Chapter 1: In the Beginning
All of this wouldn't have happened if I hadn't discovered that I really liked to play golf so late in life. Nobody would have called it competitive, or interesting or even good golf, but it was a fine way for me to be outside on nice days and not be doing yard work. Because of this new love found late in life I got rich, divorced, laid many times and generally turned my life upside down.
I should probably tell you right away that my name is Tom Watson. No, not that one, another one. Truthfully, my name is one of the many reasons that I didn't even try golf until later in life because I took enough shit over it without playing HIS game. Luckily, he got older and I got less sensitive about it so I decided, at the ripe old age of fifty-two, to give it a try. I discovered real quickly that one; I had a great time and two; I was way too old to ever be any good at it. Just standing on a driving range and watching seventeen year olds boom the ball out past three hundred yards while my mighty blasts would trickle dead at two hundred and thirty five told me everything I needed to know about how age, lack of flexibility, and carrying too many pounds doomed me to somewhere less than mediocrity. I took pleasure in reading that more than half of all golfers never break one hundred, because I could at least do that, but I was never, I thought, going to play the game "for real".
That is, until the reason for this story hit me. And I mean literally HIT me. I was enjoying an early Saturday round at my local muni, having tacked myself on to an anonymous threesome of fellow hackers, when from out of the blue (the guy who hit the thing told me later that it was a truly magnificent ball flight, slice and deflection off a nearby tree and all) I felt a tremendous blow to my right temple and went down like a sack of dirty clothes.
When I woke up, disoriented and fuzzy from drugs and the blow, I was lying in a hospital bed, beeping and purring machines all around, my irritated wife of many years staring at me. I would have to say that up to now she had been barely tolerant of my new found enthusiasm for golf, caustically and frequently remarking on her "golf widow" status and my lack of progress on the projects she wanted me to get done. The look on her face didn't appear to be one of anxious concern.
"Well, it's about time you woke up and rejoined the world." She snarled.
This conversation isn't going anywhere productive. "What hit me? Was I shot?"
"No, idiot, you were hit in the head by a golf ball. At least you weren't hit any place important." She replied.
At least her crappy attitude was helping to clear my head, even if the heart monitor WAS registering a rapid increase in my heart rate and blood pressure. As I was about to open my mouth and insert my foot again (our friends called us the Bickersons behind our backs) I felt this scary stab of tearing pain in my right temple and passed out again.
THIS time when I woke up I was surrounded by enough medical professionals to cause my insurance company some real concern, and hooked up to even more machines, and being called to by an older looking doctor.
"Can you hear me? What is you name, sir?" He obviously hadn't stopped to look at my chart on the way to the Code Red.
"Watson, Tom Watson." I said foggily.
"Was he delusional the last time he woke up too?" the vision of hope asked to one of the others, who was obviously was at least paying attention because they replied
"That is his name, Dr. Frost."
"Oh. Mr. Watson, can you tell me what happened?" the alert Dr. Frost inquired.
I haltingly recapped my brief conversation with the old ball and chain and then the passing out. After that exchange, the response team stood around poking and prodding, coming to no firm conclusions, while my eyes wandered around the group, checking out name tags, bosoms where appropriate and hoping the excitement would decline so that I could take a nap.
Just as my eyes fell on one of the monitors showing the time, 2:37:26 pm, something REALLY weird occurred. I felt my vision contract into a tunnel as the sights and sounds around me seemed to flow together. A swirling sensation seemed to pass before my eyes and suddenly I was looking up at Dr. Frost again.
"Can you hear me? What is you name, sir?" I heard him say.
"My name is still Tom Watson, Dr. Frost." I replied. Do they always ask the same questions I wondered?
"Was he delusional the last time he woke up too?" the repetition continued.
"That is his name, Dr. Frost," came the reply.
"How do you know my name?" he asked me.
"It's on you name tag?" I replied. Not being a big fan of his manner so far, I wasn't feeling all that forthcoming.
As the poking and prodding commenced again, I glanced over at the monitor showing the time and saw 2:32:45 pm. My, I thought; now that is strange. People milled around, costs continued to rise, and nothing meaningful was decided for the next few minutes until I looked over and 2:37:26 pm rolled around again and BANG, I'm back to
"Can you hear me? What is you name, sir?" the repetitious Dr. Frost said again.
"FUCK!" I replied as I looked at the monitor showing 2:32:31 pm.
This was getting scary. Then it proceeded to get boring, as I got to relive the same five minutes twenty or more times in succession. Finally, in a fit of pure frustration, I waited until three seconds before the "reset" time, took a deep breath and held it like a petulant child. As I watched, the time changed to 2:37:27 and I was out of the loop, YIPPEE! Reliving the same day like in the movie might have been fun, but reliving the same five minutes while stuck in a hospital room sucked rocks.
One thing I knew right away was I was NOT talking about this, if for no other reason than to avoid the padded room that waited at the end of the conversation. Things settled down, Dr. Frost wandered away out of boredom, and life mercifully went on as normal. The War Department reappeared and continued berating me for getting in the way of a small, white flying object. I ignored her, as any good long-married man can do, and contemplated what was happening. After she had wound down and left me to go home I finally had the chance to test my hypothesis about what had happened.
