imagine. Neither did I care to explore the subject further for possible
answers. All I wanted at that shocked moment was to retrieve something from the
holocaust of my innocent creation.
I said desperately to the stunned old man and his distressed young son-in-law.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean—"
Of course I
didn't. Neither did all those people who announce later, in dazed voices, that
they didn't know the gun was loaded.
all," Mr. Hawley said with simple dignity. "You were quite right to
call the error to my attention. In fact—" the old man paused, and he took a
long look at his score card, and then he surprised me again. He started to
laugh. "In fact," Mr. Hawley said to me as he tore the score card in
half, "I am in your debt, young man."
It was my turn
now to stare in astonishment.
"I beg your
pardon?" I said.
"It is, if I
may borrow a phrase, simple enough," the old man said. "For almost half
a century I have been spending a good portion of my waking hours trying to
accomplish something that I have always secretly felt is rather pointless,
namely, consistently-breaking 100. For the past two years, since I retired from
the office, all my energies have been poured into the same pointless
ambition." Mr. Hawley paused, looked at the two halves of his score card
and chuckled. "Since it is now perfectly obvious, thanks to you, that in
actual fact I never achieved that ambition, I can now, at my advanced age,
finally stop trying to do so."
The old man's
chuckle became a rumble of delight as he tore the two pieces of his score card
fact," he said, "I don't think deep down I ever did like this game. I
feel like a prisoner who has been released from jail," he said as he tossed
the bits of cardboard to the winds. "Now that I've got that out of my
system," Mr. Hawley said, "I can go back to spending my time sensibly
every day—in the office!"