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The 11th Hole
by Eric Suhem

Warren and his wife were out to dinner at a swank restaurant. His wife was talking about her dental work when Warren started staring at the salad on his plate. The green lettuce was shaped in a perfect concentric spiral, with little ridges on the edges of the leaves. He stared and stared at the spiral, falling under its power, feeling hypnotized by the swirling lettuce. Warren recently had been under tremendous business pressures, and was trying to figure out the meaning of his life, but had come up with no answers.

The next day, Warren stood on the 1st tee at the city’s new municipal golf course, hoping that a round of golf would take his mind off his troubles. After 10 holes, Warren and the rest of the foursome arrived at the 11th hole, which was a detour onto a miniature golf center next to the municipal links, as the 11th hole on the big course was under repair. There were blue windmills, purple castles, and streams of water amidst orange, red and green surfaces of artificial turf.

The manager of the miniature golf course was having an argument with an inspector named Mel. “Something tells me you aren’t following local regulations,” smirked Mel knowingly, kicking at the putting carpet, raising turf and objections. “Just as I thought, a deficit of turf nails, leading to an uneven surface, causing artificially lower scores!” he declared, writing things down feverishly in his inspection log with a little pencil. Warren and the rest of the foursome did not want to concern themselves with the squabbles of the local miniature golf course, so they completed their putts over the magenta carpets through the windmills as soon as possible.

As they were leaving, to return to the municipal golf course and the 12th hole, the manager called out to Warren, “Excuse me, sir, as you can see I’m embroiled in a hailstorm of controversy, would you mind helping me out, and collect the golf balls from the orange castle?” Warren was about to say no, but he saw that the manager was in a bind, as people were waiting, some beginning to wave their putters in a threatening manner. “Yes, I can help you,” said Warren, as the rest of his group moved on.

Warren collected golf balls from the orange castle, and helped the manager distribute putters, as the inspector Mel skulked around, looking for further violations. Warren also noticed that a blue windmill was rotating too fast, so he used some tools from the manager to fix it, thwarting Mel, who was about to write up the windmill as being out of code but had to relent. “Thank you, sir!” said the grateful manager, as Warren left the miniature golf course to return to the municipal links, and Mel glowered resentfully.

The next day, Warren returned to the blue windmills and orange castle, getting a job at the surprisingly lucrative miniature golf course, finding something resembling peace of mind, though the inspector Mel would prove to be a formidable nemesis in the future.