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Stymie Magazine

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stymie MAGAZINE Autumn 2008

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Stymie Magazine

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Fodder Autumn 2008

MASTHEAD Founding Editor: Erik Smetana Senior Editor: W. Todd Banks Poetry Editor: Kristi L. Stokes

COVER ART Photographer: Revati Upadhya

NOTES All works – art, fiction, nonfiction and poetry – contained herein are copyright of the respective author and/or creator.

All artwork used in the following obtained as royalty free stock art, full credit provided where possible.

The novel excerpt from Fairway to Heaven is copyright (c) 2008 by Roberta Isleib. Fairway to Heaven in its entirety can be obtained by way of Amazon.com and other fine booksellers.

“Par 32: A Space Odyssey” is copyright (c) 2008 by Steeplechase Run, Inc.

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Editorial Note Autumn 2008 First, before anything else, a sincere thank you. Thanks to the readers (you reading this right now), our outstanding list of contributors, the wonderfully talented artists whose pictures grace these pages, to our friends and supporters for their feedback, diligence and buy-in (we are talking about a literary endeavor focused on golf here). With this first issue, we hope to create a benchmark, something to build upon issue after issue, a waypoint of sorts. We fully anticipate bumps in the road, hiccups if you will, and welcome them. Part of this adventure is the challenge it represents, a bi-annual collection of stories, poems and art that all link together (sometimes in the most abstract of ways) with the old game, the game of golf. When the idea for Stymie or something like it first struck, we weren’t sure if A) it could be accomplished, or, B) it was worth the effort that we knew it would take. Questions were asked, concerns were expressed, the concept was fraught over. Yet in the end, it all came together, just like that round back in the fall of ’01, the day a certain member of our team carded a 68. But that’s a different story, for another time, maybe another place. Instead, we offer in this first issue an eclectic mix of fiction and poetry, some addressing the game a bit more straight on, while others take a more round-a-bout approach. In the end, we hope you enjoy it. And again, thank you.

Erik, Todd & Kristi The Editorial Team Stymie Magazine

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Stymie Magazine

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Table of Contents

Catherine Gardner – “The Flat-Packed Golfer” .............................................................................................05 Thomas McDade – Three Poems.......................................................................................................................08 Roberta Isleib – A Novel Excerpt From, Fairway to Heaven............................................................................14 Marie Shield – “Oy Vey”......................................................................................................................................19 Julie Shapiro – “Golf Balls and…”.....................................................................................................................26 Michelle Garren Flye – “Her Only Rival”.........................................................................................................29 Jonathan Scott – “Tune In, Turn On”...............................................................................................................32 G.C. Smith – Two Poems....................................................................................................................................39 Lee Gruenfeld – “Par 32: A Space Oddity”......................................................................................................43 Chris Perridas – “Of Chickens and Other Such Things”...............................................................................47 Contributor Notes.................................................................................................................................................49

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Title: “Who Is?” / Artist: Vincent Loof

... His wife wasn’t too keen on becoming a ‘golf widow’, but had not reached the point of leaving tyre marks on his back. The suggestion that she take up flower arranging had however left him with a stiletto heel sized hole in his left buttock...

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The Flat-Packed Golfer by Catherine J Gardner Artie wanted to look his best for the meeting with the Golf Club Secretary. After several emails and one telephone conversation, covering the space of five months and two days, he could not blow this likelyto-be single opportunity to become a member. “Do you mind if I leave these here?” Artie asked. “Taking up golf?” Artie sighed. It was the third time in as many hours he had met that question. Even by barber’s standards, it was an inane enquiry, especially as the price ticket flapped from the nine iron. “I knew a fellow got in a whole heap of trouble thanks to a blonde and an obsession with golf.” Artie climbed into the chair without saying a word. He worried that his clubs were too close to the door, but didn’t want them any closer. It wouldn’t look good if the driver or putter ended up covered in shavings. “Usual is it?” Artie nodded. He was one of those men who gave the impression there was a tax on words, whereas the barber spat them out as if they were buy one get twenty free. “Anyway this broad, with a backcombed peroxide bird’s nest, that had an actually bird nesting in it, knocks at his door and asks is he interested in golf.” Artie figured this was the moment for an, ‘Uh-huh!’ Instead, his eyes widened, from the fear of how long is this going to take, and his smile stretched a little too painfully. “She was the opposite of what this bloke expected an evil salesperson to be.” The barber clicked his fingers and, at his bequest, an octogenarian began brushing up Artie’s hair. “Would you like to buy a Flat Packed Inflatable Golf Course?” Artie decided this needed an answer. “Err, no.” “Well that was his first reply.” “Whose?” He’d lost the thread. The problem with not listening was that you were never sure what you were saying yes or no to. “The bloke. Head down.” The weight of the barber’s palm at the back of his neck slammed Artie’s chin against his chest. “The bloke figured the blonde a character escaped from the mind of Charles Addams. And her skin, his words not mine, well he said it looked as if she had crawled out from Addams’ wastepaper bin. She was selling door to door because she hadn’t made it to page or screen. “Anyhow, she’s persuading him to buy the inflatable golf course and he can hear his wife yelling ‘not in my backyard’. She wasn’t actually there, but he knew what she would say. It doesn’t take a whole heap of imagination. Three hundred dollars later he’s signed and it’s delivered.” “The golf course?” the octogenarian asked. “Haven’t I told you this before?” “Don’t remember. In fact, chances are I’ll have forgotten it tomorrow.”

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Artie twirled around in the chair as the barber remembered his calling as a roustabout. He came to an unsteady stop. Nicotine stained fingers ran a comb through his fringe. “Where was I? Okay this bloke wasn’t so stupid as to inflate the thing in the lounge or kitchen.” He shook his head. Artie reciprocated which earned him two palms gripped vice-like to his skull. Scissors snipped. “So he goes out into his back yard. It’s all pitted concrete and no greenery.” “He blows it up?” The Octogenarian leant on his broom. “It blows itself up taking out the neighbouring fences. Lines of wet washing waved like flags and a ginger cat popped its head through one of the holes. Then, you won’t believe this, the bird that was perched in the blonde’s nest flies over the house and pecks at the sand-less dune and poof the thing deflates.” “What happened to the guy?” The old man leant on the broom handle. “He’s an attraction over at worm world.” “Eh?” Both Artie and the old man asked in synch. “He’s resting in Regimental Row beneath the freeway, where all dead golfers end up. Part of the terms and conditions isn’t it?” “What?” Artie had lost track around about deflates. The barber shook his head. “The bloke’s wife was driving home, whistling merrily and planning on turning the yard into a tennis court. So her first thought is ‘Ooh, there’s my husband’ and the second ‘why is he running down the street waving a golf club and, more to the point, why is he splattered with green plastic’.” “She ran him over?” Artie asked. His wife wasn’t too keen on becoming a ‘golf widow’, but had not reached the point of leaving tyre marks on his back. The suggestion that she take up flower arranging had however left him with a stiletto heel sized hole in his left buttock. “Why would she do that?” The barber scratched his chin. He continued. “No her uncle is the golf secretary up at the Old Links Golf Club so she organised an interview. I gave the bloke his last cut on the morning of his meeting. Two weeks later, I hear they’re digging a hole in Regiment Row, as there’s a new inmate. “Seems the uncle is short-sighted and vain, not a good combination, and mistook the bloke for a flagpole. Did I say he was thin? I don’t think I did. Well, he was thin and when the secretary missed the hole for the fifteenth time, he took out his frustration on the pole by slamming it several times with the putter. The pole however was the bloke who bought the inflatable golf course.” The barber brushed stray hairs off Artie’s suit. His clubs looked a little less shiny as he left the barbers. As he stopped at the traffic lights, a hand tapped at Artie’s shoulder. The fingernails were long, sharpened and flaking. A bird pecked at a peroxide fringe. “Would you be interested in an inflatable golf course?”

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Title: “Roller Coaster - Peak� / Artist: Stacy Braswell

... A sure thing, but no amusement park even though the hills rose and dipped like roller coasters. The catch was that thirty-six holes later you felt your muscles and bones had built those rides and their rails had run across your shoulders a full summer season...

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Agawam Hunt, C.C. by Thomas Michael McDade When there was no work to be had at Wannamoisett and I was extra broke, I’d walk painfully to Agawam Hunt -a sure thing, but no amusement park even though the hills rose and dipped like roller coasters. The catch was that thirty-six holes later you felt your muscles and bones had built those rides and their rails had run across your shoulders a full summer season. Unless you trudged the links twice there was no payday. And you might stagger fairways like three drunks if another member’s clubs got divvied up in your bags. You’d never guess it was the same game played on those two courses the way Wannamoisett money spent so easily and Agawam Hunt cash was the white-knuckled kind.

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Title: “WWII Mustang” / Artist: Todd Hansson

... Years later, my father took me aside to reveal his truth about Uncle Ed, a Section 8, no malaria victim, shot at our planes for Christ’s sake. I kept my mouth shut, didn’t know quite how to respond...

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The Uncle Ed Putter by Thomas Michael McDade No medals were awarded Uncle Ed in the war but his malaria was worth a pension Tall and balding he had a paunch and a blind girlfriend who crafted wallets that were for sale but the one that held my Boys’ Club I.D. was a gift. He caddied for extra cash and I don’t know if he gambled or drank or played golf when caddies were allowed but he asked me once if I’d like a club. I hoped for a wood or a least a wedge but I got a putter. Shaft of bamboo, a head that looked like brass, I used it off the 16th tee when I climbed the fence. The putter stayed around long after he passed away. Years later, my father took me aside to reveal his truth about Uncle Ed, a Section 8, no malaria victim, shot at our planes for Christ’s sake. I kept my mouth shut, didn’t know quite how to respond. That gift putter had served as well as a big, pro bag of clubs so my heart didn’t have to flip a coin for that memory to win. After my father died there was no late breaking news about him assaulting the wrong culprit or any one at all with the Uncle Ed putter he kept behind the seat of his old Plymouth Belvedere for protection.

