Beat the System

Wade was short, well-built, and still maintained his military crew cut

I walked into the proshop with my friend Brad

Wade was on the phone, he looked at us and nodded

“What are you going to get?” Brad asked.

“I need a golf glove.” I walked over to the gloves hanging on the wall.

Brad picked out a golf ball from the lost and found

He threw it into the air and caught it.

“Why don’t you guys join a gang. Are going to fucking rip me off or what?” Wade asked.

“Naw.” Brad tossed the ball into the bag and it bounced out.

“Andy, you said that we could get onto the course for free.”

“I know, just a second.”

Wade put his hand over the receiver. “Do you always do everything this guy tells you to do?”

“No,” I said.

Wade looked at the front nine and then glanced at the back.

“You guys, go, right now! If you get caught, I’ll deny all knowledge of who you are. I don’t know you.”

“Thanks Wade.”

Brad and I rushed to the back nine. Brad pulled out an iron and teed it up. Wack. The ball went skyhigh and landed 100 yards in the middle of the fairway.

“Hey man, how’d you guys get in front of us?” Another group walked up. 

A guy with hippy hair and a beard with multicolored flannel clothes approached. 

“You guys snuck on, didn’t yah?”

“We have permission to be here,” I said.

“Is that right?” The hippy asked.

“Hurry up and tee off,” Brad whispered.

“I’m just fucking with you. Have a great round of golf.”

I wacked the ball straight down the fairway with my 3 iron.

Brad and I finished our 9. It was nearly dark. Wade was outside the proshop, sticking his knife in the wall.

“If I ever catch someone stealing from this proshop I’ll stick ’em for sure. I learned how to do it in Vietnam.”

I didn’t doubt that Wade would do it. He didn’t care about stolen merchandise, he just wanted to kill somebody. 

“Did you boys get tired of jerking each other off?”

“Thanks Wade, we had a great time.”

“Come in and see me sometime.”

Brad and I got some fries.

“You wanna have a putting competition?”

“In the dark?” I asked.

“Yeah, quarter a hole.”

“You’re on.”

“Miss it!” Brad screamed. I holed out. “Pay up,” I said.

“I’ll give you the quarter on the bus tomorrow.”

Brad’s dad picked him up. I walked across the street. It was fall. I had my entire life in front of me.

The next day, I was back at the pro shop. “Why don’t you get a job?” Wade asked.

“I’ve got a job mowing lawns.”

“That’s not a job. 

When I was young, my friend and I ran everywhere in Arizona. 

You know how hot it gets down there? Hot. 

We did landscaping for old women and joined the army. 

I became a green beret in Vietnam; did lots of suicide missions. 

Carried tactical explosives through the jungle and got my ass out of there. 

You would be surprised how fast and long you can run when Charlie is on your ass. 

I was chiseled. 

My body was rock hard. 

Now my pecks are sagging. 

I never thought I would live to be this old. 

I should’ve died a long time ago. 

I’ve raced R1s. 

All my friends have died.”

The telephone rang. “That’s my wife,” Wade said.

“Honey, what’s up. Uhugh. Uhugh. If your boss thinks he can do that, I’ll fucking kill him. 

You tell him that you will quit if he ever makes you work overtime again. 

I’ll come down there and give him a piece of my mind!”

Wade’s face was turning red.

“I’m coming over there right now.” Click. 

“Andy, I’ve got to close up a bit early today. I need to go yell at my wife’s boss.”

“Gotcha,” I said.

Six months later I was working with him.