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.