Crisis on the Green

FlashFiction: a mysterious message sends a golfer into anguish

Posted 11/7/21

Lucy flung her arms around Brad and let out a shriek of joy. “Yes, yes…I do!” Tears rolled down her cheeks as she leapt on top of her fiancé, wrapping all 4 limbs around his …

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Crisis on the Green

FlashFiction: a mysterious message sends a golfer into anguish

Posted

Lucy flung her arms around Brad and let out a shriek of joy.

“Yes, yes…I do!”

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she leapt on top of her fiancé, wrapping all 4 limbs around his body in a tight squeeze. They met two years earlier at TJ’s barbecue. Brad caught Lucy’s attention when he tried to wrestle a bottle cap with his bare fingers.

“You know the old proverb…if at first you don’t succeed, try a bottle opener.”

Her casual comment was accompanied by a warm smile, revealing an engaging soul behind the wit. They dated and grew closer. Brad’s golf game also improved and by the time he turned pro, they were already a steady couple.

Smart and confident, Lucy nevertheless had her vulnerable side. In Brad’s mind, she beat the odds, having grown up in a broken home with an alcoholic father and derelict brothers. It was a dark chapter from her past that she never discussed. Somehow, that void made him love her even more.

The marriage proposal was timely, since Brad played his best game the previous week and the press referred to him as “a promising golfer”. He placed 7th in a competitive field and if he kept his game, then victories were sure to follow.

FlashFiction:  KNOCKOUT

Along with TJ, his caddie, Lucy was the only person he allowed himself to communicate with during matches. Her texts from the sidelines always exhorted words of encouragement.

“Great shot, honey!”

“Don’t fret, you’re still under par.”

A power swinger with a gift for directional shots, Brad’s weakness lay on the green. “Young in the craft, he still needs to hone his lighter strokes”, wrote one of the sports columnists.

Growing up, Brad was introduced to the game by Stuart Larson, a neighbor who managed a private golf course. In middle school, he was already spending his weekends and summers at the club, helping out in odd jobs and participating in junior events.

Stuart’s son, Tommy, didn’t have the talent for any sport, or even the discipline to stay in school. Angry and troubled, he dropped out and left home. Brad ended up landing a college scholarship, all thanks to Tommy’s father.

Brad’s dad never cared for the game, either. A plumber by trade, he gave his only son the leeway to pursue his passion, but not without harboring some resentment that their best bonding years were taken away by a neighbor.

“Good luck, babe”, said Lucy on the phone.

“Sure you can’t make it? It’s my first big one.”

“I know, but if I take time off now then I won’t have all the days for our honeymoon.”

FlashFiction:  Belleville

Brad was on his way to the Oxbow Invitational, a $5 million purse tournament. Syndicated live, it was his first real money event. A mix of excitement and apprehension coursed through him as he checked into the hotel.

“How ya’ feeling, buddy?” asked TJ when they met in the lobby.

“Just saw Martin and Laramie…as if those guys aren’t enough to intimidate you.”

“Don’t worry about the field, just stay focused on your own game”, responded his caddie, knowing well that part of the job involved calming  nerves.

As expected, Brad sailed through the Tees and mid-range swings, avoiding bunkers and landing the ball within ear shot of the greens. Firing a +2(146) at the close of Friday, he still made the cut.

That evening, his phone conversation with Lucy was longer than usual, punctuated with tender words and silly pokes that can only be exchanged between two people in a comfortable relationship.

“It’s starting to drizzle, so go for it”, said TJ.

“Yeah, let’s do it”, exclaimed Brad.

Brad took full advantage of the soggy but playable afternoon, knowing that even seasoned competitors would start faltering on their long range swings. His assessment was right and several leaders began missing par and falling back.

Meanwhile, he fired an eagle on the 12th hole and then sunk two birdies from over 15 feet, conquering his handicap and surprising even himself. By day’s end, he was 4th on the leaderboard.

It was getting late and Lucy’s voicemail picked up for the 3d time. She hadn’t called, or texted all day. Brad’s earlier exuberance slowly gave way to an evening of worrisome curiosity.

FlashFiction:   DEATH IN HELSINKI

The weather cleared and the sun broke out for the final round. “Let’s see if the young power hitter can repeat his short game today”, said one of the color commentators at the start of the match.

Brad parred the first 3 holes, birdied the next 2, bogeyed the 6th, and then birdied 7th through 9th. He was now 2 under in the front 9, which bumped him to 2nd place. By the time he cleared the 15th hole, he was tied for first with Keegan.

Brad’s ball landed on the green, 8 feet from the 16th hole, and he was now in position to take the lead. Keegan was setting up for a difficult par, bending down, eyeing and measuring the undulating slope before him.

Standing on the side and waiting with TJ, Brad’s cell beeped softly and he knew it had to be Lucy, finally reaching him with one of her endearing messages.

“Brad, I can’t go through with the wedding…"

“WHAT?”, his outcry caught TJ with a perplexed look.

“Is this a joke!?”, he fired back a text with uncontrolled fury.

He reread Lucy's message over and over, but there was no follow-up from her.

Brad collapsed into a state of mental anguish. Flustered, paranoid, he whipped his head around searching for a clue, a hint, or any explanation for the bombshell that just hit him. How could she do this in the middle of a match? Was she really that sinister? Was she in cahoots with another golfer?

Keegan missed par and bogeyed the 16th. Brad was now leading the pack and if he made the 8-foot putt, then he would be 2 strokes out front with victory in sight. But it was too late. His mind left the game entirely.

“Brad Baker self-destructs after leading the Oxbow Invitational”, read the home page of Golf News.

Calls, texts and emails came in from Brad’s family and friends. The inquiries were the same but his answers were all vague and uncertain. Then an unknown caller ID flashed on his phone. Hesitating at first, he picked up without a greeting.

“This is Sargent Riley from the 24th precinct. Is this Brad Baker?”

“Yes”, replied Brad in confusion.

“Your fiancé was assaulted and her cell phone was taken. She’s ok, but a little shaken. We just caught the man, but he also confessed that he knows you. Is the name Tommy Larson familiar?”

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