Joe and I smuggled my dad’s golf bag into the back yard, dug a hole in the top tier of the backyard and marked it with a rag tied to a dowel rod. We practiced pitching up the grade and putting through the long grass into the hole. As always happened when we played, the competition became fierce as challenges flew back and forth. Closest shot to the hole, longest putt, longest shot without going over the neighbor’s fence or best left handed shot with your eyes closed, standing on one foot, stuff like that.
We weren’t very skilled except for shanking the ball, and lost a few as they sliced over the fences or over the roof. Joe smacked a hard hit ball into the patio sliding glass door, shattering it. The ball landed neatly on top of my dad’s favorite chair.
“Oh No, Oh God, Noooo!” Joe moaned.
“Uh-oh, you’re dead!” I sniveled as I fled the scene of the crime.
My mom and the rest of the Adams clan stood in the newly air-conditioned living room, staring out in silence at the reckless soon to be deceased young golfer in the backyard. Glass was swept up and the golf clubs put back in the garage. Joe didn’t snitch on me for being an accomplice and solemnly accepted his fate. He sat alone in our bedroom for the rest of the day and awaited the inevitable. There wasn’t a priest available to perform the last sacraments for him and he turned down a last meal. He would face his punishment like a man- like a very fat man.
We stood stiffly in the foyer, behind the kitchen counter or posed like mannequins by the furniture when my dad walked in. I silently prayed for Joe.
“Bob, now don’t get upset, but Joe…” My mom said, and pointed to the patio door.
“GODDAMN IT!” my father roared. “Where is he? —Joe, get your ass down here, NOW!”
My dad’s hand went immediately to the buckle of his belt. I knew any second he’d whip it off and snap it like a bullwhip. Instead, he waited; we all waited for Joe to show his sorry mug. I figured I’d probably see a dead body finally, just never figured it would be my brother’s.
The bedroom door opened at the end of the hall. A dark shape — a big dark shape, shuffled down the hall as we held our breath. Joe had swollen up like a blimp. The lower half of his body was enormous. The legs of his pants were stuffed with a couple magazines each and a few more protected his rear end, along with a pillow. He looked like the Michelin Man. He waddled down the steps and stopped, looking at the floor. One of my sisters laughed; then we all laughed, including my dad.
“Don’t worry Joe, we have insurance,” Dad said.
Joe, realizing his reprieve, looked up, smirking and shrugged.
That was a close one. Thank God, my dad had a sense of humor that day and we had insurance. I don’t think Joe ever golfed again.