CHAPTER 32+33 ~ GREASED TREASURE
Some are smart enough to design their own life; some go with the tide.
The illusion of luck stumbled. Arm in arm with a crumbling future, reality once again asked me to step down. Gavel down, request denied.
It was hot. Fumes chased vapors off of Pocono roads. Ripples of hot air wiggled upward just to rub it in. Spit refused to land.
Heat and I were friends. Pretenders used it for an alibi, giving up early on savable rounds. Grinders never quit.
Club pros rarely played practice rounds, too busy with kids or a demanding female. The dreaded cold six-pack or a live pick-six-ticket at the track tempted single pros.
Morning found me cutting the fairways and the greens to show the difference. The bunkers seemed good enough to skip a day but a Mosaic eye never sleeps.
Around four that afternoon Cott said, "The clubs are in the Charger. Let's go." We drove to Fernwood Resort to check out the course with a reputation for eating egos. Our best finish there was tied for showing-up.
On arrival the place looked empty. By the sixth hole Cott read my mind. "The man who can spin the ball can win here, Mick. Hit 'ol Cott a few of them low two irons."
Some believed that Cott ran on the eye of fait but he knew his stuff, that time simplistic in design but sound. His freedom of thought deserved respect. The Norms flinched when he spoke.
The ground felt as hard as algebra. Our strategy would work unless it rained.
Spending a few bucks at the host club was just good business, nothing more J.V. (junior varsity) than accepting the hospitality of the club and spending the jingle down the street. We went in. The view in the bar overlooked a shaded creek, sparking memories of jumping in without worrying about what others would think. The sound of the rippling water changed bad moods. The place smelled fresh. No one was there.
That all-important third draft beer arrived just in time. We had just about worn out the little bar maid when a curly haired gentleman strolled in with an economic grin and a semi-automatic personality. People with employee dog tags moved faster.
Never knowing who’s who, we found little downside in starting a conversation with a stranger. Positive connections were fun. Cott needed to be talked down from killing the blockheads. I said, "Did ya play today?"
Donating a stingy turn of his head, he said in borrowed laugh, "Ha, play, ha, not today. What’d you think of the course?"
Internal wars began between good and evil. Say something positive, fought with …did the guy cutting down the trees die?
An awkward delay needed words. My arbitrator settled for, "It's a tough year to grow turf. I'm Mickey Knight from Mo-Nom-O-Nock, how about a beer?"
He waved off the offer with a shake of his head and no eye contact. “I'm Peter."
Cott ordered three anyhow.
The conversation lacked direction before the curly headed one persisted. “Truthfully, did you like the course?"
"Great."(I should have quit there.) “Was the designer in a bad mood when he built the last three holes?”
Peter gave me a non-answer stare.
I said, “They’re brutal. Back to back to back as finishing holes makes it tough. It’ll take good nerves to win here.”
Our pleasantries finished with a bone-braking handshake. Peter left without paying. I looked around, no Cott. Since he rarely used the head, I knew we were leaving.
Four miles down the road Cott started acting up. He locked two hands around his throat, hung his tongue out and made panting sounds. No explanation needed, he had the thirsties.
Just then he startled me. "TURN HERE."
Doing sixty-five it took talent. On route #209, an old gray building made of shingles, lay injured on the left side of the road. A turn-slide dumped us in the cobbled stone dust bowel known as THE STUMBLE INN.
Cott had changed into plaid pants and a canary yellow golf shirt after the round. Bad idea, he didn't care.
Native studies 101, considered outsiders the enemy. They believed interlopers stole the good job, meaning the applicant could count to eleven. Marrying family members since Nero quite explained it.
The good ol' boys wore jeans, scotch plaid shirts, suspenders, and work boots. We hardly fit. In a tone that needed a whisper, Cott asked me, "WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS JOINT?"
My kaki pants and white shirt kept them from killing us. It helped when I asked the toothless grandmother behind the bar, "Young lady, can ya get the house one on me?" Involuntary auras circled the room. Condemning thoughts turned exalted.
The jukebox banged. The patrons shuffled. They spun around the floor in some thigh-slapping rendition of an old Indian ceremony. Suddenly the top half of the door to the kitchen opened just behind the bar. The door fit the décor, blending with the cobwebs and antique tools hanging on the walls. An old coot with a mangy gray beard yelled out. “ARE YOU READY?"
The faithful yelled back. ''WE BE READY."
"ARE YOU REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLY READY?"
"WE..." The lower door kicked open with a thud. Everyone rushed the door. We looked at each other expecting a Candid Camera sneak attack.
A small pig, greased with a years worth of K-Y jelly for newly-weds, ran out squealing like a trailing politician. People dove over each other to catch the little guy. The temptation to leave surrendered to an auditioning beer. We stayed.
I could hear the pig examining his plight. The chasers appeared to be from our planet, none of the Pocono bourgeois, purely coincidental. Each thought prompted the next. Does the pig know he’s naked? That he needs a hat? Too busy to laugh, I focused on the fairness of the fight, a little pig versus a band of bar rats who grew up studying: mithmatic, cousin humpin’, trappin’ squirrels and jammin’ animal waste in transmissions before traded-in time, a tough lot, but trickable.
Through twisted arms, some flabby, some for bending steel, they bounced off of each other on unscrubed floors reaching in vain with fingers that looked like thorns to the frightened little rascal. Their knees squeaked like dock lines in a storm. The chasers were not pacing themselves. As they tired, it became easier to define them. Most showed leathered necks with criss-crossed lines from decades in the sun. A woman in a nurse’s outfit, far from delicate, accentuated a hump on her back. No doubt she took body parts home from the hospital to feed her dog.
The pig began looking more confident, realizing he had the superior mind, he maneuvered back and forth inspecting his flank, me, hoping he had checked his horoscope.
An older man, accelerating his own demise, sat down on the floor, allowing the others to drop dead first. He smelled of shrimp, his hair rustled, black with white, resembled electrical wire. No doubt the tooth fairy possessed his mind.
The odds were narrowing in the pigs favor when the wind blew the front door open. Imagining his death as route #209 bacon stopped me. I needed to settle down. It didn’t work. The pig required management to make for fairer fights, a chance to take a bar rat home if victorious.
Encouraged but breathless, the warrior pig slowed. The magnitude of his courage inspired me. A woman the size of Aunt Jemima cornered the little guy after the other patrons passed out.
Cott said, "Good joint. No one will ever believe us."