The Life Processor

May the old become young and young become rich, so both may avoid the deep, dirty ditch.

Marisa thought herself to be walking in a deep, dirty ditch of sorts as she hustled some extra ranch dressing over to table 10. Waiting tables was no picnic, from cooks on the line cracking about her nice ass to the customers failing to reward her extra effort with extra cash. Marisa dreamed of a day when she could make a living at something more civilized.

Because Marisa had a deaf brother, she understood the sign language being spoken at table nine as she delivered the ramekin of dressing to an adjacent table. A guy with thick, grey hair and a neatly trimmed grey beard was telling his dinner companion about how he had cheated on exams.

His hands literally said: “I cheated on the exams.”

The dinner companion, a young, attractive woman, was furious. She sprang from her chair and stormed out. The grey-haired dude didn’t try to stop her. He just hung his head in forlorn misery.

Marisa realized she recognized the man from the college where she attended classes. She didn’t know his name, but thought he taught math or something. She stopped on her way back to the kitchen and whispered to the man, “I know sign language and I saw what you just said.”

The man grabbed at his jacket pocket and pushed hard against it with his index finger, like he was pressing the button on a garage-door opener through the fabric. Suddenly, Marisa felt light-headed and dazed and found herself walking out of the kitchen with a side of that white speckled salad dressing, on her way to table 10, feeling a sense of immediate Déjà vu.

The pretty woman was back in her seat at table nine and as Marisa passed by, the grey-haired man looked right at Marisa. He didn’t say a word and he wasn’t making signs with his hands.

Marisa knew something strange had happened, like she had gone back in time about 30 seconds. She kept an eye on the two dinner guests as they finished their meals. When they got up to leave and the attractive woman stepped into the restroom, Marisa accosted the man.

“How did you do that,” she said in a loud whisper.

“Do what?” the man said.

“You sent me back in time half a minute, but I still remember what you signed to that woman. Is that your wife?”

The man looked around to see if anyone was paying attention and nobody was, so he pulled Marisa in close enough to kiss her.

“I don’t know how you remember it, but please forget it.”

Marisa angrily pulled her arm out of the man’s hand and stepped back out of his personal bubble.

“Well I do remember and I might have to report you,” she said. “You’re a professor at my school.”

“If I show you what I did, will you refrain from reporting me?”

“Maybe.”

“Meet me on the sixth floor of the library tomorrow at 9 a.m.,” he said. “I will be reading Shakespeare.”

The attractive woman came out of the bathroom and she accompanied the man into the parking lot.

***

Marisa was an ethical person, or so she considered herself. She was curious about what happened, but she knew the right thing to do would be to report cheating. She tossed her long, black hair over her shoulder as she decided to sleep on the dilemma.

She woke up early, drank some coffee and brushed out her thick mane. She was a little scared about the scheduled meeting at the library. What if Professor Cheat was planning to kill her or something? As she pulled on her blue jeans and a white T-shirt, she decided she better bring some backup.

She sent out a text to her friend, Cole. Part of her hated to invite Cole, because Cole was super sweet on her. He told her how he felt all the time and it drove Marisa crazy, really turned her off. It wasn’t that Cole was unattractive. He was the opposite, by a long way. He wore his black hair military short and looked like Tom Cruise in Top Gun.

The mushy, romantic stuff just wasn’t Marisa’s thing. Cole was a sap and she wanted a tough, mysterious sort. She knew she could depend on Cole, however, and she knew he would text back in a second or two. He always had his phone and was never too busy for Marisa.

“I need your help,” was Marisa’s cryptic text.

There was no answer as Marisa picked up her car keys and exited her apartment. There was still no answer when she got in her 1993 Eclipse and turned the key in the ignition. This was distressing, because Marisa thought she might have to risk texting while she drove, since Cole decided to take more than two minutes to get back to her. What the hell was he doing anyway?

She started driving and her phone dinged. She smiled and reached into the passenger seat to pick up her handheld computer. She waited until she reached a stop light and looked down.

“What r u doing tonite?” the screen read, but it wasn’t from Cole. It was from Frank, this gamer dude with a crooked smile that she had met at a recent party. Where the hell was Cole, Marisa thought as she tossed her phone back into the passenger seat.

Her meeting with the cheating teacher was 10 minutes away and Marisa was five minutes from reaching the library parking lot. She pulled in and could feel her stomach doing flip flops like she was on a first date. She hated how she couldn’t control her nerves.

Marisa parked the car and turned the black key into the off position. Silence filled the cockpit as the engine ceased to hum. She waited for the text and it still didn’t come. She was compelled to find out what the time-travel mystery was, so she started walking toward the front door of the library.

When she reached the front door, the phone finally buzzed and this time it was from Cole.

“Anything you need,” it said.

Marisa’s heart swelled a little and her nerves subsided.

“Please hurry to the library,” she texted back.