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Title: “Caddy” / Artist: Revati Upadhya

... Hacking away, we called ourselves names of members we’d caddied for. I believe I floated between Duffy and Dwyer, the men whose bags I’d lugged most. One was a southpaw which made imitation tough...

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Wannamoisett C.C. by Thomas Michael McDade The sixteenth hole fence was an easy over or under at sundown or later. Some kids trespassed to dive for lost balls in the ponds, but we teed off with clubs that were mongrels like much of the sports gear in we owned. I had an old putter and my hands stung driving with that wood-shafted sucker. Hacking away, we called ourselves names of members we’d caddied for. I believe I floated between Duffy and Dwyer, the men whose bags I’d lugged most. One was a southpaw which made imitation tough. (Skipped the knickers the other wore.) Those guys were fabulous, always the first twosome out and they’d breeze eighteen holes as if their clubs were going to be repossessed and no one could pin a duffer tag on them. The stand where some golfers bought caddies Cokes wasn’t open so early but who cared? The bottles were runts and anyway, how many Royal Crown pints would ten bucks buy? A carefree afternoon lay beyond the fences and hanging around hoping for another round that would likely drag was as unimaginable as the resident Pro teeing off with a mongrel putter like mine.

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Title: “Just Married� / Artist: David Basson

... The bride wore a white strapless gown of French silk. The bodice featured an overlay of antique lace and seed pearls. The Basque waistline flowed into a floor-length gown with a chapel-length train. Her antique lace veil was attached to a diamond and pearl tiara, belonging to her grandmother, Tallulah Emory Bates...

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Fairway to Heaven a novel excerpt by Roberta Isleib

Chapter One Dr. Baxter opened his office door and waved me in. Well, it was the shrink’s rendition of a wave, a distant cousin to the queen’s royal greeting—a small nod accompanied by the brief eye contact that lets you know you’re “on.” I laid the dog-eared waiting room copy of Sports Illustrated on the table and eased past what used to be Dr. Bencher’s office. I’d found him lying there two years ago, nearly dead. Sometimes his last rasping breaths still seemed to rattle from the room. I wondered how much the new doctor knew about the former tenant. And whether her patients ever spotted the faint rusty mark under the desk when they were casting about the room to avoid looking directly at her. Baxter crossed his left leg over his right and adjusted the crease in the pant leg so it pointed precisely to the laces on his shoe. You could have carved a roast with the crease in those pants. Who ironed them anyway? Mrs. Baxter? Or was it off to the dry-cleaners after each day’s wear? “What are you thinking?” he asked. I blushed and pushed away every thought I’d had in the last five minutes. “Just can’t believe I’m in this wedding up to my neck.” I slid a paper out from the back pocket of my jeans. “Jeanine faxed me the draft of her wedding announcement this morning.” I pressed the wrinkled paper out on my thigh. “They’re putting on one amazing show.” I cleared my throat and read a paragraph out loud. “The bride wore a white strapless gown of French silk. The bodice featured an overlay of antique lace and seed pearls. The Basque waistline flowed into a floor-length gown with a chapel-length train. Her antique lace veil was attached to a diamond and pearl tiara, belonging to her grandmother, Tallulah Emory Bates.” I looked up at Baxter. “A Basque waistline? A tiara-wearing grandmother named Tallulah? But wait, there’s more.” I read on. “The bride chose Cassandra Burdette of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, as her maid of honor. Pari Taichert of Atlanta, Georgia, was the bridesmaid. Attendants wore strapless gowns of aubergine silk, and carried loose bouquets of white lilies and glass sconces with candles.” I shook my head. “We’ll never make it up the aisle with those dresses intact—do you suppose silk just smolders when it’s lit on fire, or would it actually burst into flames?” Baxter didn’t offer an opinion. “People are throwing Jeanine four parties before I even get there—a recipe shower, a lingerie shower, a Chinese dinner party, and a Pampered Chef shower. She says that’s the way it’s done in Pinehurst.” I read from the paper again. “Camellia Toussaint, the bride’s maternal aunt, along with bridal attendants, Cassandra Burdette and Pari Noskin Taichert, hosted a bridal shower at the Forest Brook Clubhouse on November 1. The theme of the party was “Autumn Steeplechase.”” I sank down into the upholstered chair until my chin rested on my chest. “Autumn steeplechase, my ass.” “Shall we talk about why you agreed to be in the wedding?” I sighed. “You know I introduced them. And Jeanine is, well,…sweet. All this stuff seems really important to her, like she honestly believes it’s setting her and Rick up for a happy life. I couldn’t turn her down. I couldn’t hurt her feelings.”

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Baxter raised his eyebrows to delicate points. “I know, I know. Then quit yer bitching, right?” We both laughed a little. “You haven’t mentioned how you’re feeling about the tournament,” said Dr. Baxter, palpating the ridge of his chin. At the end of my second miserable LPGA season, I’d returned to see Baxter, my former shrink, for what he kindly called a “tune-up.” More like a total engine overhaul. We’d already spent more money and minutes than I cared to count on the question of why I’d agreed to participate in the Pine Straw ThreeTour tournament, with my boyfriend Mike Callahan and my own father, Chuck Burdette, on my team. “I’m trying not to feel anything. If I focus hard enough on the silly wedding, maybe the tournament will just go away.” I shrugged. “Haven’t you figured it out by now? My defense mechanisms may be primitive, but they’re quite effective. At least in the short run.” I stuffed the paper back into my pocket and glanced at my watch. “I have to get home and finish packing. We’ll continue on Monday?” I added, before he could say it first. My mother stood in the doorway of my girlhood bedroom and watched me poke underwear into the corners of the suitcase. Then I reached for the bridesmaid gown, balled up a handful of purple silk, and pretended to jam it into the top of the travel golf bag resting against the bed. Mom yelped and lunged forward to grab the dress and slap my hand. “Don’t you dare pack that in there!” “It’ll cushion the club heads perfectly,” I insisted. “The titanium inset on my new driver scratches if you just breathe near it.” “Jeanine paid a thousand dollars for this gown. It’s disrespectful and downright ugly mean to treat it that way.” She hung the dress on a padded hanger and tucked it into the garment bag stretched across my pillow. “I thought I raised you better than that.” “I was joking, Mother. It was a joke.” My mother’s sense of humor has never been her strong point, but this wedding had impaired it even further. An edge had materialized in her voice the minute she heard that Dad’s second wife and my two half-brothers would also be in attendance at the society wedding of the year. She did not receive an invitation. The semi-gracious truce she’d established with my father had been strained to almost-rupture by these circumstances. She sighed. “This purple turns your skin sallow. Did you pack the makeup I bought? You would have looked better in the green.” “I packed the makeup.” I frowned and tried to jerk the garment bag zipper past a small catch in the fabric. “This is not about me, Mom. It’s her wedding.” Instantly sorry I’d given her an opening, I tensed for her standard barrage of questions. What’s going on with you and Mike anyway? Are you ever going to get married? “You’ll ruin the silk,” my mother said, mercifully too intent on the dress to nag. “Let me do that.” She zipped the bag closed, then stomped out of the room. Gin and tonic time. It was childish to pretend to jam the dress in with the clubs. I knew that. Joe Lancaster, my friend and sometimes golf psychologist, would have celebrated that insight as an example of how much I was improving in psychotherapy. “Half the battle is recognizing the stupid things you do,” he’d say, “even if you plow ahead stupidly and do them anyway.” Now I felt guilty about the wrinkles in the silk. But knowing Jeanine, she’d have a corps of tailors standing ready, just to press the wedding party’s garb.

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Long-distance chats with Jeanine about the gowns had begun just after she and Rick made the formal announcement of their engagement. Recently they’d mounted into a daily blitz. Should she choose the purple, which she called “aubergine,” (appropriate for a fall wedding and guaranteed to burnish the bridesmaids complexions to glowing) or the forest green (best suited as a background for the golf theme tableware and centerpieces)? The aubergine, Jeanine informed me, would open the door to the lily family: picture a large spray of loose flowers cradled in my left arm, my right arm looped through Mike’s elbow. The green, on the other hand, might call for white or yellow roses. And the roses would lend themselves to an elegant but more formal arrangement. She had been frozen. She obviously preferred the purple, but was unable to surrender the golf-theme tiein. My best friend and sometimes caddie, Laura, hypothesized that brides frequently focused on this sort of detail in order to avoid confronting the enormity of the leap they were about to make. Easy for her to pontificate: all she had to come up with was a dress—any dress—to wear to the wedding. And she was not obligated to prance down the aisle on the arm of a boyfriend who seemed to have mixed feelings about that status. And vice versa, of course. So I’d finally lost it. “Jesus, Jeanine. Why not choose sand trap brown? With the amount of time Rick spends in bunkers, he’ll feel right at home. He’ll see all those bridesmaids in “russet,” think he’s at St. Andrew’s, and forget he’s getting married altogether.” That comment provoked an onslaught of tears and a second flurry of calls in which I pledged my friendship and assured her I did in fact want to be a bridal attendant and was not making fun. In truth, I had tried every maneuver I could think of to extract myself from any position other than back-pew observer. I couldn’t afford the outfit: it would be her pleasure to purchase it. She had older friends who deserved the honor: I had introduced the two of them and simply had to appear. And my trump card, I would feel uncomfortable up there with Mike, our own relationship in such constant turmoil. Strike three: Jeanine loved the idea of Rick’s best man, Mike, escorting me down the aisle. Besides, all the bridal magazines promised that the glow of a wedding party was very likely to spread good karma to a couple in distress. From my perspective, it was hard to see how watching some other couple get married up close and personal could do anything but send a major tremor through an already precarious house of cards. After that last phone call, she promoted me to maid of honor. Then the purple gown arrived, insured for a thousand dollars, delivery practically requiring a notarized signature. Notwithstanding the tantalizing rhetoric of the bridal shop, it became immediately clear that this hue was not on my color wheel. According to my mother, who knows these things, my skin was reduced to a shade that suggested hepatitis, or at the least, a recent bout with pneumonia. She begged me to spend time in a tanning bed before the big event. Jeanine offered to pay for a professional spray job. I’d put my foot down—I was a golfer. Anyone who noticed that V-neck of tan skin would understand and forgive my splotchy coloring. I tucked a couple extra pairs of golf socks into the suitcase, zipped it closed, and went to find Mom. She was at the kitchen table, drink in hand, phone against her ear. “Charlie,” she mouthed, the lines around her eyes already beginning to relax. My brother. “Send my love,” I mouthed back, then leaned over to kiss the top of her head. “Call you later in the week.” I hoisted my luggage into the back seat of the old station wagon and set off from Myrtle Beach down highway 501. Barring unforeseen disaster, I should arrive in Pinehurst in time to check into the Magnolia Inn and stop in at the Peters’ house for a buffet supper and a glass of champagne with the bridal party.

