The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction
The Bad Feeling
Paul Lerner awoke with an intense feeling that something bad was going to happen that day. He didn’t usually have such feelings. His approach to life, he knew, had always been cautious. He put this down to having grown up in New York with a Jewish mother.
Jews had every right to be cautious, having been persecuted through the ages and even now some madman who was president of a county was threatening to wipe them off the map. When he was growing up, his mother was always telling him to put on his hat and coat in the winter, to wear his rubbers if it was raining, not to play too hard during the hot summer. He was cautious, but he didn’t think he was unnecessarily fearful. What was coming?
Paul glanced at his bedroom window. It was spring; sunlight was slanting through the blinds. It was going to be a nice day. He was feeling pretty good, no doctor or dentist visits coming up. His wife Sally slept beside him. Their three sons were all employed. Their finances were in order. In the morning, he had a couple of errands, return some books to the library, deposit a check at the bank. In the afternoon, he was scheduled to play golf with his usual foursome. Nothing special, just another day in the life of a retiree. Still, he couldn’t shake the feeling that something bad was on the horizon.
At breakfast, Paul asked Sally how she was feeling. “I’m fine,” she said. “Why do you ask?”
“Just wanted to check. We haven’t heard from any of the boys for a while. Maybe we should give them a call.”
“I’m sure they’re all right. If not, they would call.”
“I suppose so.”
“Are you all right?” She looked at him quizzically.
“Sure, I’m fine.”
But he still had that feeling.
As he dressed, Paul considered that living in a retirement community as they did, bad news was not uncommon: someone coming down with something; a friend or acquaintance in the hospital; every now and then, someone passing away. But right now everyone he knew was in pretty good shape. He wondered how his sister, who still lived in New York, was doing. Maybe he’d give her a call.
At the library, he found some books he liked and the line at the check-out counter was short and moved quickly, no mothers taking out millions of books for their kids, as sometimes happened. In the library parking lot, he looked carefully before backing out. No, no little kids in the way. At the bank, he deposited his check and the teller for once didn’t try to get him to open up a savings account or try banking online. He drove home slowly and put the car in the garage without mishap. The morning was over.
Sally was going to lunch with some friends. “Are you driving?” Paul asked.
“No, Carol is picking me up.”
“Tell her to drive carefully.”
“She’s a good driver. Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yes. Have a good lunch.”
After he had his own lunch, a sandwich, he called his sister in New York. She was surprised at his call. He said he just wanted to catch up on things. She was feeling fine, the weather was pretty good, nothing unusual going on. They chatted for a while, then Paul said he had to go off and play golf. He still had that feeling.
The three other members of his foursome were Dan Crowley, a retired surgeon, who, as might be expected, played an aggresive game; Hank Whitley, who’d been a financial advisor and whose game, like the stock market, was up and down; and Bob Goolsby, a big guy who’d sold insurance and who was the loudest and most competitive. The foursome had played together for almost six years and were used to ribbing each other, usually good-naturedly, sometimes not so good-naturedly.
Paul usually played a steady game. He was known for his accurate putter. This afternoon he was paired with Dan against the other two. Paul started off badly; he was distracted by that bad feeling. Pull yourself together, he told himself. You’re not going to be hit with a golf ball. He settled down and at the 18th hole they were even. He pitched his fourth shot onto the green and it rolled to within three feet of the whole. “That’s a gimme,” said Dan. “He never misses those.”
“There’s always a first time,” said Bob. “Hey, I’ll bet ten bucks you don’t make it.”
“I don’t want to bet,” said Paul.
“Go ahead,” said Dan. “Take his money.”
“Yeah, go ahead,” said Bob. “You’re going to blow it.”
“Okay,” said Paul. He stood over his shot and made sure of his line to the hole. He wasn’t nervous at all. Then he saw what he had to do. He hit the ball gently. It slid just past the hole.
“Hah,” yelled Bob. “What did I tell you? He choked. Hand over my ten bucks.”
Paul knew he’d be taking a ribbing for at least for the next few weeks. It would be worth it. This was what primitive people must have felt like, he thought, propitiating the gods. The gods must have been satisfied. The bad thing had happened. The bad feeling had gone away.
© Martin Green June 2012
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