We walk the dogs up at the golf course, late in the evening. We’ve been walking them more often, now that it’s getting warm, out, even hot, sometimes. We pull up across the street from the park that borders the golf range, wait to make sure no cars are coming, and then make a break for it, across the lawn and under the fence and onto the golf course, which is beautiful at night. The dogs go off leash, and are delirious about it. They chase each other across the greens and up around the holes, snapping at the flags, bounding down the hills into sandtraps and turning hard circles, kicking up sand and jumping at each other.
We’re not supposed to be on the golf course once it’s closed, E tells me, but they’ve never been caught. We walk along the lines of trees, and they keep an eye out for lights and voices and they’re ready to yell for the dogs and bolt for the fence at any moment. They tell me to be prepared. Every time, I tell them I can’t, because I can’t run in the dark. I have no night vision! Seriously, you guys. I am going to break something, if you expect me to run. Go without me! I’ll hide! Fsh, the boys say, and so far, we have not been caught.
Last week, on the hottest night of the year, so far, we were caught. We
climbed the largest hill, toward the end of the course, nearing the
base of the mountains. The dogs had disappeared off on their own, and
we were clambering up the hill, when Jayrad stopped and said, “Are
those lights?” “Those are lights,” E said, “Run, honey!” Jayrad had
already started to sprint away. “Go!” I said. “I can’t run in these
flip flops. I’m serious! Go!”
“Shit,” E said, and grabbed my hand, and yanked me up the embankment,
into a grove of trees and bushes. “Get down, get down!” he hissed and
he crouched behind me. I sprawled out, and lost a flipflop, and found
my sundress riding up, so that I was sitting practically bare-assed in
the bushes, a glowing white beacon for each and every gameskeeper who
would come wandering by. Jayrad had noticed we weren’t following, and
took a sharp left, crashing up into the bushes a little further along.
The lights were getting closer, coming down the little path. The
groundskeeper was in a golf cart, taking his sweet time. “Shit,” E
said. “Min! Min’s still down there.” The giant, not-very-bright
mastiff, was standing in the middle of the path, outlined by headlights. “Aw
man,” E whispered. “We’re caught.” “No,” I whispered. “He’s going to
drive right by.” My butt was wet.
The golf cart pulled up next to Min, and she wagged her silly tail and
sniffed at the tires. We couldn’t see very well. We kept our heads
down, and I tried very hard not to breathe. There was a moment of
silence. Then, the groundskeeper said, “How you guys doing?”
“Oh, hey,” E said, very casually, and we got up, pretended we had been hunting for truffles. I brushed off my cold butt.
“There’s poison oak up there,” the groundskeeper said mildly. “We’ll be
careful next time!” I said. And we wished each other good night very
politely and he drove off into the middle of the night.
“So we’re not going to jail?” I said.
“Apparently not.” And the boys were very disappointed, because the best
thing about taking the dogs for a walk on the golf course used to be
the element of danger, now dispelled. The very worst thing about
taking the dogs for a walk on the golf course is how I am now the proud
owner of a brutal goddamn painful case of poison oak, from my knee all
the way up the backs of my thighs to my ass. It was the wrong day to
not wear full-coverage underpants. I would have rather have gone to