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I’d already warned Jeanine that I had an early curfew, what with an eight AM tee time for my practice round the following morning. Ouch. The thought I’d been trying to dodge surfaced hard and sharp, and now I had three good, solitary hours to chew it over. What in the hell was I doing playing in this silly tournament? Jeanine had scheduled the wedding so her fiancé could both play in the Pine Straw Challenge and participate in most of the wedding celebrations. Which meant the tournament was convenient for me as well. But in the end, I’d only agreed because my father had asked. I owed him after he bailed me out of a tight spot at Stony Creek Country Club last summer. Besides, he seemed to be making an earnest effort to atone for clocking out on me in my early teens. And finally, both Baxter and Joe Lancaster seemed to feel the head-to-head competition with the men in my life could provide a breakthrough in my own wobbly career. And I was just desperate enough to try. The tires thumped on the hardpan of the highway, seeming to croon a warning song. Cassie and Michael standing on the tee…K-I-S-S-I-N-G…who’ll make bogie, who’ll make par, who will put it in the jar… I turned up the radio full blast and wailed along with Patsy Cline. *** Editor’s Note: Interested in reading more of Fairway to Heaven or another of Roberta Isleib’s titles? They are available for purchase through Amazon.com and other fine book retailers.

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Title: “Scalextric 2” / Artist: Andy Barrass

... I stand on the sidewalk in front of my house. “It’s over,” he says. “Did I ever tell you I drove race cars for a living once. If I did it was a lie.” The box of birthday presents and the painting wait at my feet...

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Oy Vey by Marie Shield My mother gives me a headache. A guilt headache. The worst. “Well, Darling,” she says. “How do you think you will feel when Papa passes and you didn’t even come down here for your birthday? You know how he feels about birthdays.” I do know how my father feels about birthdays and all the other obligations my mother finds so important. He’s tolerant. Papa is not on death’s door as my mother always implies. Yes, he does have some health problems. But then, he’s eighty years old. His prostate is a bit on the fritz, his ticker acts up if he doesn’t take his medication and he likes to have a little nap in the afternoon. These things I know from my mother. What I observe is that he no longer moves as fast as he used to and his knees and his hips bother him when he gets up and down. Mama says if he’d lose some weight that wouldn’t be a problem. She should talk. He’s not deaf, not even hard of hearing. But, in my never-so-humble opinion, after almost sixty years of marriage, he’s tired of listening to her. He doesn’t have any problem hearing me. “Mama, I’m exhausted. One of the department heads took a sabbatical this term and I ended up teaching three of his classes in addition to my own,” I say. “I planned to get away and have some fun next weekend.” “Oy vey,” she says. “You think spending your fiftieth birthday with your family is not fun?” “Sheesh, Mama. Stop with the oy vey. We’re not Jewish.” “So, then. You tell me what is so much fun. What can a fifty-year-old woman do that would be better than spending time with her family?” Mama always increases the decibels of her phone conversation if she thinks I’m not paying attention. “Well, Mama, a friend and I have decided to take a bit of a holiday and visit the wine country up north.” “A friend?” She sighs. “I suppose another woman. I worry about you, Doria. Are you a homosexuality? It’s not normal, you know.” “Mama, female homosexual folks are called lesbians. And, no. I’m not. I have plans to go away with a man I’ve been dating.” I slap my forehead. Blabbermouth. “You’re seeing a man? Why didn’t you tell us? Such good news. Your father will be pleased.” From the day she bought me a training bra, she’s always been amazed when she finds out I have a boyfriend or even a date. On the Day-of-the-Bra, I also received an awkward lecture about not being a cow who gives her milk away for free, and a Facts of Life for Your Pre-teen pamphlet she’d ordered from the Chiquita Banana Company. The message was clear: I was old enough to start thinking about wifedom. My mother says I ‘have too big an opinion’ of myself and if I’d ‘lower my sights’ I might be able to find a nice man with a steady job. Maybe someone who works in a gas station. Maybe even someone who works on a garbage truck, like my brother Dan. Not that I’m putting down what Dan does. He makes more money than I do teaching math at Cal State University. Mama doesn’t think it’s normal for women to like mathematics. In her mind, a woman should be able to balance her check book, but anything beyond that should be left to men. She warns me that men don’t like to think a woman might be smarter than they are.

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“We worry. Are you getting married?” She doesn’t even pause to take a breath. “Soon would be good. Before he changes his mind. We could make you a nice wedding in the backyard this summer. Bring him. Bring him. It will please your father. He worries about you, you know.” Once again, my mother guilts me and I promise to postpone my trip to the wine country and drive down to San Diego on my birthday. But taking Mark home to meet my parents? I don’t think so. Mark is a used-car salesman. Not a particularly successful one. He considers it a profession beneath his dignity. Dignity is not his long suit. Good in bed is his long suit. Mark thinks he and I have some kind of a future together. He is, as they say, “Mr. Right Now.” I don’t want my mother encouraging his intentions. He’s not unattractive, has a great tan on his face and lower arms. He plays a lot of golf. His face makes me think of a wolf. Lean, hard, predatory. He dresses well, although when he takes his clothes off, he looks like a stork. It doesn’t really matter what he looks like. Oh me, oh my. His brain may be the size of a pea, but the man has talent. And then. And then. Mark catches me in a weak moment, when I’m lying naked on his king-sized bed, all sweaty and still panting, convinced I cannot live without this man. And, I agree to let him drive me down to San Diego. We stop in San Clemente. Mark gets out, reaches in the back seat and removes the enormous flower arrangement, which probably cost him all of his commission check. He opens the cooler and gets out a spray bottle and carefully mists the flowers. White Chinese mums, lavender roses, sprigs of dark purple orchids, shocking-red tulips and others I don’t recognize. The flowers are for my mother. I doubt she has ever seen anything so lovely. We stop again in Carlsbad so he can repeat the performance and insure maximum freshness. The man is a black-belt in pleasing women. He gets back into the car and caresses my cheek. I jerk away. “Will you please keep your hands to yourself in front of my family?” “I will.” He leans toward me and kisses my neck just behind an ear. Stinker. He knows that drives me wild. “I’ll be the perfect gentleman. Praise your mother’s cooking. Talk sports with your dad and play with your nieces and nephews.” “Oh for god’s sake, Mark.” “No, my dear.” He starts the car again. “For your sake.” My parents never lock their front door. Mark follows me in holding the floral arrangement against his chest with his left arm. My father heaves himself out of his Barcalounger and hollers, “Mama, they’re here.” Mark crosses the room in four long strides extending his right hand. “Great to meet you Mr. Williams. Good of you to invite me.” “Karl, you can call me Karl, son.” Papa extends a hand and slaps Mark on the shoulder with his other one. Then he looks at me and winks. “Mama says you two kids are getting ready to tie the knot.” I groan. “As soon as Doria says the word.” Mark beams his best used-car salesman grin. Mama bustles into the room wiping her hands on her apron. Mark turns to her, then feigns confusion and says, “You must be Doria’s sister.” Mama titters and pats the tightly permed gray curls that surround her head like a halo. “I’m the mama,” she says.

