J Dub couldn’t help but feel a myriad of emotions. His dad, best friend, and
mentor, had succumbed to a heart attack. Coach Schroeder had been buried a few months earlier. Yet, the circle of life offered poignancy as his young wife, Marcia, carried new life. In addition to that, she was on his bag caddying for her husband during the biggest moment of his golfing career.
With the practiced obedience of a professional, J Dub literally shook off the emotional distractions and surveyed the fifty-foot downhill putt. After all, this was the one-hundred-seventh hole of the demanding PGA Qualifying School Tournament. He was in the state of Texas for the first time. This was the last of six numbing days; each day had been crammed with eighteen pressure-packed holes. One bad swing or single mental collapse could signify disaster. J Dub had reached deep and moved into contention for the sought-after Q-School card. The top twenty would make it. Staying focused for a few more minutes meant that all of the years of hard work, dedication and determination were about to pay off. He squatted behind the ball to read the line of the putt. A very-pregnant
Marcia wobbled to stand behind her husband. They conferred about the line and pointed to a shaded area of the green. J Dub shook his head in agreement. As J Dub placed the ball and picked up his marker, Marcia returned to the flagpole. She attended the stick as he hovered over the ball. Come on now . . . just one good putt and I’m good to go. With a committed stroke, he started the ball on its path. “Come on baby. Find the bottom,” J Dub shouted.
He walked after the ball knowing that he had kept his head down and had
made a good stroke. Stay cool . . . one stroke at a time. You can do it.
“Hold your line,” Marcia yelled. Her eyes intently followed the path of the
ball as she lifted the pin out of the cup.
“Keep your speed, sweetheart,” J Dub screamed as he tried to coax the ball
into the cup.
While the ball inched toward the hole, the years and years of hard work came
together in a single instant. The ball banged into the cup. As it rattled home, J
Dub jumped with excitement. “ . . . Yeah! Thatta baby!” he shrieked.
With one hole left to play in the biggest tournament of his life, the sound of
the ball bouncing into the bottom of the cup meant that J Dub had positioned
himself to take the next step into life. Marcia had a grin from ear to ear. She
squinted from the bright sun at her husband and smiled as she saw him go from
giving himself silent pep talks to taking on a swagger of confidence at being so
close to his dream. She instinctively knew that this particular moment was as
important to them as her pregnancy.
Marcia also knew that she and J Dub were meant to be together. There was
no doubt about it. From the time they met on a blind date as college freshmen,
she was absolutely smitten with him. That’s not to say that she was the typical
In typical Lew fashion, he presented her with the lowly appraisal and then told
her he’d give her thirty-five cents on the dollar to help her out.
George Pierce had the title work done before the sun went down. And Lew
made the financial deal of his life. Of course it didn’t matter that it occurred at
the expense of his sister. All that mattered was that Lew profited, courtesy of
his ravenous appetite for wealth, regardless of the consequences. The deed was
quit-claimed to reflect his sole ownership in the one-thousand acre tract.
Monty was a maverick attorney in his late-thirties, the fourth and last-minute
member of the group to celebrate at The Treasure Chest that night. He had been
over at Lew’s farm taking some target practice and tagged along when Lew said
that it was time to go. He thought that if he played his cards right, then one of
the other guys might buy him a woman.
It wasn’t surprising to see these four together on a night of celebration. In
some form or another, they all had reason to be grateful. The men drank their
liquor until their words became clumsy and thick.
The lap dances were grinding to a halt and the girls had to work too hard
for their dollar bills. It was getting late. The booze had been fl owing and from
the looks of their bloodshot eyes, it was time to go.
The four men staggered out of the strip club well past midnight. The fog on the river resembled a layer of pea soup resting on top of the warm waters of the Mississippi.
Nothing was stirring. The air was choking off the far side of the parking lot.
“That’s some racket,” Lew chimed.
“It’s a damn gold mine,” replied George.
“Yeah, the same guy owns the hookers around here,” Lew snorted. “They get
you all worked up in there and want you to blow what’s left on a gal out here.”
Lew waited for his cohorts to get into his car, pulled his station wagon out of the
lot, and then drove out into the thick fog that hugged the road.
Walter jumped into the conversation. The Treasure Chest and the sexual
innuendos had made a lasting impression on him. He could hardly contain his
sexual intentions. “Wow, all they leave on is the four-inch heels.”
“Right here in the Bible Belt,” said George.
Lew strained his neck to see out the window. “I can’t see a damn thing.” The
fog had reduced the visibility to a matter of feet. The heat from all of the bodies
in the car had fogged up the windows to boot.
A loud thump was heard. The station wagon rocked from side to side. “Shit!”
“What the hell was that?” asked Walter.
“Let’s go back,” whimpered George.
“It was probably just a pot-hole,” Lew stated. The station wagon crept to the
shoulder of the road. All four guys jumped out. George and Walter continued to
the back of the vehicle. Lew ran to the front followed by Monty.
