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© 2014 - 2015 Ted Louis

Joel VII

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This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

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Chapter 14

Max gave us an excellent tour of the course. It took a little over an hour and a half to check out all of the holes. I don't think I had ever seen Joel as excited as he was as we stopped at each hole and got out of the cart. He was particularly interested in the topology of the greens. He walked around each green, surveying the slopes and contours.

As we arrived back at the clubhouse, Joel said, "Mr. Link, thank you so much for the tour. I can hardly wait until tomorrow. What time are we going to tee off?"

"Well, the ceremonies begin at nine," Max said. "They should take forty-five minutes to an hour, so we should be able to tee off around ten. Mr. Johnson, will Mr. Baker be playing with us in the first group?"

"No, Donald hasn't had a chance to play much golf this year due to his business responsibilities," I said. "He thought he would play later in the week after he was able to hit a few balls on the driving range. He's going to meet us for lunch. Maybe you could give him a few pointers while Joel and I tour the other course this afternoon."

"I'd be glad to," Max said. "I'm looking forward to meeting him."

"Mr. Link," Joel started, "I want to hit some balls after we get back from touring the other course. Could I ask you to watch me for a little while? Maybe you could give me some pointers."

"I'd be happy to," Max said. "Come see me when you get back from your tour with Roger and we'll get you set up on the driving range."

"Thanks, I'll do that," Joel said. "Dad, there's Donald. He just got out of that car."

"Good, he's just in time for lunch," I said. "Max, come meet my partner in this development." I waved at Donald and he started toward us.

"Did you get your tour?" Donald asked.

Before I could answer, Joel responded, "Oh, yeah, it was great. It's a really playable course, but it's still going to be a challenge."

"As you can see," I laughed, "Joel is really looking forward to playing it tomorrow. Donald, this is Max Link. He's the pro for the Nicklaus course. Max, this is Donald Baker."

"Mr. Baker, it is a pleasure to meet you. I've heard a lot about you and Mr. Johnson," Max said. "To be honest, I expected you both to be a lot older."

"It's very nice to meet you as well," Donald said.

"Did you get your errands run?" I asked Donald.

"Yes, I did," Donald replied. "I'll talk to you about what I did later."

"Gentlemen, if you will follow me, I think lunch should be about ready," Max said.

"Is Roger going to be joining us for lunch?" I asked Max.

"Yes, he's probably in the office waiting for us to show up." We walked through the pro shop and into the office where Joel and I had met the two pros earlier. "Roger, good you're here. I'd like you to meet the other half of the developers of this excellent facility. Mr. Baker, this is Roger Groves, the pro responsible for the Palmer course."

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Groves," Donald said.

"Roger, please, Mr. Groves is my father."

"Very well, then I'm Donald."

"I think lunch should be ready," Roger said. "If you'll follow me, I'll show you to the dining room."

As we were following Roger, Donald asked, "Joel, what did you think of the course?"

"I'm overwhelmed. I can't wait to play it," Joel replied. "You really have to hit the ball straight. There's a lot of trouble if you stray off the fairway."

"Ooh," Donald winced. "I think I'll wait and get a few lessons before I make a fool of myself on the course. I'm glad that I didn't bring my clubs. At least I have an excuse not to play."

"I'm sure we could find some clubs for you to use," Max said with a grin.

"How would you like to be fired before the club even opens?" Donald laughed.

"Just doing my job, sir," Max said. "Making sure that the customer has everything he needs."

We arrived at a table that had been reserved for us overlooking the 18th green. After we were seated, a waiter approached and inquired what we wanted to drink. Everybody ordered ice tea except Joel and he ordered Pepsi. He returned shortly with our beverages. "Would you gentlemen prefer to order from the menu or allow the chef to prepare something special for you?"

Roger interrupted before anyone could answer. "I suggest that we leave it up to the chef. He's known for his classic foods with a twist of originality. I don't think you will be disappointed. My wife and I have never ordered from the menu and always leave it up to him to provide us with excellent dishes."

