Sally and the Blond Bomber
Tyke, the adorable infant, helps Mother win a golf cup and defeat the sinister machinations of a Menace
GEORGE POWERS descended the stairs, two steps at a time, carolling in a lively, off-key baritone. In the breakfast nook, Sally spooned cereal into Tyke, who was enthroned on a cook book and a gingham cushion, and remarked, “Your father sounds unusually hearty this morning!”
Bursting in upon them, George kissed Sally fleetingly between an ear and an eye, and flourished a playful fist under his son’s nose.
Tyke’s response w’as a wide gummy smile with one little white dot in the middle.
“There it is, George!” exclaimed Sally. And added, “What time w’ill you lx* home for dinner?”
"So it ia—item; one tooth. About eight-thirty.”
“I wonder if 1 should buy him a toothbrush. Got a game on after the office?”
“Couldn’t you just swab it off until it’s a little more substantial?” George suggested. “Got a game, all right. Pat Henderson took the hide off me yesterday. I’m getting even today.”
Sally put down the spoon with which she had been feeding Tyke and gave George her undivided attention. In yellow linen, w’ith blue eyes and pink cheeks, Sally looked like something freshly gathered from the perennial border. Her lower lip poked out in a little-girl way as she scrubbed back a shining black curl that spilled over her forehead. Deep speculation flashed into her eyes.
“Pat Henderson ! That blond bomber ! What’s she doing in your sacred foursome?”
“Doc Haw’ley’s taken my place in the foursome.” George speared at his bacon and missed, but remained entirely casual. “Pat’s out to win the Traynor Memorial this year, and I’m giving her a little stiff competition by way of preparation.”
Tyke reached for the bowl of cereal. Sally removed it and said automatically, “Bowl, darling.” She repeated it as she did everything lately in the hope that Tyke might soon find speech, “Bowl.” And continued to stare unswervingly at George.
In a fair, affable, big-shouldered way, George was extremely goodlooking, and Sally was invariably aware of the fact. But with the house to tidy, meals to prepare, and Tyke to care for, she hadn’t had much time lately to stop and admire George. To Pat Henderson, on the other hand, time was limitless.
"Isn’t Michael planning to give her an occasional game?” Sally enquired. “After all, they’re engaged to be married.”
“That’s off. Michael is a disappointment to Pat. I believe he took her to the last club dance and then disappeared. He was discovered hours later, in the pro shop discussing the relative merits of commercial fertilizers with the head greensman and the assistant pro. Naturally, Pat was furious.”
Sally’s eyes widened. Of course, Michael was unpredictable. Always had been. But Michael was George’s friend. Michael had located the ring when George married, and administered to George the night Tyke was bom. And now George was calmly announcing that Michael was a disappointment to Pat Henderson!
“Pat wants me to caddie for her in the tournament,” went on George. “You know how the Traynor Memorial is. Slightly hysterical as tournaments go—-a big field and not enough caddies.”
"Yes, I know.” Sally’s lower lip poked out still farther. Her cheeks were very pink and her eyes an embattled blue. “As you may recall, I won it two years ago with a seventyeight. Before Tyke began to announce his arrival.”
“You were pretty hot in your day,” George conceded. Catching a glimpse of Sally's face, he added hurriedly, “It’s simply a matter of the Traynor Memorial. If Pat wins she may go on and try for the City and District. I’ve promised to help all I can.”
Gulping the last of his coffee, George bolted for the office. But Sally still sat, staring in sudden devastation at his empty coffee cup.
TT WAS all very well for George to maintain it was simply a matter of the Traynor Memorial ; where Pat Henderson was concerned, nothing was simple. Pat was beautiful and devious. Very devious. And in spite of his many virtues, George was the last person anyone looking for a little stiff competition would choose for the job. Although George took lessons from the pro, spent long hours on the practice tee, and put enough beef into a game to complete singlehanded the St. Lawrence deep waterway project, he usually came in with an eighty-eight or worse.
Excitement agitated Tyke as he glanced out the window in time to see a neighbor’s spaniel tree a cat.
