Monkey's Got It

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

An idyllic round of Caribbean golf is interrupted by a monkey, leading to other complications for the foursome.

 

 

MONKEY’S GOT IT

 

 

 

“Nicklaus turned pro in 1961, when he was twenty-one. For the next twenty-five years, until the U.S. Open in 1986, he never lost a ball in a major championship.”

 

With that statement, Mel bangs his coffee mug, decorated with a silhouette of a golfer finishing a perfect swing, on a circular mahogany table whose scratches and nicks have mellowed into design details. His head is a glossy sheen of sweat despite the explosive air-conditioning in the clubhouse. “You can look it up,” he went on.

 

My advocacy skills, finely honed from a failed year of law school, kick in. “What’s the big deal? He’s the best golfer ever.”

 

Meanwhile, Greg’s eyes, which know no lukewarm, are double exclamation points. “I don’t care if he’s Jesus Christ. You can’t play in as many championships as he did, swing as hard as he did, and not hit one in the middle of nowhere.”

 

Mel glances around the dining room, empty except for the four of us and a bleach-blonde waitress in a banana yellow uniform chatting languidly with a fawning busboy. “It’s different with the pros. They’ve got course officials and hundreds of fans helping them search for the ball.”

 

I examine my mind’s card catalogue of golf learning. “Although you’ve only got five minutes to find it.”

 

Murray’s facial creases morph into blossoming petals. “Five minutes is a lifetime. Hell, I got my wife pregnant twice in five minutes.”

 

“Five minutes each time, or combined?”

 

“Combined. Including time wasted taking the condom off.”

 

Greg, who is not amused, turns to me. “How about this? I’ll bet you can’t play eighteen holes today without losing a ball.”

 

“I’m not Jack Nicklaus. And we’ve never played this course. Hell, I’ve never been in this country before.”

 

Greg pouts and wipes fake tears. “Okay, I’ll give you ten-to-one odds.”

 

“Ten bucks isn’t a lot of money.”

 

“Two hundred bucks is.”

 

My philosophy is that either you’re embracing life completely or you’re in full retreat. Or maybe it’s that two hundred bucks will just about reimburse me for the cost of this hoity-toity course that Murray dragged us to. I nod begrudgingly, but then cast upon Greg my best evil eye. “And I get five minutes each time to search?”

 

Murray throws his hands up in protest. “We’ll get thrown off the course for slow play.”

 

 “Okay,” growls Greg. “You get five minutes. But within reason. If you hit it in the middle of the lake, you don’t get five minutes to swim out and dive for it.”

 

“Deal.”

 

“And I’m gonna mark the ball in my handwriting, so you can’t cheat.”

 

“I’m offended.”

 

“You should be.” Greg summons the waitress with a pretend scrawl on an imaginary pad, then reaches into his pocket to pull out a ball marked by a slightly scuffed “Marsh Hill Golf Club” logo and a drawing of a long-necked bird standing amid reeds. Marsh Hill is our home course, where we tee off every Sunday as the sun emerges. After a furious scribble, Greg rolls the ball into my waiting palm for examination. Garishly displayed on it is a crude and anatomically correct Mickey Mouse figure.

 

“Greg, your talents know no bounds.”

 

“When we finish the round, I expect to see either Mickey’s dick or twenty bucks, preferably...”

 

Our repartee is interrupted by the clack of the waitress’s heels on the marble floor. Wearing a “Maria” nametag, she hovers over Greg’s shoulder. “Sí, señor.” Her toned, suntanned arms are speckled with luminous freckles.

 

Maria appears to be about forty, although dog years caused by dealing with snarky golfers may have prematurely aged her. Greg flashes an enticing smile designed to bridge distant galaxies. The music of rapture fills the air. “El cheque, por favor.”

 

“You’re so fluent,” Mel says in admiration.