"I can attest to that as well," Max added.

"It's settled then," Donald said, looking at Joel and me and getting nods of approval.

"Very well," our waiter said. "I'll be back shortly with your salads and choice of dressings." Before he left our table, Roger motioned for him to lean down, whereupon Roger whispered something in our waiter's ear. He nodded and departed to get our salads.

I think I could have been satisfied for lunch with the salad that was served first. The main course was, as promised, well worth letting the chef select for us. I'm not sure what it was called, but a main component of it was a very tender cut of beef. As we were finishing our meal, the chef approached and inquired if we enjoyed our meal.

"Sir, it was excellent. My compliments," I said.

"Would any of you gentlemen like some dessert?" the chef asked. "We have a very tasty blueberry tart that just came out of the oven."

"None for me, thanks," I said. That was echoed by Donald, Max and Roger.

Joel had not spoken. When I looked at him, he had a mildly guilty look on his face. "I think I'd like to try some," he said.

"With whipped cream or vanilla ice cream?" the chef asked.

"Ice cream," Joel responded.

"Excellent," the chef said and summoned our waiter who was hovering nearby. He gave the waiter his orders and the waiter rushed off to fulfill them and the chef returned to the kitchen.

When the waiter returned, he placed a bowl containing the dessert in front of Joel. It did indeed look delicious, but too many calories for me. I did enjoy it vicariously as Joel ate it. Oh, to be young again.

"That was really good," Joel said, as he scraped the last little bit from the bowl.

"Are you ready for the tour of the Palmer course?" Roger asked.

"As soon as I visit the rest room, I will be," Joel answered. "Can we meet you in the pro shop?"

Roger nodded and asked, "Mr. Baker, will you be joining us?"

"No thank you," Donald said. "I have a meeting with Fenton in a few minutes, but thanks for the invitation. I'll arrange a tour of both of them at some time later in the week."

"Joel, as soon as I pay the check, I'll be right with you," I said, and signaled the waiter.

"There is no charge, sir," the waiter said when I asked for the check. "As owners, you are entitled to eat free."

I started to argue, but thought better of it and opened my wallet and extracted a twenty and handed it to him. "What's your name?"

"Calvin Fields, sir," he responded.

"Will you be working tomorrow evening?"

"Yes, sir, I work the evening shift Sunday through Friday. I'm filling in today for another waiter who called in sick."

"That certainly doesn't leave you much free time," I said.

"No, but it allows me to attend UNLV. I'm working on my degree in Biology and I need the money to get me through the next year and a half.

On the way out, I spoke to Donald and suggested that we bring everybody here for dinner tomorrow evening. He thought it was a great idea. I would have to remember to tell our cooks that they would not need to prepare a meal for us tomorrow evening. I stopped at the maître d' station which we had bypassed on our way in. I made a reservation for our party of ten at 6:30 and requested that Calvin be assigned our table.

After taking care of business and washing our hands in the rest room, we met Roger in the pro shop before heading for the golf cart.

As we settled into the golf cart and headed for the first teeing area, Joel said, "I forgot to ask Max what the slope rating was for the Nicklaus course."

"It's a par 72 with a slope rating of 71.2 from the white tees," Roger said. "This course is a par 71 and has a slope rating of 70.8."

"Why just a par 71?" I asked.

"There's only one par five on the front nine," Roger answered. "One of our par fours could easily be a par five from the blue tees, it measures 485 yards from there."

"I think I'll play from the whites," Joel said.

"Maybe I should play from the reds," I said.

"You'd have to wear a skirt, dad." Joel laughed.

"I don't think your brothers would approve, if I did."

Our tour of the Palmer course took almost as long as the one in the morning and Joel was as impressed as he was then.

"When will we tee off Monday?" Joel asked, as we returned to the clubhouse.

"The ceremonies won't be as long, so we should be able to tee off somewhere around nine-thirty," Roger answered.

