Looper

from Jabberwock Review – Winter 2013 – Volume 33.2

*Nominated for a Pushcart Prize!

Jabberwock ReviewOn eighteen, I know exactly what will happen as soon as Ethan asks me for his seven iron. “You maybe want to club up?” I say, but he isn’t having it, and I know better than to argue. It’s his go-to iron. He lines up his approach and swings. I lose the ball as it arcs in front of the sun, but it doesn’t matter. The token applause from the gallery tapers off and I can hear the carom off the rocks and then the wet bloop from the harbor a hundred twenty yards ahead, as sharp and telling as a baseball hitting a catcher’s mitt. The spectators offer a collective bleat of consolation but I can’t muster up any sympathy. I’m just doing the math in my head. The one-stroke penalty means he’ll bogey this hole if he one-putts, and that’s no gimme with Ethan. Dropping two strokes will sink him on the leaderboard down to the high fifties, so not listening to me probably cost him about twelve grand. And from my cut, that’s six hundred dollars Ethan might as well have thrown into the Calibogue Sound along with his golf ball.

He flips his club away for me to fetch and marches off for the spot where he’s going to have to take a drop. I pick it up and clean the grit off the face before returning it to the bag. Caddy etiquette dictates that I ought to jog to catch up with him, but it’s the last hole, and I’m petty enough to make him wait. Maybe he’ll use the extra time to think about how his five iron would have cleared the rocky shoreline and left him looking at a birdie putt. Or maybe he’ll decide he’s going to fire me after tomorrow’s final round.

This is the fifth tournament I’ve looped for Ethan, and it’d be fair to say it’s been a rocky start. We finished at the bottom of the field at both the Sony and Torrey Pines, withdrew due to a flare up of his recurring elbow tendonitis at Pebble Beach and missed the cut when he came back at the Masters last week. But we both know rough patches happen. We are still feeling each other out, and it’s like taking up with a new woman. You figure out the boundaries, keep your guard up, and strive for harmony. But sooner or later, we’ve got to have that first fight, if only to see if we can survive it. Thus far, Ethan hasn’t shown the stones for that sort of row. It’s all the more infuriating, because maybe if he got angry, it’d spark something in him. It’s high time I caddied a winner.

Read the rest in the Winter 2013 issue of Jabberwock Review.

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