“Yes, darling. That's a dog.” Sally repeated it. “Dog.” She drew in her chin like a boxer. “I was pretty hot in my day—but every dog has its day.”
With determination Sally went to the storeroom and fished out her clubs. Then, breakfast dishes stacked in the sink and beds still unmade, she buckled Tyke into his cart, with the golf clubs for company, and set out for an open lot at the edge of town that bore the invitation to STOP
AND SOCK. Parking Tyke well bèhind the driving range, she bought a bucketful of balls.
“Now, darling,” she admonished him. “Keep your eyes open. Your mother was no slouch at this game.”
Count out the backswing like a waltz. Then let it ride, down into it, and through. She had almost forgotten the sweet arc of a well-hit ball as it soared out into space.
A car drew up to the curb and Michael jumped out.
“Sweet day, Sal! I thought I recognized that swing. What’s going on?”
“As you probably know, Pat has a lien on George until the Traynor Memorial. If she wins that she expects to try for the City and District. And I was pretty hot in my day —George said so at breakfast.” Patting the crown of her dark, shining head, she murmured, “Nice old doggie.”
Michael’s smile wasn’t gay. His lips parted thinly and a white flash stretched briefly across his dark face. But his eyes remained bleak.
"Pat is being particularly silly.”
Something in the grim way he said it struck at Sally; apparently George and Pat Henderson were already a wellseasoned topic of locker-room conversation.
“When a slim girl with taffy-colored hair not only cards an effortless eighty but persuades George that he’s giving her the competition she needs ...” Sally valiantly strove for an attitude of detachment. “Well, George is naturally interested.”
“As far as I’m concerned, Pat is still tops.” Michael borrowed Sally’s driver and cracked viciously into a ball. “If she could be ground under heel, just once, she’d be perfect.”
“If she lost the Traynor Memorial?”
“It doesn’t mean a thing to her. She’s only using the Traynor Memorial to flaunt around with George.”
“But if she should discover that George is more interested in golf than in flaunting ...”
“She’d go up in smoke.” Comprehension overtook Michael. Gripping Sally’s shoulders, he shook her gently. “You can’t do it, Sal—it’s your second season out of the game and the tournament only three weeks away.”
“Can’t I? Watch this!”
She teed up the ball, tucked in her lower lip, and drove. The ball dribbled to the hundred-yard marker. Michael hooted, and Tyke, assuming it was all for his amusement, contributed a gurgle.
Sally’s optimism dwindled.
“I don’t believe I’ll tell George,” she decided. “Anyhow, not until I’m fairly sure of my game.”
TYKE liked his new routine. When Sally buckled him into his cart and set out for the STOP AND SOCK, he squirmed with delight.
“Yes, darling,” she invariably told him. “We’re going to play golf.” Repeating it distinctly, “Golf.”
Her hands hardened and her drives gained accuracy and distance. Michael often stopped by to see how she was getting along and to bang out a few balls with her.
In an indirect way, Sally learned quite a bit about Pat Henderson’s game. Peach shortcake for dessert always caused George to grow’ expansive.
“Pat Henderson can’t wreigh more than a hundred. But when she hits them they’re down there with the rest. It’s flouting all laws of physics and anatomy.”
“How does she manage thedog’s leg on the seventeenth?” “Plays it wide and belts it home with a brassie.” “Um-m. Unimaginative player, I should say.”
"What else would she do?” George demanded.
“Cut over the trees with her drive.”
“That’s scarcely a woman's shot!”
“I did it, two years ago, w’hen I w’on the Traynor Memorial . . .”
”... with seventy-eight.” George took up tire refrain.
“That was a fluke.” He regarded Sally intently. “Just what does Pat Henderson's game mean to you?”
“Very little,” she hastily assured him.
But, one evening, Tyke almost betrayed her. He was spending a few last moments before bedtime in his play pen, when George came in, flipped his hat over Tyke’s ears and sang out, “Hi, everybody!”