Her phone said the time was 8:56 a.m. She figured the old professor would wait until a few minutes after nine. His career was in the balance, after all, so Marisa took her time walking toward the elevator.

When her phone clock clicked over to 9:03, she could see Cole running across the parking lot at a full sprint. Seven minutes was pretty good time. He was huffing and puffing after he blasted through the front door and bolted to Marisa like an obedient dog.

“Are you ok,” he exhaled.

“Yes, thanks for coming. I don’t have time to explain, but I need you to be my backup, to watch me from a distance and make sure nothing weird happens.”

The sweat glistened on Cole’s ebony crew cut and he nodded without hesitation.

“I’m meeting a creepy guy on the sixth floor, so if he tries anything crazy, feel free to jump in and save me,” Marisa said.

Cole didn’t even change his expression or question why Marisa was meeting a “creepy guy.”

“I’ll go up the stairs, so I don’t look like I’m with you,” Cole said as he stormed off.

By the time Marisa rode the elevator to the sixth floor and exited into the sea of books, Cole was already there, planted in a far corner and pretending to read a dictionary. Marisa couldn’t help but think he looked kinda cute. Then she saw the professor at the other end, pretending to read Shakespeare.

She walked toward the professor and she could see his eyes dart up from the book. He saw her, for sure, but he didn’t stop reading until she got all the way into the corner.

“Thank you for not reporting me before hearing me out,” he said. “You might think I’m crazy after you hear what I have to say, but please believe I am a good man who means no harm to anyone.”

Marisa could see he wasn’t done talking, so she didn’t interrupt.

“I am a math professor who likes to dabble with inventions in my spare time,” he went on. “Recently I stumbled onto something incredible that provides time travel, but only in super small increments. I call it a life processor.”

Marisa’s face indicated she wanted further explanation.

“It’s a device that will allow you to edit your life the same way you can edit a document on a computer. You can basically hit a backspace button and redo whatever you want. So far, that’s all I have figured out is the backspace button, but I am working on other features.”

He pulled the device out of his pocket. It was shaped like an egg and was bright red. At the narrow tip of the egg there was a blue circular button.

“So, you pressed that button last night and shot us all back in time?” Marisa said.

“Yes, it only effects people within a small space. You were within that space when I hit the button. You weren’t supposed to be able to remember what happened. Obviously, I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet.”

“I still don’t think this is worth keeping my silence.”

“What if I made you your own life processor? Would that be sufficient payment?”

Marisa pondered the offer.

“Think of what you could do with it,” he said. “Every time you make a simple mistake, you could erase it, like a typo.”

The idea did sound appealing to Marisa, like the kind of thing that could lead her out of the dirty-ditch restaurant and into something more fun and lucrative.

Marisa’s mind raced through dozens of scenarios in which a life processor would come in handy. She could have used it when she met that dorky gamer at the party; just erase him from her life and goodbye annoying texts. She could use it in job interviews every time she made a slip of the tongue. She imagined a world filled with perpetual mulligans and knew in her gut that it was plain wrong.

Life would become a tangled mess in which she would lose track of reality, perhaps become so reckless in her professional and social worlds that she wouldn’t know when to quit pressing the little blue button. She decided she must destroy the egg held by Professor Cheat.

“Can I have that one?” Marisa asked, hoping to get Professor Cheat to reveal he had no spare to replace it.

“No, this is my only one, but I can make one for you in a…”

Before he could finish giving his expected delivery date, Marisa snatched the red egg from his hands and dashed down the Victorian literature isle. Professor Cheat scrambled after her, turning heads of the few studiers in the room. Cole sprang into action, rushing to Marisa’s aid.

As she ran along toward the business section, Marisa rolled the egg around in her hand. It felt plastic and firm, like it would take more than her grip pressure to break the evil device. She could hear Professor Cheat’s footsteps gaining on her and felt the eyes of innocent spectators.

Marisa knew she had nowhere to run, so she pressed the blue button and found herself standing back at the Shakespeare book, with Professor Cheat finishing up his diatribe about his invention. He didn’t seem to know they had gone back in time and he was holding the egg in plain view just as he had before she pressed the blue button.

Marisa got an idea. She asked politely if she could look at the life processor and the professor acquiesced. Once she held it firmly, she screamed:

“Get your hands off me, you pervert.”

A horrified look spread across the professor’s face as all eyes turned his way and Cole barged onto the scene in a fighting stance. The professor backed away from Cole with his hands in the air.

“I didn’t touch her,” he said.

Cole cornered the professor against a wall and Marisa went running for the elevator. She easily made her escape and casually walked out of the library and into the parking lot with the life processor in her hand.

About the time she was reaching her Eclipse, Cole was letting the professor go and making a brisk exit as well. The professor pulled out his phone and made a call.

“We have a code A,” the professor said into his phone. “You know what to do.”

The professor’s wife was on the other end of the phone call and she stood motionless at first, stirred with mixed emotions. The “A” in code A stood for “Abort.” She would have to drive nearly three miles from work to her home, rush to the basement and flip a switch that would cause the life processor to cease working forever.