 

Maria tears a guest check off the top of her pad and hands it to Greg, who grasps her fingers as he takes it. She responds with a shy giggle that affirms they are of the same animal species. As Maria walks away, Greg basks in a morphine glow reserved for men in their fifties for whom female attention happens with the frequency of a Halley’s Comet sighting. “I only know two phrases in Spanish,” he admits. “That, and ‘dónde está el baño.’ I’m looking for only one more.”

 

“What?”

 

 

“A good pickup line.”

 

 

“A few Andrew Jacksons will do just fine.”

 

*

The columns of lush grass ahead of me gleam as if on fire. Squinting into the heart of a midday sun fringed by windblown clouds, I spot a scallop-shaped bunker that guards an undulating green. Only yards beyond the putting surface is a turquoise bay over which gulls dip. Flanking us on the right is a limestone rock shimmering with rainbow colors.

 

Carlos the caddy informs us, in a solemn voice meant to convey a religious experience, that this hole, the twelfth, is the signature one. Seconds of contemplative reflection follow, during which Murray whips out his phone and takes several pictures that are sure to be washed out.

 

Annoyed by the disrespect to this temple of worship, Carlos announces in a challenging tone, “One-sixty-five yards to the midpoint of the green. But the hole plays like it’s one-forty because of the sharp drop in elevation. And the pin placement is up front.” I have come to accept the bitter fact that our caddy speaks English better than I do. At least golf English. Maybe it’s because he grew up in Queens.

 

I tee off first, courtesy of having bogeyed the prior hole, a dogleg par four with a wickedly fast putting surface. Even with our generous gimme policy, none of my amigos could hole out before invoking the double-par-max mercy rule. As I take the first of several Ben Hogan-like practice swings, Carlos cautions, “If you have to miss the green, miss right.” Shading my eyes, I look to the right of the green and make out a mango tree with an umbrella-shaped canopy that would eat up a golf ball. Carlos notices my puzzlement. “Señor, there’s water on the left. You can’t see it until you get up close.”

 

Greg smacks my shoulder. He is pleased and displeased, like when you first enter bathwater that’s too hot. We are two holes up on Mel and Murray. But I have not lost Mickey. Not even close.

 

Accompanied by the orgasmic sound of my nine-iron hitting on the sweet spot, the ball leaves the tee at a perfect angle. Its flight to the heavens and back is a parabolic arch that traces the outline of the entrance to a cathedral, honoring the sacred ground we tread upon. As Mickey begins his gentle fade toward the center of the green, Greg shouts, “You da man!”

 

The ball’s precise landing spot is hidden by sunshine, yet Carlos insists, “You’re not more than ten feet from the hole.”

 

Greg hooks his ball well left. He quickly turns to Carlos. “Is it wet?”

 

The first lesson they teach in caddy school is focus on the rose, not the thorns. “Could have gotten a good bounce on a rock, señor.”

 

Mel and Murray each take Carlos’s advice a bit too much to heart, sending their balls to the right of the tree into rough that could hide an elephant.

 

The four of us trudge down the fairway, our legs already aching from walking a course that appears to have no level ground. Carlos trails us in an electric cart that holds our bags. Mel and Murray veer right, while Greg ambles left toward the water. Carlos hands me my putter and then swerves to follow Greg. Nearing the green, I am alone with glorious thoughts of a short birdie putt dancing in my head.

 

And then I spot the monkey. A handsome fellow with golden-green fur set off against pale hands and feet. Only about two feet long, his tail, whose tip appears to have been dipped in blonde hair coloring, is longer than his body. His amber eyes, suspended in a face fringed by creamy white hair, meet mine. I glimpse into his soul, which I realize is evil, because in my peripheral vision, I notice his right hand slowly opening. In its palm is Mickey.

 

“Hey,” I shout, “drop the ball.”

 

The little bastard appears not to understand. He might not have been born in Queens. I shout again, while continuing to stare him down. Unintimidated, he flashes a wicked grin and, I swear, sticks out at me an engorged penis. I trot toward him. Bad move. He dashes left and, in a flash, is lost in the rough.

