A book’s got to have a villain, right? Here’s a short piece featuring the villain of the book I’m writing now: Hijab. It’s in the first-draft stage, nearing 30,000 words, so lots more writing and even more revising lie ahead.
He drew back the three-wood and right away it felt awkward and so he abandoned the swing, brought the head back down to the ball. Breathe. Legs, hips, arms, a pendulum. Smooth pendulum.
The Coho breathed in slowly, exhaled, and at the end of the exhale he swung, felt his body and arms pivot back as one unit, shift forward, weight and momentum along a single line, and when the head met the ball and the pendulum pushed forward in its arc and he heard and felt the crisp smack he knew he’d hit the sweet spot, didn’t have to look to know the ball sailed straight and true. His eyes caught the ball at its apex, and for a moment he tensed. He didn’t want an extraordinary drive, just a normal one, which for him was very good. The ball dropped sharply down at the edge of the green, bounced, dribbled and stopped 10 feet to the right of the pin. He suppressed an outward show while inwardly a big smile swelled, reverberated down to his feet.
“Well, hell, you sonuvabitch,” proclaimed Morris. “Guess I’ll have to put it in the hole.”
But Morris didn’t trust himself, used a two-wood, drove his ball 190 yards, beyond the green, bounding off the tip of the little rise, over the sand trap and disappearing off the cliff into the ocean below the 16th hole of the Port Royal Golf Course in Southampton, Bermuda.
He’d rather Morris had placed his ball on the green, the score being tied with two holes to go. The pressure would have been sweet. Now he’d already won, provided he avoided blunders. And he would not blunder.
At the cart his phone was blinking. He looked at the screen, saw it came from Oswaldo, a simple text:
Call me now.
“Business,” he said to Morris. “A minute maximum. Why don’t you try again? I’ll give you a mulligan.”
“I’ll take a drop when we get down there. But while you’re talking I’ll take another poke at it just for the hell of it. Won’t count it. We’ve got two more holes, plus you’re going to choke on that putt. I can feel it.”
“Choke? When have you seen me choke?”
“Just now, looking into my crystal ball.”
“You’re quite the contortionist, choking on your own balls.”
“Try this for contortion: fuck yourself, Coho.”
The Coho moved a few steps beyond the cart, took a drag from his Pall Mall red, sent the call to Oswaldo.
“I’m in a meeting,” he said.
“Seattle branch manager just checked into a San Diego hotel.”
“You’re sure it’s him?”
“I’m watching the bell hops take his bags.”
He looked past the cart, watched Morris slice his second drive, but at least the ball settled on dry land. The 16th had psyched another golfer.
“So why are you calling me now?” he asked Oswaldo.
“Just want you to know.”
“I told you to call when his heart stops beating. Do not bother me until then.”
“Yeah, sure. I’ll get back to you.”
In the cart they drove to the green, where he sank his putt. Morris chipped onto the green, two-putted, gift-wrapped him a three-stroke lead. When they returned to the cart, Morris pitched a clip with ten $100 bills onto the Coho’s seat, shook his head, pressed his lips together.
“There’s still two holes,” said the Coho.
“You got it. Hell, you know this course better than I do. You ever in Boston, look me up. I’ll bring you to my club.”
“You’re on, but hold your money for now.” He tossed the clip back onto Morris’s seat.
On the 19th hole, just as the waiter brought their drinks and he paid with one of Morris’s hundred dollar bills, Oswaldo called. The man was efficient.