By Jerome McFadden
I am a golf ball. At my core, I am a solid synthetic rubber sphere. My makers surrounded that with a tough, thermoplastic cover. Finally, they gave me all these cute little dimples and sprayed me with two—count that again, two!—coats of brilliant white paint and then splashed the family logo across my face to tell the world where I came from. After a high-sheen burnishing and some scuff resistance, here I am, ready to take on the game.
Not so cool. They dumped me into a huge box with a lot of other newbies. It’s dark and crowded, and we’re shoved around a lot. Never did get the chance to read the family name.
Better. They packed me to a smaller box. Only six of us in here. Kinda homey. Caught the family name. I read it on the others as they stuffed us in here. Callaway. Must be Irish. Nice to know.
I’m in love. She has cute dimples (very much like mine), a great complexion, and her family name curved across her face. Only problem: She could be my first cousin, or something more scary. They just scooped all of us out of that big, old box and slid the six of us into this small one. But . . . maybe she was put together on a different production run. That would be copacetic, wouldn’t it? Life is complicated, and I’m just beginning it! I shouldn’t complain. It’s cozy in here; warm, and shoulder to shoulder, in the darkness.
On the road. Off to our future, I guess.
We’re in a sports store. I am perched next to the opening of our small box so I can peek out. Crazy shirts hanging on the wall. Soft material, collars and short sleeves, but weird colors. Pastels, aquamarine blue, deep green, bright pink, rusty red. Who wears shirts like that?
Hooray, Hooray, our little box has been bought! Guy opened the carton, took me in his hand, rolled me between his fingers, and said, “I’ll taken ‘em.” Fat guy. Wearing a shirt like those on the wall. I don’t know how he sees his toes, or how he can get his hand around down there to pee. I thought golf was a sport? But not my problem. He stuffed me back into the box and paid for us. The rest of the folks in this box should be damn glad I was in there to make such a good impression. I gotta tell you, it was great to be out of that box for a little while.
Life is getting rougher. Got dropped out of our box into a large, cloth bag that has a forest of iron clubs protruding out of the top. A wide mix of older balls already in here. Some of these dudes are really old; covered with nicks and grass stains and crusted dirt. No wonder Fat Guy bought a fresh crew. Spotted a cute chick, but I think she’s foreign—she has some sort of Greek name with only four letters and a sweeping check mark splashed across her dimples. In the moving process, though, I lost track of my cousin, or whatever she was. Oh well . . . life moves on.
I am first out of that stuffy leather bag. Nice. We’re in the countryside. Trees and acres and acres of grass. Life couldn’t be sweeter. Fat Guy nestles me on to a little wooden stake. Grass smells sweet and the little wooden stake is very comfortable. But then Fat Guy swats me on the ass. No warning. Didn’t hurt, but caught me by surprise. And I am flying through the air, WHEEEEEE, before landing about 200 yards away. I must have done a good job, because everyone back there is congratulating him, patting him on the shoulder, slapping high-fives. But what about me? I am the one doing the flying. No appreciation for that, huh, guys?
Now that I am into this flying thing, I’m working on hang time (that’s staying the air as long as possible for you dorks who don’t know about this) and sense of direction (I need a little better help from Fat Guy for that). And I am doing this all without wings. Try that and see how well you do!
But the day becomes repetitious. Swat and fly. Swat and fly. Me and Fat Guy become a team. We’re in this together. We stop occasionally at a small circle of grass so he can tap me on the butt to force me into a metal hole that contains a flag. Fat Guy is not good at this. Not my fault. I try hard but he doesn’t do his part. This causes a lot of cursing and throwing of his short iron on the ground—like it’s the iron’s fault? If I were him, I would just skip these stupid little holes and stay out in the long grass where we’re having fun, but who asked me, huh?
And then—and then—he smacked me on the butt, and I flew out in a wild curve over a couple of trees and landed in some tall bushes. He wasn’t happy when he came to find me. He thrashed the bushes with one of his irons, cursing loudly (Fat Guy’s got a mouth!), while his buddies yelled at him to hurry up. And he gave up. HE JUST LEFT ME HERE. He walked away as if he didn’t give a damn. The whole group went on without me.
Now It’s getting dark. There are all kinds of strange noises in the bushes around me. Squirrels, snakes, chipmunks. A fox. Something licks me as if checking out the taste. Then a snake swallowed me whole, but spit me back out. This is getting really scary. And I never got to say hello to that cute Greek girl. Life is unfair.
It’s still raining. I’m miserable.
Hello, hello, I’ve been found! It’s not Fat Guy, but a younger man. I heard his ball clump into the bushes behind me. Then he waded in with his feet and iron, spreading the bushes apart and stopped when he saw me. He picked me up and glanced back out on the course to see if anyone else was looking at him. No one. He laughed and put me in his pocket and walked out of the weeds, no longer looking for his own ball. I didn’t like this. What if Fat Guy comes back for me? He’ll never find me. I am missing him, so maybe he’s missing me. Also, I felt sorry about my new compadre lying back there just a few feet from where I was. This skinny guy just walked away without him. Whatever happened to loyalty?
I’m now a substitute. No longer the first one out of the bag. Being used only when he happens to remember me. And I get all the hard shots. Flying over the creeks and ponds and hopping over the raggedy ass parts of the course where balls go to die. I am no longer quick on my feet, or should I say, quick on my dimples. It occurred to me that I am now expendable. My bright sheen has gone. I have small nicks and cuts here and there. Some of my dimples have dirt embedded in them, and he never bothers to wash me. I also often wonder about Fat Guy. Is he getting along without me? Does he miss me?
I also dream of the Greek girl and wonder what could have been. I hope life has been kinder to her than it has been to me.
Catastrophe. The skinny jerk has splashed me into the water. A large pond near the end of the course. We’ve jumped this thing several times in the past few days, but today he just pops me up like a fat ass baseball out to centerfield and splunk, I sink. Didn’t even skip across the surface. Just splunk.
Not deep in here. Cold, yes, but not deep. I thought the fool would walk in here to fetch me but no, he plays another ball. He splunked that one, too. But he’s good on the third try. Lucky him. What about us?
The skinny jerk just walked away.
My heart is broken. I don’t think I am going to recover from this. Water is starting to seep into my nicks and cuts. Wet bottom grass is enveloping me. I can feel myself deteriorating. But looking back, it was a good life. Had some fun. Met some nice people. Had a nice family. Saw some of the world. Was in love once or twice. What more could you ask for? I hope Fat Guy is doing well.
I . . .
Jerome McFadden has been writing fiction for the past several years. His stories have appeared in various fiction magazines and e-zines, such as Flash Fiction Offensive, Over My Dead Body, Eclectic Flash Fiction, and BWG Writers Roundtable. Many of his favorites are included in his book OFF THE RAILS: A Collection of Weird, Wicked, & Wacky Stories published in 2019. It placed as a finalist for both the 2020 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. He received a Second Place Bullet Award for the best crime fiction to appear on the web in June 2011, and has had his short stories performed aloud on the stage by the Liar’s League in London and the Liar’s League in Hong Kong. His stories have also appeared in various anthologies, including Hardboiled: Crime Scene, Once Around the Sun, A Christmas Sampler, A Readable Feast, and Let It Snow. He has also won honorable mentions in Writer’s Digest Magazine annual national fiction awards, as well as in several regional writing contests.