By: David P. Cantrell
This story is my response to a Picture Prompt Challenge. The image was contributed by Coleby Wilt.
Jason had secretly walked the course a dozen times to find the perfect spot, but it had eluded him so far. He had been forced to reconnoiter on moonlit nights, when security was minimal. He told himself tonight was the night and then climbed the fence near the thirteenth green, just after moonrise. It had to be, because the tournament started the next day.
Six hours later, Jason stood on the eighteenth tee cursing the clouds that had blinded him for much of the night. Suddenly the clouds cleared and a moonbeam revealed an ancient oak that everybody called Ike’s Oak. God had lifted the curse—he’d found his perch.
* * *
Tommy Johnson, a tall Swede from Minnesota, had had a rocky career in the PGA. He’d never won a major, and, at 48, was running out of time. This would be his last chance unless he finished in the top ten, otherwise he’d lose his tour card again and that would be his end. He didn’t have the fight to recover it a second time. The first time nearly destroyed him.
The spiral started at 39 when his wife of twenty years slept with his coach and mentor. Drink and self-pity destroyed his golf career and life. His nineteen year old daughter, Alicia, saved him, although he had never told her. Her faith in him, and her consistent love provided the handholds he needed to climb out of the abyss.
Tommy couldn’t believe it. He walked to the first tee on Sunday as a real contender, only three strokes behind the leader. It had never happened before, and it would never happen again. Strangely, he wasn’t nervous or even excited. He was pleased, more than that, he was joyful. Sundays were notorious for destroying golfer’s dreams, but his wouldn’t be ruined—Alicia was in the gallery and would be cheering for him.
* * *
The time had finally come for Jason McConnell. In a matter of hours the world would know his name, and his power—he’d never be called worthless again by his self-righteous father, the Reverend McConnell. The Reverend had taught Jason to take a beating like a man and kill like a predator in Georgia’s backwoods. He had learned the lessons well and built a blind that would keep him hidden, fifty feet above ground. It gave him a perfect view of the eighteenth tee and green. He settled in and slept until the sun and the voices of TV crews woke him at 6:00 a.m. He ate jerky, drank some water and waited for the final round to begin.
* * *
“Bubba Thompson, we’re witnessing an historic moment this afternoon,” Roger Casper whispered to the microphone, although Tommy Johnson stood more than three hundred yards away on the eighteenth tee.
“I agree Roger. Tommy just needs a par to break the course record of 63 and to tie the tournament record of 270. Tommy’s troubled past brings drama to this moment without doubt, but he also faces a tough hole. It’s four hundred yards with a severe dog-leg to the left 310 yards from the tee. It’s only 90 yards to the green’s center from the dogleg’s sweat-spot, but if his tee shot is long he’ll be trapped by a thick layer of leaves under Ike’s Oak, as we’ve seen several times this week. A thicket of trees guard the left edge of the fairway and a long water hazard, plus a steep slope, protects the green from any attempt to cut-the-corner.”
“I saw you cut-the-corner once Bubba. Will he try it?”
“He’s leading by two shots. It would be suicide to attempt it, Roger. It’s 328 yards from the tee to the green’s center and the ball has to have enough back-spin to stay on the green. A small rise behind the green might help, but if the ball goes over the crest, it’s out of bounds. By the way, you didn’t see me cut the corner Roger. My ball hit the slope and went scuba diving.”
* * *
Jason had been watching the match on his cell phone using earbuds to hide the sound. He could care less about the rich man’s game, but found himself drawn to the drama as the underdog, Tommy, made birdie after birdie while the rest of the field fell apart. God had given him the ideal sacrificial lamb. It was a long shot, but he would pull it off. He loaded the high-powered round and turned off the safety. He’d fire after Tommy swung his club.
* * *
Tommy surveyed the world from his perch on the eighteenth tee. He heard a roar from the gallery around the green and assumed someone had made a good putt, but the green was empty. They were roaring for him. He shivered. He knew what he should do and moved to get his club.
* * *
“I’m told he took his four-wood. Why would he do that, Bubba?”
“I can’t believe it Roger. He’s going to cut the corner. This is amazing. I can’t believe I’m witnessing it.”
* * *
Tommy held the club and studied his target, and thought about his daughter. This is for you Alicia. Your love for a lost cause brought me to this improbable moment. This is the last hole I’ll ever play as a pro, whether I make it or not doesn’t matter. I love you, and thank you for saving me. He made the shot.
* * *
Jason couldn’t help it. He had to know what had happen to the ball. The excited announcer described its path. “It has the loft to carry the water Bubba, but can it stay on the green? Yes it can. This is phenomenal, but will it go out of bounds. Good heavens it stopped just short of the crest and is rolling to the green. What a golf shot. Wait, it’s still rolling. Good God it went in, a hole in one.” Jason was stunned, but he recovered quickly. He raised his rifle, aimed it carefully, and took the shot.
David P. Cantrell is an author and a member of the Edgewise Words Inn staff.