“Sure you can. When you sign her name to the power-of-attorney form that
I’m going to give to you then we’ll be able to do anything that we want,” George
rationalized. He winked at Mary Jean. “We’re going to be awfully busy the next
three to six months.”
Mary Jean looked at George with a bewildered look. “What are we going
to be doing?”
“You always wanted to live the good life, relax, and work on your tan on a
tropical island, didn’t you?” George inquired.
Mary Jean flashed a devious smile. She had always known that she and
George would eventually end up together. Yet, Mary Jean still looked a little
confused. Even though they had been lovers for quite some time, George was
still her boss and she wasn’t about to dispute what he was saying. After all, he
was the expert.
“Just make sure that it’s a perfect match,” George continued, “and we’ll
march a lot of closings through these doors. The estate has condos in Southern
California, a ranch in western Nebraska, apartments in Tulsa, a hotel in downtown
St. Louis, lots of acreage in Southern Illinois, and shopping centers in Louisville,
Nashville, and Denver. All of it needs to be sold.”
Mary Jean nearly spit out the sip of coffee she had just taken. “Can we get
all of that property sold that quickly?” she stammered.
“If you can get her signature perfected we can.” George paused for a minute
and reflected on his next admission. “You know, having a law license, the majority of the stock in a title company, and a faithful employee almost gives me a license to steal,” he commented with a smirk.
Mary Jean glanced at him out of the side of her eye and grinned. George
leaned over and kissed her forehead.
Vince, the owner of the VALLEY TRAIL DRIVING RANGE, held a soft
spot for golfers competing in the qualifying tours and snapped up J Dub the
moment he applied for the job. His research indicated that he was a ‘good guy’ and noticed that he had a very pregnant wife that was depending on him as well. He was happy to give him a job for as long as he wanted to stay, although he
knew he wouldn’t stay long. Humble is not the sort of town most people settle
down in and take root. The range wasn’t anything special by any means; and the
range itself occupied a field that seemed to flood every third year or so. When
the water would come up, Vince had a habit of leaving the balls on the ground
and taking off for Houston to enjoy a long weekend. Vince knew that the golf
circuit was filled with “wanna-be’s” that missed a crucial shot and needed a short
term job to save enough money to get back home. Thus, he was pleased to give
J Dub an opportunity.
A stray bull terrier puppy sauntered up the road and across the parking lot.
The dog’s fur was matted down. It appeared that it had missed several meals. Its
tongue was sticking out and the dog was panting heavily from the walk up the hill. Upon seeing J Dub, Marcia, and Lew the wag of the tail went on overload.
“ . . . Lookee there! Our first customer,” shouted J Dub. J Dub coaxed the
puppy over to the group. The dog was in need of a drink of water and some serious tender, loving care. This dog is in about as good a shape as this golf course, thought J Dub as he obligingly scratched behind his ears.
Lew grabbed a blanket out of the back of the station wagon. “Let’s roll out
the red carpet.”
J Dub responded, “He’s not quite par for the course. So we’ve got our first Bogey.”
With that statement, a name was born.
Marcia, J Dub, and Lew prepared a bed for Bogey in the cart barn. They poured a bowl of water for him. Bogey took to J Dub like they were long-lost
friends. Bogey vigorously licked J Dub’s face. He rolled over on his back so that J Dub could scratch his distended belly.
Bogey had beautiful markings. The bridge of his snout had a patch of white.
Even one eye was surrounded by light-colored fur. His shoulders were firm. His chest was solid. His paws indicated that he would be adequately able to support
an above average amount of weight. It was apparent that when he filled out and reached maturity he would be a strong dog.
Marcia could see how happy her husband had become. She knew that he needed this change and offered up words of encouragement. “It looks to me like
there is only one way to go . . . and that’s up. I guess the future is bright after all.”
“We’ll have this place up and running in no time,” replied J Dub. Bogey lapped at his face.
“I just hope that you two can get along. There’s going to be plenty to do,”
It has often been said that one of the best ways to get to know someone is
to marry them. One thing was certain—J Dub and Lew were married to each
other, in business anyway.
Lew reprimanded J Dub and said, “Get rid of them.” The tone in his voice
caused Bogey to bark and growl.
J Dub was at a loss for words.
Lew chastised J Dub some more and asked, “When are you going to win some of these battles?”
“It’s all about control with you, isn’t it?” J Dub retaliated. “Why did you get
the cops? We could have handled this in-house.”
Lew’s matter-of-fact reply was menacing. “There comes a point in life where
you need some back-up. Even Hitler needed the Nazi army.”
The comment caught J Dub off-guard. He was taken aback and dazed at
the reference to Hitler. The remark scared J Dub. He had to pinch himself and
wonder what motivated his business partner. “What are you talking about?” J
Dub asked as he tried to redirect the conversation.
