ACT II, SCENE 2: “When We Were Gone Astray”

    “Let Nothing Ye Dismay” is fictional holiday tale. It tells the story of a group of Millenial 20-somethings trying to celebrate Christmas together, for the first time away from their parents, in a rented beach house. Various adventures, romantic and otherwise, ensue.

    Time: TUESDAY AFTERNOON

    After lunch, it was time for Panther’s Run.

    At Dan’s request, Belinda had worked golf into the week’s itinerary.

    A good golfer, Dan had learned the game from his dad and uncle on trips to Ocean Isle, tromping around the emerald necklace of fine courses that spread across the nearby mainland.

    Scoot had gone on some of the same expeditions, but the game didn’t suit his ADD. As for hyper Jeremy, well, sometimes they let him drive the cart.

    Panther’s Run was one of a verdant trio of courses fanning out from a central club house five minutes from the causeway. The other two were named, preciously, Lion’s Paw and Tiger’s Eye.

    “And you know what?” Dan said as their car wended through the pines towards the clubhouse. “I think I saw another one on the way over: Jaguar’s Lair.”

    “Let’s keep it going. How many stupid cat names can we come up with?” Jeremy said. “How about Bobcat’s Bladder?”

    “Ocelot’s Orifice!” “Puma’s Pituitary!” “Tabby’s Tibia!”

    “Lynx’s Links,” Scoot offered dryly from the back seat.

    “Well-played, sir, well-played.”

    After much babbled debate, which irked the lean, leathery old-timer in the pro shop no end, they decided four of them would actually play golf, while the other three would ride along and kibitz.

    Steffi, who’d played a little, would hold up distaff honor while Jeremy, for the safety of all, would be kept as far away from a Titleist as possible. Belinda chose to ride in a cart with Carly, to get to know her a little.

    On the first tee, Paul, limbering up, asked: “Teams? Stakes?”

    “God, if I knew we were going to be serious, I never would have rented clubs,” Stef said.

    Dan asked Paul, a glint in his eye: “What’s your index?”

    “Twelve. Yours?”

    “Twelve? Pretty good. I’m a six. Scoot’s not bad, so you take him and I’ll take Stef and we’ll call it a match for beers after, OK?”

    “You’re on,” Paul said, rooting around in his Callaway bag for some tees.

    The first hole stretched out gorgeously from an elevated first tee, the fairway a vivid green inside the brown, dormant rough. Dan unfolded a fluid swing that sent the ball soaring 250 yards down the sprinkler heads.

    “You da man!” Jeremy yelled.

    “J., please,” Scoot muttered.

    Paul was next up. He fiddled and waggled, fiddled and waggled. Just as he finally began a looping backswing, Jeremy blurted, “Jeez, hit the ball already!”

    The downward hack sent a shanked drive screaming sideways into the practice area, where it assumed a position of hiding amid hundreds of red-striped range balls.

    golfswing

    The women giggled, while Jeremy doubled over in guffaws.

    Cheeks bright with rage, Paul turned to Jeremy, “Listen, moron, keep your $#@& piehole shut during my backswing!”

    “It’s OK, man. No prob,” Dan said. “First tee mulligan. It’s standard. Hit another one.”

    Paul shoved a new ball on a tee, and with a quick swing, guided it onto the fairway, 70 yards short of Dan’s.

    As Paul got to his cart, Carly walked over, put a hand on his shoulder, whispered something. He smiled.

    “What was that?” Belinda asked as Carly settled into the cart, putting her bare legs up so her feet rested on the dash.

    “Nothing. Just a word of encouragement to the outcast,” Carly replied.

    Under brilliant sun and a light breeze, they wandered the leafy precincts of the front nine, the three golfers not named Dan losing enough balls to stock a small sporting goods store.

    At the turn, Scoot announced, “Enough for me. I’ve already taken as many strokes as Tiger does for 18.”

    Steffi agreed: “Me, too, I’m getting blisters on my blisters.”

    “Oh, I wanna finish, don’t you, Dan?” Paul said swiftly. “New match, back nine, give me a chance at revenge after that skunking you gave me, without the distractions?”

    Dan glanced at his cousin; Belinda nodded imperceptibly. “Sure,” he said.

    “I’ll go round with you, too,” Carly said, getting out of the cart and raising her arms in a languorous stretch. She got into Paul’s cart: “I’ll ride with Paul, Danny. He needs the moral support more than you; and you’re so serious out here, you wouldn’t want me chattering to you.”

    LoveBug

    Three hours later, Dan plunked into the beach chair next to Belinda down on the sand, where she was polishing off her novel as a steady breeze ruffled the black ponytail poking out of her ball cap.

    “How’d it go?” she asked him.

    “Well, your boy played a bit better, but I still cleaned his clock. Really, he seemed more intent on winning another game.”

    “What do you mean?”

    Dan stared at the steel-blue sea, which was dimpled with modest breakers.

    “Let’s just say the two outsiders on this junket seem to have bonded.”

    Next Scene:  Rubbery clams and sour laughter: A trip to Dick’s

    Next scene posts Tuesday morning, Dec. 22

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