Tyke shyly held out a small fist and uncurled his fingers. With apparent unconcern, he said, “Tee ...”
George rocked back on his heels.
“Sally!” he roared. “Tyke’s talking! He was just sitting here, in his sleepers, in his play pen, with a little red wooden tee in his hand, and he said it. ‘Tee,’ 1 mean.”
Sally dropped weakly into a convenient chair. That afternoon when she had lifted Tyke from his cart, he had grabbed at a tee stuck into her hatband. In the way she liad, she’d said, “It’s a tee. darling.” She had bathed him and fed him and prepared him for bed, and all the time he had clung to it, cherishing it, and she hadn’t noticed.
Recovering somewhat, she said, “Do you think it’s wise to give him a tee to play with, George? He might swallow it.”
“I didn’t give it to him!” George was justifiably indignant. “He must have found it. But how did he know what it was?”
“Inherited instinct, perhaps,” supplied Sally.
At the end of a week, Michael was sufficiently interested in Sally’s efforts to offer advice.
“This STOP AND SOCK business is all right as far as it goes, but you’ll have to get out on a golf course and play.” He struck an attitude reminiscent of George. “I’ll provide the necessary competition, if I may.”
SO SALLY arranged with the girl who stayed with Tyke when she and George went out for an evening to come in and look after him, and set out with Michael. The feel of a fairway under her feet once again was a fresh inspiration. Her tee shots were surprisingly good, but she ran into trouble around the greens. On the way home, however, Michael said, “I believe you’ve a chance. Sally.”
“An even break,” she sighed as they drew up before her door. “That’s all I ask.” Then grew quite white as screams bombarded her eardrums.
“Tyke!” she cried, bolting into the house, Michael poundng after.
Scarlet as a scalded lobster. Tyke sat surrounded by all his toys, playing his vocal chords to the limit.
“He’s been like this all afternoon, just crying himself sick,” explained his wilted guardian. "He kept asking for something, but I couldn’t make out what he wanted.”
“What did Tyke want?” murmured Sally, dropping to her knees and gathering the unhappy baby into her arms.
“ ’o’f,” Tyke supplied.
“It can’t be. It’s impossible !” Sally’s eyes flew wide with amazement. “Was it golf?” she hazarded. "Did Tyke want to play golf?”
His head fell to her shoulder and his sobs faded into limp hiccups. Someone, apparently, understood him at last.
“This ends it, Michael. And don’t tell me he’s badly trained. You can’t expect him to swallow in one gulp the idea of being left at home. But it’s too late in the day now to work him into it gradually. That is, too late for the Traynor Memorial.”
“He’ll be all right tomorrow,” Michael contended.
“It works both ways, Michael.” Sally rested her cheek against Tyke’s hot head. “He might be all right, but I wouldn’t. He’d be a mental hazard. 1 couldn’t play a decent game if I kept thinking of him, and wondering if he was working himself into this state.”
Michael rutiled his dark hair impatiently into ridges and argued. In the end he had to accept Sally’s decision.
George bounded in that evening.
“Pat tied your old record today, Sally. Seventy-eight. Her name’s practically engraved on the cup.” With reverential awe, he continued, “She’s a honey, that girl !”
“Mention golf again, and I'll boil you in oil and bury you in a bunker,” Sally promised ominously.
“Something go wrong today?”
It was no exaggeration. Unless George’s enthusiasm could be checked, everything she and George had between them was threatened. She was glad of one thing, glad she hadn’t told George about her attempted comeback. At least, he didn’t know how deeply she resented his interest in Pat Henderson.
■\ yTICHAEL phoned next morning, his voice crackling over the wire.
“Pack Tyke's accessories and slap on your jxnvder. I’ll call in an hour.”
“What’s afoot?” demanded Sally.
“I’ve discovered a pay-as-you-play outfit. We may take Tyke on condition that we don’t wheel him through bunkers or across greens, and get off the course before the office crowd come out at five.”
“Oh, Michael—ready in an hour!”