It appeared that I could trigger whatever was happening with a powerful burst of self induced anger and then shut it off by an equally powerful burst of stubbornness. So, I could gain the ability to "see" repeatedly five minutes into the future by acting like a petulant five year old. I thought "cool, I can do that easily". I even got to the point during my two day long stay in the hospital that I could start and stop the process without engaging the crash cart gang and losing consciousness (and yes that is losing not loosing). The observant Dr. Frost continued to be the primary physician on the case. His bed side manner wasn't the greatest but he at least tried to figure out what was wrong with me, admittedly without any success. Apparently modern medicine cannot adequately diagnose and treat the ability to shift in time. Go figure.
By the time that I had been released from the tender mercies of the medical establishment I was pretty sure that I knew how to control the phenomenon at will. As for why it was happening, who cares? If I couldn't figure out a way to make money with this new skill, as long as it lasted, I really shouldn't be allowed to roam the Earth freely.
Once I did get out of the hospital I immediately called my boss and told him I was taking a week off "to make sure that I was fully ok from my blow on the head" and to test my money making theories to make sure I would never have to work again.
My wife, who wasn't real happy about me being in the hospital or her duty to visit me there, also wasn't happy with me taking more time off. I tried to tell her about my new skills, but luckily first took the opportunity to invoke the POWER. Talk about frustrating! I tried multiple variations of telling her, starting fresh every time, and ALL of them failed miserably. I couldn't find a way to tell her that didn't end in calls to the police, hospital, shrinks, unsympathetic family members or friends. She couldn't make it even five fricken minutes without ratting me out or getting pissed off at me. I finally just gave up. That was the beginning of the end of a relationship that had by this time outlived lust, love, friendship or caring. A real damned shame for her, since I had plans to make myself one rich SOB in a very short time. I suppose it was a testament to how fragile our relationship had become that both of us would abandon it so easily after twenty plus years of marriage once an alternative appeared. She could offload me and keep the house and I could go away and be myself fulltime.
I walked out of my house at noon on a weekday, headed for Reno, with a fresh set of dissolution papers in my hand, a tentative property settlement stating that from now on what was mine was mine only, after promising to vacate my stuff from our common home in a week or two, ten thousand dollars from a joint account and visions of evening up the gambling score for all of the times I had come back nearly broke.
Over the next five days and nights I used that nice shiny new skill to win over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, net of expenses, nicely spread out through various games of chance and casinos. My theory was that if I took just a little at many places rather than going for big quick scores I could more easily avoid ending up buried out somewhere in the desert by an unhappy casino owner, not that that ever really happens. I even lost a few, again spread out, to show that I wasn't infallible. So far I'm not dead, so it must be working.
Since gambling part time really didn't fill my days, I took up playing golf every day. In the three years that I had played as a part time hacker I had never broken ninety, even using the creative and forgiving scoring method (if you are a golfer, you KNOW what I mean). Now I could go out to a course, spend HOURS on the driving range hitting the same thirty balls (without the muscle pain involved in actually hitting that many balls) and then get in a round.
You know, it's amazing how well you can do at golf if you have unlimited chances to hit your shots or to putt. My first post accident round was a seventy-six. All I can say is that I wasn't cheating enough. I actually two putted four times, an unforgivable lack of focus. Even with anemic drives, poor club selection and no control over ball flight or spin, simply eliminating all of my bad shots made me an almost scratch golfer, officially at least. It was a little embarrassing how many congratulations I received from my playing partners, especially since they never got to officially witness my many skulls, shanks, tops, slices and complete misreads of the green. Near the end of the round, when I would hit a particularly bad shot, that I would then wipe out and repeat, I was getting some peculiar looks from the rest of foursome, whose only "real" memory of my shots were all good ones. They were also getting a little cranky about me not playing from the furthest back tees, were a "good golfer" should. Hell, I can't hit the ball very damned far and I am NOT a woman, so I am unwilling to put up with playing every course at a competitive disadvantage simply because the course designer thinks I should. I am already the biggest golf cheat who ever lived, so a little more wasn't going to hurt me. Their attitude was starting to piss me off though, so I got them to place some bets on putts over the last few holes. Yes, they celebrated victory a lot of times, but not once that they ever remembered, and I walked off the course a few hundred dollars richer.
At the end of the week, tanned, rested, richer and ready to finish up the changes in my life, I headed back to my ex home to pack up what little I had there and put it in storage. In just a week I had gotten used to staying in expensive accommodations, eating high off the hog and pretty much doing whatever I damn well pleased; not the sort of experience to make one receptive to reconciliation. Not that the opportunity arose. My soon to be ex wife made it plain that seeing my backside was a high priority sight for her and so I showed it to her as soon as I could.
Her attitude also took away most of the guilt I had been feeling about availing myself of the skills of a few escorts during my stay in Reno. They gave a whole new meaning to the expression fucking pro. While some of it was a little mechanical, a couple of them supplied me with some of the best sex of my life, up to that point in time. Little did they realize that their hour with me was considerably longer and kinkier than they recalled. I hate condoms, but only an insane escort would have unprotected sex with many partners, so I grinned and didn't bare it.
After storing most of my stuff and checking into a local high class hotel, I decided to take a week off from stealing from the rich casinos (next stop Vegas!) and replay some of my favorite local courses so that I could rewrite my personal best score list. I also finally broke down and spent some serious money on newer equipment. I could even hit the ball a little farther and with a little more control. It was hard to judge though, given the volume of "Do Overs" I was getting.