James Rudyard “JR” Baird peered from behind the tree, looking for the rest of his foursome. Barrett and Banning were leaning up against the cart fussing with their cigars. He couldn’t see his dad but assumed he must be out there with the others. He bent down to pick up his ball, intending to toss it clear, move it from behind the tree for a better lie. Someone cleared their throat behind him with a sharp harrumph.
Straightening up quickly JR looked over his shoulder to see his dad stepping from behind a small maple, zipping up his blue and orange plaid golf trousers. “Dad,” he questioned, “what are you doing here? You didn’t hit into the woods.”
“Just answerin’ the call of nature, son. Say you weren’t about to pick up that ball were you? That would be cheatin’ and ‘Baird’ men don’t cheat at golf.”
“What? Oh, no Dad. I was just trying to get a closer look at my lie. I wasn’t sure if I could get out of here with a 5 iron, looks OK though.”
Using his 5 iron JR lined up the ball, drew the club back and swung. The ball was well struck and when it hit the tree, in front of him, it ricocheted back into his forehead with tremendous force. He went down, out cold.
JR opened his eyes tentatively and froze. He was nose to nose with a angry and frightening visage, the likes of which he had never seen before. “Who, who, w, w, who are you?” he stammered.
“Who, who, do you think I am?” the owner of the face mocked as he pulled himself back a bit. “I’m Gerard, the tree you just hit. I was worried about you. You took quite a blow and that’s a real nice goose egg on your forehead. You should have taken the penalty stroke and dropped your ball to the side. What the hell were you thinking? You fucking golfers are all the same. You harrow me all the time. I’m constantly hit by balls and I’ve had a club wrapped around my trunk on more than one occasion. I’ve stood at the edge of this fairway for longer than there’s been a golf course here. I’ve learned a lot about the game and I’ve had enough, I tell you. ENOUGH!” Gerard was getting more wound up as he continued to talk.
“How is it that you can talk?” JR asked. “Trees don’t talk.”
“Of course we talk. We just don’t talk to the likes of you. We prefer intelligent conversation, so we talk amongst ourselves. But you, you were the straw that broke the camel’s back. Your dad peed on my wife, for God’s sake, and then you smack me with a damn golf ball. That’s gonna leave a mark. I’m fed up, I tell you.”
A slightly higher pitched voice cut in, “Honey, that’s enough.” JR looked past the lecturing tree and spotted a maple, leaning over and wiping her trunk with a handful of leaves. “You have to fix this now so he doesn’t remember. I hope it’s not too late.”
“You’re right, dear.” Gerard said and both trees stood straight again, the animation in their limbs vanished.
JR became aware, the second time, with a headache and his father’s voice ringing in his ears, as if from far away. “Wake up, Junior. Wake up.” His father was saying.
Sitting up quickly JR looked at the trees standing silent and stoic. His head seemed to move fore and back on it’s own, as though full of liquid. He grabbed his dad’s arms, “Dad, trees can talk!”
“Uh huh, of course they can son. If you say so, we better get you to a doctor. I think you mighta sustained a concussion. Can you stand up? I’ll help you to the cart and we can get you back to the clubhouse. This is a golf course, there’s bound to be a doctor there.”
“No, Dad. It’s true. You peed on his wife.”
His dad looked up towards the fairway, “Barret? Banning? Come quick. I need a hand with Junior here. I think he’s hurt bad.”