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Excerpt from the Book
To the astonishment of us both, Esther, seeming to appear out of nowhere, approached our table toting two plates of food. She first set down a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich on toasted white bread with mayonnaise on the side in front of me. (Hallelujah, the correct order! Happy days are here!)
“Thanks, Esther,” I gushed, having sufficient sense not to mention the fact that she had apparently forgotten my cup of navy bean soup. To be fair, my order of a cup of navy bean soup to accompany my regular sandwich was a hit or miss proposition. With Esther, getting ANY food at all made for a fine day. Getting EVERYTHING correct from her was as likely as hitting the Powerball.
Art clearly looked disappointed when Esther set down what looked to be nothing more than a small plate of finely chopped iceberg lettuce topped only with a miniscule scoop of unadorned tuna salad. “Esther,” he began, “I ordered a chili dog with extra onions and a Heineken. What IS this?”
“I know what you ordered, Dr. Le Fever. However, since you CLEARLY have been packing on a few more pounds than is good for you—who is kidding who here?—I brought you something that actually might do you some good.” She was gone before Art could utter another word.
“Salud,” I said to Art, raising the half-full Arnold Palmer that Fast Eddie the bartender had brought me a few minutes before.
“Cheers,” replied Art, also knowing full well that Esther, as annoying as she could be, was dead-on right in this case. And with that, he picked up his fork and began to eat his lunch with the same enthusiasm that a five-year-old who has just polished off three packs of gummy bears approaches raw kohlrabi.
As we solved all the problems of the world and ate our lunch—one of us with genuine gusto and the other with blatant dismay—the dining room began to empty. The majority of members were now on the driving range, practice putting green, or somewhere on the golf course. (Old Bunbury, by the way, has NEVER had, and never will have, tee times. Members, as it should be, just show up and tee off with whom they want, whenever they want, and, to the ongoing consternation of the purists on the Greens Committee, wherever they want. Today was as busy as it gets at the club all year, and still no member had to wait more than a few minutes to get on the course. Why a private golf club would do it any other way is beyond me.)
“I think I’ll go home and take a good nap,” I told Art as I began to get up from the table.
“I think I’ll stop at Joe’s on the way home and get that chili dog,” countered Art. “Please don’t tell my wife. And for God’s sake, don’t tell Esther.”
“No worries,” I replied in my best Down-Under accent.
I was about halfway across the dining room heading toward the front door when Manny Gonzales, the club’s longtime assistant grounds superintendent, came running into the clubhouse. Spotting me, he hustled over and, with a look of shock that I haven’t seen since Khe Sanh, said, “Mr. Ogive. I just found Mr. Alfie Johnson in the woods behind the fourteenth green. He’s dead—and a bloody mess. It looks to me like his head was bashed in with the five iron I found right next to him.”