|Par for the Course (standard:drama, 2156 words)|
|Author: Cyrano||Added: Mar 16 2012||Views/Reads: 1533/900||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|It has been a year since Dennis O'Conner lost his wife after having a brain aneurism. He passes his time at the Bodega Bay Golf Club, between hitting gold balls and attending to mundane activities as club secretary, nothing much happens until one, stormy|
A dawn stiff westerly brings steeping rain in across the bay and over the practice area of the Bodega Bay Golf Club, the boundaries of which extend down to the high water mark, and with barely enough light a lone figure pounds golf balls towards the shoreline from the crest of a knoll next to the wood; its trees full of sound: commotions of crows, rain dripping onto leaves and from time to time stronger gusts of wind causes branches to bend and creak. The rain saturates the man's jacket, seeping down the sleeves of his shirt to where his hands now struggle to grip the club. But Dennis O'Conner keeps right on hitting golf balls. Not long out of his bed, his preparation for practice has been nothing more than two sips at coffee and a bite of toast. Chilled and unprepared, these first few shots jar his hands and some minutes pass before he feels that perfect contact between steel and ball, watching in quiet satisfaction as the ball curves away in a long lazy arc before plunging back to earth a couple of paces from the practice pin. It's a perfectly struck shot. Rain tips from his Tilley as he reaches into the shag-bag for yet another ball. Her image, the memory that has haunted him through the night, is relegated to the back of his mind while dispatching a succession of white balls into the restless Sonoma sky. For over an hour he practices, thinking of little else other than grip, alignment, tempo, and takeaway. “It will take time. Time is a great healer,” the doctor had told him. Kindly platitudes hadn't made it any easier. For months now he'd kept asking himself how long it might be until there is no need to kill early morning hours watching old runs of Lucy or black and white movies on the TV. He gathers up his clubs and begins the dogged process of collecting the balls into the shag-bag before winding his way back to the clubhouse, tossing his gear into his old 4 x 4, parked in the slot reserved for the club secretary, and slams down the tailgate; his eyes drawn toward the clubhouse roof, watching water spill from a broken gutter. When built the clubhouse had been the proud symbol of a prosperous community but since those heady days, and especially in the last several years, it had been unloved and neglected. He enters through the changing room, toweling his hair and pulling on a dry shirt and socks. Sadie, acting as temporary bar staff, wife of the club treasurer, puts her stock sheet aside and thrusts a mug of coffee into his bluish hands. “Here, you'll be needing this,” she says. “You want your head examined out there in this weather... and only practicing! It isn't as though you're going to play in the Masters.” He smiles, as usual, the courteous smile that is his mask. Sadie considers Dennis to be an equable and calm chap. Maybe too calm, too much in control. He's a man who wears a veil that is never lifted, not in the clubhouse at least. Having things to attend to she spins away, practicing a few slick line dancing moves en-route to the stockroom. James carries his coffee to a pine door with the word ‘secretary' embossed in faded gilt. Inside is just enough space to accommodate a desk, filing cabinet, and computer. The shelves cling to the walls under the weight of arch lever files with faded covers and dusty tops. He stares at the coffee Sadie has made and, knowing what to expect, opens the window enough to tip it away before flicking absentmindedly through his diary. Entries begin on the first day of April. April Fools' Day; the first day he'd eased into this chair. The administration is straightforward enough. Once a partner of a merchant bank he'd got used to snapping his fingers and watching people jump. Not any longer. There's no point harboring doubts about retirement. This is the change in direction he'd sought. The new house is almost fixed; over budget, fortunate that money is not a problem, Dennis leads a good level of social life, on nodding terms with many of the town's hierarchy and backslapping terms with a grand circle of Click here to read the rest of this story (180 more lines)
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