"Dad, I'm going to find Max and then go to the driving range. Are you going to hit some balls, too?"

"I think I'd better. I'll probably make a fool of myself tomorrow. Maybe hitting a few will make it less painful."

We got our clubs out of the lockers that had been provided and headed for the driving range. Max led us to a couple of open spaces where there were range balls stacked in pyramids. Max watched as Joel started hitting some short irons and progressed to the fairway woods and finally the driver. He hadn't said anything until Joel had gone through most of the clubs in his bag.

"Joel, you have a very natural swing and I wouldn't make any drastic changes if I were your coach," Max said. "There is one suggestion that might help you a bit. It's nothing major. Try to keep your right elbow closer to your body on the down swing. You have a tendency to extend it and it causes you to have to redirect the club to impact the ball in the center of the club. Try hitting a few drives, keeping your elbow in."

Joel did as he was asked. He hit five balls before he paused and looked at Max. "It feels a little funny, but I see what you mean. It may take me some time to make it seem natural."

"Anytime you make a swing modification, it takes time to build up the muscle memory," Max said. "You, Mr. Johnson, need to practice more."

"I know," I said. "It just doesn't seem to be a priority at the moment. With six kids, they demand a lot of my time."

"Good heavens," Max exclaimed. "My wife and I have two and she complains that she never has any free time for herself."

"Son, we had better be heading back to the condo," I said. "Your brothers will probably think we deserted them."

"Thanks, Mr. Link," Joel said, shaking Max's hand and gathered up his clubs.

I pulled out my cellphone and called our driver. He said he would pick us up in approximately fifteen minutes.

"I'm thirsty, dad, can we get something to drink?"

"I think we have time," I said.

We went to the snack bar and got a couple of cold drinks and went to wait for our car and driver to arrive. Donald's car was still in the parking lot, so I assumed that he was still meeting with Fenton.

When we arrived back at the condo, all the boys were there watching cartoons on TV. Carson was sitting with them and enjoying them as much as the boys were. I walked up to him and tapped him on the shoulder.

"Hi, Mr. Johnson," Carson said. "I haven't watched cartoons in years. I guess I've been too busy."

"How did you and the boys get along today?"

"We had a great time," he said. "Those guys are really good tennis players for their age. I think they could beat some of the guys on our tennis team. Chris is unbelievably quick around the court. He's almost impossible to pass. I got a workout when I played him in singles. Doubles against the twins was an experience. I paired up with Eli and we got whipped. Chris just stood on the sidelines and laughed at our struggles."

"Did you get to the pool this afternoon?" I asked.

"Yeah, all six of the boys and I swam for an hour or so before we went to the rec room. There are all kinds of games there, pool, ping pong, shuffle board, plus a poker table for card games. We didn't play any poker."

"Sounds as if you had a busy day," I said.

"Yes, it was a lot of fun for me as well," he said. "Getting away from the studies for a while and just having fun was a real treat. Will you be needing me any more today?"

"No, I think we can handle it from here on," I said. "Thanks."

"Hey, guys, I'll see you in the morning," Carson said, waved to the boys and left.

"I like him," Peter said and climbed onto my lap.

"Did you have fun today?"

"Yeah," he said, resting his head on my chest. A few minutes later, I could hear the soft breathing of a sleeping boy.

"I think Peter played too hard," TJ said, as he sat down beside me.

"Maybe tomorrow you guys can take it easy and not try to do so much," I said.

"Maybe, but we had fun. Carson makes everything fun," TJ said. "We met two boys at the pool this morning. They're the same age as me. They're twins, but don't look like twins. Not like Larry and Lenny."

"They're probably not identical twins," I said. "Larry and Lenny are identical twins. The boys you met are probably fraternal twins. Identical twins are always both boys or both girls. Fraternal twins can be two boys or two girls or a boy and a girl."

Donald arrived at that moment carrying a giggling Lenore. "Well, what were the damages from the ladies' shopping trip?" I asked.

