Then the nine-year-old boy felt himself wrapped in his father's arms, sobbing and gasping for air. David didn't say it then. It came a few weeks later, in the silence of their dumbstruck home. "I killed him!" he cried. "I killed him!"
The boy loved to golf alone in fog. No one could see him. He could see no one. It was as if the sky were colluding with him, lowering a gray curtain between him and the world. Somehow, when he could not see the consequence, the place where the ball landed, it made the instant when his hands cocked and let fly even purer. Just harmony, David and his swing.
Now and then David's father materialized on a cart, on his way to give a club member a lesson. Bobby had been good enough to play on the PGA Tour, but he had forsaken that dream for something that no longer existed, the stability of his family. He watched the boy from a little distance. Good shot, bungled shot—you couldn't tell the difference by David's face. You couldn't tell that he'd recently discovered that he lived in a world in which, at any moment, something too tiny to see could invade your body and destroy it, and no one, not the smartest adults on earth, could stop it. The boy was blank. He looked numb.
"Good shoulder turn, David."
The boy looked over at his father. Bobby was the most handsome, friendly, glad-handing club pro that a Timuquanan at the 19th hole could ever hope to smoke a cigar and drink three Scotches with—but nowhere to be found at home, having left a year after Brent's death. It was all too confusing for David to understand. He loved sharing the language of golf with Dad. But David would not be like Dad.
"How was my hip transfer?" the boy asked.
The father had taught his son the fundamentals, but he believed in letting a novice find the swing that was natural to his body, not imposing the instructor's. The father was relieved that his boy had found somewhere to turn, the safest, most soothing place in the world. The father was a little intimidated by this son.
"Looked fine," replied Bobby. Then his cart vanished into the mist.
Mist gave way to rain. The boy didn't go home. He went into the pro shop, where a cup had been built into the floor. He took the putter that was for sale and hit balls into the hole until that was no longer a challenge. Then he banked them off the golf-shirt display, off the wall, into the cup, so many times that he could gauge, from every angle, the effect of the grain of carpet and the subtlest slope of the floor. He would alter the placement of an item or two, perfect the new ricochet, then wait to sucker some innocent club member into a bet.