The funny thing was, the U.S. Open was actually less commercialized than most tourneys. At least they hadn’t sold their name yet. Other tournaments were named for sponsors and the names had gotten a little silly. Who could get up for winning the JC Penney Open or the Michelob Open or even the Wendy’s Three-Tour Challenge?
The old man led him to a primo parking lot. Mercedeses, Caddies, limos. Myron spotted Win’s Jaguar. The USGA had recently put up a sign that read MEMBERS PARKING ONLY.
Myron said, “You’re a member of Merion.” Dr. Deduction.
The old man twisted the neck thing into something approaching a nod. “My family dates back to Merion’s inception,” he said, the snooty accent now more pronounced. “Just like your friend Win.”
Myron stopped and looked at the man. “You know Win?”
The old man sort of smiled and shrugged. No commitment.
“You haven’t told me your name yet,” Myron said.
“Stone Buckwell,” he said, hand extended. “Everyone calls me Bucky.”
Myron shook the hand.
“I’m also Linda Coldren’s father,” he added.
Bucky unlocked a sky-blue Cadillac and they slid inside. He put the key in the ignition. The radio played Muzak—worse, the Muzak version of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” Myron quickly opened the window for air, not to mention noise.
Only members were allowed to park on the Merion grounds, so it wasn’t too much of a hassle getting out. They made a right at the end of the driveway and then another right. Bucky mercifully flipped off the radio. Myron stuck his head back in the car.
“What do you know about my daughter and her husband?” Bucky asked.
“You are not a golf fan, are you, Mr. Bolitar?”
“Golf is truly a magnificent sport,” he said. Then he added, “Though the word sport does not begin to do it justice.”
“Uh-huh,” Myron said.
“It’s the game of princes.” Buckwell’s ruddy face glowed a bit now, the eyes wide with the same type of rapture one saw in the very religious. His voice was low and awed. “There is nothing quite like it, you know. You alone against the course. No excuses. No teammate. No bad calls. It’s the purest of activities.”
“Uh-huh,” Myron said again. “Look, I don’t want to appear rude, Mr. Buckwell, but what’s this all about?”
“Please call me Bucky.”
He nodded his approval. “I understand that you and Windsor Lockwood are more than business associates,” he said.
“I understand you two go back a long way. College roommates, am I correct?”
“Why do you keep asking about Win?”
“I actually came to the club to find him,” Bucky said. “But I think it’s better this way.”
“Talking to you first. Maybe after … well, we’ll see. Shouldn’t hope for too much.”
Myron nodded. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Bucky turned onto a road adjacent to the course called Golf House Road. Golfers were so creative.
The course was on the right, imposing mansions on the left. A minute later, Bucky pulled into a circular driveway. The house was fairly big and made of something called river rock. River rock was big in this area, though Win always referred to it as “Mainline Stone.” There was a white fence and lots of tulips and two maple trees, one on each side of the front walk. A large porch was enclosed on the right side. The car came to a stop, and for a moment neither of them moved.
“What’s this all about, Mr. Buckwell?”
“We have a situation here,” he said.
“What kind of situation?”
“I’d rather let my daughter explain it to you.” He grabbed the key out of the ignition and reached for the door.
“Why come to me?” Myron asked.
“We were told you could possibly help.”
“Who told you that?”
Buckwell started rolling his neck with greater fervor. His head looked like it’d been attached by a loose ball socket. When he finally got it under control, he managed to look Myron in the eyes.
“Win’s mother,” he said.
Myron stiffened. His heart plummeted down a dark shaft. He opened his mouth, closed it, waited. Buckwell got out of the car and headed for the door. Ten seconds later, Myron followed.
“Win won’t help,” Myron said.
Buckwell nodded. “That’s why I came to you first.”
They followed a brick path to a door slightly ajar. Buckwell pushed it open. “Linda?”
Linda Coldren stood before a television in the den. Her white shorts and sleeveless yellow blouse revealed the lithe, toned limbs of an athlete. She was tall with short spunky black hair and a tan that accentuated the smooth, long muscles. The lines around her eyes and mouth placed her in her late thirties, and he could see instantly why she was a commercial darling. There was a fierce splendor to this woman, a beauty derived from a sense of strength rather than delicacy.
She was watching the tournament on the television. On top of the set were framed family photographs. Big, pillowy couches formed a V in one corner. Tactfully furnished, for a golfer. No putting green, AstroTurf carpet. None of that golf artwork that seemed a step or two below the aesthetic class of, say, paintings of dogs playing poker. No cap with a tee and ball on the brim hanging from a moose head.
Linda Coldren suddenly swung her line of vision toward them, firing a glare past Myron before settling on her father. “I thought you were going to get Jack,” she snapped.
“He hasn’t finished the round yet.”
She motioned to the television. “He’s on eighteen now. I thought you were going to wait for him.”
“I got Mr. Bolitar instead.”
Myron stepped forward and smiled. “I’m Myron Bolitar.”
Linda Coldren flicked her eyes at him, then back to her father. “Who the hell is he?”
“He’s the man Cissy told me about,” Buckwell said.
“Who’s Cissy?” Myron asked.
“Oh,” Myron said. “Right.”
Linda Coldren said, “I don’t want him here. Get rid of him.”
“Linda, listen to me. We need help.”
“Not from him.”