This was a great relief to the professor’s wife, because she had spent many a worry-filled night contemplating all the trouble her husband could get in with his invention. She also contemplated all the money they could make if he ever perfected it, patented it and found a way to sell it to Apple or Microsoft for mass distribution.

The professor always knew the temptation to use the life processor for personal gain would be strong, so he rigged a central power source in his basement from which the life processor got its energy. He also rigged a one-way power switch that would allow him to shut the power off for good and kill any life processors he had created. He could always start all over in making a new life processor with a new power source.

The professor’s wife cruised home in her black Dodge SUV, becoming more relieved with each passing minute. She realized she wanted to keep her humdrum life of driving to work and back each day. She didn’t want fame and fortune to enter their lives, along with massive ethical responsibility for all those abusers of the life processor.

***

Back at the library, Marisa’s car rolled out of the parking lot. She knew she needed to destroy the little red egg sitting in her passenger seat, but she also liked how easily she was able to use it in the library to make a bad plan into a good plan. Her first instincts to grab and run were pointless and stupid, but her second plan to use Cole was effective.

Just then, Marisa saw Cole running along the sidewalk and waving her down. She pulled over and let him get in. He saw the red egg sitting in the passenger seat. Not knowing what it was, he picked it up and set it in an empty cup holder before depositing his posterior into the seat and shutting the door.

“That was sort of intense,” Cole said. “Are you ok?”

“I’m fine,” Marisa said.

Something about her tone didn’t register right with Cole. The look on the professor’s face had seemed genuine in the library when he claimed not to have touched Marisa.

“Did he really touch you or did you just scream to use me for a getaway?” Cole asked.

Marisa was impressed that Cole was so intuitive, but then suddenly felt bad that she had used him so.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I manipulated you, but I had no choice. It’s a long story you wouldn’t believe.”

Cole reached down and picked up the red egg.

“Was it something to do with this?” he said.

He looked the life processor over, eventually getting to the blue button.

“Don’t push that,” Marisa said.

“Why not?”

“We’ll go back in time.”

“Ha, yeah right,” Cole said. “Come on, what is really going on?”

Marisa pulled the car over to the side of the quiet street and parked under the shade of some massive oak trees. She turned and looked at Cole and felt a strange feeling of attraction for him. The way he had come to her rescue was kind of a turn on. She took the life processor out of Cole’s hand. She felt the overwhelming urge to kiss him with the passion of a love-starved wife welcoming her man back from war. She knew a kiss like that would send her emotions into a danger zone, so she poised her thumb over the blue button and leaned in close.

As Marisa’s kiss progressed to full embrace, the professor’s wife was walking down the steps to the basement of her house, where she found the power switch and flipped it without hesitation.

Marisa pulled out of the embrace with Cole, her heart fluttering, and she pressed the red button. Nothing happened, nothing changed. Marisa and Cole still sat in her car under the shade of the tall oak tree and her heart continued to flutter as adrenaline coursed through her. Marisa pressed the red button one more time and when nothing happened she asked Cole a simple question.

“Do you think you could smash this thing on that sidewalk out there?”

“If it means I can take you out on a date tonight, I will,” Cole said.

Marisa imagined a date with Cole would be classically romantic, almost sappy as he went all out to be the perfect gentleman. She just handed the life processor to him and smiled.

The End.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JDP Invitational IV

The fourth annual JDP Invitational crowned its fourth new champion last week, with Laura Walsh claiming the green candle.

Her net 71 was the first score posted and sat there begging for a challenger that never materialized. The other four players all failed to break 80 with their net scores. Defending champion Debbie Peters made an early run in her round, canning two par putts longer than 40 feet, but followed with five straight disaster holes to shoot herself out of it.

“I was on tilt,” Debbie said.

As defending champ, Debbie chose the venue of the Palms, where Walsh started slow before stringing together several pars on her back nine. She shot a gross 91 with a 20 handicap.

“I’m pretty happy with my score; sets up a good challenge for everyone,” Laura wrote in a text message.

Sean Walsh and Jeremy Peters battled high winds and stomach issues and shot extremely high scores. John Peters was derailed by a triple-bogey on the par-5 opening hole and never found his stride.

Laura joins John, Jeremy and Debbie on the list of JDP Invitational champions. The tournament is unlikely to continue due to scheduling dilemmas, but we shall see what next year brings.

Harvey Penick

I picked up Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book this week. In reading a few passages for the first time in two decades, I find the wisdom as pertinent as ever in regards to my golf game, but also to my writing goals.

Penick is long gone, having left behind his lifetime of studying golf in a series of books. By the time I am dead and gone, I will have left behind a series of writings on the web. There is no need to use books. Reading on the web is exactly like reading e-books, with virtually all devices having a “book mode” available. Websites are way cooler than books, because of their fluid flexibility.

It’s so easy to bounce around from one website to another, save and bookmark pages for later reading, share what you are reading with friends, etc.