 

“Wait!” I scream, but he is gone. The shrine of the golf gods has turned into a catacomb. I am forsaken, until Carlos drives up in the cart, with Greg sitting next to him, a stogie twirling in his hand.

 

“Señor, everything okay?”

 

“No, everything is not okay.” I sweep my arm across the green. “Do you see my ball anywhere?”

 

“Maybe it’s in the cup?”

 

“Fuck yeah!” shouts Greg as he jumps off the cart. “Did you look in the cup?”

 

A ball comes flying and we each duck. It hits the putting surface and accelerates, trundling toward the water. Murray emerges from the jungle, trailed by Mel. “Sorry, I had to take a wild swing to get the ball out of the rough.”

 

“Doesn’t matter,” announces Greg. “We got this hole.”

 

“No,” I respond, “we don’t got this hole. My ball was on the green, but then a monkey came and took it.”

 

I am met with looks that range from bewilderment to contempt. Every expression except compassion. Finally, Carlos offers a rose petal.

 

“Señor, your ball probably hit the green a little too hard and rolled into the fringe. I’ll look for it.”

 

“I saw the fucking green primate with my own eyes.”

 

Mel says, “That’s the most creative excuse for a lost ball I ever heard.”

 

“Am I a liar? Tell me the last time I lied to you guys.”

 

Greg shakes his head, struggling to accept that destiny has quietly slipped him a mickey. “And I didn’t look hard for my ball ‘cause I was sure yours was on the green.”

 

“Señor…” Carlos says to me.

 

“Stop with the señors! My name is Jeff.”

 

“Jefe, there are no monkeys on this course. At least I’ve never seen one.”

 

Greg sticks his hand out and wiggles his fingers. “Twenty bucks, Jefe.”

 

*

 

The candy-cane lighthouse on the right exudes the feel of a miniature golf course. Dunes and marsh hug the elevated punch bowl seventeenth green. The air is fragrant but sticky.

 

Mel’s smirk spreads across his face like a rash. “This is only for the match.”

 

Murray corrects him. “Actually, it’s for them to tie the match with one to play.”

 

“Nine feet is not a gimme?” I plead. But their hearts have grown hard. Greg smiles in encouragement. “Pretend there’s a windmill above the cup.”

 

I run through my routine. Extend the arms. Draw in my elbows. Tilt forward. Knees flexed. Putter head dead square with the ball. Then I back off.

 

“The sun sets in four hours, Jeff,” Murray observes helpfully.

 

I return to my expert form, take a deep breath, and make a solid putt, taking into account its slight uphill path. The ball slithers toward the cup. It’s on line. Rolling magically. But, on the cusp of ovulation, Mickey’s replacement teeters but does not fall.

 

“Does your husband play?” Mel snickers.

 

Murray and Mel high-five each other before handing their putters to Carlos and starting toward the eighteenth tee. Carlos replaces the pin and then revs up the golf cart. But Greg stands motionless before reaching into his back pocket for his scorecard, which he methodically tears into little pieces.

 

“Sorry, pal.”

 

Greg starts sobbing. Very unlike him.

 

“Greg, it’s just a friendly match.”

 

“My life sucks.”

 

I glance back to see the foursome behind us waiting impatiently, their vigorous practice swings suggesting they’re ready to pretend the green is empty. I want to scream out, “You’re in a place of stunning beauty. Relax. Take it in.” Instead, I place my arm around Greg’s shoulder and nudge him forward. “Let’s get off the green and talk.”

 

“I have nothing. Karen threw me out. My kids hate me.”

 

The afternoon has soured, like old fruit. “They don’t hate you.”

 

“Josh refuses to reply to my texts. He let my calls go to voice mail. Melissa is better, but she barely speaks when she does answer my calls.”

