It was a cool summer afternoon. The weeks before had been so hot

the leaves on the trees had shriveled up

like raisins.

Now, the air was full of rain, but it wasn’t going to rain.

The gods were playing a game up there.

If I go to heaven, I want to be a thunder god.

I checked into the pro shop.

The guy behind the counter was friendly.

“I’m playing well,” I said. “The other day, I was only one over par.”

“You should join the Men’s Club,” Bill said.

He seemed a bit drunk. Maybe, that’s why he was in a good mood.

“I’m going to pair you up with Connor. Have you ever played with him?”

“I don’t know, maybe. What does he look like?”

“He’s about your age. I’ll point him out to you.”

“Okay.”

“Is your name Anderson?”

“Andrew.”

He always forgets my name. I went to the putting green. I was so young once—full of dreams.

I wonder how long the average person holds on, until they let go

like a child staring at their red balloon, disappearing into a stormy sky.

An Indian guy was practicing his stroke on the green and I asked him, “Are you Connor?”

He was taken aback, that I talked to him. “No, but none of my group has arrived yet,” he said.

He seemed like a nice guy.

“Well, you can be in my group, if they don’t get here,” I said.

Then I saw Connor on the Number 1 Tee. He was barefoot, like a hobbit. He had long hair and wore glasses. There were streaks of dirt on his legs.

I introduced myself and shook his hand. He didn’t look me in the eyes—a bad sign.

“Do you play out here, often?” I asked.

“I’m on the Men’s Club,” he said.

He was playing a pink golf ball.

“What do you do for work?” Conner asked.

“I’m a teacher—well, a psychologist.”

“I work here.”

“I worked at Maplewood.”

“My friend’s dad is the superintendent there.”

“What’s his name?”

“Shawn Maybe.”

“Oh—” I said. “He was my boss in 2010.” I didn’t tell Connor that he was the biggest asshole I ever met, but he could read it on my face, anyway, like a butt, with a big crack down the middle.

“There’s my friend. I’m going to go play golf with him,” Connor said.

“Okay. Nice playing with you.”

There was something in me that wanted to get away from him, so I breathed a sigh of relief when he ran away, but then he ran back.

“My friend wants to play golf with you.”

I looked at his friend. He was a kind of ethnicity I couldn’t figure-out—a cross between Asian and Hispanic. He had a kid with him—probably, in the fifth grade.

“Aaron,” he said.

“My name’s Andy.”

They started playing golf without any etiquette, leaving the green while I was putting and not giving honors. It ticked me off. Maybe, social graces matter, I thought.

Connor started smoking a cigar and Aaron lit-up.

“So, how do you like working in a school?” Aaron asked.

“It’s crazy. Radical feminists indoctrinate the students and staff. It’s a cult. I got my admin credential, but I’m not sure I want to work at the top.”

“It gets pretty political, doesn’t it.” Aaron said.

“Yeah. My professor said education is more political than politics.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah.”

We kept playing, and I began to get better.

They mostly ignored me, and I didn’t mind. It was slow out there, so I opened my book.

“What are you reading?” The kid asked.

“The Last Night of Earth Poems.”

“He doesn’t want to talk to you because he’s a teacher,” Aaron said.

“Hey, I love kids! Are you on the men’s club?” I asked.

“Yeah. I joined, just for the Club Championship. I choked on the last one, though—shot 82, 71.”

“That’s not bad,” I said.

“It is, considering, I never shoot over-par on this golf course.”

He said this like he was the shit, but he played like shit, so I didn’t believe him. There is a lot in-common with fishermen and golfers. They drink beer constantly and lie.

We got to the end of our round and I still couldn’t wait to be by myself.

“That’s it for me,” I said.

“You’re quitting on us?”

“I guess so.”

“We’ll see you out here again, I’m sure.”

“Yes, you will.”

Now, my apartment was inviting. I couldn’t wait to watch Columbo, while drinking decaf espresso in bed. Right now, I have a solitary life. To some, this would be a sad existence, but there are so many trade-offs. I’ve lived with people and I was miserable. Love is something we look for and when we find it and get it, sometimes, love isn’t enough. There’s something else that’s missing, and people tell us that we take our good life for granted, but the feeling is still there, grating on us, like bad cheese.

The best feeling is when I wake up alone in the morning and I believe in myself and I start writing and then I read something, and I know I can do it better.

The End

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