For now, books still have their place, I suppose, but the way of the future is websites. Writers and readers have no need for books anymore. Making money as a writer of websites is still proving a challenge, but the day will arrive.

The Secret

Patrick looked out his window as he felt steam rising up his nostrils from his freshly-poured cup of coffee. He saw his neighbor Stanley depositing a couple of garbage sacks on the curb. Then he saw something he couldn’t believe.

Stanley was a brawny, old guy with thick, white hair worn long on top and short around the sides. He often was seen flopping his bangs back onto the top of his head, where he then smoothed them down to make them stay put. To say Stanley was built like a brick shithouse wasn’t quite right, but wasn’t quite wrong. He was large and strong, with thick, stout legs. He looked like he could have played in the NFL.

Patrick, who was 31, couldn’t remember how old Stanley was. He knew Stanley was older than 50 and that he must have lost all his senses, because he was carrying a perfectly good set of golf clubs out to the trash heap. He tossed the clubs, which were in a weathered walker’s bag, carelessly to the curb. The shiny heads of the irons most certainly took some damage on the concrete.

Patrick couldn’t bear what he was watching, so he stepped out his back door and called out to his neighbor.

“Hey, Stan, good morning,” he said has he walked down a narrow pathway that led to Stanley’s property.

“Hey, Pat,” said Stanley, who wasn’t an outgoing sort, but was always friendly enough.

“What’s with throwing out those golf clubs?”

“Don’t need them.”

Patrick was an avid golfer who played to a 12 handicap. He was always buying the latest gadgets and clubs to try to improve his game and he was always looking for deals on used clubs, if he felt it might make his handicap drop to single digits.

“Mind if I have a look?” Patrick said.

“All yours.”

“Didn’t know you played golf.”

“Don’t,” Stanley said.

“Giving up on the game, huh? Too tough?”

“Too boring.”

“Golf is anything but boring for me. How long did you give it a go?”

“I played for 30 years, off and on, since I was a kid. Gave the game up 15 years ago, or so.”

“Those clubs don’t look 15 years old,” Patrick said as he started walking toward them.

“They’re not. They were a gift from my son a few years ago. I guess he thought I would get back into the game. I took them to the range once and that was enough.”

“Couldn’t hit them, eh?” said Patrick. “Some clubs just aren’t right for some people.”

“At first I hit everything a little to the left, but I adjusted my stance and every shot after that was perfect. These new clubs they make these days make it too easy to hit the ball straight. Boring.”

Patrick laughed, because he thought Stanley was joking, but the laughter wasn’t returned, so Patrick’s face turned serious as he said, “Come on, nobody hits it perfect every time.”

Stanley just shrugged and started walking toward Patrick, who was holding the bag of clubs by this time. Stanley reached into one of the pockets on the golf bag and pulled out a golf ball, then he grabbed a 3-iron and walked out into the middle of the street.

He set the ball on the pavement. The ball sat perched on miniscule grains of gravel and it was clear Stanley was about to launch a golf shot down the street. It was a typical neighborhood street, with houses on either side, cars in driveways. It was about the width of an average fairway on a golf course. Patrick wanted to stop him from hitting, thinking this could only result in disaster, but something deep inside kept him quiet, a need to see what Stanley could do.

Stanley’s powerful legs looked light and agile as he stepped in behind the golf ball. His hands took a grip on the club so softly, like it was a musical instrument. The muscles in his forearms rearranged themselves for action, twitching and rolling under the light brown, sun-spotted skin. He took the club back quickly, but smoothly, gave a slight pause at the top of the swing and let it all go in one fluid motion.

The golf ball sat there, ready for the strike and the club crashed into it like a whip. The ball screamed off the face of the metal club with a hiss that Patrick had never heard before. Patrick’s eyes followed the flight of the ball, which was straight down the middle of the street. The ball arched higher and higher, piercing the damp, morning air before running out of steam and falling to the earth. It landed in the middle of the road and bounced hard a couple times before rolling out of sight.

Stanley handed the club back to Patrick and walked back into his house without saying a word. Patrick was speechless. He hadn’t ever seen anyone hit a golf ball like that and saying “nice shot” seemed inappropriate.

The coming week was tough on Patrick. He lay in bed each night thinking about what he witnessed. He thought Stanley must possess the secrets of the game he loved so much, that he could teach him. Then again, Patrick doubted he would ever be able to learn to hit a golf ball on that level.

He couldn’t get his mind off golf on most days, but now his mind was in golf hyper drive. He tried talking to his wife about it, but her eyes just glazed over and she nodded repeatedly the way she would whenever football or baseball was a topic.

Patrick knew Stanley didn’t want to be bothered, but not to try inviting him out to the golf course for a round would be a sin. Firstly, he was curious whether Stanley was really capable of hitting shots like the one he hit in the street every time. Secondly, he wanted to show Stanley off to his friends, to unveil the eighth wonder of the world, who was living right next door all this time, a secret golf pro of sorts.

