Author James Ross

After getting caught committing a petty act of vandalism two teenage boys land summer jobs at Prairie Winds Golf Course on the east side of St. Louis.

Follow the adventures of Justin Ventimiglia and Keith Puccio as they explore a slice of life that they never knew existed.  Observe the special relationship between adolescent boys, a cast of grown golfing misfits, and a young man battling the demons of cancer.

Explore the heart-wrenching relationship between an impressionable child and a pseudo Big Brother. Witness the summertime ride of the two youths in a poignant story about life and death.  See them as they develop a love for the game of golf and apply those lessons to the challenges of life.Experience the reactions of Justin and Keith to the vices of the world such as drinking, smoking, and gambling and watch how their knowledge molds their character.  

Take the journey with them as they battle a dysfunctional family situation, exposure to a life-threatening disease, and the vices of the world as they live a summer to remember. 

Copyright 2014 © Author James Ross 

The collection of books by James Ross is for the avid reader. They are delivered from Prairie Winds Golf Course which sits high atop the Mississippi river bluffs east of St. Louis.

    “What is this?” Justin asked as he examined the contents.

     “Frozen paint balls,” Keith explained. “When they’re hard they do a little more damage before they explode.”

     “I didn’t think that we wanted to cause any damage.”

     “We aren’t, but we want to let the old guy know that somebody’s been there,” Keith rationalized. “If he wants something to do, then he can get the hose out the next day and wash paint off his house.”

     “ . . . But these things are as hard as a rock,” Justin said. He wasn’t so sure that Keith didn’t have an ulterior motive for this prank after all. “If these hit somebody, it will feel like a bullet, not an exploding paint pellet.”

     “Come on. Quit worrying. I’ve got everything under control,” Keith persisted. “We have to be prepared and these will make sure the job gets done.”

     “This might be more excitement than I wanted tonight,” Justin said.  “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

     “Let’s hit it.” The two boys exited the garage and headed into the summer night. “Let’s stay off the sidewalk,” Keith urged. “The street lights will bring too much attention to us.”

     “And you don’t think the full moon won’t?” Justin asked. “There’s no place to hide out here tonight.”

     “Come on. We’ll stay between houses until we get to the old man’s place.” The two boys jumped in and out of bushes. “ . . . And stay low.  Don’t get caught peeping through any windows.”

     “I hope that some neighbor doesn’t see us carrying these paint ball guns,” Justin whispered. “It would be easy to be mistaken for a burglar right now.”

      “Stay away from the yards that have dogs,” Keith urged. “There’s nobody out here right now. We’ll get over to the creek and come in from the back.” Keith’s confidence seemed to rub off on Justin. “Once we get down there, no one will be able to know what we’re up to.”

     With a couple of quick moves and a fast sprint the boys made for the woods and the safe haven of the creek line. The trees shielded them from the bright moonlight and a ditch provided the opportunity to progress freely. They didn’t have to worry about being detected. “Now we should be home free,” Keith stated.

     The two teenagers dodged their way through the darkness. The sounds of the crickets and locusts broke the silence. Occasionally a dog barked in the distance tearing into the nighttime air.

     “You can do what you want, but this summer you ought to take advantage of these surroundings. You may never get a chance like this again to learn how to play,” Curt advised. “Just take it slow and don’t try to kill it. Golf is a game of opposites.”

     "What do you mean by that?” Keith asked.          

     “It seems like the easier you swing the farther it goes. When you swing hard, sometimes it doesn’t go anywhere. You want to aim left to make it go right and you want to aim right to make it go left. But those are principles that we can save for later on,” Curt recommended.

     “Hey Curt, did you see that one?” Justin hollered.

     “No, I missed it. What happened? Did you hit a good one?” Curt smiled.

     Justin shook his head up and down. “Ripped it,” he boasted.

     Curt couldn’t help but chuckle. “Stay with it and do it again. Remember that perfect practice makes for perfect shots.” He could see that Justin was bearing down and making an effort to do the best that he could. “Say, you know what, something just occurred to me.” Curt thought out loud.

     “What’s that?” Justin asked.

     “We’ve had the same theme all day long and maybe we should apply it to what we’re doing right now,” Curt said.

     “You mean the finish line?” Justin guessed.

     “Yeah, the finish line,” Curt repeated. “Everything has a beginning and an end. Even the golf swing does. At the beginning you start real slow, and at the end you finish strong. That should be our goal guys. And we should just take one swing at a time and try to reach the finish line on each and every one of them.”

     “That’s a good idea,” Justin commented as he rolled a ball into place and readied himself for another swing.

     “Maybe that’s a concept that we can use in everything that we do,” Curt continued.

     “How so?” Justin asked.

     “Let’s stop and think about it, Justin,” Curt said deep in thought.

     “Everything has a beginning and an end. Let’s apply it to golf. The swing has a beginning and an end. So we can reach the finish line with it. Every hole on the golf course has a beginning and an end. That would be the tee box and the cup. So we can reach the finish line with each hole.”

     “And the golf course has a beginning and an end. That would be the first tee box and the eighteenth hole. So we can reach the finish line there too,” Justin concluded as he bought into the theory.

     They genuflected as they entered and then dipped their fingers into a bowl of holy water. Quickly they hurried to a pew and just as swiftly dropped the kneeler into position. Tina and Justin dropped to their knees on the padded bar, bowed their heads, folded their hands, and said a prayer for Curt.

     Justin followed Tina to the communion table and together they consumed a wafer and grape juice which signified the sacrifice. Tina headed to the side of the sanctuary. “Where are we going now?” Justin whispered. He was getting a cram course in how to go through church in a few short minutes.

