Third Time’s a Charm

Morning dew layered a glistening blanket over the fairway leading to the greens where golf cart tracks weaved a path the way tires leave traces in fresh fallen snow. It was an early morning the first day of June; a perfect date on the calendar to pull up memories from summers past. A calling welled in me to join in the fun with the orange colored Bermuda shorts and lime shades of golf shirts to run the course and shoot the shit with guys like me that had run their course in another life before sun and fun in Florida ate the time left. Reality set in and reminded me of the fact that moving dirt and digging holes is an easier task with a shovel instead of a golf club. The idea of male companionship is overrated. My simple mind concerning sports in general seemed to be a strange world. A group of sweaty guys in a locker room speaking of scores and points had very little appeal to me when sipping sixty year old scotch with trophy brides in the clubhouse made more sense. Why talk about boobs with naked guys in a locker room when you could immerse yourself in the vicinity of such abundance? As much common sense as that statement is, there is a story about a time when the effort to master the sticks overshadows veracity of such observations.

In the summer of the year that would be the sunset of one century, the heat in Asheville, North Carolina set the stage for dry fairways with grass that crunched. “I think we have a new one,” my father said to my senior brother as we gathered that early morning to do eighteen in a foursome that included a local friend who was well versed in the language of bogies and eagles. Mike had retired from a very successful career on Wall Street where business trips with investors involved foursomes who wrangled courses on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, followed with dining heavy hitters for deals in the Belvedere of the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. For Mike, a round of golf with me was an act of sympathy to endure my relationship with my father and brother as they visited.

They were warned that this outing was only my third attempt at Golf, and being kind they offered how third time’s a charm and warmed up on the putting green coaxing me to do the same. My brother and Mike looked serious and compared notes on their short game. Third time’s a charm. Who were they kidding? Some say that old saying goes back over centuries when lists of three things were considered a kind of good luck charm, even so far as to compare the sentence to the Holy Trinity in Christianity. Anyone who has ever tried golf for the first time may reference God in outbursts that have nothing to do with anything Holy.

Over the course of the month of August in Asheville, the days grow shorter by about an hour a day, nevertheless, the day about to unfold would be known to our foursome as the longest day of golf on record. Asheville’s normal cloud cover peeled back for the event, just as the forecasters predict year in and out that the closer to August 28th, the more the sun beats down and chases humidity away from the valleys and mountain ridges that form the bowl of seven mountains fencing in the city. This was a perfect day for golf; until we began.

The tee toss at the first tee gave my brother first whack; a welcome loss to me and I breathed some relief being saved starting first. My brother is appropriately referred to as my big brother a full five inches taller with his large football frame, he was a true athlete and could do what many say is impossible and knock a ball three hundred yards on a good day. Three of us watched as he positioned carefully to address hid ball leaning slightly to the right. We could feel eyes on us from the clubhouse. Our foursome had not been the first that day to leave tracks in the dew, so early tee timers now gathered for coffee to size up other golfer’s skills. My brother took his time. Those large shoulder pad muscles drew back and his head just barely twisted to lengthen the back swing. My inner voice shouted like a cheerleader for him to just knock the absolute hell out of the tiny ball just the way he flattened lineman after linemen. He had the killer expression etched in his forehead, the downward swing began, then, bang the shot rang out like a rifle echoing along the trough of a fairway girded by forty five degree slopes on either side. The ball took off. It seems my brother had turned his head just a bit too much to power the drive and the rocketed ball propelled about fifty feet to hit the trunk of some big old oak tree that had managed to dodge golfer’s balls over and over. Not this time. The power in the launch drove the ball back in a ricochet as if the tree threw it back and said to try again as the small orb rolled to stop between the size thirteen two tone brown and white golf shoes my brother wore that morning.

Laughter behind the glass of the clubhouse rang out way too loud for any window to muffle.

Mike, the closest to pro on our team, was next. His ball made it to the right up the slope and rolled back down to be swallowed by the trench these mountain types designed as a fairway. My dad was next. Now, to be fair, he only started golf when he had already turned seventy six. His three score and ten made no difference as he broke a hundred within several months. He reared back and slugged out a promising drive down the middle and said, “That’s how it’s done.”

Then, it was my turn. Nothing to report there. The ball got off the tee.

We were anxious to put some distance between our team and the onlookers in the clubhouse expecting more of a show. We did not disappoint.

In our hurry, my brother floored the peddle on the golf cart, only to send our bags flying off the back. My job to fasten the straps failed.

There was more laugher from the faceless mob behind the glass.

They say the days grow shorter in August just as days grow shorter for old men. We obliterated that old saying as over the next seven and a half hours, the mountains beat us over and over for the longest day of golf maybe in history. Mike decided our friendship would require some other bonding that did not include golf. My brother and father looked forward to returning to the flat fairways around Richmond, and I said, “Screw that third time’s a charm crap.”

