Nightmare By Enlightenment
By B. B. Riefner
"Oh God! Not another recurrence!" Kate pleaded with the dashboard. For the five minutes since pulling into the golf course parking lot memories of his suffering through a malaria recurrence nearly eight years before slowly over whelmed her amusement at his obtuseness. Leaning against a steel gray barricade while staring into the humid heat of a Washington, D.C. August, accentuated the vivid detachment vividly etched across his bearded face. He hadn=t budged since she pulled in.
"Street!" she called out pressing the car horn, which responded with its feeble off key shriek."Hey Hon, you OK?" Some of her panic fled when he focused on their eight-year-old van, then marched toward her. "Once a Marine, always a Marine," she thought with relief as she got out and opened the back. However the befuddled look still echoed in his dark eyes as he bent to brush her forehead with his lips and beard."Game that terrible?"
"No. Actually it was … "Then his volume trailed off. But after a long pause, it took up again reminding her of a small plane's engine restarting after cutting off in flight. "It was weird … Very weird. For thirteen holes I played like I was on the PGA Tour."
"The one on TV?" she asked as he bent to store his golf bag and shoes. Even bent from his waist, he husband was a big man. No other word described his physical size better then "bear ".
"The one for the old guys or the one for the … "
"Jesus H. Christ," he uttered as he straightened, closed the door, then got behind the wheel. "You know there=s certain times when I really do love you and all that shit."
"You just get excited when I talk dirty to you," she purred, setting beside him. "You sure were out of it when I pulled in. It's too hot to breathe, let alone play this silly game. So what say we go home so you can take a shower and I=ll fix you a pitcher of orange juice," she said with a smirk.
"What your worn out spouse needs is a nice long nap."
"Of course," then she shifted back to her lingering concerns. "But nurse Nancy also says you need to drink more when it's this hot, darling. And please don't give me any crap about you've been trained to limit it. That part of your life has been finished for…"
"Sixteen years, and I haven't regretted one damned day." His tone was very emphatic, as it always was whenever he lied.
He drove with a greater detachment than usual, but Katherine managed to remain silent and calm for the short drive. After waiting over a minute for him to open his door, she offered. "Earth to Norris," and when she got no response, added, "Come in Norris."
He frowned, got out and started up the path to their Sears Roebuck bungalow. Inside his every act from undressing to drinking the entire pitcher of orange juice, one tall glass after another, was without a shred of interest. However he made love with such intense tenderness, exploring her with such a great but gentle passion, she cried out and grasped him to her with a great fierceness.
About an hour later Street woke and turned his head to examine her slumbering, and silently congratulated his good fortune with,A Who would ever think anything like ...well…whatever happen there?. His nose gently probed her long black hair. Then the startling events of that morning rushed over him and he returned to Red Hills Golf Club.
The starter paired him with a tall, slim man who Street estimated as late twenties, or early thirties. He introduced himself as, "Doug. Hope my game doesn't hold you up too much," and then hit his drive long, high and straight down the center of the first fairway. Usually Street did not play well with strangers, especially those who hit their drives this well. He was slightly shocked when he stepped up and hit his career drive, which ended up at least thirty yards beyond Doug's. His second shot, a soft eight iron, stopped just a little over eight feet short of the hole. As he putted, he knew that the ball was going in the cup and it did.
His second drive was a duplicate of his opener. He was closer to the green than he could ever recall. He hit a four iron which gradually rose vanished in the sun; then reappeared on the green on the very edge of the cup. From 200 yards it looked that way. It was actually a little over two feet away. He walked up, was about mark it, but a grunting, Doug tapped it at him with a smile and said, "That's a gimmie. Wonderful shots. Not too shabby, a driver, long iron and gimmie putt. Just like The Tour." Since he had been constantly apologized for his first four shots, Street decided it was useless to beat that dead horse. Yet he also wanted the look of disbelief and suspicion in Doug's eyes to vanish, so he remained silent as Doug added, "You aren=t trying to hustle me are you? You're hitting it too good for that. You may be the best I've ever played with."
"You're one under yourself. You barely missed your putt"
"Sure, But I had thirty footer for my eagle, pal," he jeered as Street stepped up to drive.
"This is where I start thinking and start stinking," Street muttered as he prepared to drive. He told the truth. Whenever it seemed his game was getting in high gear after he pared a few holes, he began fighting himself. That was exactly what was occurring as he addressed the ball. It began with a fidgeting of his feet, then quickly moved up through his legs and torso and settled in his hands, which re-gripped as he started his swing. Somewhere or some when between that and the instant the club head struck the ball that vanished. Melted, or simply fled. His drive was perfection, even longer because it had a slight hook which added more distance as the ball rolled along the burned brown fairway.
"That’s the longest drive I've ever had to try and match," Doug muttered. Even so he managed to send his ball a long way." That could be my career drive fella," he grinned as they picked up their bags. "But you're playing a game that's alien to me." There were decided tones of amusement, awe, amazement, even slight anger, which Norris decided to ignore. They each pared the hole.
As he watched a deer and its fawn casually stroll across the opening behind the fourth green before disappearing in the thick woods to his right, Street Norris suddenly ceased hearing his partner's voice. As it all began he was fighting the urge to simply stop and walk away, because every fiber in his body was rejecting the reality of the minute.
His first awareness was the subtle change in the pressure his fingers applied to the grip of his driver. It felt like another pair of hands had melted into his. Instantly the other hands took total possession of his forearms and biceps as he started his back swing. Before he finished it, he realized his concentration and focus suddenly reached a super human stage, which brought the club head forward with a powerful sound as it pushed the muggy air aside ,making perfect contact with the ball. Yet on impact he felt no shock, and blossoming out of this was the suddenly acquired ability which allowed him to follow the flight of the ball until it became a stationery white dot over three hundred yards distance. This was only the first note in the strange chord of events, which almost became unbearable as he began the walk down the steep slope from the highly elevated tee.
First every blade of grass became an individual entity. Then teaming and surging inside was an ever expanding explosive garden of endless varieties and variegations of green. Inside that, strangely shaped insects sparkled like precious gems reflecting the sunlight, creating brilliantly dispersing rainbows. With his first step he felt the earth embracing each shoe spike. He could hear the gentle gush of moisture escaping each of the pierced blades of grass filling his ears with songs too sweet to accompany, as note upon note they built a vibrant castle of color across the fairway.
Stunned Norris sought the woods bordering his right, trying to defuse this utterly insane awareness among the tall oaks and poplars. Gradually the forest vanished. The trees so thick in summer foliage, melted and spun into a green vortex. Then this dissolved into the flatness of the sacred isle of Iona as his memories of its mystical wonderment came alive in Scottish sunshine.
For the conclusion of this story, see B. B. Riefner's collection of short stories: Mind Travels, available at Redgate Publishing Co, Amazon.com and on Kindle.