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“You’re kidding me,” Mark says and Mama shakes her head. “Then these are for you.” He holds the flowers out to her. “Oy vey,” she says. “Mom.” “Don’t you roll your eyes at me, Doria. The Jewish are wonderful people.” She looks coyly at Mark. “Are you Jewish, my dear?” “Why, yes,” he says. “My family is.” News to me. But I suspect he’s picked up on my mother’s infatuation with anything and anyone Jewish. I take the flowers from him, put them on an end table and mutter, “We’re not. We’re Catholic.” “Same. Same,” my mother says. “We were both concentrated in the big war.” She swoops down and clears the coffee table. The doilies, the Ansel Adams book, the TV Guide, and an assortment of knick-knacks the grandchildren have given her. She sets the floral arrangement on the cleared coffee table. “A place of honor. Magnifico.” She stoops to smell the flowers although it’s not necessary. Like the car, it already smells like a funeral parlor in here. She turns, puts her hand on Mark’s arm with unwarranted familiarity and says, “So, you like pot roast? No? I make a beautiful pot roast.” “I’ll bet you do. I wondered how Doria got to be such a talented cook.” Mama raises her eyebrows. “She can cook?” There’s a ruckus outside and I know my brother Dan has arrived in his Hummer. He’s a soccer coach for his own two boys and four of his nephews, and has come straight from practice with all of them. The rambunctious boys tolerate my mother’s hugs and kisses before she shoos them outside. Within minutes the rest of my family arrives and everyone is introduced to Mark. All of my sisters and sister-inlaw have brought appetizers or desserts. There’s never a lack of food at our family gatherings and my father always makes sure his coolers are loaded with plenty of Budweiser, soft drinks and Two-BuckChuck wine ‘for the ladies.’ My family doesn’t believe in bottled water. If anyone wants water they can get it from the tap or the garden hose. Almost everyone, including Mark, is headed on their way outside or already there. Carrying a large platter of deviled eggs, my oldest sister Yvonne, stops beside me on her way out the sliding glass door and whispers, “He’s cute. Kauffman? Is he Jewish?” I shrug. I swear she gets more like Mama every year. My sister-in-law, Jesse, is shredding cabbage for the coleslaw. She’s Black and an interior designer. Mama hired her when she was going through her everything-African-American phase. It was love at first sight when Dan met Jesse. Mama is putting the finishing touches on a creamed-corn casserole. I’m peeling potatoes and my niece Marcie is counting the plastic forks. “I thought you ladies could use a little refreshment.” Mark steps through the kitchen door with three glasses of white wine. “Anything I can do to help in here?” “No boys in the kitchen,” Marcie says. “It’s a rule.” He sets the glasses down and squats beside her. Eye-level. “Probably a good rule. How old are you, Marcie?” “Eight. Do you have any kids?” “No, I don’t. But I’d sure like to have a pretty little girl like you.” “Auntie Doria doesn’t have any either. My mama says her eggs are all dried up.” I gasp. Mark stands up. And Jesse says, “Go outside and play, Marcie.”

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“They’re getting ready to play a game of croquet. I’ll bet you’re a good player.” Mark holds out his hand and Marcie takes it. “Maybe you can teach me how?” Jesse chops slower and slower, finally stops altogether and looks at me. “I’m sorry, Doria. You have to be so damn careful about what they overhear.” She crosses the room and puts her arm around me. “I swear, I didn’t say it to be mean. Dan and I were just…” I pat her hand. “It’s okay. Anyway, it’s the truth.” I feel as if I might start crying. “Have to go powder my nose.” On the way back to the kitchen, I stop and look out the dining room window. Mark and some of the other men are playing croquet with the kids. My father comes up behind me and puts his hands on my shoulders. “Happy Birthday, Honey.” He leans forward and kisses my cheek. “I’m glad you could make it down.” “Thank you, Papa. Me too.” We quietly watch the kids in the pool and the croquet game for a few minutes. Then he says, “He’s a good man, Doria. Give him a chance.” He’s not a good man. He’s a charming man. But how could my father know that Mark has no ambition, has most likely never done an honest day’s work in his life. His idea of a good job would be to become a golf pro where he could get paid for doing what he does best. Playing. Hardly a respectable job for a grown man. I don’t know how long Mark had been out of a job when I first met him. My initial impression was that he’d been some kind of corporate executive and gotten caught in the mergers and downsizing in the aerospace industry. It was after I shamed him into looking for work and he asked me to help him with his resume that I realized he’d only been a draftsman. After a few months of mostly playing golf everyday and occasionally going on an interview, he told me he’d decided to help out an old buddy at a local car dealership. I’m surprised he’s kept the job this long and doubt that he would have if he and the old buddy sales manager didn’t manage to get away for a round of golf every day. The only single man in the math department is shorter than me, exceedingly dull and has bad breath. It’s getting harder to meet eligible men outside of work, and of the ones I’ve dated in the last few years, Mark’s probably as good as it’s going to get. At my age, everybody comes with baggage. Dan and his family give me the newest Leonard Cohen CD; my sisters give me bath products, a new journal and costume jewelry. My favorite nephew gives me an oil painting he recently won an award for and my parents give me great-grandma’s tea set, the one none of us have ever been allowed to touch or use. Then Mark hands me a very small box. I stare at it and turn it over and over in my hands. Everyone gets quiet, even the kids. I feel sweat trickling down my sides and dampening the back of my blouse. Marcie sidles over to me and puts her hand on my knee. Nobody else moves. “Aren’t you going to open it, Auntie Doria?” she asks. “No. Not right now.” I put my arm around her and give her a hug before I stand and put the box on the table. “I’ll do it later.” Mark turns away and goes into the house. “Well.” Mama pushes back her chair and stands up. “Is everybody ready for ice cream and cake?” She doesn’t look at me, but looks at each of my sisters and Jesse. “Yvonne, girls, help me bring it out.” “Jesus, that was harsh.” Dan walks over to the coolers, gets out a bottle of champagne and slams it on the table in front of me. “Happy Birthday, Sis.”

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I turn to my father. He slowly shakes his head, puts his elbows on his knees and looks down into his folded hands. I start wadding up the wrapping paper and ribbon and putting it in a trash bag. Close up the gift boxes and stack them neatly. “Have you got a box I could put this stuff in, Papa?” “In the garage.” He doesn’t look up. “Help yourself.” Yvonne carries out the large sheet cake. Happy Birthday, Doria. She doesn’t bother with candles, just starts cutting the cake. Jesse and my sister bring out gallons of ice cream and paper plates. The children gather around them, noisy again now, yelling, “I want chocolate. I want strawberry. I want both.” When I pass through the kitchen to get a box from the garage, my mother is standing at the sink, staring out the kitchen window. Her cheeks are wet with tears. “Mama.” I start toward her. “Leave me be.” She waves me away. “Leave me be.” I turn and go back into the living room. Dan and one of my brothers-in-law are watching football. “Have you seen Mark?” I ask. Dan jerks his thumb at the front door. Mark is sitting on the front steps smoking a cigarette. I sit down beside him. “Could I have one of those?” He hands me the cigarette he just lit. “I think we’d better go,” I say. “Yup.” He stands and goes back inside the house leaving the front door open. “Hey, man,” Dan says. “Third quarter’s about to start. San Diego’s ahead, seven-six. Have a seat. I’ll grab us some beers.” I hear Mark’s warm laugh. “Sounds great, but we’ve got to be taking off. Doria has one of her headaches. Sure was good meeting you all.” “Maybe we can get together and play some golf one of these weekends,” my brother-in-law says. “Sure,” Mark says. “Well, I best thank the folks and get this show on the road before Doria gets impatient.” I finish the cigarette and put it out in a flower pot before I go back inside. When I do it’s as if the moment never happened. I find Mama and Yvonne in the kitchen. The women’s room. Their backs are to the door and Yvonne’s head is on Mama’s shoulder. Mama is patting her cheek. “Not to worry. Not to worry. They’ll work it out. She’s a smart girl.” “Mama?” My voice cracks. “Ah, here she is,” Mama says. “My daughter the genius. You want some cake now, Darling?” Yvonne puts her arms around me and hugs. “Happy Birthday. I love you, you know.” I do know. I mumble, “Me too.” Everyone in my family hugs and kisses me and wishes me ‘Happy Birthday.’ Someone got a box for my gifts and Mark picks it up. I carry the oil painting out to the car, feeling greedy and shallow to be making off with my loot and all the things I know I don’t deserve. I feel their disappointment. Their love. Mark doesn’t turn on the radio, doesn’t put in a CD, and doesn’t speak as we drive north. In the two years we’ve been together I’ve never seen him show any kind of anger. I believe he is angry now. I don’t know what to say. Or do. I sit tense, with my hands clasped in my lap.

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At near dusk, he pulls off at a rest stop. Reaches in the back seat and finds his gift to me. Hands it to me. “Open it,” he says. It is a ring, a beautiful platinum ring set with my birthstone interspersed with tiny perfect diamonds. I take it out of the box. He reaches for it, takes it away from me and steps out of the car. He throws it. I watch it arch, catching the suns last rays. He gets back into the car, hits the gas and we peel out of the parking area. I sit in stunned silence until we’re almost to my apartment. “Mark?” “Forget it. We’re done, Honey. When I met you I thought I’d found something special. Somebody strong enough and smart enough to make me believe in myself. And I’ll be damned, you did that. Next week I start as the main golf pro at Eltadena Country Club.” He swerves around three cars and takes the off ramp. “Well, thanks for the leg up.” He knows. He’s known all along I think he’s a liar and a fraud. It’s a little late for me to realize he’s never done anything except try to please me and make me happy. “Mark?” I stand on the sidewalk in front of my house. “It’s over,” he says. “Did I ever tell you I drove race cars for a living once. If I did it was a lie.” The box of birthday presents and the painting wait at my feet as I watch him zoom off into the night. He won’t be back. Oy vey iz mir.

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Title: “Beware of the Golf Balls” / Artist: Jessums

... When I get to heaven, I’ll be looking for that ball, that and a hundred or so others I’ve misplaced. I reckon that’s what heaven is. Home to everything I’ve ever lost....

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Golf Balls and... by Julie Ann Shapiro

1. Golf Balls and Murder The author pitched that book about grass lawns and mayhem at the expo. I couldn’t get away fast enough. Vic pestered the guy about what it felt like to exhale the last breath, whether the white light existed and if lost parents reunited in a heavenly embrace. If, if, if there’d be peace and no insomnia in heaven’s bed. I said to Vic, “Come on let’s go. He’s written a who-dun-it – nothing more.” The author motioned with his finger and whispered, “Hey, buddy, look I’ll tell you a secret.” Vic leaned in close as the guy said, “There’s no bed better than your lover’s. Now that’s the only heaven I’ve ever known, except this one time I hit a golf ball and it went flying way past the greens and just kept on flying. I never did see it land. When I get to heaven, I’ll be looking for that ball, that and a hundred or so others I’ve misplaced. I reckon that’s what heaven is. Home to everything I’ve ever lost.”

