Sasquatch The Squirrel

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Tales From Dirt Mountain, Part 1. Everything in these stories really happened to me, except for the parts I made up. You'll figure it out.

Submitted: January 23, 2015

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Submitted: January 23, 2015

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Money was tight at the Wlodarski household, there weren’t any plumber’s sons playing golf at Pin Oaks Country Club.  But teenage Serge had just developed a golf addiction and daddy had more charm and gumption than money.  So he gave me a lecture about acting like a grownup when I’m around grownups, and we got in the van and drove to Dirt Mountain.

Dirt Mountain was the opposite of Pin Oaks.  There was lots of dirt, and plenty of mountain.  That wasn’t the real name of the course but even George called it that, and it was his course.  There was a sign on the first tee that said, “Local Rule:  When in the fairway, move your ball to some grass, no closer to the hole, if there is any.” 

Daddy had done some plumbing work in the pro shop that spring, and he had a deal for George.  First he laid out how I was working hard to get my handicap low enough to get a golf scholarship.  That was true.  Then he talked about how hard I was studying at school, I was going to get a math scholarship if golf didn’t work out.  Not so true but I didn’t say anything.

Then he points out that, while I am skinny as a rail, I can follow instructions.  He’s seen me use a rake and a shovel before.  Perhaps if George had some work to do around the course, we could trade labor for golf.  George thought for a moment, then reached under the pro shop counter and pulled out a shoe box filled with receipts and pieces of paper.  He slid the box in my direction and said, “If you’re a whiz kid at math, you can do my books.  I was never good at that stuff.  Make me some money and you can play all the golf you want, anytime, for free.”

Of course I knew nothing about accounting, I’d never heard the word.  But I was on the hook, daddy saw to that.  When he said I’d be back Saturday to start working on the books, I just nodded and didn’t say anything.  In the van, he said “If you want to play golf you better get down to the library and learn something about keeping books before Saturday.”

That is how I learned about general ledgers and accounts payable and receivable and assets and liabilities.  I didn’t care much for it at first but I knew it was my meal ticket. I showed up at Dirt Mountain that Saturday with a calculator, two sharp pencils, and a ledger book.  By end of the day, I had balanced Old George’s checkbook, and convinced him to start paying down his credit card balance by showing him how much money he was spending on interest. 

The other thing that happened that day was I met Earl.

Earl was George’s son, about a year younger than me.  There wasn’t much to notice about Earl except his mouth, but that was enough.  No one talked faster or more often than he did, we became best friends and golf partners that day.  That was also the day he told me of the story of Sasquatch, the albino golf ball stealing squirrel. 

At first I didn’t believe him.  I was certain I lived in a rational world.  Maybe there were such things as solid white squirrels, and maybe one would run out on to a golf course and carry off a ball, once.  No way it happened dozens of times, as Earl claimed.  And no way I believed the story that Sasquatch stole Lester Phelps’s West Point class ring.

Judge Lester Phelps was a physically imposing man.  Behind his back, the kids called him Heavy Lester.  No one would call him that to his face.  When you are that big, and you’ve been a county supervisor, sheriff, and you’re now a judge, you are respected and feared. 

Fourteen year old Serge didn’t know much, but he knew better than to appear on Heavy Lester’s radar.  Judge Phelps earned the nickname the old fashioned way, by being tall, wide, strong, and mean.  It started when he led his soldiers across Europe running the Nazis into oblivion.  When he came back to Maynard County he was just as relentless to his political opponents.  Eventually his love of food and drink led to the nickname.  By the time I began my career as an accountant, Lester was too fat to play golf.

According to Earl, when Lester was a few pounds lighter, he would play regularly at Dirt Mountain.  I didn’t believe him at first.  Judge Phelps was on the Board of Directors at Pin Oaks, why would he play on the barren wastelands of Dirt Mountain?  But as I would learn, Lester came by the pro shop almost every Friday afternoon.  He and George drank beer and traded lies, sitting on the patio behind the pro shop.

One Friday they were getting pretty tight.  Lester was pontificating about his college days.  George asked about Lester’s class ring, a very drunk Lester attempted to hand it to George but fumbled.  Before either could pick it up, Sasquatch the squirrel nabbed the ring and made off with it.  That was the story but I didn’t believe a word of it. 

At least not until a few months later, when Earl and I were on the 16th tee.  He was teeing off and talking at the same time, nothing new there.  I was pulling things out of my bag looking for a tee.  I set the red first aid kit on the ground, the one momma made me carry because I was allergic to bees.  Earl’s yammering distracted me.  By the time I’d looked up at Earl, then back down, all I saw was a white tail fluttering from side to side, attached to a critter with my first aid kit in its teeth.  Sasquatch the squirrel was real, and now he had my first aid kit. 