Lew’s eyes were in an icy stare as his lips curled slightly into a sinister smirk. The moment was frozen in a surreal atmosphere. It was as if the comment about
Hitler turned Lew on.
After a momentary pause, J Dub continued in a mild manner. “We need
to keep customers around . . . and the first tee box still needs to be fixed.” He
walked off as Bogey barked at Lew. J Dub continued to the pro shop and was
immediately quizzed by Julie.
“What did he do this time?” Julie asked.
“He kicked those kids off the course for bringing their own beer. Not only
that, it looks like they have to go down to the police station.”
“Is he pressing charges?”
“I guess. The cops wouldn’t bother coming out here unless he was serious
about having them arrested.” J Dub shook his head. It was as if the business would take one step forward and two steps back. “But that’s only half of the problem.”
“What else did he do?” Julie inquired.
“He made some perverse reference to Hitler,” J Dub stated.
“Hitler? What did he say?” Julie pried.
“He said something about needing backup like Hitler had the Nazi army.”
“Does he think that he is some sort of power freak that is the reincarnation
of Hitler?” Julie wondered out loud.
“I hope not . . . but the way that he controls and intimidates, he must think that way.”
“Hitler slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people,” Julie uttered. “That’s disgusting.”
J Dub nodded and had a resolved look in his eyes. “I better learn a little more about my partner. If I don’t watch out, then he might slaughter me after he gets done slaughtering this business.”
“What firearms do you have?” the FBI agent asked a second time.
“They’re everywhere,” Lew replied. He was not lying. He had a cache of guns
in the dungeon. Several rifles were out in the barn. It was hard to guess where
else Lew had weapons in his home. They were probably stashed in his office or
bedroom. That was not taking into consideration the likelihood of a gun or two
being in his pickup truck or motorcycle, both of which sat nearby.
Lew shifted his weight and let his arms drop to his side. “Keep your hands
against the wall,” the FBI agent ordered. The ATF agent raised the rifle and took
aim at Lew. One look down the muzzle of the rifle was a clear indication to Lew
that they meant business.
Booker and Hayden entered Lew’s home office. They looked around and
started going through desk drawers and file cabinets. Lew turned his head to look
over his shoulder at Booker. A look of spite and hatred enveloped his face.
Booker had a personal feeling of satisfaction. Years earlier Lew had run him
off of the golf course because he was black. At that time, Booker had to bite his
tongue and take every bit of discrimination that was directed his way. Now he
could extract his revenge . . . on Lew’s own turf. He stared back at Lew.
The two IRS agents continued down the steps to the lower level of the residence. They noticed the bar but walked right past it. Booker went straight to the Uncle Sam yard jockey. He and Hayden both forced a chuckle. They couldn’t keep a straight face. The irony of the attempted patriotism was more than they could handle.
That all changed a few seconds later when Booker took the set of keys off of
the yard jockey and opened the bomb shelter. He and Hayden were shocked to see the stacks of bundled cash. The other items were equally as numbing. The piles of newspapers along with the chicken noodle soup, bottled water, tomato juice, and pork and beans were clear-cut indications that they were dealing with someone who did not think along the same lines as the vast amount of American citizens. The cheap detective magazine photos and Tupperware collection inside the bunker were disturbing to Hayden. The Nazi uniform and KKK robe sent shivers up Booker’s spine. “What the hell is this guy into?” Booker questioned.
“It explains why he tried to intimidate you,” Hayden commented.
Booker picked up Mein Kampf. “He must think that he’s a little Hitler.”
“And by the looks of this fortress he might be . . . at least in his own small
way,” Hayden added.
Booker picked up a bundle of fresh one hundred dollars bills. “How much
cash would you say is there?” Booker asked.
“At least a million, maybe two,” Hayden guessed.
“Ellie is certainly going to be interested in this,” Booker declared.
“More than you can ever think,” Hayden replied.
“Why do you put it like that?” Booker inquired.
The mere mention of that caused Booker to bury his face into his hands.
“We sure are getting more than what we bargained for this morning. Come on. Let’s see what else is down here.”
After running a worn-out golf course on the east side of St. Louis for fifteen years, J. W. Schroeder (J Dub) learns that his partner had been skimming profits the entire time. But even worse, J Dub discovers that he was an unknowing participant in a decades-old swindle and a victim of fraud.
J Dub is thrown into a civil justice system that is lengthy and costly to protect his family and correct an evil secret that had been withheld from him for years.The controlling partner, Lewferd E. Zerrmann, aligns himself with a dishonest attorney, a deceitful accountant, and a corrupt politician to derail a government investigation and an IRS audit. He survives title improprieties and outlasts an overzealous U. S. Attorney.
No one seems to be able to penetrate the isolated walls of Lew’s fortress until J Dub steps up and risks it all to fight for what is his. Who said real life was anything like “the gentleman’s game?”
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.