2. Golf Balls and Drunkenness More despondent than ever thanks to that stupid author, Vic tried to make smiley faces on golf balls. Not an easy task with all those grooves and the unsteady hand of booze. I made my own smiley face in purple ink on the golf ball possessing more drunken finesse and balance from yoga. Vic said upon eying my endeavors, “Woman, show some respect.” “Fine,” I turned my smiley ball into a frown and walked out of the room. The next day he didn’t show up after work. He explained on the phone, “I‘m going to drink ‘til the smiley faces come home.” “That’s real lame, Vic.” He sighed, “They never would you know. It’s why my Dad spilt. Mom was always on his case, after him to get a better job.” “Oh,” I gulped, guilty of the same. “Are you coming home?” He didn’t answer. I heard his passed out snores and yelled, “You’re pathetic.” “Yeah,” he slurred, “so what of it?” “Vic, do you want me to call a taxi?” “No, I can take care of it.” “Just come home, OK.”

3. Golf Balls and Staircases I tossed and turned and heard a golf ball clanking on the wooden stairs. I stirred from my sleep, disoriented and awakened by the “nightmare” or the sounds of a deranged burglar. I didn’t get it. Why would a crook mess with a golf ball? Unless? I called out, “Hey, Vic, just come to bed. Stop playing with the damned ball.” The ball continued tapping. “You stubborn, ass.” My pulse quickened. I remembered the call last night from the hospital. “Your boyfriend’s drunk and comatose,” the words some emergency personnel said. “Just the way he’d like it,” I bit my tongue.

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4. Golf Induced Contact The ball tapped, “Dud-do-do-do.” I pounded back on the nightstand, “Dud-do-do-do. OK, fine. I got it. This isn’t funny. I don’t have any money. Just take the TV and stereo. And leave me alone.” I lied, “I’ve barricaded the bedroom.” I breathed in deep and said the mantra – “I am peace.” The words said alone echoed to the loud beating of my heart. “Quiet down. I am peace.” I laughed. The stupid mantra never worked for me or Vic. I noticed light coming in from the window and the alarm clock said, “3:00 am.” I listened for sounds other than the golf ball bouncing. Nothing. Thank goodness! I retrieved the golf ball and closed the hall and living room windows. The culprit I assumed to be the wind. I placed the errant ball in Vic’s shoebox and stared at the empty bottle of Gin on my dresser. I cupped it to my breasts. A glass barreled hug. “So that’s what’s left of us? You lousy, jerk. You’re not going down without a…” I couldn’t bring myself to say the word “fight” aloud. Instead, I called Mercy Gen’s and checked on Vic. The night nurse on his ward didn’t answer the page. I held the golf ball in my hand. A tear trickled down my face. 3:00 am: our insomniac hour I should have known he’d be back.

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Title: “Bad News” / Artist: Arkadiusz Zajas

... I grab the putter before she can raise it again. She screams in fury when I’m able to wrench it from her hands. Unarmed, she’s still dangerous. I know from past experience that she’s too far gone to try to reason with. There’s a syringe of Haldol in my office downstairs...

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Her Only Rival by Michelle Garren Flye Susan sleeps soundly as I slip from the bed. I didn’t set an alarm, but I’ve calculated the time carefully. Up at 5:30, out of the shower by 5:45, in the car by 5:50. Susan’s never up before 6 a.m., so I’m safe. I pause at the bureau. I didn’t dare lay out my clothes the night before. She’d certainly have known something was up. This is perhaps my most dangerous moment. I learned long ago to push slightly on the middle of the drawer with one hand while pulling with the other. The pressure decreases the chance of an inopportune squeaking of wood against wood. I’m an expert at this deception, but even so, I’m nervous until it’s done and I have my shirt, pants and underwear. Turning, I catch a glimpse of Susan asleep in our bed. She looks so peaceful, her face a little flushed in her sleep. I know I should feel guilty enough to get back into bed with her. Instead, I slip quietly through the bathroom door and into the shower. The shower pours water down on me, but I’m already with my other love. I can hardly wait for the ecstasy, the release. My true passion is all that keeps me sane at times. The peace it affords me has no equal in my life. I imagine the curves and valleys and the anticipation builds to a peak inside me. And maybe now that I have my new putter there’ll be no more bogeys on the back nine. It’s a beauty: center-shafted, mallet-style, aluminum-block head. It cost more than most of the many other putters I’ve tried over the years put together. John, my golf partner for the past fourteen years, recommended it to me. “You’re a doctor, Sam,” he said. “You don’t spend money on vacations or entertainment. You’ve driven the same car for five years. For god’s sake, spend a little money on something you love, would you?” So I did, though I didn’t tell Susan about it. John and I have a great friendship, and it’s entirely based on golf. John belongs to the country club on the south end of town; I’m a member of the one on the north end. Between the two of us, we’ve got 36 holes of golf right in town to play. I can’t usually get away from town long enough to visit other courses, so trading back and forth with John works out well. As I’m dressing, I think longingly of the easy solitude of the golf course. Pines whispering in the breeze. Rolling green fairway marred only by sand and water traps. There’s something Zen-like about a golf course, especially early in the morning when only the true golf lovers like me are out. I glance at my watch. 5:48. Right on time. I reach for the doorknob and freeze. Damn. My new putter. Last night when I put my clubs in the car after Susan was asleep, I forgot to put the putter in the bag. It’s still in my office. Christ, how could I do this? This is the type of mistake that could cost me my game. I take a deep calming breath. It’s okay. I can still manage. I open the door and step through. My eyes take in the empty bed at the same moment that the first blow pushes me forward and onto the rumpled comforter. The breath is knocked out of me, but I’m fairly certain I’ve escaped more serious injury this time. I’m facedown and at a disadvantage, though. I roll quickly to one side, just as my new putter whistles down on the left side of my face. “Christ, Susan!” I gasp, rolling back to my left as she hoists the putter and brings it down again. It misses, but not by much. Her face is a study of passionate anger. “I thought I told you…” she pants, raising the putter again in preparation for another blow, “… no more…” the putter hits the bed beside me as I roll off onto the floor “… fucking golf!” She definitely had the element of surprise in her favor, but I’ve recovered now. The trick will be to avoid injuring her while somehow escaping injury myself. I grab the putter before she can raise it again. She screams in fury when I’m able to wrench it from her hands. Unarmed, she’s still dangerous. I know from past experience that she’s too far gone to try to reason with. There’s a syringe of Haldol in my office downstairs. Getting there will be the problem.

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Susan unexpectedly helps me out by leaping up onto the bed and clearing a path to the door. I’m past her in a second, clenching the putter in one hand. Susan shrieks and I hear her leap to the floor, but then everything is silent. I don’t hesitate. Susan is barefoot and she knows every inch of this house. She knows what boards will squeak and give her away. She knows how to move silently and swiftly. My only hope is to get to the office and retrieve the Haldol before she corners me. Once I had to hit her in the face to stop her. For a week, the bruise on her jaw was a silent accusation. It’s your fault she’s like this, the bruise seemed to say. She’s the innocent here, not you. If you’d just stop being so selfish, you could live a normal life… I know it’s not true. Susan has a bipolar disorder. There’s no other explanation. When she’s not in one of her moods, she’s fantastic: beautiful, intelligent, charming, the perfect doctor’s wife. It’s only at times like these, usually brought on by her jealousy of my love of golf, her only rival, that she’s a menace. At the bottom of the stairs, I hesitate. I still haven’t heard her behind me. I peer back up the stairs. She could be waiting in the shadows on the landing, ready to pounce. Or she could have gone down the back stairs to the kitchen. I think uneasily of butcher knives and other weapons she might have found. There’s no choice and I have to act fast. John will be waiting and our tee time is 6:30, the earliest available. I sprint down the hall toward the front of the house and even as I do, the swinging door to the kitchen behind me slams open with incredible force. I grit my teeth. That’s going to leave a mark in the plaster wall that I’ll have to patch up. “Susan, for god’s sake, don’t make any holes in the wall!” I yell, yanking open my office door and careening inside, just in time to slam it closed in her face. I hear a thump and realize she’s run into the door full tilt. A metallic clatter assures me she is armed again. With no time to lose, I launch myself across the room, wrench open the drawer to my desk and pull out the syringe. I turn just in time to bring my forearm up and block the butcher knife. Susan is thrown backward by the force of my blow and, winded, sits against the filing cabinet where she fell, looking like a broken Barbie doll in her silk and lace pajamas. I don’t hesitate to make the most of my advantage, seizing her left leg and jabbing the needle into her upper thigh. I grab the butcher knife she still clenches and fling it into the hallway, then sit down and pull Susan into my lap, wrapping my arms around her as the drug does its job. Two minutes later, she’s limp in my arms and I know she’ll remain that way for a good six hours, plenty of time for eighteen holes. Though I’m exhausted from our fight, I gather her into my arms and mount the stairs to our bedroom. I arrange her gracefully on the bed, covering her unconscious form with the satin sheet and comforter. I turn the ringer off on the phone and kiss her gently. I don’t want her to be disturbed by a ringing telephone. She needs her rest. John is waiting in the parking lot. He’s already rented our golf cart. “You’re late,” he calls. “Old lady give you any trouble?” You don’t know the half of it, I think. “Nah,” I say with a smile. “She was sound asleep when I left.” “Man, Jill was beside herself,” John says. “Twice in one week,” he mimics his wife’s voice. “You never spend time with the kids; you’re always working or playing golf. I never get to do anything. What are all those manipedis, I ask you? And bridge and tennis and shopping and coffee with the girls? Plus, she doesn’t have to get up every day to go to work.” John sounds exasperated. All I can do is smile. He doesn’t know how good he has it and I’m not going to tell him. “You don’t know how good you’ve got it,” John says. “You just wait ‘til you and Susan have kids. Then you’ll know what it’s like to fight about getting out to play a little golf.” Kids? I think. Not fucking likely.

