." long have you been gardening?' Benedotti looked at him, puzzled. ' any of my customers been complaining?"

"Just answer the question." fifteen years." have a nice house and a boatt '." can you afford all that on what you make as a gardenert Benedotti said, ''s not that big a house, and it's not that big a boat." you make a little money on the side.' 103 @What do you ... T ' work for some people in Miami, don't yout '.1 "There's a lot of Italians there. Do you ever do them some little favorst ' kind of favorst ' pushing drugs.' Benedotti looked at him, horrified. ' God! Of course not.' Murphy leaned forward. ' me tell you something, Benedotti. I've been keeping an eye on you. I've had a talk with a few of the people you work for. They don't want you or your mafia friends here anymore. Is that cleart Benedotti squeezed his eyes shut for a second, then opened them. ' clear.". I'll expect you out of here by tomorrow. I don't want to see your face again.' Woody Stanford went into the Harbor Group Clinic for three weeks, and when he came out, he was the old Woody - charming, gracious, and delightful to be with. He went back to playing polo, riding Mimi Carson's ponies. Sunday was the Palm Beach Polo & Country Club's eighteenth anniversary, and South Shore Boulevard was heavy with traffic as three thousand fans converged on the polo grounds. They rushed to fill the 104 box seats on the west side of the field and the bleachers at the opposite end. Some of the finest players in the world were going to be in the day's game. Peggy was in a box seat next to Mimi Carson, as Mimi's guest. ' told me that this is your first polo match, Peggy.

Why haven't you been to one beforet Peggy licked her lips. ' ... I guess I've always been too nervous to watch Woody play. I don't want him to get hurt again. It's a very dangerous sport, isn't itt Mimi said thoughtfully, ' you get eight players, each weighing about one hundred and seventy-five pounds, and their nine-hundred-pound ponies racing at each other over three hundred yards at forty miles an hour - yes, accidents can happen.' Peggy shuddered.- .'I couldn't stand it if anything happened to Woody again. I really couldn't. I go crazy worrying about him.' Mimi Carson said gently, ''t worry. He's one of the best.

He studied under Hector Barrantas, you know.' Peggy was looking at her blankly. "'s a ten-goal player. One of the legends of polo." [email protected] There was a murmur from t he crowd as the ponies moved across the field. ''s happening?' Peggy asked. ' just finished a practice session before the game. They're ready to begin now.' 105 On the field, the two tearns were starting to line up under the hot Florida sun, getting ready for the umpire's throw-in. Woody looked wonderful, tan and fit and lithe - ready to do battle. Peggy waved and blew him a kiss. Both teams were lined up now, side by side. The players held their mallets down for the throw-in. ' are usually six periods of play, called chukkers,' Mimi Carson explained to Peggy. ' chukker lasts seven minutes. The chukker ends when the bell rings. Then there's a short rest. They change ponies every period. The team that scores the most goals wins.".' Mimi wondered just how much Peggy understood.

On the field, the players' eyes were fixed on the umpire, anticipating when the ball would be tossed. The umpire looked around at the crowd, then suddenly bowled the white plastic ball between the two rows of players. The game had begun. The action was swift. Woody made the first play, getting possession of the ball and hitting an offside forehand.

The ball sped toward a player on the opposing team. The player galloped down the field after it. Woody rode up to him and hooked his mallet to spoil his shot. ' did Woody do thatt Peggy asked. Mimi Carson explained. ' your opponent gets 106 the ball, it's legal to hook his mallet so he can't score or pass. Woody will use an offside stroke next to control the ball.' The action was happening so fast that it was almost impossible to follow. There were cries of, '."."

"Leave it.. And- the players were racing doivn the field at full speed.

The ponies - usually pure or three-quarter thoroughbred - were responsible for seventy five percent of their riders' successes. The ponies had to be fast, and have what players call polo sense, being able to anticipate their rider's every move. Woody was brilliant during the first three chukkers, scoring two goals in each one and being cheered on by the roaring crowd. His mallet seemed to be everywhere. It [email protected] old Woody Stanford, riding like the wind, fearless. By the end of the fifth chukker, Woody's team was well ahead. The players went off the field for the break. As Woody passed Peggy and Mimi, sitting in the front row, he smiled at both of them. Peggy turned to Mimi Carson, excitedly. ''t he wonderfult She looked over at Peggy. '. In every way.' Woody's teammates were congratulating him. ' on the mark, old boy! You were fabulous!' 107 ' plays!"."'re going out there and rub their noses in it some more. They haven't got a chance!' Woody grinned.

"No problem.' He watched his teammates move out to the field, and he suddenly felt exhausted. I pushed myse4r too hard, he thought. I wasn't really ready to go back to the game yet. rm not going to be able to keep this up. If I go out there, ra make a fool of myself He began. to panic, and his heart started to pound. What I need is a little pick-me-up. No!

I won't do that. I can't. I promised But the team is waiting for me. I'll do it just this once, and never again. I swear to God, this is the last time. He went to his car and reached into the glove compartment. When Woody returned to the field, he was humming to himself, and his eyes were unnaturally bright. He waved to the crowd, and joined his waiting team. I don't even need a team, he thought. I could beat those bastards single-handedly. rm the best damnedplayer in the world. He was giggling to himself. The accident occurred during the sixth chukker*, although some of the spectators were to insist later that it was no accident. The ponies were bunched together, racing toward the goal, and Woody had control of the ball. Out of 108 the corner of his eye he saw one of the opposing players closing in on him. Using a tail shot, he sent the ball to . the rear of the pony. It was picked up by Rick Hamil- @ton, the best player on the opposing team, who began racing toward the goal.

Woody was after him at full speed. He tried to hook Hamilton's mallet and missed. The ponies were getting closer to the goal. Woody kept desperately trying to get possession of the ball, and failed each time.

As Hamilton neared the goal, Woody deliberately swerved his pony to crash into Hamilton and ride him off the ball. Hamilton and his pony went tumbling to the ground. The crowd rose to its feet, screaming. The umpire angrily blew the whistle and held up a hand. The first rule in polo is that when a player has possession of the ball and is heading toward the goal, it is illegal to. cut across the line in which the player is traveling. Any player who crosses that line creates a dangerous situation and commits a foul. Play stopped. The umpire approached Woody, anger in his voice. ' was a deliberate foul, Mr..Stanford!' Woody grinned. ' wasn't my fault! His damned pony - "The opponents will receive a penalty goal.' The chukker turned into a disaster. Woody committed two more blatant violations within three minutes of each other. The penalties resulted in two more goals for the other team. In each case the opponents were 109 awarded a free penalty shot on an unguarded goal. In the last thirty seconds of the game, the opposing team scored the winning goal. What had been an assured victory, had turned into a rout. In the box, Mimi Carson was stunned by the sudden turn of events. Peggy said timidly, ' didn't go well, did itt Mimi turned to her. ', Peggy. I'm afraid it didn't.' A steward approached the box. '. Carson, may I have a word with yout Mimi Carson turned to Peggy. ' me a moment.1 Peggy watched them walk away. After the game, Woody's team was very quiet. Woody was too ashamed to look at the others. Mimi Carson hurried over to Woody. - ', I'm afraid I have some terrible, terrible news.' She put a hand on his shoulder. ' father is dead.' Woody looked up at her and shook his head from side to side. He began to sob. ''m ... I'm responsibleit's m ... my fault.". You mustn't blame yourself. It isn't your fault."

"Yes, it is,' Woody cried. ' it weren't for my penalties, we would have won the game." Copyright 2016 - 2024