Every time Patrick went by to talk to his neighbor, Stanley wouldn’t budge on his stance about the boring game of golf that wasn’t worth his time. Nothing Patrick could say came close to convincing Stanley to join him for a round of golf.

“I just don’t understand how you wouldn’t want to play every minute of every day,” Patrick would say. “I can only dream of hitting a golf ball like that.”

“If you hit it like that every time, it would bore you,” Stanley would reply.

“No, no, it absolutely would not bore me the slightest.”

Patrick offered him money, to no avail. He begged to the point of embarrassment for weeks and finally, after Stanley snapped at him in anger one evening, Patrick decided enough was enough and gave up. The summer dragged on and Patrick kept shooting 85’s with his friends on the weekend. The clubs he pulled from Stanley’s curb hadn’t helped a bit, nor did the new driver he bought online.

Patrick couldn’t sleep much on the eve of a tournament, so he was sitting in the dark on a fall Friday evening, planning his attack on the club championship when a knock hit his door.

It was Stanley standing out on the stoop, head bowed.

“I’m sorry I got so angry with you, Patrick. I know you have your club championship tomorrow and I know how much it means to you, so if you feel like it, we can head over to the course and I’ll show you a couple things.”

“I have to tee off at eight,” Patrick said.

“That gives us six hours,” Stanley said.

“You mean right now, in the dark?”

“We’ll have to go to Meadow Park, because you don’t want to get caught practicing on the tournament course.”

Patrick was stunned, but he got dressed and met Stanley in the driveway. Stanley got in Patrick’s car and they drove 30 minutes to Meadow Park. On the way, Stanley made Patrick promise not to tell anyone about playing with him or about what he was going to tell him. He told Patrick to listen well, because this was the only lesson he was ever going to get from Stanley.

As they exited the car, Stanley warned Patrick that he wouldn’t believe him, that the secret to golf was so simple, nobody ever believed him. He warned him that knowledge of the secret may make Patrick want to give up the game, but Patrick said he wasn’t worried.

There was just enough moonlight to allow them to see where they were going and see the general direction of the fairway on the first hole.

“It’s not easy to play golf in the dark, but it can be done,” Stanley said. “I’m going to watch you play a couple of holes and then I’ll tell you what I think.”

“Aren’t you gonna play?” Patrick asked.

“No point,” Stanley said.

“Yeah, yeah, boring, I know.”

Patrick lined up his tee shot. He played Meadow Park all the time, so he knew where to aim. He hit the ball and Stanley immediately chirped, “Down the right side.”

They walked down the fairway and found the ball in the right rough. To Patrick’s amazement, Stanley correctly predicted his next shot missed the green short and left and his next tee shot falling short and right.

“Do you have the eyes of an owl or something,” Patrick asked. “How do you see that ball?”

“I don’t see it, I hear it. I hear the sound on the club face and I can tell where it went.”

Patrick finished his second hole with another bogey, which he felt pretty good about, being that he was playing in the dark.

“You should have birdied the first and easily pared the second,” Stanley said, as if he were reading Patrick’s mind.

Patrick was getting a little annoyed, but Stanley continued talking as they went to the third tee. He gave Patrick a couple of physical things to adjust with his stance and mumbled on about some mental tips.

“So that’s it, that’s the secret,” Stanley said. “You probably don’t believe me.”

“What is the secret?” Patrick asked. “Which part?”

“What I just told you. It’s all in your head.”

“So I’ve been told, but you didn’t tell me anything new,” Patrick complained. “I’ve heard all that before.”

“Everyone has heard it all before and that’s why they never believe me.”

Patrick was befuddled as he stepped onto the third tee. He could barely make out the edge of the big bunker that guarded the par-3 green. He adjusted his stance the way Stanley told him and tried the mental approach suggested. He hit his shot.

“Pin high, nice shot,” Stanley said just before Patrick could hear the ball thud softly on the green, 140 or so yards away.

What happened next, Patrick couldn’t believe. He reached his ball on the green and found it was within 20 feet of the hole. He sort of knew how the putt would break, having played there so many times, but he couldn’t see the hole. The moonlight was good for about 10 or 15 feet and then the hole was somewhere in the abyss. Patrick lined up the putt, applying Stanley’s wisdom while making the stroke and a few seconds after impact, he heard the ball rattle into the cup.

“There you go,” Stanley proclaimed. “You’re ready. Let’s go home and let you get some rest.”

They drove home in silence and Patrick felt a calm come over his body and mind. He no longer felt stressed about the tournament coming up in a few hours. He crawled into bed next to his wife and went right to sleep.

Three hours later, his wife was tugging on his shoulder to wake him up, warning him about being late. Patrick just smiled and strolled into the shower. He put on his lucky hat and matching sweater-vest. He ate some peanut-butter toast and went to the course.