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Title: “Bondgirl� / Artist: Patrick Swan

... There is only one course left open. I recommend you purchase a small handgun, possibly an American Derringer stainless steel Remington standard Model 1. Keep it handy at all times. Tuck it into the garter of your stockings if you wear one...

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Tune In, Turn On by Jonathan Scott “Don’t stand there in the rain.” The young woman with the long legs and striking figure reaches across the leather seat of her Toyota Avalon to open the passenger door for the older, stout, slightly balding man with an umbrella. “Get in, Warren,” she says. Warren drops into the seat and shakes his slightly bent umbrella before closing the door. “Thank you for your kind offer,” he says. “Sure. I know you usually take the bus home from work, but I hated to see you waiting in this weather.” She uses a finely manicured hand to switch on the wipers and the radio. A pained expression comes across Warren’s face. “Would you mind if I asked you to turn that off?” “The radio? You don’t like that song?” “It isn’t the song, although I hardly classify that puerile whining as a song. It’s radio I can’t tolerate. I never listen to the radio.” She pauses the car. “Jesus, Warren. You really are strange. I’ve never heard of anybody who was too stuck-up to listen to the radio.” “It’s not pride,” he says, wiping his wet glasses on his sleeve. “It’s simply bitterness, all due to the perfidy of pulchritudinous sirens like yourself.” “Huh?” “It so happens, my dear, that I have some dry cleaning waiting for me at a small establishment in Kensington. If you would be so kind as to drive all the way up there before you take me home, I will take the opportunity to share my heart-rending tale.” *** I was in the fragrant springtime of my life (says Warren), studying liberal arts at a prestigious university. In my sophomore year I developed an intense interest in the Ferghana style of Uzbeki classical music. To help promote public awareness of this sadly overlooked genre, I volunteered to host a radio program on our 50-watt college station. Admittedly, the time slot I was given—between 2 and 3 a.m. on Monday mornings—did not offer ample opportunity to reach a wide audience. Nonetheless, I was overflowing with youthful enthusiasm, and so impressionable that I was considering abandoning my academic goals and pursuing a career in radio. However, it would be grossly negligent to give you the impression that musicology and mass communication were my only interests. A certain young lady by the name of Roxanne Skenazy also volunteered at the station. She was the hostess of a two-way talk program entitled “So What’s Your Problem?” For an hour every evening she took calls from listeners and gave them practical advice on subjects ranging from good study habits to ways to extract more pleasure from the act of physical love. One evening, on a whim and quite anonymously, I called and confessed to carrying a shameful burden in life, to wit, that a stripe of unwanted hair grew down my back. In a voice full of sympathy she said that in the game of life a little foliage on odd parts of the body wasn’t any sort of disqualifier, and I should strive to like myself the way I was. Never in my wildest speculations had this simple concept occurred to me. I instantly fell desperately in love with this dulcet angel whom I judged a combination of Florence Nightingale and Sigmund Freud. However, being a young man of reserved and studious habits, I had little hope of competing with coarse upperclassmen who flaunted unhygienic grooming and faux criminal personas. Still the fire burned deeply in my bosom.

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So you can understand how I was taken aback when she threw open the door of my dorm room one afternoon, making her entrance while I was in the process of applying acne medicine to the inside of my thighs. “Hey, Warren,” she said, apparently unperturbed that I was crouching bowlegged and wearing nothing but severely unwashed jockey shorts. “How’s tricks?” I flushed with embarrassment and grabbed for my bedspread. She flopped down on the now exposed sheets of my bed. “I was up late studying on Sunday night and caught your show.” “You did?” “Yeah, I thought it was far out.” “You did?” “Yep. I especially liked one song. I can’t remember the name but it was real groovy. “Jurabeg Nabiev’s Gidjak?” “That must have been it. A real toe tapper.” In the style of the day, she wore a long skirt made from patched blue jeans, broken flip-flop sandals, and a loose sweatshirt with a comic rendering of Albert Einstein across her braless chest. My heart was aflame. “Very few people today, “I said, my eyes roaming over a stray bit of ankle, “have an appreciation for the plucked-string dotar.” “Well, you’re looking at one chick that does. You know, Warren, I’ve been asking around about you.” “You have?” “People say you’re a cool guy.” “Which people?” “Well…just about everyone on campus. They all say that you’re really hip.” “They do?” “Yeah. There’s a dude I know in your western phil class who says you’re a whiz at expressing your opinions.” It was true. The child was the father to the man. She casually pulled her skirt, revealing the more of the lower part of a leg unshaven since puberty. “I’d just love to get to know you better, if you know what I mean.” I didn’t, but I was frantically trying to guess. “I have nothing on my schedule this afternoon,” I said with a sudden swell of expectancy. “That would be cool, Warren, but I’m afraid it’ll have to wait. You see, I’m leaving to go to D.C. for a Militant Feminists for Peace rally. That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I won’t be able to do my radio show next week, and I was wondering if you would mind filling in for me.” “Me?” “You bet. You have just the sort of street-wise attitude that can help people.” I was completely nonplussed. Up to that point, I had assumed my street wisdom was limited to my knowledge of the chemical composition of asphalt. “I never looked at it like that before,” I said. “But I am very good at discerning the failings of others.”

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“Of course you are, Warren. That’s why I want you for the job. If you do a good job—which I know you will—I’ll be really grateful when I get back. I mean really grateful, if you catch my drift.” I caught it. *** Knowing that most professional announcers create an on-the-air persona, I decided to adopt a sobriquet derived from the protagonist of a book I was then writing—an historical novel about a disfigured Peloponnesian cobbler who attempts to introduce the decimal point into the Roman numeral system. “Is this Xerxes?” asked my first caller. “It is indeed I,” I said. “What’s your problem?” “It’s my roommate. He’s a real slob. Leaves his dirty clothes all over the dorm room. So far, I haven’t had the nerve to tell him how much it bothers me. Do you think I should be honest with him and ask him to try to be a little neater?” I didn’t need to think this one over. “Of course not. That sort of verbal approach usually yields little. I find that most people simply refuse to entertain any negative ideas about themselves. Actions speak much louder than words. Go out and purchase several containers of Rit dye. Number 12 fuchsia would be an excellent choice. When your roommate is absent, gather up as many articles of his wardrobe as possible, take them to the laundry room and wash them in hot water and dye. It will be an object lesson your roommate will not soon forget.” There was a prolonged silence on the other end. I could tell he was impressed. “Are you sure, Mr. Xerxes? That seems pretty drastic.” “If you want lesser advice, go somewhere else.” Suddenly my ears were met with a dial tone. The caller was probably already on his way to the fabric store. This, I decided, was going to be easier than I thought. *** It was toward the end of the hour when I received her call. She identified herself simply as Molly. There was an undercurrent of desperation in her young voice, and I knew at once it was imperative that I dispense the best possible advice. “It’s my boyfriend,” she said. “I really, really love him, but lately he’s been pressuring me to go farther with him—physically, I mean—farther than I feel comfortable with. Do you think I should tell him how much I love him and ask him to wait until I’m ready?” I took a deep breath and thought hard. “Bengay, my dear. “What?” “The popular over-the-counter unguent. Apply it liberally, not neglecting intimate areas.” “But…but doesn’t that stink?” I was astounded at the woman’s obtuseness. “That is precisely the point.” “But…I don’t understand how that will help.” I wasn’t able to conceal a light laugh. “I’ve given you advice. Whether you take it or not is up to you. But it’s the future of your romance at stake, not mine.” “Well, if you really think…” “I do.”

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The next night Molly called back. “Things didn’t work out very well, Xerxes,” she said. “I used the Bengay like you said. My boyfriend said it really turned him on. It reminded him of when he played football in high school. I had to struggle to keep him from grabbing my blouse in the delicatessen. By the time he took me home, he was pretty mad. He said he thought I was a tease. I really don’t want to lose him, Mr. Xerxes. What should I do?” I scratched my chin, a gesture that was of course wasted on her. “If we aren’t able to dissuade him physically,” I said finally. “Then we must use psychology. Fortunately, there are fewer things in the universe more fragile than the male ego. I advise you to invite him to your dormitory for what you promise will be a memorable evening. Have the lights lowered and romantic music playing. One of the Barrys is preferable—Manilow or White, it makes little difference. After our subject arrives, invite him to undress in front of you. When he does, which he surely will, laugh uncontrollably at his anatomy. The laughter of a woman when confronted by a man’s most prized feature has the same effect as a fire extinguisher does to a match.” *** The following day I found a picture postcard in my letterbox. It was the image of the Statue of Liberty holding not a torch but a burning bra. On the reverse were these words in a delicate female hand: Dear Warren, I just know you’re doing an out of sight job on the show. I have every confidence in you. You are so groovy. Just remember to be yourself. Affectionately yours, Roxy. Be myself! Another astounding suggestion. Once again, I was filled with a rush of emotion that went far beyond admiration. I took the postcard, tied it up in lavender ribbon and placed in under my pillow. *** “Mr. Xerxes, this is Molly again. I did just what you told me to do.” “Wonderful, my dear. I hope the two of you now will be very happy.” “You don’t understand. I had him take off his pants. When I started to laugh, he did, too. He said he liked a woman who had a good sense of humor. Then he asked me to take off my clothes. I didn’t know what to do. He finally stormed out, telling me he couldn’t stand much more of my teasing. I’m so afraid of losing him. I think I should just give in. Maybe it would be all right after all.” A picture of Roxanne lying prone across my bed flashed through my mind, enhanced slightly by my colorful imagination. I was determined to solve this poor young woman’s problem. Drastic action, I realized, was called for. “My dear Molly. If you compromise your principles now, this man will never respect you. You must assert the rights to your personal boundaries. There is only one course left open. I recommend you purchase a small handgun, possibly an American Derringer stainless steel Remington standard Model 1. Keep it handy at all times. Tuck it into the garter of your stockings if you wear one. When your boyfriend makes an unwanted advance, produce the firearm and explain your position to him clearly and in words impossible to misinterpret. I assure you that he will apprehend your message.” “I don’t think I can do that, Xerxes,” she said after a significant pause. “It just doesn’t seem right to pull a gun on the man I love.” “Right?” I was amazed by her lack of courage. “Is it right that you have been put into this untenable situation? If I were you, this situation would have been rectified long ago. For goodness sake, woman, summon some fortitude and do your duty.” “I, I don’t know,” she stammered. “Well, I do,” I said firmly.

