Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Missing Man

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   I stopped swinging my driver back and forth and looked at Uncle Billy sitting the golf cart. "That's nice of you to say, Uncle."
   Billy looked at the coffee cup in his hand. "Well, I know how fond Eb was of Brad."
   "Did you know Brad?" I asked, leaning gently on the golf club.
   "I met him once ... at Mary's ... he seemed like a nice guy." Billy took a sip of coffee.
   "He was ... he worked with troubled adolescents and he was very good with them ..."
   Billy nodded. "That's what Mary said ... guess she worked with him?"
   "Yes ... it's going to be tough for her at work."
   Billy shrugged. "No doubt ... it's not easy losing a family member."
   "And friend," I added.
   "I wonder when Eb will back?" Billy said. I wondered how long it would be before he broke the sentimental mood.
   I started to swing the club again, trying to loosen up. "I don't know ... he's pretty shook up."
   Billy put his coffee in the cup holder and slid out of the seat so he could stand and get a view of a golf cart making it's way along the path from the clubhouse. "Hey, that must be Hank ... look's like he is bringing a friend."
   I looked up to see the cart crest the little hill behind the first tee. There were two people in it, but I couldn't make out their features.
   As the cart came closer, Billy shook his head. "Damn ... it's Dottie."
   The cart drew up behind ours and Hank jumped out, beaming. "I told you I'd bring a replacement for Eb."
   Dottie Hamilton remained seated in the cart. She was wearing a pink Izod golf shirt and little white tam, tilted jauntily to the side of head. She was smiling broadly.
   "Hi, Dottie," I said.
   "Hi, Chris ... hi, Bill."
   Billy nodded. "I didn't know we were going to have a mixed foursome."
   Dottie's smile faded.
   "Dottie is a hell of a golfer," said Hank. "She'll have to give us strokes."
   Billy went to his bag on the rear of cart to pull out his driver. "I don't think that will be necessary."
   "Dottie is my partner, right?" I asked.
   "Sure," said Hank. "You don't mind dragging Chris along with you, do you Dottie?"
   "Not at all," said Dottie, "We'll be looking forward to taking your money."
   Billy laughed. "Obviously, you haven't seen Wonder Boy golf."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


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   "That's your phone," said Cheryl.
   "Your phone is ringing," she said.
   The ring tone finally reached my consciousness. It was Uncle Billy. "Oh ... jeez ... what the heck does he want?"
   I rose up on an elbow and glanced at the clock. It read four-fifty AM. I reached out to the night stand and fumbled around until I found the phone.
   "What's up, Uncle?" I said, barely concealing my irritation.
   "I need you to come and get me."
   I sat up and swung my feet over the edge of the bed. "Why? What's the matter?"
   Cheryl sat up. "Is he okay?"
   "The cable is out over here," said Billy.
   I waved to Cheryl to lay back down. "What?"
   "The cable is out ... I can't watch the TV."
   "Uncle, it's four o'clock on the morning ... why are you even up?"
   "It's almost five ... the Open has been on for an hour."
   "What are you talking about?"
   "The British Open ... it's been on ESPN since four."
   "So what?"
   "So, I need you to come and get me so I can watch it
at your house."
   "Have you called the cable company?"
   "Of course I have."
   "They thanked me for reporting the outage ... when can you get here?"
   "I'm not coming to get you at five in the morning so you can watch the British Open ... just go back to bed and your cable will probably be back on when you get up."
   "I'm not going back to bed ... I've been up since three ... I've had four cups of coffee already."
   "What were you doing up at three?"
   "Waiting for the Open to start ... waddaya think?"
   "Do you have to watch every minute of coverage?"
   "Of course I do ... I wait for this all year."
   "I know you do ... but you're going to have miss some of it this year ... I'm not coming to get you so you can watch golf over here."
   "Who gave you that high-def TV for Christmas last year?"
   "Come on, Uncle ... that's not fair ..."
   "I'm just saying ... " he paused. "Oh, never mind, the cable is back on."
   "The TV is back on ... I don't need you."
   "Oh, for crying out loud ..."
   "Don't forget ... today is the day I go to Manny's."
   "I'll see you this afternoon." I snapped the phone shut.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mystery Guest