 

“Señors, we must keep moving,” Carlos yells.

 

I make a command decision. “Carlos, we’re done. Please take our bags to the clubhouse.”

 

Greg and I saunter along the fringe of the last fairway, cooled by a fickle breeze, until we hear a swoosh and then the sound of titanium hitting ball. I flinch, anticipating a yell of “fore” that doesn’t come. Greg, a battle-hard veteran, ignores the threat of incoming fire.

 

 “The last time I spoke with Josh, he said I’m a lousy person. But he won’t tell me why.”

 

“I’m taking a wild guess, amigo, but might it be the fling with that woman in your office with the cute butt?”

 

“Goddamn Karen had to tell the kids. Bad enough that she reamed my ass for months.”

 

“She was hurt. Your kids are hurting. What are you doing to make that right?”

 

“I’m there for them. But what can I do when nobody tells me what’s going on in their lives?”

 

Our path turns uphill, and we are greeted by ascending rows of shapely magenta lilies. To our left is Mel, standing in the middle of the fairway and fawning at his well-struck ball.

 

“You, Mel, Murray, you guys have it good,” Greg grouses. “And to think I thought I was hot shit compared to you all when we first met.”

 

“Don’t play the comparison game. It only leads to misery. You know that Mel has Parkinson’s?”

 

“What!”

 

“He told me last week. And if you look closely, you can see that he drags his left leg slightly when he walks. Mel may only have a couple of years before he can’t play golf anymore. And God knows what else he’ll have to give up. So, stop feeling sorry for yourself.”

 

The clubhouse looms. “Greg, your problems are serious, I admit. But fixable.”

 

“Really. Is getting a new job at my age fixable?”

 

My turn to utter, “What?”

 

“Yep. Two weeks ago. Shit-canned because of automated software.”

 

“Why’d you come on this trip then?”

 

“I didn’t want to disappoint you guys.”

 

A ball whizzes over our heads and slams into a tree. I glance back to spot Mel flashing four fingers at us. I hold up my middle one in response.

 

“Take Mel,” Greg continues, unperturbed, “When he lost his job at the bank, he was smart enough to retrain. Now he does that anti-money-laundering stuff that all the banks need.”

 

“What’s wrong with insurance underwriting? Didn’t you just get some certification?”

 

“A chimpanzee could have done that. It’s all for the best anyway. The pay sucked. The work sucked. I reviewed insurance applications all day, just to be constantly second-guessed. You write the policy and then get yelled at because there are excessive claims. You don’t write the policy and get yelled at because of lost business.”

 

“Can’t you learn to write the software used for insurance underwriting?”

 

“You think I’m Bill Gates? Just shut up already. You’re a worse nag than Karen. What do you know, anyway? You’ve got it all. You slide gently through the world.”

 

How irritating, this cesspool of delusions that we all have. Sustained by the barest morsels of reality. “No one has it all.”

 

“I can’t even spell technology.”

 

I fall back on the one arena that never fails to revitalize the mood. “Look at the bright side. That waitress has the hots for you.”

 

“You think so?”

 

“Positive.”

 

Greg’s shoulders sag. “She’s probably taken.”

 

“Didn’t see any ring on her finger. My guess is that she’s got an ex who dumped her or who’s in prison. I see you wooing her. Becoming her greatest passion. Buying a condo on the beach and drinking piña coladas with her every sunset after an afternoon of lovemaking.”

 

Greg is intrigued. “Should I ask her out?”

 

I hand him my credit card. “Here’s what you do. First, buy a round for everyone at the bar. In celebration of your most recent incredibly successful business deal. And give her a huge tip.”

 

Tears well in Greg’s eyes. “Love you, man.”

 

“Love you back.”

 

*

 

We are camped out at the bar, chatting with Carlos. Greg, sans his wedding ring, is on his third rum and coke. His ice cubes rattle like castanets. My credit limit is fast approaching.