Leaving the telephone, Sally gathered Tyke ecstatically into her arms.
“Darling,” she giggled. “We’re going to play golf.”
Michael hired a boy to wheel Tyke. When his duties were explained, the boy looked as though fate was a mule and had kicked him. But when Sally’s first drive uncurled into space he was comforted. Michael’s further cheered him. And he lojxid down the fairway, like a freckled retriever, jmshing Tyke, who waved arms and legs and laughed out loud.
They played eighteen holes, and had a leisurely lunch while Tyke napped.
“Eighty-five—not bad,” said Michael, totalling up the score. "Two weeks of steady play should whittle that down.”
“For what?” Sally’s cup clashed into its saucer. “This is heavenly, Michael. But the tournament committee won’t allow a baby cart on the course for the Traynor Memorial. And if I leave him at home, I’ll feel uncomfortable, and hook and slice all over the place. We’re right back where we started.”
“Oh, no, we’re not! I’ll look after Tyke.”
“Will you really?” Sally’s relief was tremendous. "Just park him near the practice tee and sock out the occasional ball,” she advised. “He’ll be all right.”
“Of course, he’ll be all right,” echoed Michael. “Tyke and I can browse around, sort of. You know, keep an eye on all the players.”
Sally failed to notice his grin of anticipation.
As late as the day before the tournament. Sally hadn’t sent in her name. Nor had she told George. She was trying to find courage to make her entry, when Michael phoned.
“All set for tomorrow,” he announced. “Your starting time is one ten, twosome formation. I’ll pick you up.”
“But, Michael, I’m not entered!” Sally expostulated.
“You’re entered.” She heard his confident chuckle. "And in the right place. I haven’t spent several years, and half my salary, around this dub for nothing. It seems you're drawn with Miss Pat Henderson, Mrs. Powers.”
MICHAEL called at noon to find Tyke burbling with anticipation and Sally dressed in something becomingly blue, her cheeks blazing, hands like ice, and stark fear in her eyes.
“It has just occurred to me,” she wailed. “Everyone will know I’m doing this for the sole purpose of putting Pat in her place. If I don’t succeed I’m going to look ridiculous. Even George will think I’m ridiculous.” A sob choked her. “I don’t want George to think I’m ridiculous.”
“You can’t lose,” Michael assured her in a large and confident way. “Pat hasn’t a chance.”
At the clubhouse, Michael deposited Sally and said, “I secured a caddie for you. A nice lad who has promised to make George do his share of the work. Good luck ! Tyke and I will be seeing you later.” He didn’t say how much later. After the game, she presumed, and went in saarch of George. Obviously, the time had came to tell George that she was out for the Traynor Memorial.
Although the tournament was a ladies’ fixture, it drew the interest of the entire membership. Those not playing were on hand to offer advice, mostly facetious, and “to see how the girls make out.” Sally discovered George congregating with the crowd at the first tee. Pat Henderson hung on his arm, her taffy-colored hair curling bewitchingly from under the edge of a peasant kerchief. She looked very bright and assured.
“Hello, Pat. Hi, George!” Sally greeted them.
“Sally—how nice . . . ” Pat achieved a minimum of cordiality.
“I didn’t know you were coming out today, Sally.” George, always punctilious, was faintly accusing. “If I’d known, I’d have called around for you.”
“As a matter of fact . . . ” began Sally, striving for a casual note.
But her chance to tell George that she was not merely a spectator had passed. The starter was lifting his megaphone.
“Miss Henderson and Mrs. George Powers!” he called.
The comers of Pat’s mouth curled up slightly. Like something feline scenting raw fish, thought Sally. At the same time, she wished George would stop gaping. George’s consternation, however, was
not entirely due to the discovery that his wife was unexpectedly involved in competitive golf.
Michael was hurrying toward them from the clubhouse. As he crossed the lawns people turned to stare. Some waved, smiled, and blew kisses at his back. Others encircled him in an energetic imitation of an Indian war dancé. Then Sally saw Tyke’s sun hat bobbing just above Michael’s shoulder; Michael wore an Indian basket strapped across his chest and slung down his back. Tyke was the papoose, and loving it.
