The man swung at the golf ball with a yearning thrust of his club. Thus smacked into submission, the ball flung into the air in a beautiful arc over the deep blue grass. The neat rows of recent mowing showed stark lines across the course. They all peered under wrinkled eyelids for the telltale white dot bouncing near the eighteenth hole. Unlike the rest of them, his eyes did not shine with expectation, they glared at the eighteenth hole as if ready to chastise it for being out of range, in the wrong place, positioned incorrectly. The golf ball descended slowly within sight of the hole. His mouth puckered sternly, adding to the controlling stare of his eyes. The ball rolled to a hesitant stop, looking for approval. The man nodded once the ball reached within four feet of the hole and then dragged his lips back in a tight, smug smile.
“I’ve got a great short game, guys,” he says.
They all nod their agreement with similarly tight lipped smiles. The caddies take up the clubs and hoist the heavy bags closer to their necks to balance the load with eyes focused on the ground. Chattering resumes as they all walk to a cart and hop into their seats. They wait for him. The front seats open on one cart allow him to choose whether to drive or sit shotgun. The illusion of choice is very important to him. He plops comfortably down in the passenger seat and folds his hands, fingers laced, in his lap. The caddy starts the cart, leading the convoy to the eighteenth hole where the man knows he will sink the ball with one putt.
“You know, you could get there faster, son, if you just take the cart over to that side of the hill instead,” he says to the caddie.
“Oh, that hill’s a little funny, actually. You see, there’s a ditch that kind of intersects right through where we want to get to,” the caddie tries to explain. His voice rises with polite jocularity, trying to make this sound like a fault in the golf course design. He knows this golfer well.
“No, no, that’s not right,” the man disagrees, “I’ve been coming to this club for years. I know this course like the back of my hand. You’ll see. Drive over that way.”
The caddie swallows his response. It will do no good to disagree with Mr. Gain. Mr. Gain is always right. So he swung the cart to the side where Mr. Gain pointed his short finger before quickly joining it with the other four so as to form a large tight fist on his lap. For a few moments the wheels continue to roll lazily over the even grass. Mr. Gain smiles his tight lipped satisfaction and peers peerlessly over the horizon. Then with an enormous bump of the front tires the entire cart pitches headlong and promptly tilts sideways with a groan.
As the they tumble from the cart, mostly just bruised and irritable, the caddie reaches for the Mr. Gains hand to help him from a particularly uncomfortable position, his behind pinned beneath the seat of the cart. His legs fly in circles through the air.
“You’re terrible driver!” Mr. Gain began to yell. “I can’t believe such a retard got a job here in the first place.”
The caddie opened his mouth in protest.
“I tried to tell you, sir,” he argued, “this part of the course, there’s a ditch, you just can’t cross on the carts.”
“No excuse! That was lousy driving,” Gain exclaimed as he made his way back to his feet.
Mr. Gain walked to his fellow golfers with angry shoulders hunched precariously over his stomach. His body seemed to lean forward at all times and the effect was like a baton balancing in the palm of a hand. As he reached the top of the hill he waived a white gloved hand to his friends. The caddie could see them confer over the crash, Mr. Gain’s hands waving radically towards him and the still spinning wheels of the upturned cart. A scratch on Mr. Gain’s right arm began to show. He had not yet realized it, but another of the men pointed to it and shook his head with disapprobation. The caddie knew it was too much to hope that the man was on his side. Most likely they were discussing the decline in the clubs standards and would continue to do so for the next several hours over whiskeys, neat, in the shaded porch of the club house. Then the boy began to trudge back to the cart to gather up Mr. Gain’s clubs. His ankle throbbed, but Mr. Gain’s clubs could not be left behind.