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“Who is this?” I inquired into the microphone the next evening. “Speak plainly. I can’t understand you.” “It’s Molly,” sobbed a weak voice. “Something awful has happened.” I felt a wave of impatience, but I held my emotions in check. After all, I was a public servant. “What is it now, my dear?” “I… don’t know how to tell you this, Mr. Xerxes. I bought a gun like you told me to. When my boyfriend put his arm around me and tried to unbutton my blouse, I…I took it out and was going to…to make my point, just like you said. But I had never used a gun before. I thought they had safety locks on them or something.” “Oh dear.” “I never felt so horrible in my life. I realized that I had shot the only man I had ever loved.” “Is he…how is he…?” I asked, fearing the worst. “I just grazed his foot,” she said, gasping. “He’s going to be fine. It’s me that’s gotten the worst of it. The dorm captain called the police when she heard the shot. They came and were going to charge me with assault with a deadly weapon, but the president of the university came down and bailed me out. He said he had no choice but to order my immediate expulsion from school. I’m packing my things and heading back to Iowa.” There was a brief interlude of tears and choking. “C-Can you help me?” This was truly an unforeseen development. I simply couldn’t fathom how my foolproof plan could have gone awry. “I confess I’m out of suggestions,” I said to her, “other than to remind you there is excellent train service out of Pittsburgh.” *** Saturday dawned cold and dreary. I was sick to my stomach. I had literally ruined someone’s life. Worse than that, I had let down Roxanne. She had entrusted the collective soul of the university to my care. I lay in dread of the confession I was obliged to make. The inevitable moment came. Roxanne came bounding into my room about eleven a.m. “Just came by to offer you my undying gratitude, Warren,” she beamed. “I don’t deserve it.” I lowered my eyes to the floor, a rather disturbing action, as I was not as fastidious as I am today. “I… I let you down, Roxanne.” “Let me down? Of course you didn’t.” “Oh, I did. You told me to be myself. I’m afraid that self was woefully inadequate to dispense personal advice. I was instrumental in having an innocent young woman expelled from the university.” She smiled with what I first took to be a smile of forgiveness and encouragement. I was wrong. “Ah, the case of Molly. You don’t understand, Warren. You did just what I knew you would. I’ve had a terrible crush on Molly’s boyfriend, Scabbers, for months. I just haven’t been able to figure out a way to get her out of the picture. I knew before I went away she wanted some advice about their relationship. I very kindly gave her a tip to call in the show after I arranged for somebody to take my place who was sure to fuck things up royally. That somebody was you.” I was appalled. The curtain fell from my eyes, and I realized that what I had taken for love was simply the ignorant infatuation of a naïve schoolboy. And whom I had taken for an angel was, in fact, a devil in a tie-dyed midi-blouse.

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“B-but what was all that about showing me your gratitude when you got back?” “Oh, yeah. I almost forgot.” She reached into her macramé handbag and fished out a small brown box tied with a bright red bow. “For you,” she said. “It’s a rock that somebody threw at a cop. Hit him square on the helmet. I managed to find it and save it. Bound to be an historic relic.” *** “It was about three years ago,” Warren says to the young woman driving the Avalon, “that I received an unexpected letter postmarked Des Moines. It was a thank you note from Molly. She had used the Internet to locate Sylvia from whom she obtained my real name. She wanted me to know that getting away from college and Scabbers was the best thing that ever happened to her. She eventually went to nursing school, met and married a handsome doctor, and by then had three nearly grown children, the oldest of which she had named Xerxes. The happy couple was planning to take an early retirement to a small Caribbean island they had purchased with their spare change. Roxanne, it seems, after a brief residence in the California State Penitentiary, became the host of an all-night neo-conservative radio program in San Jose.” “Oh, come on, Warren,” she says, flashing her sultry dark eyes at her companion. “You didn’t really get a girl thrown out of college by telling her to pull a gun on her boyfriend. I don’t believe that.” Warren smiles. “There’s my dry cleaner up ahead. I confess I forgot that I must make a brief stop at my bank. Unfortunately, it’s all the way back into town. I’m sure you won’t mind.”

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Title: “Heaven Hell Neon” / Artist: Joshua Petyt

... it beats the churches and the dogma...

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Stymie Magazine

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Mystic Golf Salves My Soul by G.C. Smith it beats the churches and the dogma it beats the rants of hell-fire magma it beats the priests and preachers all those who would be our moral teachers they simply are self righteous asses cause god is in the neat green grasses that make up for us our mystic links so praise be to golf, and 19th hole drinks there fiction and golf, oh sure, the twain they meet when we tell of wee little scores and wondrous feats

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Stymie Magazine

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Title: “Wasp� / Artist: Julian Smith

... dimpled golf ball streaks like a wasp...

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Stymie Magazine

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A Sunday Walk on the Links by G.C. Smith grooved golf club hit precisely sends my ball like a laser beam toward the green dimpled golf ball streaks like a wasp spin darling, pull back, drop decent shot like love something hoped for but not always realized putter strokes ball like a straight string toward the hole and a birdie for victory

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Title: “Aliens 1” / Artist: John Evans

... “You got it,” I replied, and watched them slink back onto their ship after making me swear never to tell anyone...

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Par 32: A Space Oddity by Lee Gruenfeld Aside from the first sentence, every word of this is absolutely true, I swear. It happened on the par-4 second hole at Indian Wells in Palm Springs, just north of the (out of bounds) Indian burial grounds separating the second and first holes. The cruelly undulating rough to the right of the fairway is the worst place to put your tee shot so I hit right into it. The good news is, I was playing alone, since it was not yet 6:15 AM. The early hour is a great way to beat the heat, and also spares me the profound humiliation of having to announce my scores to the rest of a foursome. But I digress… As I hunted around for my ball I almost fainted at the sight of two slightly blue, multi-armed bipeds clearly not of this star system, and I was too shocked to ask them to give up my ball which they were examining with an intensity so ferocious they barely noticed my arrival. Seeing that they were as startled as I when they finally noticed me, I relaxed a bit, and discovered that they were named Molitor and Surlyn, from the planet Zorp. Their mission was to explore strange new worlds and discover novel games, Zorp apparently being the most sports-happy place in the universe, or at least this galaxy. They wanted to know about golf, being near delirious to realize I was engaged in a sport the likes of which they had not encountered in over three hundred (Earth) years of travel. I was only too happy to tell them, I said, after informing them that I was one of the planet’s most erstwhile practitioners, an assertion only slightly (i.e., 23 strokes) hyperbolic. I explained first that the object was to put the ball — I pointed to the one Molitor was holding — in a hole with as few strokes as possible. Surlyn nodded with the impatience of the truly jaded: One who has personally witnessed over 400,000 varieties of sports does not suffer fools or trivia gladly. “Yes, yes, of course,” he snarled, “so you throw it in the air, and…?” “No, not exactly,” I replied, not wanting him to get too far ahead of my description. “You set it on the ground first.” “Ah, I see,” said Molitor. “You run up to it and strike it how?” I shook my head. “You don’t run up to it, you just— well, you just stand there.” Surlyn stared at me in disbelief. “You’re kidding. Nobody even throws it at you?” “No. You set it down and you hit it.” “How much time do you have?” “As much as you want.” Molitor and Surlyn stole covert glances at each other. “No clock?” Surlyn asked. “No. So then you strike the ball — “ “While it sits on the ground, okay,” interrupted Molitor. “Then?” “Hold it a second,” I said, growing uncomfortable. “Not exactly on the ground.” Before they could react I said, “For the first shot, you rest it on top of a small stick.” After a moment’s hesitation, Surlyn asked warily, “Why?” I wiped a bead of sweat from my upper lip. It gets hot early in the desert. “Uh, to make it easier to hit...?” It came out more lame than I had intended. They only stared at me. “After that, you hit it from the ground until you reach the hole.” “And you play from the ground from that point on?”

