Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Everybody Is a Star

"Playing it safe? calls Buster, with just enough humor and politeness so as not to be considered an egregious breech of etiquette by anyone but me. And although Marco is my friend, I still haven't dismissed the notion that this is all a setup. And I haven't really swung a club in a year. And I wonder if they can see my legs shaking. Even the black kid is watching, and I can't help but think that he has something invested in this moment too-from a perverse claim to a caddy shack bragging rights to the complete emancipation of himself and his people. And I know, as I look down the fairway one last time, that to them, if it is bad, my first swing will be my last-the one-no matter how well I play after. There can be no redemption, not for him, not for me, nor for those to whom-because of some treacherous failure or triumph of synapse or courage (whichever you believe in) the many thousands gone, here and yet to be-we are linked. And I hear them, be it by spirit, madness, or some ventriloquist's trick. I hear them pleading, exhorting me to hit the ball straight and long, just as I hear the founder rasping from his canvass on the great oak wall- "Swing, nigger, swing!"-and his brothers hissing in unison, "Amen." It's too much. It's always been too much, even divested of all I love. I can't take it anymore. I just can't take it. I try my mantra-I need to hit the ball right. Head down. Go slow. I swing. Up then down. I hear nothing, but I'm standing erect at the follow-through and the ball is like a supersonic missile, ripping through air. Silent, then the sounds: the whoosh of the club past my ear, the sharp click of metal on hard plastic, then the ball flying with a high turbine wail in its wake. It carries the ridge and drops out of sight. "Goddamn," snorts Dan-almost hushed. Buster says nothing. Both caddies grin stupidly. The black one snaps out of it and reaches for my club. I wave him off because I can tell I'm about to cry.
-Man Gone Down
by Michael Thomas

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