3rd Place – March 2019

The Foursome

By Gary Christenson

The gun oil smelled refreshing as I cleaned my .38 snub-nosed handgun. I slid the gun into my golf bag, tossed the bag into my SUV and drove to the golf course.
I’m scared, but it’s time to confirm my suspicions and avenge Karen’s death.
From the parking lot Bradley yelled, “John, you ready for a beer?”
He was handsome enough to grace the cover of a romance novel. Bradley played baseball in college but preferred girls and alcohol. Women flocked to his good looks and charm. He often chose the neurotic head-cases.
I told him, “Sure.”
He handed me a Miller and said, “Corky’s here and Sherman’s late as usual, but tee off at eleven still looks good.”
We shook hands, exchanged verbal jabs, and noted each other’s extra pounds.
Corky, looking weak and hung-over in plaid golf shorts, walked over and asked, “John, how can you afford to rent this golf course for the whole day? You win a frickin’ lottery?”
“It was a small lottery, enough to pay my mortgage, dump some into the market, and buy a private golf round with my college buddies.”
A Lincoln Navigator roared into the lot, and Bradley announced, “The brilliant Sherman Crosby has arrived.”
No love lost there.
Sherman, wearing geek glasses and baggy navy shorts, told us, “Sorry I’m late. Something came up in the lab.”
I smiled at him. You pussy-whipped liar.
Grabbing my clubs, I said, “Load the carts and let’s move. We’re burning daylight. Bradley, you ride with me.” Keep your enemies close.
The first green lay at the end of a 390-yard tree-lined fairway. “Okay guys, no mulligans, no do-overs and no bullshit. We’re playing golf.” Practicing easy swings with my driver I said, “May the best golfer win.” I teed up and hit the ball feeling confident. The ball rolled to the fairway edge about 220 yards away.
“Good shot.” Bradley teed his ball and delivered a powerful drive over 250 yards down the fairway center.
Corky whined, “Hard to follow that.” He sliced the ball into the trees and cursed. A moment later he slammed his driver into the ground.
Sherman took several practice swings, tensed, and then hooked his drive.
Bradley sneered at him and said, “You’re supposed to swing the golf club, not chop meat.”
Sherman retaliated with an ugly stare. “Shut up asshole. You aren’t special.”
As we drove, I asked Bradley, “So how’re you doing? Women still begging to sleep with you?”
“Not since college. I’m advancing my career and things are good with my new wife. She’s hot and we have another child. How about you? Married? Girlfriend?”
“Occasional girlfriends. I’ve been a depressed loner since my sister Karen disappeared.”
He stayed quiet while Corky and Sherman hit their shots. Later he claimed, “My life is going great.” His left eye twitched.
His mood changed when I mentioned Karen. He’s lying and feeling guilty.
On the fifth tee box I asked the group, “Do you remember Karen, my sister who disappeared, from ten years ago?”
Bradley mumbled, “I had an econ class with her.” He jerked his swing.
Corky grunted and sliced his drive. Sherman said, “She wasn’t interested in geeks like me.” He hit under the ball. It flew only 75 yards from the tee.
The stink of their fear wafted through the air. They’re worried and hiding information about Karen’s disappearance. I slammed the ball two hundred yards and stayed in the fairway.
We grabbed beers after the 9th hole and drove toward the tenth tee-box. Mine tasted stale. I asked Bradley, “So did my sister party with you?”
“I don’t remember. It was a long time ago.” Bradley downed half his beer and checked the yardage card, avoiding my eyes. His hands twitched, which was unusual.
Two holes later Corky and I walked toward the green from fifty yards out. “Bradley mentioned that he, you and Karen partied. Is that true?”
Corky stopped and glared at me. “That bastard ratted me out, didn’t he?”
“He said you partied with Karen. What are you hiding?” I’m three inches taller than Corky and physically intimidating. He wilted under my gaze.
“I’ve got nothing to say. Let it go.” Corky hurried toward his ball.
I drove into the trees on the fifteenth and Sherman landed thirty yards farther back. Corky dropped Sherman at his ball and drove away. I told Bradley, “Take the car and I’ll catch up.” I grabbed two clubs, hit my second shot, and walked with Sherman.