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“No,” I mumbled. “You put it back on the stick again for the next hole.” They pretended not to hear that. “How does your opponent detrimentally affect your play?” Molitor asked. I explained that he doesn’t. In fact, your opponent can be smoking a cigar or talking on his cell phone while you play, or could go to the clubhouse for a beer. “He can’t block your shot?” asked Molitor. “Nope.” “Nor the path of your ball after it is struck?” I was forced to admit that, not only could he not block your ball, he had to stand quietly to one side while you hit, completely out of your line of sight while you putted, and couldn’t even step on the grass that lay between your ball and the hole, said grass being cut to within a micrometer of the ground so as to minimize wayward deflection of the ball, and if his ball inadvertently blocked your path to the hole, he had to remove it while it was your turn, making sure his ball marker was well out of your line. It was at that point that I noticed the two of them starting to back away from me, which I assumed was in reaction to a foursome coming up from behind. I turned back towards the tee box to see that this was not the case. When I turned back, they had moved off at least ten feet and were smiling sheepishly and I decided it would not be prudent to tell them that if a ball came to rest within casual water or was buried in its own pitchmark or up against a man-made obstruction or if it caused your stance to be on the cart path or pretty flowers or a garden hose, you could move the ball without penalty. “You hit it with that striking implement?” Molitor asked politely, pointing to the 5-iron in my hand. “Actually, there are fourteen different striking implements,” I whispered ashamedly, hoping he wouldn’t hear me but failing to account for the alien’s acute sense of hearing. “Fourteen!” Surlyn exclaimed. “What on Zorp for?” “Depends,” I muttered disconsolately, and explained how you needed a huge bag just to hold all the different “striking implements” for tee shots, grass, rough, sand, long hits and short, lob shots, bumpand-runs… when I suddenly thought of something: “But you can only use one ball!” I cried in triumph. “Splendid!” Surlyn answered in delight, walking rapidly toward me, grasping desperately at this isolated restriction, then his face seemed to drop as he noticed four other balls nestled comfortably in a holder mounted on my cart. He halted about two feet away from me. “Of course,” I said weakly, “you can change the ball if you hurt it.” “Oh.” The look of hopeless dejection on his face was truly pathetic. He didn’t even see fit to comment on the apparent fact that a player has the option of driving a motorized vehicle around the playing field. Just to keep his record complete, I suppose, Molitor asked me how the game is scored. I told him that there was one point awarded each time the ball was struck, and the lowest score wins. He seemed to perk up slightly at this unusual, lowest-score-wins angle. “Care to take a guess at a typical score?” I asked slyly, poking a spot that would have been Molitor’s chest, had he had one. They conferred for a few moments in a strange tongue consisting of various clicks, pops and whistles that put me in mind of dolphins, all the while punching buttons on what looked like a cross between a pocket calculator and an egg-beater. Molitor looked up to ask how many holes were in a round, then they huddled again until Surlyn looked up and asked me about clubs. “Titanium,” I sighed. “Sometimes beryllium. Graphite composite shafts, perimeter weighted contact surfaces, U-shaped grooves, aerodynamically contoured sole plates, concave-backed epoxy foam inserts and embedded hosels, all custom constructed according to…”

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Surlyn held up a hand (or whatever), his pale blue skin taking on a distinctly greenish hue before I had even explained the matter of "woods" made out of metal, and returned to his discussion with Molitor. After another minute, they turned back to me and announced their guess of a typical score. “Perhaps thirty or thirty-one?” Surlyn ventured. I thought about that for a few seconds. “You got it,” I replied, and watched them slink back onto their ship after making me swear never to tell anyone they had ever set foot on this planet.

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Title: “Eggs of Patridge 1� / Artist: Kriss Szkurlatowski

... I never noticed how golf balls were like eggs before. I mean I played golf for 20 years, saw those white balls every weekend. Little did I know what was in store for me...

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Of Chickens and Other Such Things by Chris Perridas I never noticed how golf balls were like eggs before. I mean I played golf for 20 years, saw those white balls every weekend. Little did I know what was in store for me. I've whacked I don't know how many of them white balls and every now and then the sides split open spilling out those gutta-percha intestines. Strings. Like the balls of string a cat might play with if it were yarn, but it isn't. It's some kind of rubber. Rubber string. String theory, I suppose. I have no idea who makes those balls - some conglomerate, or some factory in China. Just don't know. However, all that curled up rubber getting whacked by kinetic energy, over and over and over, I suppose something had to give. I didn't know it would happen to me. Y'know, I'm glad it did, though. Mildred's been gone three years now. We used to sit around and talk about raising chickens. Golf and chicken raising that was the life we thought about. I got the notion of raising chickens watching a rerun of I Love Lucy. She liked the notion because we'd never had kids, and she liked the idea of fuzzy warm little animals. One time when we had a lot of trouble between us, a marriage therapist said it was "transference". I wanted to hit him with a golf club talking down to her that way. We patched up the marriage, and I read later that he went to jail for malpractice. Heard later, it was because he tried to rape a patient. Damn bastard. Anyway, back to the string theory, and hitting golf balls, and eggs being the mystery of the universe. Think about that old question, "The chicken or the egg? Which came first? Or neither? Or did they just spontaneously appear at the same time?" I know the answer now. One day, you're swinging the club and instead of the ball flying down the green, the golf ball stays in place, and I'm the one sailing through some dimensional portal. Passed Mildred. She said she'll wait for me after my adventure is done. I still miss her. Still love her. Then, splat. I land on a planet where all the people are chickens. They're not really chickens; they just look like big chickens. It's like Dick Van Dyke said about the planet Twilo, maybe there's planets with intelligent moss - or where Danny Thomas carries around walnuts in his pockets and breathes water. I didn't have that happen, but I did get me a planet with talking brainiac chickens. They're smart, too. Can't play golf worth feather plucking, but they do seem to like the idea of it. Watch me do it all the time, though it was tough trying to explain to them how to make one of those balls. They figured it out after a few trials and errors, and I had them make a club, and I began to show them the game. Everyone needs to play games, and I think it was Rod Serling that said one time that the more intelligent the species, the more they'd want to play games. These chicken-people tell me a lot, though I'm not sure I understand all of it. Too much math. What I gather is that there's a connecting force, and once in a while quantum mechanics goes kaflooey, and one of a kind things happen. They told me a story that happened a few thousand years ago.

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One of the chicken people was walking in a storm, and lightning of some kind hit her. Instead of fricassee, the chicken-person was hurled into another dimension. Luckily, it was inhabited with intelligent rocks - silicon life - who figured out how to send her back to tell about it. Well, I never got to own a chicken farm, or to play with Tiger Woods, but I do have a good time talking to the chickens. Their doctor - who isn't a quack - told me that I'll be seeing Mildred again real soon. A synthetic chicken heart really wouldn't work to replace my ticker, not that I'd want to delay meeting Mildred any longer anyway, so I'm counting my blessings and letting the days and hours of my life wind down. So, one last round of golf or two, a little sitting around the pub making small talk - or is that small clucks? Heh. And then, it's off on one final adventure. Golf's fun, but it won't be nothing like walking hand in hand with Mildred again.

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Contributor Notes Autumn 2008 Michelle Garren Flye lives and writes on the coast of North Carolina. For more information, see www.geocities.com/mgflye. Catherine J. Gardner lives in a small dusty room in England, surrounded by A4 boxes containing various unpublished manuscripts. Having completed the requisite one million bad words, she is now pimping her MG dark fantasy novels, about zombies, paper dolls and evil clowns, to several agents in the US. Her short fiction has most recently appeared in the anthologies Strange Worlds of Lunacy and Help, and online at Every Day Fiction and Allegory. She has work forthcoming in the Malpractice, Bloody October, WolfSongs and Northern Haunts anthologies, and in Postscripts magazine. You can visit her online at frightfest.blogspot.com. Lee Gruenfeld (aka Troon McAllister) is a best-selling author of both fiction -- The Foursome, Scratch and The Green amongst others -- as well as nonfiction including Becoming Holyfield and Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief. He can be found on the web at www.leegruenfeld.com. Roberta Isleib is a clinical psychologist and best-selling author whose novels have been nominated for both Anthony and Agatha awards. Her latest novel, Asking for Murder, was released in September 2008 by Berkley Prime Crime. Isleib can be found on the web at www.robertaisleib.com. Thomas McDade was born and raised in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He served two hitches in the U.S. Navy, graduated from Fairfield University and currently resides in Connecticut where he is married without children or pets. His poems have most recently appeared in The Ester Republic, Up the Staircase and Zisk: The Baseball Magazine for People Who Hate Baseball Magazines. He sometimes wonders how many holes he would last carrying doubles these days. Chris Perridas gathers inspiration for his fiction by traveling the back roads of the Ohio Valley. His stories - and more - have been found in print in Horror Library Anthology, Vol. 1, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, Dark Recesses Magazine, and online at Horror Mall, Down in the Cellar, Open Vein, and Horror Library.net. Chris is currently associate editor for Arcane Wisdom, a select press of antiquarian horror and fantasy. Recently, he's garnered notoriety for his daily blog on H. P. Lovecraft at www.chrisperridas.blogspot.com. Jonathan Scott owns an advertising studio in Pinehurst, NC, the so-called "Home of American Golf," a place where it's nearly impossible to keep out of range of a duffer's wild slice. Julie Ann Shapiro is the flash fiction editor of Conclave Journal, a freelance writer, novelist, short story author and Pushcart Prize Nominee. Her novel, Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries is available through Synergebooks.com. Marie Shield retired from her day job to become a full time fiction writer and currently has two novels in the final rewrite stage. Winner of writing awards from the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, Dionysians and Mindprints Literary Journal. Her stories have recently been published in the anthologies See You Next Tuesday: The Second Coming and Curiouser and Curiouser, as well as in Long Story Short, Houston Literary Review, West Side Story, Mindprints, MYTHOLOG, Timber Creek Review, Salome Magazine, Apollo's Lyre, Linnet's Wings and others. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband Michael. G.C. Smith is a southerner. He writes novels, short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. Sometimes he plays with dialect, either Cajun or Gullah-Geechee ways of speaking. Smith's work can be found in Gator Springs Gazette, F F Magazine, Iguanaland, Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Naked Humorists, The GLUT, Flask Fiction Magazine, N.O.L.A. Spleen, NFG Magazine, Cellar Door and The Beat among others. He has completed and is shopping a novel, White Lightning: Murder in the World of Stock Car Racing.

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Stymie Magazine -- Issue No 1 -- Autumn 2008  

Stymie Magazine: Golf Literature

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