"We may have to get a bigger plane to carry all the packages," Donald replied. "I don't know how they got them all in one car."

"It can't be that bad." I chuckled.

"No, that was a bit of exaggerating," he said. "I see you have one down. Carson must have given them quite a workout today."

"Hi, daddy," William said. "Are you going to go swimming with us tomorrow?" He held up his arms for his dad to bend down and give him a hug.

"I just might do that, but first I have a meeting to go to tomorrow morning. Is it alright if I have lunch with you and then go swimming?"

"Okay," William said and went back to watching TV with the other boys.

"How did your meeting with Fenton go?"

"We just went over the figures for the last month. One interesting bit of information that I learned from him was that the bozo who tried to extort money from us is to go on trial in a couple of weeks. It seems that other developers are coming forward to accuse him of demanding payoffs from them. It looks as if Commissioner Phillips may be headed for some serious jail time."

"Is there anything that we need to do? Do we have to be present for the trial?" I asked.

"Fenton said that he saw no reason for us to be called as witnesses since we actually had no involvement, other than getting the private investigator to look into it. But, you never know, one or both of us could be called to testify about that part."

"Good," I said. "I've been in too many courtrooms to last me a lifetime. If you are going to come back here for lunch with William, then we can all ride to the course together in the morning. We should be there, at least, by 8:30. I don't think Joel would allow us to be late."

"Yeah, he's pretty stoked about getting to play those courses in the next couple of days."

Peter began to stir as we were talking. "I have to go to the bathroom," he said and slid off my lap.

"Use that one over there," I said, pointing to the half bath.

While we had been talking, the cooks arrived to begin preparing our supper. I went to inform them that we wouldn't need them to prepare a meal tomorrow evening.

A few minutes later, the other members of our extended family arrived. Lenore immediately attached herself to Jenny and Ginny. The three of them took off for the other room.

"Would anyone like a glass of wine?" I asked, heading for the wine refrigerator. Getting affirmative responses from all of the adults, I continued my trip. On my way, I stopped by the kitchen to ask what the cooks were fixing for supper. Determining that red wine would be appropriate, I retrieved two bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon, removed the corks and poured five glasses. Not feeling confident to carry all five glasses on a tray, I took two at a time to the waiting individuals.

Our dinner was excellent, but the hit for the kids was the chocolate pudding cake for dessert, served warm and topped with whipped cream. At first, the adults declined the dessert, but weakened after seeing the kids' obvious enjoyment. Chocolate and red wine made a great combination.

All the boys went to bed at an early hour. Their activities for the day had worn them out. Donald and I, as we did last night, took our glasses of wine out onto the balcony and enjoyed the cool of the evening.

"You were going to tell me about the errands that you ran this morning," I said.

"Don't get upset," he said. "I went to Best Buy and bought two Xboxes for the boys."

"I might have known you would do something like that," I said. "I'm not upset, but we shouldn't give them everything that comes along that catches their attention. You know that will probably mean that we will need another TV to hook the consoles to. We only have the one in the game room upstairs."

"I guess I wasn't thinking about that, but you're right," he said. "That's easily remedied. I'll have a new one delivered by Saturday when we return. One of my assistants can have it ready for use by the time we get home."

"We need to come up with some rules for using them," I said. "By the way, did you get some games for them?"

"Yes, I found three that were rated E for everybody and there was one that the guy in the store said would be okay that was rated T for teens. We should still restrict that one for the three musketeers. Joel doesn't seem to be interested in video games."

"I'm glad for that. He needs to concentrate on his studies when he gets to college."

Joel was up and in the kitchen area when I came out of the bedroom at seven o'clock Sunday morning. "I see you're ready to go."

"Yeah, I guess I'm a little anxious to get to the course."

The cooks had arrived earlier and were beginning preparations for breakfast. Thankfully, the coffee had been made and I poured myself a cup. Joel made do with a glass of orange juice while he waited for the rest of the meal.

