I think sometimes more people would understand the mystical nature of golf if the game were less accessible. I mean really, drive down any given road in SoFLA, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself passing a golf course, or two, or three. Some are behind high hedges, but for the most part they are right there, waiting to lure you in.
At least here at the Slice of Heaven 24-Hour Pie Shop and Driving Range, we are so far off the beaten path that when you come to us, you bring along a sense of deliberation and destination, and I like that about our visitors. Except, of course, for my ex-husband Pretty Boy Boyd, they tend not to do much by accident.
It always bothered me when Boyd would arrive home lit up like one of those impossible-to-blow-out candles that are so funny to everyone except for the birthday boy or girl. Boyd liked to say, by way of apology for whatever distress he was about to bestow on me, “I didn’t mean to get so drunk.” What did he think was going to happen once he started pouring pints of Guinness down his throat? It was hardly worth discussing. Boyd, as far as I can tell, just likes to go through life in a state of chronic surprise.
Even now, I can see the look of mystification on his face as he finds himself parked outside The Swing Barn in my old Toyota. Pretty soon, though, he’ll remember his recent encounter with our resident feral green iguana, and he’ll leave again. That iguana has proven to be much more effective than a more traditional restraining order.
Most people, like you, come here by choice or obligation, rarely by chance, and that holds true for Nurse Crotchett, too. I hadn’t seen her since the Hollywood Halloween party, and tonight I was surprised to discover that she really is a nurse. For the party, she’d worn a snug white uniform complete with cap, white stockings, and shoes, but now she is in lavender scrubs with matching eye shadow, and she is carrying a clipboard as well as a medical bag.
“Where do you want me to set up?” she asks.
Quick as ever, all I can say is, “What?”
“For your flu-shot clinic,” she says, handing me a typed memo, on my letterhead, recommending that we participate in the county’s “Alternate Hours” flu-shot program.
“Oh, yes,” I say, noting The Morning Guy’s name on the bottom of the memo, vaguely remembering seeing a green Post-it note that said “Flu Shots Tuesday Night” stuck to my computer monitor.
Crotchett efficiently commandeered one of the pie shop tables, and I took her some coffee and a piece of blackberry-raisen pie. Within minutes, your second-cousin Darnell was there, filling out paperwork, handing over eight dollars, and rolling up his sleeve for his shot.
I saw more cars pulling up, and called Joe Sparkle Junior in from the driving range to help with the influx of customers, considerably more than we normally have rolling in at 11:00 p.m.
During one of the lulls, Crotchett told me that all-night flu-shot clinics were definitely unusual in this part of the world, but a recent New York Times article had given The Morning Guy the idea to run one here, and her boss at the county public health office wanted to be seen as an innovator, so we were the test case.
I will say, it was actually quite pleasant to have so many people around, and most of them did stay on well after the pinch of the Crotchett’s needle had passed. We went through more than a dozen servings of blackberry-raisen, 20 of banana cream, 7 of midnight chocolate, and two of pumpkin-cheesecake.
Because we were so busy inside the pie shop, I didn’t notice that the driving range lights were acting up again. Someone finally came in and said, “Just turn them off. The strobing is giving Darnell flashbacks.” I pulled the switch and came back inside, leaving a note for The Morning Guy to check on the problem, and thinking the range would empty out.
I was wrong. There were still a dozen golfers out there in the dim glow of the pie shop lights, hitting balls as well as usual, if not better. In fact, freed from seeing the arc or the final distance, all they could do was concentrate on the swing, and that seemed to be to their advantage.
I joined them, closing my eyes since there was really nothing to see except the distant glow of the porch light down at my little turqoise conch cottage. Like the rest of the line, I hit the ball anyway, telling by the sound whether the hit was good or not. All in all, I found it to be a most satisfying experience.
Throughout the rest of the night, people continued to make the deliberate drive out to the edge of the ‘glades for flu shots, pie, and mystical golf in the dark.
Finally, I saw the light in the east, and I went inside to say good-night to Crotchett, but she was already gone. I glanced out the front door and saw The Morning Guy just pulling in on his motorcycle, counting the cars, as he strolled around to the side door to begin his day, as I ended my night.
I picked up a piece of quiche, nodded to Sparkle, and headed down the lane to my cottage, satisfied, happy, and pleased that I would not have to go into town for my flu shot this year.