Hawk National was not an especially tough course, but it was a fun course that was always nicely maintained. The club championship was a two-day event, with 18 holes being played each day. Patrick stood on the first tee and felt more confident than ever. For the first time, Hawk National actually looked like an easy course.

When Patrick made the turn, Stanley was standing behind the ninth green.

“You have the gait of a man who just shot even par on the front,” Stanley said.

“Actually, I was one under par,” Patrick said.

“My work is done,” Stanley replied. “Don’t get too bored out there.”

Stanley turned and walked away. Patrick went on to not only win that club championship, but to win six of the next seven. After that, a young, college golfer came into the picture and won five straight. Patrick played with the college golfer in the final group each of those five years and he couldn’t keep up with the incredible power of the youngster, but he could see the youngster knew the secret.

As for that secret, Patrick never would tell anyone what it was. He kept his promise to Stanley. He would tell those who asked that they already knew the secret and wouldn’t believe him if he told them.

As for Stanley, Patrick never could get him to join him for a round of golf. No matter how much fun he promised they would have, Stanley would always just joke that Patrick could write down a 68 or so on the scorecard under Stanley’s name and call it good.

Patrick would visit Stanley regularly, however, and they would laugh and talk about Patrick’s many tournament wins. Patrick said he never got bored winning all those tournaments, but Stanley would always smile and say he knew better.

The End.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

Zombie Golf

We were all trapped on the 18th floor, 19 auditors with no way out past the zombies that ruled the city.

 

We were working round the clock on a big job when the virus started spreading six days prior. By the time we heard what was happening, the 17 floors below us were infected. Thanks to Mike checking his Twitter page, we were able to barricade the elevator doors before any zombies got in.

 

Nearly a week living on vending machine leftovers wasn’t my idea of healthy living, but at least it was keeping us all going. Vending machines only hold so much, however, and we were running out.

 

In my office I sat, meditating about our predicament when Janet came in.

 

“Mitch, I want you to know I always loved you.”

 

She was clearly cracking under the pressure of imminent death, so I locked my gaze onto her big brown eyes, soaking in the image of her shapely figure and raven-black hair in the process.

 

“Janet,” I began, pausing for effect. “Shut up.”

 

 

 

Part of me wanted to grab my Ping driver from my set of golf clubs in the corner and hit her over the head. Part of me wanted to take her in my arms one last time. My dilemma was interrupted by Jake, who was apparently also cracking.

 

“Hey guys,” said the skinny little bespectacled fellow who always reminded me of Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters. “I was thinking we should all write out a will and box up any valuables we have here in the office. At the very least, write a letter to tell our loved ones goodbye.”

 

“Nice thought,” I said. “But I haven’t heard from my wife at all. I am pretty sure they already got her. I don’t have any other loved ones.”

 

Jake just shrugged, looked at Janet in a strange way that made me think she had slept with him, and then left my office.

 

Janet was about to start talking when somebody screamed from another office. Janet and I both stepped out of my office to see a zombie had broken through the barricade and got a grip on Chuck.

 

Chuck’s scream sounded like a woman’s. It was odd to hear such a sound coming from such a portly man. The zombie sunk his teeth into Chuck’s ankle, so I didn’t hesitate. I went back to the golf bag in my office, retrieved a 7-iron and went right up to the barricade.

 

I was an avid golfer and loved the game more than life itself. All my hours spent working were just to fund my habit. I maintained a three handicap and finished second in the club championship the year before. People told me I had a pro swing and I thought about that as I buried the blade of the 7-iron into Chuck’s head.

 

His screaming stopped immediately as blood spattered all over my white, button-down shirt. I repeated the action on the zombie that broke the barricade and several other auditors came in behind me to start reinforcing the barrier to the outside world of death.

 

I went over to a vending machine and found one last Snickers. I thought of those video games in which you kill zombies and pick up random food items like apples and pizzas off the street as I bit into the chocolate candy bar. Killing zombies did work up an appetite.

 

Janet came over again, her hips gently swaying back and forth in her little gray business skirt that was too sexy for any office while somehow still managing to make her look professional.

 

“That must have been tough,” she said.

 

“Not really,” I said. “I never miss with a 7-iron.”

 

She rolled her eyes at me and let the sarcasm slide. Janet was a golfer too, though she didn’t take the game seriously. She could pound a big drive, but her short game stunk and she rarely broke 90.

 

She walked over to my office and came back with my driver in hand.

 

“You don’t mind, do you?” She asked.

 

“Not at all.”

 

Truth is, I was getting worried. I could usually solve any problem with a little meditation, but no solution presented itself to this current situation. I watched zombie movies and played the video games, but somehow felt horribly ill-prepared for the real thing.

 

Janet just stood there next to me, clutching her driver. I guess she must have felt safer than if she stood alone. I guess I felt a little better with her standing there, so I didn’t say anything.

 

I finished my Snickers and deliberately started back to my office to see if Janet would follow me. She did. I sat behind my desk again and she stood by the door in silence.

