You Can’t Always Have Winners Everyday

Before my job at Fisher Street, I hadn’t been working since January. Giant seizure, low-grade psychosis and I thought everyone in the entire world could read my thoughts, though they only let on with cryptic speech and body language and a synchronicity so fine-tuned and broad I felt the jaws of the rhythms of the earth lock up. And so patterns and windows and portals and birds and time and confinement and the inauguration of Pennywise the Clown and stuff. Let’s just leave it there for now.

So as they fine-tuned my medication, I did not work. I could not, cannot drive until October, and so my activities shadowed that of an old person’s until just recently. I would sit on the couch, on my computer, looking for jobs, watching TV and pretending to read. I would go eat with Sara and Clark at one of the two places in town they like. Walking Sharky was the highlight of my day. And sometimes I would lace up my cleats and strap on my hat, and Clark and I would golf.

I had to quit Fisher Street this week. My hours were all wonky and I was not sleeping, which proves to be most detrimental to my health. It is in fact the worst thing, the most telling factor, the girl-you-better-watch-out-there-is-an-iceberg-up-ahead thing that I listen to intently now. I did not want to quit, I was having so much fun, but Alice had already cornered all the daylight hours and I, well yes, I did want to quit.

Gulp.

Now that I am not working again, I think that waking at 9am is early. I went to bed last night at 12:30pm rather than an hour later, so this morning I spring right out of bed at 9. I have seen Simone Biles, I have studied her technique and I know what’s up. Though I have no vault, my handspring down off my bed into a triple Tsukahara is the best it’s been in 7 years. I rejoice. I go downstairs for my morning coffee, and Clark walks out of his room. It is unusual that Clark is around at this hour, as it is customary for him to already be playing golf with Dr. Noe, or else to be somewhere otherwise doing something for the greater good of all the needy and deserving children affected by literacy in this country. “What time are we leaving?,” I ask, as we talked about playing last night, and I think he will be excited to hear I have woken up and come downstairs and that I am the one driving this idea from the home base tee. I will save you the ping ponging of how he said at first he couldn’t go because Sara needed him to run some errands and then I came back with “okay,” but then he went back in his room and quickly emerged having convinced Sara to please run the errands for him so he could play golf with his one and only daughter. “Okay,” I say again. And we get ready and head to the golf course.

Clark Jackson, 65, a foul-mouthed die-hard golfer, packed his car with all of our clubs and bags and hats and shoes before I met him at the Crystal Coast Country Club in Pine Knoll Shores, NC. (I was borrowing equipment.) The CCCC is not Clark’s club, his is over the bridge on the mainland in Morehead, but his club is undergoing some renovations that have them closed for 3 months straight, so Clark is adrift with vouchers to play different clubs in the area for a discounted price.

Apparently Clark was at the Crystal Coast to play a few mornings prior to our round and the guys in the pro shop gave him the runaround, causing Clark to lash out at both them and at the guy who furnishes the golf carts. When we arrived at the course, Clark set out on a pilgrimage to right the wrongs of yesterday. He hit up the golf cart guy with an, “I’m sorry I was such a pain in the ass the other day,” to which the golf cart guy replied, “We’re all there sometimes.” And all was well. Then Clark made his way to the clubhouse, and though I did not go in to hear what he said, I imagine it went something like this: Clark: “I am a horse’s ass.” Pro: “You are sort of an ass. What were you thinking?” Clark: “I wanted to play the course at 4am. What the hell kind of problem is that?” Pro: “We don’t open till 6.” Clark: “That is the most ridiculous bull I have ever heard in my life. I don’t believe it. I’ll never play here again.” Pro: “Okay.” Clark: “Thanks, I’d like to pay for 2 rounds please.”

Due to the number of groups lined up in front of us, it took us 35 minutes to get to the 2nd hole. “Darn it*,” said Clark. “Let’s just pack it on up and leave.” I offered up my closed fist for a fist bump. “But this is such a good time for us to bond,” I said. He laughed his golf clap laugh.

The Crystal Coast Country Club does offer some spectacular vistas to peruse while on a wait — rolling bentgrass hills, views of the Bogue Sound, cattails. Their greens are well tended-to, though during the fall and winter months the greens’ green color is spray-painted on. Seven different holes can be seen from the 2nd hole tee on the front 9, while the back 9 is more private, tucked away between live oaks and loblolly pines.

The cicadas were out, and the breeze swooped in and licked the sweat off our glowing bodies, cooling us down. There were birds chirping their geographical locations in hopes they didn’t get hit by a fly ball. And the drone of the lawnmower unearthed the scent of fresh grass.

The white noise floating in from the highway hidden behind the trees that lined holes 14–17 and the constant spew of Clark’s explicatives made it seem sometimes like we were in the big city. The ponds were nice, too.

The ponds were nice until they ate my balls, and they did. I walked over to one pond and it was murky, teeming with algae. The algae was wooly and spindly, blue-green and aged. Perhaps it was the kind of algae that might drive a car one day.

Clark wandered off to inspect the conditions of his ball’s position. I leaned over to drive my ball into the distance and I couldn’t lean down lower than the first click of a mime’s routine. I had hurt my back. It felt like a blade saw had severed a nerve in there somewhere, so I tried to work it out. I relaxed my muscles with a practice swing and I used that momentum to hit the ball. I killed it, and with that, I killed my back.

Clark gave me license to quit on the 7th, because when I stood I looked like a switchblade that wouldn’t close all the way. I agreed it was for the best, and we joined up with another 2-some. I drove Clark around until it was time to quit.

When we got back to the club, the golf cart guy came right up to our car to help us load in and to take the cart back to the shed. Clark thanked the man and said, “See ya next time,” like nothing ever happened. “Thanks, y’all,” the golf cart guy said, and Clark threw up a wave.

“Get out your balls,” Clark said when he was gone. “I think we’re in the clear.”

*Some of these words have been changed to protect the ears of the innocent.