 

“Sí, señor,” Carlos advises Greg, “many Americans buy property down here. I bet half the villas along the golf course are owned by Yankis.”

 

“I was considering a place on the water. But a golf villa better suits my lifestyle,” Greg says loudly.

 

When I checked into the nearby hotel, I made the mistake of accepting a calendar and coffee mug from a Miss Caribbean candidate at a nearby desk. My “gracias” had barely been uttered before a homely woman in a dress the size of Texas implanted herself between me and the elevator. Twenty minutes later, I was an expert on golf course properties and the myriad ways in which to finance their purchase. Knowledgeable enough to know that Greg cannot afford even the cheapest one.

Maria is being flirted with by a bodybuilding type who was ungrateful enough to accept Greg’s free drinks offer. Nodding toward Maria, Greg whispers to Carlos, “Is she married?”

 

“No, señor,” says Carlos solemnly. “Maria’s husband, he was a cook here. He died. Cancer, I think. She has a daughter.”

 

“So sad,” Greg says.

 

“He was a lot older.”

 

Carlos and I make eye contact. Moments later, a silent signal from him brings Maria’s approach. Her face is stained in a rich olive glow, with braided tawny hair, drawn through a brass ring, flowing behind her.

 

“What should I say to her?” Greg whispers to me.

 

“Dónde está el baño?”

 

As Maria arrives, Carlos slips away. Aside from straightening his collar, Greg is frozen, only able to gaze at the goddess assembled from all his longings. Maria takes my extended hand with thin, cool fingers that are soft like ivory.

 

“Hola, mi nombre es Jeff. Mi amigo es Greg.”

 

“Hola. And I speak English. Fifteen years serving Americans here.”

 

How many gringos had hit on her? She’d seen it all. What chance did Greg have? “Where are you guys from?” Maria continues.

 

“Nueva Jersey,” Greg pipes up. “But we are looking for second homes here.”

 

I shift gears. “We have a problem, Maria, and could benefit from your knowledge.”

 

Maria tilts her head, displaying the trace of a smirk. “I’m at your service.” Maria has a vision of where this encounter is headed, one likely far more accurate than ours.

 

“Well,” I stammer, “it’s like this. Greg and I were playing golf with two other guys.”

 

“Bad hombres,” Greg interjects. Maria nods sympathetically. She has lived her life in a world of bad hombres.

 

“It was a very important hole to win, and I hit my shot beautifully.” I trace the flight of my ball with my hand, and Maria’s eyes courteously follow.

 

Greg interrupts. “I hit a good shot also. Just too hard. I always swing hard.”

 

Maria giggles. “I like men who swing hard.”

 

Greg’s jaw slackens, as I continue. “So, I’m walking up to the green, absolutely certain that my golf ball is in the middle of it. But what do I see when I get near? No ball. Just a little green monkey.”

 

“Who took your ball.”

 

“Exactly. How did you know that?”

 

“Others have told me the same story.”

 

“So, you believe me?”

 

“Of course. My husband started here as a caddy. He saw monkeys many times.”

 

“Then why,” Greg pleads, “why did our caddie insist that there weren’t any monkeys?”

 

Maria shrugs. “Carlos doesn’t like to think that anything can… how do you say it… blem his priceless course.”

 

“You mean blemish.”

 

“Sí.”


 

The mention of her husband saddens Maria, who sails on a ship battling currents of pain. “It was nice chatting with you.”

 

“Wait,” Greg blurts out. “I have a question also.”

 

Maria peers across the smoke-filled floor. The customers at the tables she’s waiting on appear content, and she relaxes.

 

“Please. Go ahead.”

 

“Why is a such a beautiful, intelligent, and sensitive woman still single?”

 

Maria’s stare at Greg is unintelligible, but not the chemical lather of her body and mind filling him with a unique aroma. “Because, as you Americans like to say, I’m still waiting for that one special guy.”