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   I set my tray on the table and slid into the booth across from Clara.
   "So, tell me ... what is the latest on Eb's uncle Brad?" she asked.
   I lifted the lid off my coffee so it would cool more quickly. "Not much change ... he seems to be a little more aware ... his eyes are following noises and movements ... but he is still not showing any signs of recognition."
   Clara frowned. "That's terrible ... Mary must be beside herself."
   "She is ... it's a tough thing to go through." I picked up my cup and blew gently on the surface of the coffee.
   "And how is Eb taking it?" she asked.
   I took a sip of coffee before answering. "He's pretty upset ... he was pretty close with Brad."
   Clara shook her head gently. "That's what I heard."
   I took another sip, then asked, "Speaking of Eb, has Uncle Billy mentioned anything about his and Becky's wedding to you?"
   Now Clara paused to take a sip of her coffee. "No, he hasn't."
   "Hmmmm ...." I unwrapped my breakfast sandwich.
   "Why would you expect him to?" Clara asked.
   "Oh ... no reason ... I was just wondering." I took a bite of my sandwich.
   Clara looked at me suspiciously. "You're wondering who he is going to ask to go with him, aren't you?"
   I chewed slowly and swallowed. "Oh ... no ... I just thought he might have mentioned it to you, that's all."
   "Look, Chris, I don't care if he asks me or Alma Beeler or anyone else ... it makes no difference to me ... I just hope Eb and Becky have a lovely wedding."
   I flushed slightly at the mention of Alma Beeler. "Honestly, Clara, I don't even know if Billy is going to the wedding ... I just thought that maybe he might have said something to you about it."
   Clara took a sip of her coffee and glanced out the window. "Well, speaking of the devil ..."
   I followed her gaze and saw Uncle Billy crossing the street on his way to the restaurant. "He said he might stop by when I told him I'd be here for breakfast."
   She watched him walk across the parking lot. "Did he know I was going to be here?"
   I flushed again. "Ahh ... I don't think I mentioned it ... but I'm sure he'll be glad to see you."
   "I wonder."
   Billy open the door and looked around the restaurant. I waved so he could see me. He nodded and walked to our table.  He seemed slightly surprised to see Clara.
  "Oh, hi," he said. "I didn't know you were going to be here."
  Clara hadn't moved, so I slid over so Billy could sit down.
  "I was just finishing my coffee," she said. "I've got some errands to run ... I'll let you two eat in peace."
   Billy slid in next to me. "Don't go on my account ... I've got nothing to talk to Wonder Boy about that you can't hear."
  "Hey, Uncle, have you heard any news about Eb and Becky's wedding plans?" I asked.
  "I'm going to go get some coffee." Billy slid back out of the booth a stood up. "Don't let me keep you from your errands, Clara."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rocket's Red Glare

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   "This potato salad is delicious, Cheryl," said Mary.
   "Why, thank you," said Cheryl, "it's my mother's recipe."
   "I'd like to get it," said Becky.
   "Any more beer?" asked Hank.
   I pointed to a cooler sitting next the deck railing. "In there."
   Hank walked over and pulled out a bottle. "Anyone else?"
   Uncle Billy raised his hand. "Right here."
   Hank pulled out a second bottle. "Anyone else?" Not getting any response, he closed the cooler and came back to the table. He set a bottle in front of Billy.
   "Thanks," said Billy.
   "Say, where's Eb?" asked Dottie.
   Mary put down her fork. "Oh, he and Becky are still at the hospital with Brad ... they're coming here  as soon as visiting hours are over."
   "How is Brad doing?" I asked.
face saddened. "Well, he's out of any immediate danger with the heart issue ... and he is awake and looking around ... but he is still not responding to any requests, like squeezing my hand or blinking his eyes."
   "You must be concerned," said Cheryl.
   Mary nodded. "I am ... we just don't know what to expect."
   Billy took a swig from his beer and set it on the table. "Well, we're all pulling for him."
   Mary smiled. "Why thank you, Bill."
   Billy continued. "Yeah, Eb's been next to worthless since his uncle has been ill."
   Hank shook his head. "Jeez, Bill ... what's the matter with you?"
   Billy shrugged. "What? I'm just saying ..."
   An early firework soared above the tree line beyond the deck, bursting in brilliant colors and followed by a loud bang.
   A startled Dottie looked up. "Wow, that was loud."
   Cheryl laughed. "That's just the beginning ... when it gets darker you won't believe the firework displays in this neighborhood."
   A few lessor reports could be heard echoing in the distance.
   "Yep," said Billy. "I come here on the Fourth every year ... it's a lot less congested than going to a park to see a municipal display ... and it's louder and lasts and whole lot longer."
   Another rocket bloomed over a house down the street.
   Hank raised his beer. "Well, here's to the Fourth of July."
   Mary wiped her eyes with her napkin. "Too bad Brad couldn't be here ... he loves fireworks."

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Man Down

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   Uncle Billy looked at his watch. "Where the heck is Eb? We tee off in ten minutes."
   Hank stopped swinging his club and rested it on the ground. "Didn't you hear, Bill ... Eb's not coming ... he's got a family crisis."
   "What?" said Billy.
   "It's his Uncle Brad ... he had a heart attack on Sunday," said Hank.
   "Uncle Brad?"
   I set my coffee on top of the cart. "It's Mary's brother, Brad Marshall."
   Uncle Billy looked at me. "You knew about this?"
   I nodded. "Yeah ... I did."
   "Why didn't you tell me?"
   "Honestly, I thought you knew, Uncle."
   Uncle Billy put his hands on his hips. "Nobody tells me squat ... what happened?"
   "Evidently, Brad was on his way home from work and add the attack ... his car went into a ditch ... at a low rate of speed ... and some samaritan saw what was happening and called the police," said Hank.
   Billy leaned a hand on the cart and shook his head. "Holy smoke ... what happened then?"
   "Well, the police couldn't get a pulse, so they called the EMS ... after some effort, they managed to resuscitate him and get him to the hospital."
   "Jeez, the poor guy ... how is he doing?"
   Hank slipped his driver into the bag on the back of his cart. "Not good ... he is still in critical care ... no one knows what is going to happen."
   "Man, that is tough ... how is Mary holding up?"
   "She's pretty upset ... as you might imagine," said Hank.
   "Yeah ... but I think Eb is taking it hard too," I added. "He was pretty close to his Uncle."
   Billy looked at me. "Kinda like you'd be if something happened to me, right?"
   I smiled. "Of course, Uncle."
   "Well that's just terrible," said Billy.
   "Yes, it is," I said. "It's a real tragedy."
   Hank patted Billy on the back. "Did you know Brad?"
   "No ... I mean I'm really worried for Mary and Eb ... but ..."
   "But what, Uncle?"
   "But I was looking forward to taking your's and Eb's money today ... now we're just a threesome."
   Hank frowned, "Get in the cart, Bill."