Friday, 30 January 2009
Chapter 6 - Green Fees
“You look like you’re going to be sent to Afghanisan!” His father growled. “Lighten up, will you? It’s only a goddamn game!”
George glanced over his shoulder.
His old man was leaning on his 6 iron. With his silver hair, sky-blue eyes and high forehead, George Strong snr might have passed for an academic or even a saint - if it hadn’t been for that look of reproach and disapproval in his eyes, that is.
“Yeah, like you ordering me to lighten up is really going to help me to relax,“ George shouted back as he switched his golf club from his right hand over to his left hand so that he could roll up his sleeves.
Father and son! Always boxing, battling each other, always competing to come out top. Each of them always trying their best to beat the other one to the silverware. But wasn’t this competition healthy? Wasn’t this ruthless win-at-all costs, in fact, the secret of his family’s phenomenal success? George mused.
It was just after ten in the morning, and the cool air gave no hint of the bitter snow storm forecast for later that day which would soon drive the members of the most exclusive country club in Washington, where Wall Street billionaires, government officials, senators and TV talk show hosts mingled, indoors to the bar for drinks.
Next moment, his pager went off.
“Hear that, Dad!” George shouted. “The office wants me!”
“Just get on with it!” his father shouted back.
“Okay. You’re the one who’s always complaining I slack off.”
“I complain you never finish anything…” came the reply.
George leaned over and stuck a peg into the velvet green grass. He took a ball out of the pocket of his chinos, and balanced it on top of the peg with the tips of his fingers. He had just straightened himself again when his pager buzzed once more.
“I’d better answer,” he said. “It might be something important!”
“Like what?” His father cried. “You seem to be labouring under the delusion you’re important for this government. There are a hundred people out there who know what to do better than you do.”
“Yeah, I know! Dick, Ron and Aaron Rubinstein.”
“They planned the whole thing. Let them get on with it,” said his father.
“What if something goes wrong?” said George.
“Nothing will go wrong. They’ve been running America for years, got away with every crime in the book.”
“Yeah, but blowing up the WTC before everyone’s eyes like that!”
“You think people will realise? They’re kept too busy surviving for one thing.”
“Well, I read more nearly 70 per cent want an independent inquiry.”
“They’re not going to get it! Rubinstein has the FBI, the CIA, the attorneys and the congress in his pocket."
“Public pressure's going to build.”
“Ridiculous! The NYT didn’t even publish the poll. It fills its pages with the usual bullshit.”
“What’s going to happen, I mean, to America, Dad?”
“By the time this is over, there won’t be an America left. They’ll be a North American Union. Get on with it, will ya? I haven’t got all day!”
George drew in a sharp breath. His heartbeat accelerated. He had to step up to the plate again! Prove himself yet again. His whole life was a series of tasks his father had set him…
Pulling down his peaked cap to shade his eyes, he gazed down the green shining in the bright October sunlight over to the first hole, flanked by bunkers on either side. What should he do? Go for broke and attack the flag? Or play it safe and lay up short?
“What are you going to do?” his father shouted over.
“Hell! It’s only a par 3!” he cried out. “Just 156 metres. No wind.”
“Careful!” said his father. “I’d lay up short.”
His father, the club champion, was standing on the edge of the green, leaning on his golf club, his profile raised to the glorious, holy light, obviously enjoying the spectacle of the sun rising up over the woods, conquering bit by bit the shadows on the first green, pointing at the best spot to aim for.
“You got to think long term, George!” he cried out. “Rubinstein and Donnerfeld think long-term, strategic!”
“Yeah, yeah,” muttered George.
“I’ll show my Dad once and for all!” he thought to himself, narrowing his eyes. “I’ll whack the ball over the goddamn bunkers and get onto the green. If I’m lucky, I could get a hole in one. Yes, I’ll prove to him I’m not a looser and a slacker.”
He moved his feet to make sure they were positioned at the right distance on either side of the ball. Then mentally issued himself the command: succeed!
The command communicated itself to his arms and fingers wrapped around the grip. He pivoted on his waist, swung the shaft around his shoulder, paused a beat and then swung the club back down in a perfect arc. The head of the club made contact with the ball at the perfect angle and with the perfect amount of force. The ball went flying through the air on precisely the right trajectory to land, with a few bounces, on the soft grass a few meters from the flag.
“Yippee!” he cried out, thrilled.
“See, Dad. Sometimes it’s better just to take a whack!”