 

Greg’s eyes snap wide open as he pats the stool next to him. “Then let me buy you a drink.”

 

“Gracias, but I’m not allowed to sit with paying customers.”

 

I grip Greg’s shoulder as he resigns himself to yet another twist of bad fate. But Maria, before leaving us, slips into Greg’s hand a card that reads “The Blue Mango,” followed by a local address. She winks and mouths, “Nine tonight.”

 

*

 

I leave the bar alone, not able to pry Greg from his perch where he can contemplate his bird-of-paradise as she works. On the drive to our hotel, I am overcome with guilt, which leads to an epiphany. Back in my room, I look up “Karen” in my contacts, exhale deeply, and punch in her phone number. She picks up just before the automated message taker would have kicked in.

 

“Hello.”

 

“Karen?”

 

A pause, during which it strikes me that I don’t know exactly what I want to say to her. Before she can hang up, I blurt out, “It’s Jeff.”

 

More silence. “I’m calling from…”

 

“I know where you guys are.” She adds listlessly, “Is something wrong?”

 

“No, not really.”

 

“You going to make me guess why you called? I’ve got lots going on.” In the background, a TV blares. Sounds like “Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

 

“I’m worried about Greg.”

 

“You mean because he lost his job? I’ve been telling him for years to upgrade his skills.”

 

“It’s not that. Well, it’s partly that. But it’s mostly about… you and the kids.”

 

“He should have thought about that before he put his dick where it didn’t belong.”

 

We swim in waves of remembrance and forgetfulness. “Karen, if you don’t care about Greg anymore, then I’ll hang up.”

 

In her silence, I hear the weight of longing for a priceless, inexpressible past. And, perhaps, an unwillingness to confront an ending. Finally, “What do you want?” Her voice is plaintive, but not weak. She knows that Greg confides in me. That I am an unindicted co-conspirator.

 

“Greg needs you. And I think that if he and you can make things right, everything else will fall into place for him.”

 

“Things went wrong over a period of years. Trust was broken. That can’t be righted overnight.”

 

“When we come back, will you at least talk to him? Let him try to make it up to you?”

 

“I never shut him out. I feel like he threw me away.”

 

“Karen, if I may say something that’s not my place to, I think that Greg loves you deeply and that… you’ll never find that kind of love in anyone else. Not at the age we all are.”

 

I hear sobbing. I’ve hurt her, and I’ll carry that burden for a long time. “You know what I want, Jeff? I want the man that I married twenty years ago. You think Greg can be that man again?”

 

“Yes, I do. And better.”

 

“We’ll see, won’t we. I’ll tell you one thing. If he has a friend as good as you are, that says something about Greg. I’ve got to go.”

 

“Thank you, Karen.”

 

“Don’t thank me yet.”

 

*

 

The Blue Mango is situated on a curve of beach next to a pier that stretches to the horizon. A welcome sign announces its signature drink, thoughtfully named the “Painkiller.” As I enter, the spicy smell of native-grown marijuana overpowers the incense candles. Karaoke is in full force. A heavy-set woman croons, in staccato style, “Killing Me Softly with His Song,” while customers in varying stages of inebriety lumber on the dance floor.

 

I stride out the back entrance and spot Greg and Maria under a palm tree, in an area lit more by the moon than the restaurant’s lights. The only outdoor patrons not in bathing suits, their silhouettes are emblazoned by a roaring fire pit. Parked inches apart, their breaths intertwine. Their table, unsteadily perched on the sand, is laden with candles, drinks, and a large plate of oysters, mussels, and fried chicken.

 

Maria appears amused, her laughter eddying through the humid air. Greg is mesmerized as he listens to her nightingale’s song. I startle them as I pull up a chair. Greg glares at me with the expression of a young adult whose parents showed up unexpectedly at his honeymoon hotel.

 

“Jeff, what gives?”

