Perspective has to be one of the most flexible materials in the known universe. I thought I knew myself. I don’t. I thought I was aware of the world. I’m not. The stars are expanding with a silent malignancy that’s been diagnosed but goes untreated; there’s a monster in the center of the galaxy swallowing life on a scale so incredibly vast that the very thought of it makes my heart stop, and then it vomits this chewed, destroyed life back out into space in a stream of bile so poisonous that it kills all in its path. Meanwhile, here in Springfield, Coach Brody is disgusted with my putting form, and is worried it will never get any better. He’s right to be worried. It won’t.
Dropping acid on the golf course was insane. The whole image of Brody-as-a-rodent expanded into this crazy cartoon character, living and breathing in front of us, with his red eyes strangely benevolent and his dimpled balls lurking mischievously in his tight pants pocket. Whenever his back was turned, laughter would overtake me to the point where my knees would buckle, and I would sit down hard with tears streaming. Brody would stop his oratory on hand placement and glance back at me with a slight scowl on his face, and—I swear to fucking god it’s true—he would wiggle his nose, chin up, testing the wind, just like a mother fucking rat. Even his nose hairs seemed to be as long and stiff as whiskers. I kept expecting him to paw the air with his tiny hands, but it never happened. That would have been too good, I suppose.
After a while, my antics put Brody off enough that he turned to me, leaned on his putter, and, regarding me with the sad smile of a man who understands simplicity, said something like, “You need to understand that golf is like Buddhism. If you are sufficiently practiced, you can determine your own game. But you must quiet your mind, son.” To be honest, he made me stop and think for a minute. The whole idea as it applied to life was obvious and eluding all at once, and I intended to ponder the matter until I got to the very core, but then the whole sky shifted and the hills undulated imperceptibly; a fir tree standing next to me began to breath deeply and I lost the thread of my thoughts.
When dusk came to the rolling green, the world turned mystic: a quarter moon hanging in the middle of the sky, with bright stars dotting the ceiling and fading away as the colors turned neurotic near the horizon. A low mist rolled in and hugged the ground, causing me to grab my own head to make sure it was still on my shoulders, and not floating away in the cosmic jetsam. I turned to Sugarbear to see if any of this insanity was registering with him and was completely shocked to see that Coach Brody had vanished entirely. I panicked just a little, grabbing Sugar’s arm and I kinda squealed, what the fuck happened to the rat man? Sugarbear and Johnson cracked up at that, hitting knees etc, and I was like what the fuck, and Sugar dries his eyes and says, “Dude, he fucking left like ten minutes ago. You said ‘later days, better lays’ to him.” Wow. I know it happened, but maybe it was like something that was happening to a future Pendel on another plane. I was entirely yet pleasantly befuddled about the whole thing. I was speeding through the universe at fifty THOUSAND miles per hour on a rock that was spinning fast enough to cause me to go flying off into space where my head could quietly explode without bothering anyone, and I was wondering if Coach Brody liked me. I voiced this concern out loud, and Sugarbear just laughed even harder. “Oh Jesus, Pendel. Brody probably doesn’t even know your NAME, man. He doesn’t know ANY of us. Just take it easy. It’s only golf. It doesn’t matter at all.” How the fuck could Brody not know my NAME? Sugar shook his head. “Look, don’t think about it. Why would you even want him to know? You don’t want people knowing shit like your name if you can help it, dude. That’s like one of your main fucking problems, Pendel. You tell everyone your name, man.”
It struck me like a rubber brick that I had no clue what Sugarbear’s real name is. I asked him. He said, “Exactly, dude.” My head continued its comfortable spin. I wandered off on my own and never made it back to those guys.
Soon it was full on night. I wandered around the vicinity of North Fountain Blvd, in and out of the neighborhoods, disgusted and thrilled by what I saw; much was hilarious and my head vibrated with inner guffaws at nearly everything. The artificial light splashing across lawns and trees was fucking creepy cool, all yellow and white and secret, and none of these people snug inside their asshole a-frames and split levels knew that the lunatic was now among them, haunting their driveways, watching as they cleared their plates from the table and seethed at each other over apple cobbler and coffee.
