Dents in the Yard Markers

By the time I heard Ginny and Elliot were dead, they had already been buried. I didn’t know where and I didn’t ask. Melanie and I kept doing the things people do. I got different jobs selling different computers that all did pretty much the same thing — communications stuff. The computers I sold were precursors to the whole Internet boom. If I had stuck with it I would have been at least a billionaire by now, but I didn’t stick with it.

Melanie kept working for the same insurance company. Wendy kept getting into more and more trouble, new trouble, different trouble. We got her out of as much of it as we could. I started playing golf. I sucked at golf, but that was what I liked about it. It was a challenge. I like a challenge. Every time I had a spare hour or so, I’d go to a driving range and hit golf balls or practice putting on the putting green. When I had time to play nine holes, I played nine holes; when I had time to play eighteen, I played eighteen.

I used to take Melanie and Wendy out to the driving range with me when they least expected it. They’d think we were going Serramonte, and I’d swing by the golf course over in Colma and hit a bucket of balls. The driving range was up against the west side of San Bruno Mountain — not far from the Chinese Cemetery where I took Norma Arce in my hot pink ’53 Ford convertible before I went out with Ginny.

There were black and white sheet metal signs marking off the distances at increasingly elevated points up the side of the mountain — yard markers, they’re called. 100. 150. 200. 250. Like that. When you hit one of the signs there was a loud crack and another dent showed up in the sheet metal. I liked denting the signs. I was a shitty golfer, but I was good at making dents in the yard markers.

I also liked the whole idea of hitting golf balls into the side of San Bruno Mountain. It felt like I was trying to knock the god damn mountain down. It’s hard to knock a mountain down by hitting golf balls into it. I barely budged the son of a bitch. I rarely got the balls past the 200-yard marker, but that didn’t stop me from trying to knock the god damn mountain down. It was probably therapeutic, like playing golf every day for two-and-a-half years when I first came up to Ashland had probably been a little therapeutic, like writing this book has no doubt been therapeutic.