     “We’re going to light a candle for Curt,” Tina explained.

     As he witnessed the actions of his mom, the seriousness of what was happening to Curt sank in. “I don’t want to lose him, Mom,” Justin whispered, his eyes welling with tears. “He’s my best friend.”

     “I don’t want to lose him either, Honey. He’s always been there for you.”

Tina took a candle and held it for Justin to light. “This will be the light of his life, Justin. I don’t know what we’d do without him.” She placed the burning candle in a holder.

     “It’s too early for him to go, Mom,” Justin said releasing a gigantic tear down his cheek. He took his mom’s hand and they hugged.

     “He won’t go now, Honey. He’s too strong and powerful,” Tina said amid her own stifled sobs. She clutched him tighter–both comforting and comforted. “He’ll stay here for you.” She paused to regain her composure.“I know that he wants to watch over you and see you grow up.”

     “Not interested,” Curt said firmly.

     “Then I don’t guess you want to hear about the extract from mistletoe and the Venus flytrap,” Tina continued.

     Curt shook his head back and forth. “No.”

     “Then, what about the food remedies?”

     Curt rolled his eyes. “I guess if I’m desperate, then I could try lots of things.”

     “Green tea is supposed to help. You can put some slippery elm bark in there or add rhubarb and thistle and watercress and roots. They’re all supposed to help.” Tina wouldn’t shut up.

     “Tina, it’s my life that we’re talking about. I have to make a decision on chemotherapy right now,” Curt said.

     “Don’t do it Curt. It’s bad for you. It kills good cells!”

     Curt looked at the boys more amused than frustrated. He winked at Justin. “What else do you think might work?”

     “Aromatherapy is supposed to be great for you,” Tina said.

     “That’s food for thought,” Curt commented. “Enlighten me.”

     “Different aroma oils help different senses,” Tina began again. Curt nodded. He waited to hear what was next out of her mouth. “There are all kinds depending on what part of your body you want to treat. There’s geranium and rose . . . and lavender. Or you could choose eucalyptus or sandalwood or French basil or even sweet fennel.”

     “Does it have to be French?” Curt asked.

     “What has to be French?’

     Curt smiled at her. “ . . . The basil.”

     Tina picked up the bar towel and flung it at him. “Quit making fun of me! I’m trying to help you out!”

     Curt backed off, and with his tongue in his cheek, he remarked, “No, I find all of this very interesting. I had no idea.”

     “It works!” Tina shouted.

     “I just don’t think that it’s what I need at this point in time,” Curt said as he defended himself against her suggestions. “Is there anything else you’d like to recommend?”

     “Yes! Organic blueberries! They kill cancer cells on contact,” Tina blurted.

     Curt picked up the coffee pot and refilled her cup. “Then what am I supposed to do? Am I to pick up a handful of organic blueberries, rip these stitches out, and rub them on my colon?” Curt raised his voice a little. “Come on Tina, this is my life that we’re messing around with. If I’m forced to take out an insurance policy and try to get my body back to good health, I think that right now . . . today . . . I’m going to choose chemotherapy over organic blueberries!”

     The long-legged one volunteered her name next. The golden tan on her face magnified her sparkling sapphire eyes. “I’m Kim.” As quick as the flick of a wet towel her bossy attitude surfaced like the roar of a starved lion. “Who do you have around here that can load the clubs onto the carts, or do we have to do it ourselves?”

     Taken aback, Julie looked at the two teenagers. “Justin, can you and Keith help these ladies?” Both boys glanced at Julie and nodded their heads after getting a small prompt from Curt. “We’ll figure out who gets to share a cart in a minute or two.”

     Captain Jer moseyed up to the bar. He placed his glass on the counter and said, “Shoot me another one, big boy.” He looked at Curt, motioned with his neck to the tiny one, and then whispered to him. “Check out that caboose.” The slick, sly grin on his face said it all—he was lecherous.

     “Hi, I’m Carol,” the petite one said as she bounced up to the register. If there was anything that took attention away from her outstanding derriere, then it was the shapely double D’s that caused Captain Jer to spring into action.

     “Hi, I’m Jerry,” he began with his eyes half closed and the syllables running together. It took a snoot-full to understand what the guy was talking about. “If any of you lovely and vibrant ladies would ever like to go on a hot-air balloon ride, just let me know.”

     “I was thinking that maybe we could scrap our golf game this afternoon and launch from the first fairway,” Patti said putting her mouth to work.  “There’s nothing I’d rather do right now but get up in the sky a few thousand feet with a guy that can’t see the end of his nose.”

     Captain Jer took it in stride and grinned at Carol. His eyes slowly made their way from her eyes down to her breasts. He grinned, tilted from side to side and then raised his eyes back up to meet hers. His head bobbed on the top of his neck like a bobble-head toy. The beer had left him tongue-tied. The only thing that he could muster was a sheepish grin,oblivious to being caught in the act.

     Patti turned to her friend. “At least he found something that he can communicate with, Carol.”

     Carol laughed out loud as Rollie’s hacking and coughing resumed at the back booth. The sounds that he was making to clear his throat were repugnant. “Can you go help that guy?” Carol pleaded.

     Julie’s eyes met Carol’s. “ . . . Which one?” Carol burst out with a contagious laugh. Captain Jer was unconscious to what was going on around him and Rollie was almost in the fetal position taking on a survival mode.  “Let me get the one in the back some B & B.”  She quickly grabbed the bottle and raced to pour Rollie a generous shot.

Finish line                 (A REALISTIC FICTION BOOK)