I was sitting on a random boulder that some idiot had stuck in their own lawn—I assumed to make mowing as difficult as possible—staring at a quaint little abode across a street that I had never even heard of, when the front door opened and Mr. Hanson stepped out of the door and sat down on the porch steps. My mind began to bleed. I mean, what the FUCK, you know? Seriously, what are the FUCKING CHANCES OF THAT? Nothing so frighteningly random had ever happened to me before EVER, and I was shaken to my very foundation by the thought that I might in fact be wrong about NEARLY EVERYTHING. The street lamps were illuminating the land all wrong, they seemed to roam and refused to hold steady, and the breeze was blowing the leaves in the trees like a hand brushing against sheer curtains—or were they moving by themselves? They are in fact alive, no? Hanson had brought a small cooler out with him, and after setting it down pulled a cheap can of beer from the inside and cracked it open. He took a swig and then set the can down and began to rub his temples. It was hard to make out the look in his eyes. He was too far away and it was night. I know he hadn’t noticed anybody watching him yet, and since, luckily, the past few nights had been rather chilly, I had my black hoody with me and so pulled the hood over my head.
No sooner had I done that when the screen door to the house banged open, and a very petite woman looked down at Hanson, and with what can only be described as HATRED, threw a book at him. Paperback. As she did, she hollered at him so the whole freaking neighborhood could hear, “Here, maybe you want to break THIS, too!” As the screen smacked back shut, I could here her say, “Useless!” before disappearing again indoors. And then, AMAZINGLY, Hanson dropped his head into his hands and started fucking sobbing. Ugh. Holy fucking shit. Even from 30 yards away I was totally embarrassed for him. I was completely confused, stuck on the question of how a person could break a book per say, when the door bashed open again, and the scrawny chick was back, only this time she had her own drink in her hand and she just stood there holding the screen door open with her foot. “Jesus, look at you. This is crazy that I have to put up with this.” Funny, I was feeling the same way about Hanson just a day or two ago. I slid as quietly as I could off of the boulder, and moved to the shadow of some shrubs planted just a few feet away. Just in time too, cause the woman looked up and down the street, I assume to see if anyone was listening to her berate the man with the moustache in front of her. “Come inside, Andy.” Andy. Did I know that? Hanson made a fucking gross sound like he was sucking snot back up his nose—a sound that I HATE—and his voice was all cracked like a CHILD, and he says “No!” Wow. Such defiance.
“I don’t want the whole goddamned neighborhood seeing my husband crying like a sissy on my own goddamned porch, Andy, now get in here!” Oh my god, the fucking drama! The veins were standing out in her THROAT as she screamed. If she didn’t want the freaking neighbors to know, then why in the hell was she yelling so damned loud? Well, whatever. Obviously she DID want people to see. Obviously she wanted to make a FOOL out of the man. Much to my chagrin, I began to feel bad for Hanson, and oddly protective. If anyone was going to yell at this asshole in public to make him look foolish, it should be me. So anyway, again he refused her, saying “You’ve got no right talking to me the way you do. Go back inside. I want to be left alone.”
And so she kicked him down the stairs. THAT’S RIGHT, FUCKERS. She moved fast like a horse and just booted his ass right down the steps. He tumbled like a sack of shit and hit the sidewalk hard on his shoulder. He just laid there and whimpered, and it struck me for the first time that he was probably fucking wasted. Then the boney chick’s foot lashed out again, this time kicking the cooler and the open beer down on top of him. He did nothing. He just lay there in a growing puddle of suds. She hollered, “I HATE YOU!” and disappeared inside. Hanson just kind of rolled around on the ground, moaning “No, no, no…”
I was utterly appalled.
Porch lights started coming on in the houses around me, and I knew it was time to make myself scarce. My buzz had abated greatly, and I was feeling very suspicious of the world, but my skin was still alive and my spidey sense was still tingling, so I made my way home and sat up half the night rocking out to Mayhem by the light of my flashlight.
People are twice as mysterious as I had originally thought, but Mayhem still fucking rocks balls. Life is getting more interesting, if not better, and it’s hard to say if I will ever snap back completely from the incredible coincidence of finding Andy Hanson, too wasted to stand and crying on his front porch.