 

I point to their half-empty plastic drink glasses. “Are those Painkillers?”

“We all have pain, don’t we?” Greg responds rather soberly. He waves wildly for the waitress, initiating a frowning reprimand from Maria for breaking etiquette on how to summon help. She wears bright red lipstick that now is slightly smeared. Despite Greg’s franticness, the waitress spots only Maria, who calls out, “Alvita, tres más.”

 

Greg decides he has sized up my motivation for disrupting his tête-à-tête. “María, maybe you have a friend who can join us?

 

            I waggle my hand.  “No, that’s not why I’m here.” 

 
            “Why are you here, man?”
            
            “I don’t want you to make a mistake.” 
            
            “Mistake? I haven’t bought any property yet.”

 
            Maria is a much quicker study. Her demeanor changes from angel to demon. She flashes Greg a “him-or-me” frown. 

 

“I just got off the phone with Karen.”

 

            “Who’s Karen?” Maria demands.

 
            “His wife.”
            
            “We’re separated,” Greg quickly adds. 

 

“I’m not stupid enough to think you were single,” Maria says, emphasizing each word. “But I don’t need it thrown in my face.” She rises swiftly, in a practiced motion that suggests this is a familiar circumstance. Greg, in his best imitation of Stan Laurel, almost falls over lifting himself out of his chair. He reaches for her, but already she is lost in the ashy darkness, her perfumy, wildflower presence replaced by my poison ivy. The circle of life for each of them will not end on this island.


 
            Greg considers me with the look of a prizefighter who has his battered opponent on the ropes. But then he slouches down in his chair and mutters, “Nice that Karen talks to you.” 

 
            “It’s all my fault. I took the easy way out.”

 
            “Huh?”

 
            “I shouldn’t have encouraged you to be stupid. To start a new chapter when the old one, the one that defines you, isn’t over. Sometimes it takes separation to realize that.”

 
            Greg downs his Painkiller in one swig. “Thank you, Sigmund Freud. Did it occur to you that tomorrow morning might have been a better time to tell me this?”

 
            “I wouldn’t be here if I thought that. And, if you thought what I’m saying is bullshit, you’d be chasing Maria down. Instead, we’re going to sit here and Painkiller ourselves into oblivion.” 

 
*     

 

The red flame of dawn lights the way as I race a borrowed cart toward the twelfth green, passing puzzled gardeners and maintenance men. Charging down the last fairway, I stray too close to a sprinkler and receive a cold shower that is not entirely unwelcome. The outline of the bay emerges, a body of water seemingly capable of flowing to the ends of the earth.

 

Parking on the fairway fringe, I trudge to the edge of the green, serenaded by the melodies of mockingbirds perched on high branches. In my knapsack are plantains, one of which I toss toward the middle of the green. After a minute’s wait, it’s followed by another. The pages of time turn slowly and, out of desperation, I begin to childishly mimic what I guess might be the mating call of a green monkey.

 

I hear the monkey before I see him cautiously traipsing toward me from the mango tree. As he reaches the green, he contemplates me with a bared-teeth display. Feeling unwelcome, I reach into the knapsack for my final weapon, a ripe mango, and roll it toward him. He relaxes and then emits a shriek of laughter that is frighteningly human. I move forward gingerly, until he screeches in monkey lingo for me to stop.

 

My new friend breaks the standoff by raising his right hand and slowly opening his fist, revealing Mickey. His toss is perfect, landing the ball at my feet. He gathers the plantains and mango, and we nod to each other. Two wise warriors who have traded battle for barter. Second later, like Shoeless Joe disappearing into that cornfield, he is gone.

 

Laden with fruit delicacies, I return the next dawn. And the following one. But our fleeting moments together had reached their ending, to be transformed into a tale told to grandchildren snuggled under colorful quilts on a quiet, rainy night. A story that will achieve legend.
 

 


Submitted: April 18, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Jeff Ingber. All rights reserved.

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