My divorce lawyer’s on the phone.
“It’s last minute, but someone dropped out. I know you’re a golfer. I figured you might be interested.”
I almost agree. Just a few more questions: “Anyone else I know besides you?”
“No. The 15 guys are doctors, lawyers and psychiatrists. They look forward to this trip every year. Some of them get pretty wild.”
“How many days?”
“Just four days — a long weekend. Come on, we need a guy for that fourth foursome.”
I’m single 11 months. I’m renting an apartment in the same Bronx building my family moved to when we came from Ireland 40 years ago. I am literally back to square one.
My lawyer’s done me a few favors, and I might need a few more. I acquiesce, “Yeah, what the hell. I can use a few laughs.”
He warns me again. These guys blow off steam. Don’t be prudish.
* * *
We arrive in Myrtle Beach about 9 a.m. We tee off at noon. Golf goes well. The three guys I play with seem stiff, but amiable. At the hotel, I room with Eugene, a cardiologist.
Bookmaking almost a year, I’m making money, but my expenses have risen to meet my income. Considering my afflictions and addictions, my “expenses” are predictable.
Between screwdrivers on the plane, six beers on the golf course and three shots in the clubhouse, I’ve got a good buzz on. For this trip, I brought a full cache of contraband.
I break out my stash and roll a joint. As the doctor neatly stores his clothes, I light up and begin flipping through the phone book.
Since Vietnam, I’ve had no qualms about using escort services. During the war, whores were $4 apiece. At 19, I got all I could while I could.
Blatant, unimaginative ads devoted to call girls plaster page after page of the phone book. Holy shit, is this Bangkok or the Bible Belt?
Astounded, I erupt, “Eugene, can you believe this shit? Look at all these whores.”
Doctor Eugene adopts a “Who farted?” expression, saying, “You don’t use those services, do you?”
Making a small attempt at reconciliation, I lie.
I ring up the least offensive ad.
“Hello, Temptation. What are your hourly rates?”
I cover the phone and ask the doctor if he wants to spring for $100.
“I don’t pay for sex. I’m going to dinner. Do what you like.”
Ignoring his contempt, I negotiate: “How long will it take her to get here? My name’s Fred, room 202. That’s right, Holiday Inn.”
* * *
The knock signals the doctor’s exit. Despite his alleged disgust, I suspect curiosity caused him to stall. When Eugene opens the door, I’m on the bed in boxers.
A syrupy voice from the hallway says, “You Fred?”
“No,” he says, condescendingly, letting her enter. “Fred’s over there on the bed.”
She enters, stops and screams, “Billy O’Connor, I can’t believe it!”
I yell out, “Shane, what the hell are you doing here?”
She laughs and says, “Selling my ass. What are you doing here?”
“I guess I’m buying it. How long has it been?”
“Almost 10 years,” she says. “You got any drugs?”
“Quaaludes, grass, a little coke, and I got beer and vodka on ice.”
She says, “Cool. I’ll call my boss, tell him I couldn’t find the customer and take the rest of the night off.”
Eugene darts to the dresser, shuffles clothes into his suitcase and stammers, “I’m going downstairs to get another room. I’ve had enough of this.”
Good. Guy was a stiff anyway.
Shane’s a real sport. She’ll never make the cover of Vogue, but she has a fine body and a face that won’t frighten children.
She eats a down, rolls a joint and makes a drink. We reminisce about old times in New Orleans. We catch up throughout the night, interrupting our chat only to exchange currency and commerce.
Later, Shane asks me if I’d do her a favor. She already did me two, so I say, “Sure.”
But since it’s “Shane the insane,” I’m a bit apprehensive.
“Would you put on my underwear and nylons? It turns me on.”
I’m whacked, but reluctant.
Then, I figure, who’s going to know? The downs have kicked in, I’m drunk as a bridegroom and I’ve known this chick 15 years. And she’s a pro. I don’t want her to think I’m a Puritan or can’t keep pace.
Five minutes later, I’m lying on the bed dressed like a Victoria’s Secret model.
Garnished in panties, garter belt, nylons and a black bra, I reach for my vodka — a dead soldier.
“I need another drink,” I say.
I walk to the ice bucket. Empty.
It’s past midnight, and the ice machine is only two doors down. Shouldn’t take more than a minute. I hit the hallway like an Olympic gold-medal winner.
No sooner out the door, the room next door opens. Dumbfounded, I stare at one of my golf partners.
His face looks like a cobra just crawled up his trousers. Despite the lingerie, it’s obvious by my hairy chest and spindly limbs that Angelina Jolie I‘m not.
Other than the thin veneer of Shane’s unmentionables, I’m wearing nothing but an effulgent smile. I cradle the ice bucket like an infant, shrug and say indifferently, “Just say oops and close the door.”
“That’s right, oops. Now, close the door.”
* * *
Next morning, my head is as big as a Buick. I shower, do a short line of coke and head for breakfast, piecing together last night’s events.
I dread the reaction from the “wild professionals” but decide to “balls it out.” I can’t remember who spotted me in the hallway, but I’m sure my name came up over coffee.
A gaggle of golfers prattle passionately at the table. Then, all voices cease. All eyes fasten on me.
I brazen out their garrulous silence. “Nice day for golf, gentlemen. Shall we drink coffee or just snort the beans?”
* * *
Golf mercifully over, I can’t wait to hit the sack. I don’t bounce back like I used to. I’m in bed by 3 p.m.
About 10 p.m., I awake from a miserable, restless sleep.
My fingers clutch my throat as I gasp for water. My mouth feels like I gargled with sand. I vault for the cooler, grasp a beer, pop the top and drain it. The suds have barely settled when I hear a commotion outside my door. I throw on shorts and take a look.
There are five hookers in the hallway. Three of the golf outing’s “professionals” are inspecting the women like they’re bruised fruit.
All the golfers are drunk, and the heretofore-contemptuous cardiologist has turned abusive.
He inspects each girl: “You, too short. You, no tits. You, take a civil service test.”
This time it’s me who says, “Oops.” I close my door.
Weeks later, retelling the story to the few people I can, I’m cracking up. I turn to my bookmaking partner, Billy, and say, “Can you imagine the coincidence? I’ve never even been to Myrtle Beach. What’s the odds of running into a hooker I know?”
He doesn’t stutter. “With you, I make it even money.”
Bill O’Connor is a Vietnam veteran, former Bronx firefighter and pub and restaurant owner. He is a journalism major at UF and a standup comic. The irreverent and acerbic O’Connor performs free standup around Gainesville.