His father frowned as he walked up.
“We’ll see who finishes this course on top. It’s the long stretch that counts!” he said.
His father leaned over to put his ball on the tee with acrobatic elegance. Even in his old age, he moved with the loose, confident movements of someone who knows his own worth.
Angling his shoulders with perfect poise, he hit the ball, his arms continuing to move outwards in generous open arc. But at the last moment, he seemed to lose confidence. He struck the ball, but badly. His shot disappeared into the left hand bunker. A puff of sand rose into the air.
“Fuck!” he cried. “Fuck! Fuck! Why did I hesitate?"
He slammed down his club.
That moment, one of the White House aides approached, a clean shaven guy in a smart suit.
“What’s up?” George asked.
“Mr President, a call from the Vice President!”
“Okay, okay,” said George, taking the cell phone.
“What’s up, Dick?”
“Where the fuck are you?”
“Playing golf with my old man.”
“Get back here to the White House. America has just started a war and you’re playing golf?”
“It doesn’t look good, that's what! There’s an NFL guy whose just quit his million dollar quarterback contract to join up and fight in Afghanistan and you’re playing golf.”
“What can I do if the guy’s so dumb,” said George.
“Just get back here and make sure you’re ready to hold a press conference this afternoon.”
"You do it! I haven’t had a break for weeks.”
“Stop your whinging and get here right now.”
“My Dad’s not going to like it. We just started. You know how he is.”
“With all respect to him, he’s not carrying the can anymore. You're the prez, not him.”
“Okay, okay. I’m coming in.”
George handed back the cell phone.
“Dad, I have to go.”
“Dick wants me at the White House. I gotta give a press conference.”
“What for? Can’t Rubinstein and his crew do all that?”
“They need a flag waver.”
“I don’t get it,” said his father. “Rubinstein and his guys are making a fortune out of this when you count up their killings on the stock market, the contracts from supplying the military not to mention the interest the US is going to have to pay on their trillion dollar war debts, the profits from the drugs in Afghanistan and all that."
“Rubinstein and Rotefeller can’t put their ugly mugs in front of the camera.”
“As if you’re any better.”
“Better than them.”
“That wouldn’t be hard.”
“I’m fucking tired how you’re always laying into me,” George snapped. “I’m never good enough, am I?”
His father turned pale and trembling. He was about to say something, then bit his lip. Next, he lifted his arm and put it around George’s shoulder. There were tears in his eyes.
“Look, son, I just wish we could have a good relationship. Why do we always end up fighting each other?”
George’s face stiffened. He hated it when his father came close to tears, and so suddenly, as he did more often now he was getting older.
“Maybe I had too little patience for you, too little understanding,” his father continued, turning away, overwhelmed with strong emotions.
“It’s okay, Pop,” George said, softening. “I got to go.”
“Sure, you’re a Rubinstein toy boy.”
“What am I supposed to do? I got into this because of you! You were the one who sent me into the Skull and Bones at Yale!” George shouted.
His anger and hatred was back. The emotion that filled him from head to foot: every muscle and nerve ending inside his body tingled.
“Okay,” said his father. “I meant the best for you, you know. You’re enjoying the life your grandfather and I worked for. It’s up to you to carry on the family tradition.”
“I know, but sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it, Pop. That Rubinstein doesn’t give a fuck about America. America is just there to give money and soldier's blood to the Zionists.”
“I know, but we’re in too deep. We can’t go back. It’s go on or else a bullet.”
“They wouldn’t, would they?”
“JFK got it.”
"It’ll work out, son.”
“I don’t see how. The New World Order is crazy and if Rubinstein is in charge, it’s curtains for us all.”
“I’m investing in land in South America for us," said his father, apathetically. "What else can I do?"
George sighed. He walked off over to the clubhouse. How is this all going to end? He asked himself as he walked up the steps into the interior. A TV mounted on a pillar was showing pictures of US bombers attacking Kabul.
“The bombardment of Kabul is continuing day and night,” the anchor was saying in tense voices. “This is the first step of Operation Enduring Freedom. Troops will only be committed when the resistance there has been softened up. Reports are that the Taliban regime which supported al Qaeda and the terrorists that destroyed the WTC is crumbling.”
George stopped at the bar and asked the barman for a coke. He sipped it while he watched the TV. The next report was about the "terrorists" who attacked the WTC...
“Turn it off will you?” he shouted out. “I can’t stand the stuff.”