The turkey buzzards overhead moved in for a closer look, their beaks watering as they eyed this lonely cadaver slouching down the fairway, his 48th of the day. He didn't have long to live and the birds knew it. Still, for them the wait was difficult. After all, it had been a while since their last golfer. What symmetry! What irony! The golfer, me, half dead from baking for hours in the 99 degree sun, still searching for birds. The birds, on a forced two-day fast, searching for me, the golfer. Now I know what they mean by 'What goes around comes around'. "It won't be long now, you bastards!" I screamed defiantly at the winged torturers.
Remember The Sands of Kalihari? Lovely Susannah York and an arrogant band of males stranded in the infernal African desert. Wasting away v-e-r-y slow...ly. Idiots. Didn't have enough sense to get in out of the sand.
Who the hell am I to talk? They didn't have a choice. Airplane conked out hundreds of miles from the nearest relief. I, at least, had a choice...Or did I? OK, I'm a baboon, but I'm also a golfer. Doesn't that explain everything? I guess I only had myself to blame for this predicament. But, point of fact, I would rather not. True to my golfer's code, I try never to blame myself for what happens to me on a golf course.
"Now I remember," I recalled for the benefit of a small group of reporters who were interviewing me at my hospital bed, "it was the starter's fault.
"The Monday in question was so hot the course was nearly empty," I explained. "I was able to get around twice before I decided to call it a day. Anyway, by then I could barely make it to my car. I was sick to my stomach from eating too many candy bars and bags of peanuts and I was completely dehydrated despite downing gallons of Gatorade. I was nearly delirious. Moreover, a wretched odor emitted from my golf shirt which was all mottled with ugly white patches of salt. I thought, I've had enough golf for one day.
"But just as I popped open the trunk to put my clubs away," I continued, "the starter yelled, 'Mr. Nichols, Number 1 is wide open, if you want to go out again.' 'Oh my God, not this!' Odysseus was never so tormented by the Sirens as I was by the call of that starter. How cruel is Fate, I muttered under my breath, as I pulled my clubs out and trudged over to the 1st tee. The starter, sitting so neatly in his golf cart, smiled. 'The group in front is probably on #6 by now so you have plenty of room,' he said. 'Hit away.' 'Thank you,' I mumbled, stumbling to the tee box.
"How I managed to get off the tee I will never know," I told the reporters. "I don't remember too much after that. I think it was on the 5th hole that I began to hallucinate. Everything became a big blur. I seem to remember this cute girl in a cart came by. 'You look terrible,' she said. 'Are you all right? Would you like a sandwich, a soda? How 'bout a cigar?'
"I was barely conscious when I made the turn. At some point I must have blanked out entirely. Though I faintly remember the medics putting me on a stretcher. I saw my bag receding behind me and gestured imploringly. 'Don't worry," one said, 'we'll bring your clubs.'"
Just then, a medic came into my hospital room. I recognized him as one of the rescue team. "Thanks so much. I owe my life to you."
"You're a lucky young man," he told me. "We found you passed out on the fairway surrounded by these big ugly black birds. You were barely breathing at the time. Fortunately, we were able to get your heart started again.
"But don't thank us," he added. "Thank the cart lady. Her name is Mary. If she hadn't called 911, you definitely wouldn't have made it."
"I'll have to do something special for her," I replied, graciously.
"Why do you do it?" one of the reporters asked.
"Do what?" I said.
"Put yourself through this? You could have died," he answered.
I was about to expound upon the hold golf has over my mind and body, when the phone by my bed rang. It was a friend telling me he had a 9 am tee time the next day at Augustine and could I make it.
"Sure," I said, my pulse racing. "But I have to see if I can get out of here first. Hold on.
"Oh, nurse," I yelled, "could you see if the doctor will give me a release? I have to meet a friend on the 1st tee tomorrow."
She could only roll her eyes.