It wasn't long before the cooks sat plates of two, fried eggs, bacon, hash-brown potatoes, and a fruit cup in front of Joel and me. We were soon joined by Donald and he received the same.

Carson was next to make an appearance. He was treated to the same breakfast.

"The boys are still in bed," I told Carson, "but they should be awake shortly. Manfred will be tagging along this morning, helping you out with whatever the boys get into. We have to take off shortly for the golf course. Donald will be back around eleven. He promised his son he would go swimming with him this afternoon."

"Will the girls be going with us today?" Carson asked.

"I'm not sure what they have in mind," Donald said. "Check with Manfred when he gets here for breakfast."

"Our car should be here," I said, looking at my watch. "Have you got everything you need, Joel?"

"Yes, I think so. My clubs and shoes are at the course," he said. "If I've forgotten anything, I'm sure we can get it at the club."

As we were leaving the condo, Manfred was getting out of the elevator. "Women," he said, shaking his head, "they take forever to get ready in the morning. I thought I was going to starve before they were ready."

"Go on in," I said. "The cooks have breakfast ready. I'm sure they will make sure you don't starve."

When we got to the course, Joel said he was going to the practice putting green for a while and then to the driving range to warm up. Donald and I went to meet with the people who were responsible for the ceremonies. We were briefed on the schedule and were asked if, as developers, we wanted to make any remarks. I declined, but Donald said he would make a few. There was still some time before the ceremonies were to start, so I decided to follow Joel's idea and collected my clubs and went to the putting green for some practice.

It seemed as though the ceremonies would go on forever. The course designers had to speak, followed by the construction manager, the club superintendent, Donald, and finally the club pro. I could tell that Joel was getting antsy waiting for the speeches to end. I was almost as bad. The only difference was that I had more experience sitting through long, boring speeches.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to introduce the inaugural foursome to play this magnificent course," the course superintendent said. "First is Mr. Crane Johnson. He and Mr. Donald Baker were the developers of this community. Next is his son, Joel Johnson. I understand he is a fine golfer in his own right. Rounding out the foursome are the two professional golfers on the staff, Mr. Max Link and Mr. Roger Groves. Joel Johnson has been selected to tee off first. Play away please."

I was hoping Joel's earlier nervousness would not bother his drive. I should not have worried, he made a perfect swing and his ball ended up about 280 yards in the middle of the fairway. Now I was worried about my own drive. I struck my drive and ended up on the right side, barely in the fairway, short of Joel's drive. I drew a sigh of relief that I had not made a fool of myself in front of the crowd watching. Both of the pros outdrove Joel and me.

We climbed into our carts, Joel and Max were in the first cart and I was riding with Roger. "Joel had a nice drive," Roger said as we rode down the cart path toward our balls. "It didn't seem to faze him that he had a crowd watching."

"He's an amazing young man," I said. "He's come a long way since I adopted him and his brothers."

"You mean to tell me that all six of your boys are adopted?" Roger asked.

"Yes."

"There has to be a story behind that," Roger said.

"There is, but it would take a long time to tell and now is not the time," I said, as we reached my drive.

The front nine went well. I was six over par, but I thought that was good considering how little I had played recently. Joel was doing better, but I didn't ask him what his score was. Before we started on number ten, we were given a sandwich, some chips, a brownie and a cold drink. I ended up thirteen over par for the round.

"How did you shoot, son?" I asked Joel.

"I shot a 78," he answered.

"That's great," I said, patting him on the back.

"I'll say that's great," Max added. "If I hadn't birdied 17 and 18, he would have tied me. He did fantastic for never having played the course before."

"My congratulations as well," Roger said. "Are you going to play golf at the college level?"

"No, sir," Joel said. "I was offered a golfing scholarship, but I turned it down. I want to concentrate on my studies. I still plan to play golf, but not competitively."

"I'm sure you could easily have made any college team. I'm looking forward to playing with you tomorrow on my course."

"Me, too," Joel replied.


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