LOS ANGELES, MARCH 1953
The fat man couldn't turn it loose. Got the sun in the sky, birds in the trees, shine on his shoes—everything a gentleman need but two wives and a death wish, as the old saying went—but he still just stood there froze over the ball, the seconds ticking away, like somebody couldn't pee for the nurse.
And yellow pants, speaking of urination.
The boy was a few steps behind the fat man and to the side, carrying his bag. He'd been standing by watching half the morning, and there was something about the fat man he still couldn't place. Something familiar that reminded him of something else. The boy waited for the connection to come, not trying to hurry it along.
Connections came to him all the time—people to things and things to people, things to each other, surprises and amusedments out of the thin air—it wasn't anything he did to cause it, and sometimes, like now, he knew one was there before he knew what it was.
And sometimes, of course, it turned out to be a surprise but not no amusedment at all.
The boy was almost 18 years old, but innocent-looking for that age, still hadn't grown into his feet, and when he spoke, it was soft and mumbled, where you could barely tell what he said. He was known around these environs as Train.
The fat man's weight hung over his belt in bags in front and over the sides, and his thighs moved around under those big loose pants—it look like children hiding in the curtains. He took a long breath and then went still, with eyes like a strangling.
This same thing been going on long enough now that it lost its comical aspect. Then a ripple passed across his face, like a fish swam up to the surface, and they all saw it and knew it was time to shut up and hold still, and for a little while nobody moved, nobody dare to move, because any little perturbation now, any flutterance in the air, and they got to all go back and start over from the beginning. The breeze itself stopped blowing.
The boy held his breath, and held the bag—his hand went over the irons to keep them quiet—and then the fat man sighed, like the news on this shot was already in, feeling that old, familiar misery stalking him again, and picked the club almost straight up off the ground.