Taking a swig from the freshly opened bottle of Bacardi 151 rum left over from Christmas 2010, Brad Brigham leaned on a 4-iron like a cane and wiped his sun-cracked lips with the back of a liver-spotted hand.
“Politically correct corporate hacks should have never discontinued this brand,” he said.
“We’re not supposed to drink,” Rex Aston said.
“We’re not supposed to smoke cigars, either,” Brad said, pulling a perfect La Flor Dominicana from a fine brown leather case and offering one to Rex.
“My heart’s not so good,” Rex said.
“We’re 87 years old,” Brad said. “My ticker’s not getting any stronger, either. Our run for the roses is coming to an end.”
“That’s horse racing,” Rex said.
“We’ll go to the track after happy hour,” Brad said.
Rex took the cigar and the bottle.
“Attaboy,” Brad said.
“I’m too tired to finish the game,” Rex said. “I don’t think I can walk back to the clubhouse.”
Dismayed, Brad looked around the green and brightened, pointing to the cheerful foursome lounging at the next hole.
“You want to borrow those guys’ cart?”
The chatty group dressed in fashionable combinations of plaid Brooks Brothers’ shorts, pastel three-button polo shirts and saddle shoe or wingtip footwear. Brad recognized them from the exclusive condo complex where they all lived although he never said more than a few words to these confident, self-absorbed younger men.
Rex tried to distract Brad from the suggestion they steal the cart.
“You sure love to golf,” he said.
“Play every day,” Brad said.
“You love everything about the game,” Rex said.
“Not everything,” Brad said.
Rex stiffened, expecting anything as Brad took on a contemplative pose.
“Know what I hate most about golf?”
“Needing to pee halfway through?”
Brad reached for the rum bottle, took another slug and a deep draw on his stogie.
“Golfers under 40,” Brad said.
“They’re not so bad,” Rex said.
“We’re different,” Brad said.
Life always comes down to how you see yourself. Brad Brigham retired after selling quality tenderloin beef jerky for 35 years. From day one he knew he was better than the other dried cow muscle hucksters lined up in waiting rooms of food chains that bought bulk brands. The day he stuffed spicy beef jerky strips into the breast pocket of his sport coat instead of a silk polka dotted hankie impressed the Piggly Wiggly purchasing VP so much the executive signed a five-year deal on the spot. Brad measured independence by authenticity. Originality meant everything. If anything, Brad Brigham was original. When God made Brad, he broke the meat mold.
“C’mon,” Brad said. “Let’s take their golf cart.”
You could see Bacardi bravado rising in Rex’s eyes like alcohol levels in a breathalyzer test. All the four junior partner type golfers heard behind them were geriatric war cries from two freedom-loving old timers careening on two wheels across a sandy bunker, almost tipping the cart but leaning back after a few seconds of daredevil acrobatics better suited to a low budget action movie stunt driver. If you still don’t get the picture think a drunk and disorderly Oscar and Felix in The Odd Couple.
“Yeeeeeeehaaaawwww,” said Brad.
“Woooooo,” said Rex. “Wooooo.”
Blowing past the flagstick on the 14th hole and onto a perfectly mowed grassy hill like a runaway bumper car at an old fashioned amusement park, the two fugitive handicappers picked up speed on the downhill slope of the course with the reckless abandon of Starsky & Hutch on the nostalgia TV channel.
“Today’s the Junior League meeting,” Brad said. “Want to crash the seafood buffet?”
“And the chocolate fountain,” Rex said.
Continuing to hit the 151, these intrepid octogenarians laughed so hard their six combined hip and knee replacements pulsed with pain. Swept up in the excitement of life in the fairway lane they didn’t even notice the cramps.
“There’s Mrs. Bostwick,” Rex said.
“Moon her,” Brad said.
“I’ll fall out of the cart,” Rex said.
“Show her your stuff,” Brad said.
When Rex turned and dropped his drawers, Brad slapped at a bee and accidentally stepped on the accelerator. Rex lost his balance and dropped from the speeding cart, rolling head over heels one, two, three times, his burnished butt looking like a fresh white honeydew melon every time his bare ass came up in the rotation.
Turning a 180 and heading back for the rescue, Brad drove with one hand while leaning from the cart trying to hook Rex’s dangling arm as the frazzled flasher crawled on all fours and struggled to stand. Scooping up his battle buddy with one arm, Brad felt like Tarzan grabbing Jane while swinging through the jungle on a vine. Despite the chaos he sure hoped a witness videoed the action on a cellphone to show at the club Christmas party.
Proud he hadn’t lost his cigar which still protruded from the side of his mouth like Gen. George S. Patton leading a motorized attack on Pancho Villa, Brad charged the targeted seafood buffet. Turning his head he yelled over his shoulder at Rex who grappled to regain at least a shred of dignity by pulling up his pants to hide the grass stains on both buttock cheeks. As testament to otherwise sound elderly health, at least the cheeks on his face remained rosy. Brad screamed his battle cry.
“Give me liberty or give me jumbo shrimp cocktail!”
That quickly the cart quivered and ran out of gas.
Brad bolted, which at his age, despite sound aerobic condition from Tuesday night salsa dancing, allowed the four middle-aged golfers to catch up and easily grab him by the King Crab legs.
Noticing drawn guns all around, Rex raised his hands over his head.
“Don’t shoot,” he said. “I give up.”
Brad stared defiantly at Prentiss Bassett, the club’s 42-year-old golf pro.
“You’re out of bounds, mister,” Bassett said.
Brad grabbed his crotch with one hand the way Roseann did in 1990 when she sang the Star-Spangled Banner at the baseball game.
“Triple bogie this, kid,” Brad said.
The judge recommended mental health evaluations, calling the two gray renegades “outlaws run amok.”
Before deputies hauled the prisoners to the psychiatric floor of the local hospital, though, Brad Brigham raised a bony clenched fist in a bold last ditch salute. And when he bellowed, those aging lungs roared words to live by, offering a resounding motto for getting on and living each moment to the fullest.
“Prune juice daiquiris for everybody!” Brad Brigham said.