What is the fool thinking? wonders Alvinas dead husband, Waldo.
Rule Number Four! warns Pastor Myron Mutter, desperately. Never
hold on to or be near anything made of metal!
Mayor Joneswhose first name is pronounced with a sound not
found in the English language, a palatal push of airbreathes in the
sight of his homeland, and then . . .
Llewellyn . . . Hope whispers, sending her breath into the double ls
the Welsh way, giving his name the sound of a reticent breeze.
He looks down, prepares, still as granite. Suddenly he swings: his club
arcs upforcefully, theatrically, with intentand then down, slamming
into the ball as the thunder roars again, swinging through, cutting
a semicircular swath through space and then freezing momentarily, long
enough to form with his club a straight vertical line, a perfect conduit
between earth and sky, and then there is a crack and a sizzle and a sword
The motion of the ball outlasts the living force behind it; it hurtles
skyward with a marvelous ease, and even after the mayors heart is
stunned into stillness by ten million volts of electrical current, the ball
sails onward, upward, disappearing into the roiling clouds, moving in
opposition to the hail that is now beginning to fall.
In the clubhouse cocktail loungewhere theres a good view of the
fifth-hole teethe mayors friends are temporarily confused. They cannot
see that the single hailstone that seems to be rising miraculously in
resistance to the laws of gravity is really an ordinary pockmarked Titleist
Then their eyes, losing sight of the ball, trace a line earthward and
land upon the stilled form of Llewellyn Dewey Jones (19342003), physician,
baritone, four-term mayor of Emlyn Springs, Nebraska, and
Hail is bludgeoning the clubhouse roof. Bud Humphries, the country
club bartender, town council chairman, and volunteer paramedic, snatches
up the defibrillator and rushes outside. Hail, obedient, downwardfalling
hail, pummels his shoulders; he will be sore tomorrow and for
weeks to come. This soreness will be fought with numerous applications
of Bengay, which he will purchase from the towns only drugstore,
Lloyds Drugs, and here is Owen Lloyd now, pharmacist, war veteran,
knocking over his martini glass in his haste to get down from the bar
stool and call the fire station. The two other men in the clubhouse, Alan
Everett Jones (no relation) and Glen Rhys Thomas, leave their peanuts
and pitcher of beer and follow Bud outside, even though the storm is
still directly, dangerously overhead. They go because they are men of
Llewellyns generation, few in number, men who have stayed put as
their sons and daughters moved away in all four directions, to bigger
towns and even bigger cities.
They reach him, their fallen friend. Bud performs CPR, knowing that
the mayor is gone, and yet still here, and so deserving of their best efforts.
Llewellyn would have done the same for any of them. They could
all tell a different story about a time they watched Dr. Jones labor over
the body of some poor soul who had clearly passed onand saw the look
on his face when he couldnt postpone that passage.
Owen Lloyd has finished his phone call and hurries outsideas best
he can, with one good leg and one prosthetic one. He has remembered
to bring a blanket.
These living men, fathers all, cover their friend, standing guard over
him in the pelting hail, the pouring rain. They stand: waiting, witnessing.
From town comes the sound of the firehouse siren. The volunteer
firefighters, who theyve known for years, known by their first and
middle and last names, are on the way.
The storm subsides, passes. The air is cooling. Bud stops giving CPR.
They might as well carry Llewellyn inside.
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