 

I pulled out a pen and paper, thinking maybe it was a good idea to leave a will. I pondered what to write, but was interrupted by horrible noises.

 

The first sound was like water running in a stream and the second sound was unmistakably a dry-heaving human. It turned out to be Jake transforming into a zombie. Who knew how he got infected, but we knew the Rick Moranis look-alike must be killed. Before I could do anything, Janet raced over and smashed Jake’s skull with a driver. Yep, she had slept with the bastard.

 

Just as she finished Jake, that same gruesome duo of sound came from a nearby cubicle. It was Sandy this time and it was my turn. Sandy had two kids and an insanely nice husband, but that didn’t keep me from delivering a perfect strike with my trusty seven.

 

Racking up three zombie kills to Janet’s one, I considered myself the leader in the clubhouse. There were 14 other auditors remaining and from the horrible audible indicators coming from around the office, more of them were becoming infected.

 

Mark burst out of his office, his newly formed zombie countenance making a slight improvement to his usual sleepy look. Mark chased down Cindy, who chased down Skip. Pretty soon, a small army of undead were marching toward Janet and me.

 

To my surprise, Janet took an aggressive approach. She became a veritable Babe Zeharious, winding up and unleashing my driver into zombies one after another. I joined in with my 7-iron and noted to myself how interesting it was that zombies weren’t faster moving. They were also extremely slow-witted and wouldn’t even laugh at my jokes before I smashed in their skulls.

 

I was still the leader by my count with six kills to Janet’s five when we both retreated back to my office. My 7-iron was bent, so I went to a pitching wedge, expecting the extra loft to be more effective at slicing through bone. Janet must have been thinking the same thing, because she traded the driver for a sand wedge.

 

“There are six left,” I said.

 

“They may not all be zombies,” Janet said.

 

“Odds are good they are and will come this way; and there is something I need to say.”

 

Before I could spill my guts, the gurgling noises ensued and came closer and closer. When Sam came staggering through the door of my office with a ravenous look in his eye, Janet took out his right leg with my sand wedge and finished him with a tomahawk chop to the head when he fell to the ground.

 

The zombies kept coming and we kept swinging until six dead colleagues were piled up at the doorway to my office.

 

“That should be everyone, a total of 17,” I said between gasps of air.

 

“I killed nine, one more than you.”

 

“No, I killed nine.”

 

“Let’s not quibble over details,” she said. “What was it you had to tell me?”

 

I caught my breath and we both sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity. I was about to tell her I loved her too, in my own suave, romantic way, but then I heard that gurgling noise coming from her stomach and she started dry heaving.

 

I readied my pitching wedge to take down number 18.

 

Terrance Mann

I am a big fan of the movie Field of Dreams and the little moment I am about to describe almost sounds like something out of that film.

Last night I watched a show called The Secret. To make a long story short, it convincingly describes how people can shape their lives into whatever they want by just using their thoughts.

Fast forward to this morning in which I woke up and vowed to make the day the best possible day I could. Being a day off, the task shouldn’t be that difficult. Mid-morning rolls around; I’ve had a great breakfast, a good read and hearty workout. I turn on the TV and there is a basketball game on. I almost turn it off, but decide not to.

As I was watching the game, my mind wandered and started thinking of the words of encouragement I heard on the video the night before. My thoughts rattled around until I reached a moment of clarity in which I realized much of what was said in the The Secret was the same as Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams.

The famous line in the movie is, “If you build it, they will come.” That very line became a thought in my head and not two seconds later the commentator on the TV announced that a basketball player was called for a foul and his name was Terrance Mann. Then the commentator said, “Terrance Mann, that’s the name of the James Earl Jones character in Field of Dreams.”

“‘People will come, Ray,'” the commentator quoted from the movie character Terrance Mann.

The crazy thing is: The Secret claims that the whole universe will conspire to bend to your every whim if you only think properly. Not 12 hours after hearing that idea, it was as though the universe was linking to my thoughts and confirming that yes, people will come. My dreams will come true.

Too weird to believe? Ya, probably, but it did happen and it is kind of fun to think about.

On the future of my writing endeavors

In recent months I’ve done a lot of studying in regards to the methods in which a man can make money as a writer and have decided making money isn’t really my thing.

One can be a journalist or a novelist or perhaps a historian, all of which are professions I don’t wish to enter. I’ve been a journalist of the sports variety and I’ve enjoyed my attempts at writing fiction in the form of short stories. To publish traditionally, however, in any realm is to join the society I loosely refer to as Hollywood, and who wants to join Hollywood?

The great conundrum in publishing arising in this modern world lies within the power Hollywood wields. There was a time a writer needed a publisher just to allow his writing to see the light of day, but now any fool can open a Twitter page, start a blog or publish an e-book. Any writing I decided to post on this website is officially published, but is not publicized.

Hollywood’s great power is the power of publicity.