“So, you, Bradley and Corky partied with Karen?”
Sherman turned white. “You don’t have your facts straight. They misremembered.”
He’s a brilliant chemist but a lousy liar. “I heard a rumor you brewed date-rape drugs in the chem lab and used them on women. Is that true?”
“John, stop being a jerk. You know nothing.” Sherman hit but didn’t reach the fairway.
I touched a nerve. They know what happened to Karen and they’re scared.
My ball landed on the green, but it left me with a tough 35-foot putt. I read the green while Corky and Sherman fidgeted. Bradley glared at me, stoic and pale. I gave it a good roll, and watched the ball die in the hole for a hard-fought par.
Bradley grumbled, “Great putt.” He jerked his putting stroke and rolled well beyond the hole. He missed his next putt by an inch and picked up for a double-bogey. Bradley slammed his putter into the ground and yelled, “I hate this game.”
On the 16th hole Sherman admitted, “It happened long ago. Let it go.”
After we finished putting, I said to the group, “Instead of driving to the 17th tee, I propose you tell the truth.” I pulled the handgun out of my golf bag. “My sister Karen disappeared about ten years ago. You were involved, and you’ve lied to me for a decade. I want answers. I have no problem shooting each of you in the leg to encourage telling the truth.”
I pointed the gun at Bradley’s forehead, cocked it and shouted, “Turn around all of you, down on your knees, hands behind your heads. Now!”
Bradley looked into my eyes, paled and nodded. He turned and dropped to his knees. The others followed.
“Sherman, you start. Did you drug Karen? The truth, or I’ll blast your knee. You might never walk again.”
“Yeah, I doctored Karen’s drinks.”
“Corky, did you screw my sister?”
Corky’s voice emerged weak and whiny. “Yeah, me and Bradley did Karen.”
With controlled fury I demanded, “Bradley, what happened? Did you kill her?”
“No!” His voice quivered. “Karen liked to party. She was drunk, stripped naked, and dragged me into bed, saying she’d do all three of us.”
I didn’t know Karen was promiscuous. I screamed, “What did you do to her?”
“Karen needed to pee after Corky and I finished. She stumbled to the bathroom and wobbled back into the bedroom. Karen tripped on a rug, fell, and smashed her neck against the footboard, dying in minutes from her broken neck.”
Corky whimpered, “We panicked when Karen died. Telling the truth would have ruined our lives.”
“What then?” I did not feel like an executioner.
Bradley squeaked out, “Sherman suggested we carry her into the forest. Corky and I wrapped Karen in a blanket, and all three of us buried her. Nobody connected her to us.”
Between sobs Corky said, “We’re sorry she died, but we didn’t kill her. Please don’t shoot us.”
I shouted, “I’m gonna kill all of you, starting with Bradley.” The revolver wavered as I pulled the trigger, seething with inner doubts. I can’t do this.
The bullet whizzed past Bradley’s ear and struck the ground a few feet beyond him. I screamed, “You bastards helped cause my sister’s death.”
I backed away hating myself. The three golfers stayed on their knees as I shook myself back to sanity. “I almost killed the three of you, so I’m as guilty as you are. Nothing will bring her back.” I lowered the handgun and shouted, “Don’t move!” Tears of remorse rolled down my cheeks.
Moments later my voice cracked as I said, “Go home, forget today happened, and keep your damn secrets. I won’t tell anyone if you keep quiet.” I grabbed my clubs and stomped toward the parking lot, disgusted with everyone.
Bradley, Corky, and Sherman were complicit in Karen’s death, but they didn’t kill her. They had to live with their guilt.
 ***
We played that golf round five years ago. Those three golfers disappeared from my life that day when I was so angry and depressed. I often think back and realize how crazy I had become. Thank God that I came to my senses and didn’t commit murder.
If I had succumbed to my senseless need for vengeance, I would never have met Jane, the love of my life.

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