But plastic pouches and EpiPens can be replaced, and I was busy balancing books, learning how to hit a power fade, and worrying about how I was going to make it to college.  With a mediocre handicap and a B average, neither a golf or math scholarship was likely.  At any rate, I didn’t think much about Sasquatch again, until the day I found George in the pro shop, in tears.

Sasquatch had eaten through the insulation around the air conditioner, and made off with George’s medal for winning the 1964 Georgia State Amateur.  That was his prize possession, and probably the only thing in the pro shop worth more than a new Titleist.  George was distraught, and Earl was rounding up his hunting gear.  The other thing Earl was good at aside from golf was hunting, and he had already decided we were going to put an end to Sasquatch. 

Earl handed me his .22 rifle and he had his crossbow.  I’d seen him put those arrows through a target from a ridiculous distance.  I’m only an average shot, but I had no doubt that if Earl got lined up on Sasquatch, it was over.  We headed into the trees and began tracking.

Dirkin Mountain won’t win any awards as a mountain, it’s no Mount Everest.  But it makes for a challenging hike.  After about an hour, my foot slipped on a rock and I turned my ankle.  Nothing bad, but I told Earl I needed to sit for a while.  He decided to scout ahead, he said he’d come back for me.

I took of my shoe and sock, and examined the ankle.  No swelling, that was a good sign.  What did I see, while I was rubbing my ankle, coming down the trail in my direction, was an albino squirrel.

Sasquatch had a mouth full of nuts and he must not have been paying too much attention.  I had the rifle aimed at him, and was about to pull the trigger, when he saw me.  He looked me straight in the eye, and didn’t move.  Neither did I.  For about a second.  Then I lowered the gun. Sasquatch scurried away.  I wasn’t a killer, that was Earl’s job.

Earl came back a few minutes later.  I didn’t mention the close call.  We didn’t see Sasquatch again that evening, and gave up the hunt after another hour.

The next day, I hit a perfect drive right down the middle on 16.  It’s a par five, I’d never hit it in two shots but that drive left me a solid 3 wood away from the green.  I took a deep breath, tried to relax, and gave it my best swing.  The ball flew through the air, and landed on the green on the second bounce.  It rolled toward the hole.  I was already visualizing the fist pump I was going to make when I tapped in the short eagle putt.

Until I saw that white blur running across the green to pick up my ball.  That was the moment I realized life was unfair.  I had just spared Sasquatch’s life the day before and this was my reward?  I took off running after that albino.  If I had caught him, I would have ripped him in half with my teeth. 

By the time I lost my breath and stopped running, I could hear Earl yelling at me to come back.  When I got to the green, he had a huge grin on his face.  In his hand, was a red first aid kit.  Inside the kit, along with the EpiPen, was a 1964 Georgia State Amateur medal, and a West Point class ring.  Sasquatch wasn’t a thief that day, he was paying me back for sparing his life.

George was happy to get his medal back, and he said Judge Phelps would surely give me a reward for the class ring.  I thought, maybe I’d have enough courage to ask Mary Lou Filer on a date, if I got a few bucks from Heavy Lester.  But I didn’t get any cash.

What did happen, a few years later, was momma waking me up, shaking me like the house was on fire.  I had a letter from the VFW.  The letter was addressed to Mr. Serge Wlodarski, informing him he had earned a full scholarship to Emory University in Atlanta.  The letter noted that the scholarship was based largely on practical experience gained while running the accounting department at the Dirkin Mountain Golf Course.  That was the only time I ever saw Dirt Mountain’s real name anywhere aside from the faded sign in the parking lot.  The letter was signed by His Honorable Lester Phelps, chairman of the VFW scholarship search committee. 

A lot of years have passed since then.  Daddy, George and Lester are gone.  Earl runs Dirt Mountain now.  I went off to Emory, spent more time studying and less time golfing.  I got a law degree, and opened a practice in Maynard County.  The nut didn’t fall far from the tree.  Eventually I ended up with Heavy Lester’s job as judge, and his spot on the Pin Oaks Country Club board of directors.

It took a few years but I finally realized why Lester would hang out with George at Dirt Mountain.  Because that’s what I do.  I spend almost every Friday afternoon at Dirt Mountain, reminiscing with Earl about the good old days, when we were young and poor. 

Pin Oaks is a beautiful golf course.  It has manicured greens, checkerboard cut fairways, steaks in the clubhouse, draft beer in the bar, and hot showers in the locker room.  Dirt Mountain has none of that.

But it has a few things Pin Oaks will never have.  It has a 1964 Georgia State Amateur medal.  It has Earl Saunders. And it has the memories of youth.  And when the sun is sinking low and enough beer has flowed, if you squint your eyes a little, you might see an albino squirrel running across the 16th green.


© Copyright 2017 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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