For someone already famous, such as Kim Kardashian, Twitter is a powerful tool. A random, regular person can tweet the same words as Kardashian and get no attention. This proves that modern publishing isn’t about what is said as much as who said it. I suppose publishing has always been that way, but today’s modern technology proves the point.

The reason I loosely call all publishing endeavors Hollywood is because essentially all forms of media – whether news, magazine, books or movies – are all owned by the same corporate giants. Books are published solely to promote movies and movies are used to sell books. TV personalities trumpet their own books to millions of viewers and those viewers obediently buy those books. Whether they actually read them is another argument.

I know very few people who read books. Nobody ever talks about books or asks whether I’ve read the latest such and such. Whenever I try to sit down and read a book, I usually find I can’t finish it, because it is quite simply lacking in intelligence. One might say that makes me sound arrogant, but it is what it is.

The one set of books I never get tired of reading is the set of classics. I can read Dickens or Shakespeare, Tolstoy or Austen. The list goes on and on when it comes to classics I enjoy, which makes me wonder if the craft of creating novels peaked around the 1800’s and slowly disintegrated as the moving picture came along in the 1900’s.

Prior to video becoming the primary form of entertainment and education, books were all we had to convey any kind of idea, fiction or non-fiction. We’ve progressed from movie theaters to home video players and video games to watching all sorts of video on phones that fit in our pockets. It’s no wonder nobody reads books anymore.

Though I don’t know any, J.K. Rowling’s bank account suggests that people are still buying books on occasion. The question is why. There is very little reason to read anymore, beyond the simple love of reading.

This leads me to believe there is very little reason to write anymore, beyond the love of writing, so that is my final conclusion. I love to write and I will write whenever I feel like it on this website that nobody will read. I will create a new modern form of book built for the internet age, a book that weaves and winds through many different topics, a book connected by hyperlinks and not necessarily intended to be read in any particular order.

I guess I will call it the book of JJ Petes for now and see where it takes me.

Ben Hogan won a fifth U.S. Open nobody knows about

The interesting thing about Ben Hogan’s mysterious U.S. Open victory isn’t that it was his fifth title that he never gets credit for. The interesting thing is how the tournament was hidden in plain sight in 1942.

Considering it disrespectful to hold a U.S. Open while World War II was going on, the powers that be decided to hold basically the same tournament under a different name and include war funding in the event’s mission. They held qualifying just like a U.S. Open and handed Hogan the same gold-medal trophy he would have won for a U.S. Open.

Hogan is only credited with winning four U.S. Opens, however, which doesn’t really matter.

I’ve always felt, or sensed, that Hogan was the best golfer ever to play. I never saw him play, but in reading about him and watching some videos, I think he was better than Nicklaus or Tiger. Whether he won four or five Opens wouldn’t change his place in golf lore.

The notion of a tournament committee holding the same event under a different name fascinates me, because a simple change in language – in this case a tournament title – changes history. It serves as further proof that what is written in the history books, the numbers and letters, don’t necessarily tell the whole story. We can’t use statistics and such to quantify a person’s greatness. If you have a gut feeling that someone is great, they probably are.

 

 

Passing Don’s wisdom on to writers

I continued my reading of Don Quixote this morning and stumbled across a passage that could easily apply to writers in today’s world.

In the passage, Sancho Panza asks Quixote why he continues to wander around doing great deeds that nobody will ever see or hear about. Why doesn’t Quixote go into the service of a great king somewhere, a king who can fund his journey with money and the best weapons and supplies?

This made me think of a modern-day writer who might think it isn’t worth writing anything that can’t get published by a big publishing house.

Here is Quixote’s answer:

“There is something in what you say, Sancho, but before one reaches that stage one must wander about the world on probation as it were, in search of adventures, so that, by bringing some of them to a happy conclusion, one gains such fame and renown that when one does go to some great monarch’s court one is known as a knight by one’s deeds; and as soon as all the boys in the street see one riding through the city gates, they follow one and come swarming around one and shouting: ‘This is the Knight of the Sun’ or of the Serpent or whatever device it is under which one has performed great exploits.”

So, a writer should write and write and write all over the internet and make a name for him or her self. If the writing is worth reading, people will read it and someday the big publishing houses will come chasing after the writer, instead of the other way around.

Write every day

One of the biggest lessons I learned in my journalistic days was that sometimes people like the dumbest stories. No, what I mean is, you never can tell what people are going to like. I would turn in stories I loved and hear nothing from anyone and I would turn in stories I hated and have compliments tossed my way. Point being, there were a bunch of stories I never would have written if it weren’t for a deadline and those stories brought a smile to somebody’s face, sometimes. So, that’s why I am rambling on late at night. I was about to go to bed with nothing on my mind to write about, but here I am.

If you have a crazy book idea, write it up and publish it. You never know, somebody might enjoy it. If nobody enjoys it, so what. Most of us are glad Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations, but have you ever tried to wade through the Pickwick Papers? Then again, somebody out there probably loved the Pickwick Papers.