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My Blue Heaven

Two came together to form my world. Some magical birth derived from the comingling of red and green parents to procreate a brilliant light blue universe. The blue filled my vision left to right, down to up, and that is all there is and all that ever was. My universe. At times shades and values would change in waves. Other times a dark void of blue from some deeper abandoned abyss would float by, but mostly my world existed in crystal clear sparkling shallows. Comfort came to me in every waking moment from the spotless and free peace warmed from some distant light source radiating that beautiful blue spectrum of wavelengths. The blanket of hues and shades delighted me beyond any and all sensations that could ever come from the touch of another body. For me, the light, the warmth, the blue exceeded any satisfaction of any variety of tastes and smells. My light was all I needed. I never knew darkness. My closed eyes brought no black veil down to shut out my world. Why would I ever want to shut out such beauty? But, you may ask, don’t you sleep? Sleeping does not compute in my world. There are times when I hear things, and times when there is only silence. If silence is sleep, then you can say yes I do sleep. How would I know?

Those rare moments of muffled voices bubble up from the abyss out of view are just distractions. I’d choose not to hear them. Voices in some garbled language from unseen spirits not visible in my blue universe require some kind of belief that has escaped my reasoning for some time. I can’t tell you how much time, as to me that concept does nothing to serve me.

One day a dark chasm began to swell and squeeze by blue heaven aside. The shadow grew, and with it faint words grew and with each decibel of loudness more and more meaning began to fill my mind. Stifled voices began to shape thoughts that had never occurred to me. “How sad,” drew my attention. Why would such a foreign comment be made in a world as beautiful as this is? How sad? What could that mean? Another voice commented about my expression changing, “Look. His eyebrows frowned.”

 

Some new strange obscure reality began an assault into my translucent sphere. Why would such a pit of darkness begin to well in me? These spirits, these creatures from the crevasse dared to pull me into some new world that made no sense as words formed sentences that I, for the first time, could begin to understand. They were here to impose their world, their view, their sensitivities casting a shadow over my perfect pristine world.

Then, they left. The hole of dark blue black they came from shrank and my blue orb filled my world again. My beautiful blue heaven once gain warmed me in that comfortable blanket of peace, tranquil, thoughtless, wordless, meaningless but full and ripe with a richer meaning. Words those demos began to utter faded from thought; washed away in soft surf releasing crystals of sand back to the beach it was meant to be; the way of divine design. All was blue and light.

Yet, there was a problem. Words. Two words, to be exact just two syllables that played over and over, “How sad.” Never before in my world had that opine ever manifested; and then one thought became obsessive. Sad about what? Did some other perspective have some superiority to my beautiful blue heaven? Therein, it was decided these voices would forever be known as something from the others. The others. What did they know that had been kept secret from me all these years? The bigger question came to me to wonder why after all this time did vague mumblings begin to take shape in some foreign concept that disrupted the beauty of my world. The others must have agreed on some doctrine that what they had was better than what pleased me. For the first time, there was a need in me to learn more from the others.

Just then that void of darkness once again crept into view. This time the voices muffled in the distance seemed to be mingled with various voices sending sound vibrations up from the pit growing closer and closer. There those words again, “How sad.”

My mind ached for an answer to reveal what that meant. Sad about what? The voices grew clearer as the darkness swallowed my blue paradise. “How old is he now?”

Who did they mean and what does the term old mean anyway? My mind raced for some understanding about old, age, years, was there some measure of time that had been held back behind the light blue veil? There must be something the others know; or more dangerous some thing they believe that had escaped my knowing.

Voice after voice offered more to question as one said, “I pray for the strength for you to get through this.” Another, “God never hands out more than you can handle.”

Wait. Who or what is God? Did the others have some king to rule over them? Had this king never cared enough of me to set forth some rules in my blue heaven? All these new challenges grew larger in the black gorge now filling my view with no prism to reflect the beautiful blue rays that gave me life. Then, one of the others said, “Today he turns forty.”

Forty what? I wondered. Another said, “Forty years. Unbelievable. The thought of him lying there locked in a world of darkness never knowing anything of life.”

The others said my life had been nothing but that of a vegetable for forty years.

They must know more than me. The others said they knew some God; a ruler who knew better. Reality set in and there was darkness. My beautiful dazzling blue heaven was not really my world of plenty. The others said that I had been cursed to living a life without. Then, there was a small spark. Something of a pin sized light. It sparked again, and reproduced itself swelling out the darkness and jumbling the words of the others. Their words, thoughts, ideas, beliefs faded with the darkness that loses space with a new dawn. The light. The refraction of light in the drops of mist that create sunshine and rainbows arched in a newer shade of bright blue.

My world was returning.

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Abigail

Abigail entered the restaurant on Sunset to meet the reporter from some Hollywood weekly recommended by Abigail’s publicist. Abigail was wallpaper compared to the crowd that met at this ambiguous cafe everyday to lunch without the bother of tourists gawking at them. She could be anyone. Not a very vivid imagination could easily see her torso curled up in fuzzy flannel pajamas, pasty complexion with no color, curled hair tied back out of her face as she munched on a bowl of Raisin Bran. Another time, she could walk in that cafe painted and accessorized carrying a very high maintenance profile. Someplace else, she could be the mousy librarian hiding behind thick black eyeglass frames. Abigail was a chameleon. That day, she projected more of her true self in a business suit, moderate makeup, and the only jewelry was her wedding band.

