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AN INNOCENT HOLOCAUST
I couldn't 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.
"Look," 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.
"Not at 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 into quarters.
"Matter of 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!"