Winner, Winner

Klepto was a good golfer. So good, he told everyone, that the only person who could really give him any competition was the pro at Club Marmalade. The real reason he played with the pro, of course, was that he had no real friends. And even though the guy was a pro, Klepto always won. He suspected the pro of using subtle tricks to help his boss out, like slowing down the windmill when Klepto was looking at the ball and maybe he had the groundskeeper replace the flat ramp at entrance to the steaming teapot hole with a grooved one. Or maybe Klepto was just getting better. He remembered when he first shot the alligator hole, he would tap the ball just as the alligator opened his mouth so when the ball got there, the mouth would be closed. This went on time again despite gentle coaching from the pro. Eventually Klepto got it. At least he never saw the pro prop the big green fiberglass mouth open with a deft movement of his putter when Klepto was addressing the ball.

Klepto liked to get in around 144 holes every week. It relaxed him. He could get some fresh air and see the open sky. He also liked the little tricycle they used to drive the six or eight feet from the end of one hole to the beginning of the next. He always honked the horn. He could say anything he wanted to the club pro, too. He had been given a top security clearance, same as the Vice Precedent and the Joint Clowns of Staff. Almost as top as Tinkerbelle’s.

“I could have avoided the Civil War,” Klepto mused as they approached the curved ramp hole with its decorative towers and stamped steel flags that always flew whether there was a breeze or not.

“Not many people know why there was a Civil War. It’s a mystery. A lot of people don’t even know where Civil War took place. Some people think it was in Vietnam. Not true.” He dropped his orange ball in the middle hole of the rubber pad and steadied it with his long red clown shoe.

“If Andrew Jackson had been Precedent, he would have sorted it all out. He had a big heart. That’s why they called him “Old Hickory.” That means “Big Heart” in Cherokee. He loved the Indians. That’s why he arranged for that hiking trip he sent them on, all expenses paid. The “Long March,” it was called. He would have sorted that Civil War stuff out easy. Probably sent the rebels on vacation like the Indians. When they came back everyone would be relaxed and they’d sort it out. That’s what I’d do. I’m a great negotiator. I make the best deals.

On his third try, he hit the ball hard enough to make it up the ramp. He missed the hole at the apex which would have dropped the ball through a pipe for a hole in one. He could not see if from the tee, though. “How’d I do?” he asked the pro who had placed his club on the ramp to catch Klepto’s ball and deftly dropped one at the bottom of the pipe. “Come quick,” he called and gave the ball a little kick. Klepto arrived just in time to see it plop into the cup.

“A hole in one!” Klepto exclaimed.

“Let’s call it that,” the pro said, marking the scorecard.

“I always eagle that one. Almost impossible to eagle, but I do it every time.I t’s like the Electoral College. They said the system was rigged, but I won even though I’m a rich white male, the most hated kind of person in America.” Klepto settled on the tiny tricycle with his knees sticking out. “Honk, honk,” he squeezed and let the little electric motor scoot him to the next tee. The pro followed in two long strides.

“I would have straightened out the whole Civil War thing. I’d have told them, ‘You work it out or YOU’RE EXPIRED! Like I do on television. You’ve seen me on television? It always works. Same with the Revolution. No need to fight. I’d have told the King, ‘Work it out or YOU’RE EXPIRED.’ He’d have caved. Of course we would have had to shoot some British soldiers anyway to prove we’re tough. It’s important to talk tough and tell people who work for you to act tough. It covers up how weak and desperate for approval you are deep inside.”

“That’s what I told Congress about the spending bill. I said, ‘You work it out or YOU’RE EXPIRED!’ and they did. Someone was saying they left some things out like that wall I’m always talking about and they left some stuff in like, well everything they wanted, but it was a big win for me. A big win. Harlequin said so. And I can fix it next time which will also be a big win.”

They were at the volcano. It was Klepto’s favorite hole because the orange light that came out of the top of the volcano was the same color as his hair. The pro hated it because it was the hardest for him to cheat on. You had to hit the ball up a ramp so it dropped into the mouth of the volcano. The whole thing happened right in front of everybody and if the shot wasn’t just right, the ball would fall off the ramp ignominiously. The pro had tried everything but Klepto’s ball usually tipped off the ramp ignominiously. But today he had a new trick. Just as Klepto was about to hit, the pro arranged for his phone to ring. As the ball started on its journey, the pro announced, “It’s the Vlizzard of Oz, sir.” Klepto’s ass turned to ice and he dropped everything when the Vlizzard called. While Klepto stared at the phone saying, “Hello? Vliz? Is that you?” the pro would drop another ball into the volcano.

It worked.

“Maybe he’ll call back,” Klepto said, never wondering why the Great and Powerful Oz would call Klepto’s golf pro. “Hey, look. Another hole in one.”

“People say my administration’s a bust because I didn’t do anything except sign executive orders which reverse what the previous guy did or call for studies or get overturned by the Supreme Court. But I’ve done great. I doubled the fee here at Club Marmalade. I got my brands trademarked in China. Finally. Tinkerbelle’s too. And I made nice with the heads of the governments of Argentina, the Philippines, Turkey and Egypt. I know those guys were our allies already and some people think of them as anti-democratic dictators, which they are. But since I have Big Tops under development in all those places, I call them business partners. So as far as I’m concerned this Precedent thing is working out perfectly.”

They had gotten to the last hole where you are supposed to hit the ball up an incline and get it to land in the bull’s eye for a free game. Klepto hit and missed. The ball slid off the target and disappeared at the bottom of the box.

But the FREE GAME light went on anyway.

“Hey look, I win,” said Klepto.

“You always do, sir. Whatever the score,” the pro muttered.


Author: leonardrysdyk

Leonard Rysdyk is the author of more than a dozen novels, stories, articles and poems. His work has appeared in many publications including Snow White, Blood Red, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Aboriginal Magazine and the New York Review of Science Fiction. A professor at Nassau Community College, he teaches literature (including science fiction), cultural history (including the history of science) and is an acknowledged innovator in the field of Computer Aided Instruction (CAI), a subject on which he has lectured and consulted.

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