“Hello, I’m Abigail,” she smiled and extended a warm soft hand.

“Everyone knows who you are,” he said.

The bearded ferret of a man from the 1990’s held on to her hand until they sat in the booth her back to the wall to view the parade of plastic people strolling by on Sunset. “It is a pleasure to meet the queen of erotica,” he said.

“What a stupid title,” she said.

“No offense, but your book is the number one erotic thriller novel.”

“Soon to be a movie,” she added. “But, let me correct you. First, I agree anything erotic can be thrilling, but, I write romance. That’s the genre.”

“Okay,” he nods, “however, what about those very descriptive scenes?”

“You mean the ones about moist body parts, the touch of soft skin, the electricity of entangled nerves,” she teased.

The comment did not fit the straight laced woman next door sitting across from the man. He swallowed, “Yeah that kind of sums it up.”

“And, you and your friends would label me a poet of pornographia?”

“You mean pornographic?”

“No, pornographia. Ancient Greek. Some refer to pornographos as the writing of harlots,” she paused. “I’m no harlot and neither are my characters.”

“Greek, huh?”

“There’s a line of study about ancient languages. You should check it out sometime. Names can mean a lot when you dig deeper.”

“Look, not to get off on the wrong foot, I did not mean any insult.”

“Really. Erotica? Based on your description of my work,” she said. “I assume you think John Updike was a pornographer?”

“Of course not.”

“Have you read some of his long intense meticulous scenes with beautifully articulated descriptions of bodies and the acts his characters performed? That’s why I hate labels, genres, and comfortable little slots to mold, shape and identify someone.”

He had no retort to give.

Her smile did not quiver as she sat with feline superiority knowing she was the stronger sex in the conflict of words and meaning, “Well,” she said with un-flinched smile, “What do you want to ask?”

“What’s your inspiration for your characters?”

“You want to know if I have done some of the things my characters have done, is that it?”

He paused caught in the moment, “How much is imagination and real experience, yes.”

Abby punches back, “How much of anything is real? Maybe all there is comes down to illusion.”

“That sounds new age.”

“There’s nothing new about it. Ideas are around all of us all the time. I can’t tell you how many times people have commented that they had the idea about my books first. They all say they thought of that. Well, the difference is I did something with the idea and wrote a book. They did nothing with the idea. The truth is ideas come to all of us because the ideas were there all the time. The secret is to tap into those thoughts that are already there; ready to be taken.”

“If the ideas are already there, how does that ring true with imagination?”

“Imagination leads us to the answers. We don’t create the ideas. We just find them. I would say the process is more about finding the key parts of an idea and putting them together.”

“That can’t be right.”

“Have you interviewed anyone about quantum physics and quantum entanglement?”

His blank stare was answer enough.

She seemed to delight in taking him down, “Einstein called it ‘spooky action at a distance.”

Abby waited for a reaction and thought for a moment she had delivered a concept way over the reporter’s head. However, he returned the volley, “I have not had the opportunity to interview anyone about quantum physics; until now. The subject is interesting and I have watched several documentaries on the topic and found a lot of holes in the theories. Coming from a skeptic’s point of view, I enjoy approaching topics the way an atheist scrutinizes religion.”

“Not a believer, huh?”

“Religion or a spooky universe? Both,” he smiled off the concepts.

“Well,” Abby began to explain, “The scientists that dig into quantum physics have a theory that particles have no definite state. Each atom is just a probability of one thing or another until they can be measured. Then, these particles become something. That’s why I say all the ideas floating around in the ether of space become real in the minds of those that are creative enough to put the answers together.”

“Now you’re mentioning the fake argument about some mysterious ether.”

“Nothing fake about it. We could get deep in the weeds about gravity, energy, plasma and all the stuff scientists rant on about, but to keep it simple, there is a connection in the matter that fills the universe and floats all the planets and solar systems. That’s the probability, we just have no way to measure it; yet. That’s where some religious ideas come from.”

“Here we go,” he said.

“Can you prove that all there ever was and ever will be does not exist in some spiritual realm?”

“Can you prove that it does?”

“There are too many near death experiences and psychic interactions to just deny that these things happen all the time.”

“Unreal,” he said. “The writer of dirty books has all the answers about the universe, religion and spirits. What’s next; some thoughts on praying? Is that just a spooky universe too?”

Abby lost her stoic smile. The guy had just pushed some button that stabbed her, “You enjoy that, don’t you?” she said.

“What?”

His lips posed a superior curve in the smile that revealed more than he could write in some five thousand word essay for the opinion page of his useless rag. Abby prided herself as a real writer paid handsomely compared to the smart ass jerk relishing in his own stew of imaginary glory. She took a deep breath and waited for him to raise an eyebrow coaxing an answer, the said, “You like to come at a story with your mind already made up. You have a pre-conceived idea and the information you find just fills in the blanks. You probably came here today to get some angle to get a good headline for click bait. You called me the queen of erotica. Now you find that there is a great deal more to all of us. Here’s a good line for you, ‘The queen of erotica has more between the ears than between the sheets.”

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