"What in . . .” George began, but seemed unable to finish even that simple remark.
“You know how the Traynor Memorial is,” Sally observed, emerging from her first shock of surprise. “Slightly hysterical.”
“Only slightly?” was the best Pat could do under the circumstances.
She jerked a hand toward George for her driver. His gaze rivetted on Tyke, George fumbled through her clubs.
Tyke was experimenting with the possibilities of life on such an interesting new plane. Reaching out, he grabbed a tee from the ribbon that bound Sally’s hair and examined it thoughtfully. Then, smiling gummily, he offered it to his father.
“Tee,” he announced softly, dropping the word into the midst of a silence as Pat began her backswing.
But Pat’s swing didn’t falter.
Sally stepped forward, aware only of George’s sibilant hiss, “Do you think it’s wise to give him a tee to play with, Sally? He might swallow it.”
George was enlightened; he understood why he had been coming home lately to so many hurriedly dished up dinners. Very well, George, your wife was pretty hot in her day, was she? And Pat is a honey ! Sally’s lower lip poked out with determination.
“Darling, give mother the tee,” she said to Tyke, took it from him, planted it, placed her ball on it, then sent the ball screaming down the fairway.
“Sweet day, Sal !” Michael cried.
And they were off, Tyke waving back a gracious farewell to the spectators. Like a tidal wave let loose, laughter followed them down the first fairway.
PAT HENDERSON turned to Sally.
“I’ve heard of condemned women influencing juries by taking an infant into the witness box; but trying to win at golf by bringing the baby along to kick up a fuss while your opponent is playing ...” She stopped, indignation choking her.
Sally was too stunned to reply. Fortunately, Michael had something to say.
“My idea, entirely, bringing the baby along. Tyke likes golf. So do I. Consider us admiring members of your gallery.”
He was very suave. So suave that Sally suspected he wouldn’t grieve if Tyke annoyed Pat. Such an attitude, of course, was reprehensible. But to Michael, loving Pat and having to accept her open preference for George, this wasn’t just golf; it was both love and warfare, and ethics didn’t count.
Sally was uneasy. If she won the Traynor Memorial because Tyke threw Pat off her game, the victory would be shabbier than defeat. George wouldn’t be impressed. Sally hoped Tyke wasn’t going to be noisy.
He was. On the third green, as Pat was putting, he yelled for the flag. Going down the fifth, he spied a crow flying overhead and began to talk to it in his own unintelligible jargon.
"Darling, will you please be quiet,” pleaded Sally.
But Tyke refused to be subdued. Long after the crow had vanished, he kept up the merry monologue.
Although Pat’s temper mounted, she didn’t blow up. On the contrary, fury supplied her with that extra fillip which makes gf>od golf brilliant. Her drives cracked out with uncanny precision; her approaches cuddled up to the pin. And at each new achievement of Pat’s, George grew more doting.
They finished the first nine, Pat with thirty-seven and Sally a forty-one. Michael and Tyke went to check first-nine scores and returned.
“Nothing to worry about from the field,” Michael reported. “Dolly Stevens was the big threat, but she blew up on the seventh.’’
“And are we playing golf!” boasted George. "What a girl!”
In his exuberance, he threw an arm around Pat and hugged her. Pat accepted the tribute gracefully. Her smile for George assured him that without his aid she couldn’t have done it. Watching her, Michael had the dark look of a man whose dreams have backfired right in his face.
For her part, Sally felt hot tears gathering inside her eyelids. To keep them back, she clenched her fists until her fingers were numb, and thought helplessly; You don’t know it, George, but you’ve suddenly become terribly remote.
“Come along, Sally,” George said impatiently, "Pat’s driven. You’re up.”
Sally drove, and they were off again, on the last lap.
"What’s going on in that basket?” Michael wanted to know. “Things seem exceptionally quiet.”
Gypped of his noonday nap. and worn out with so much unaccustomed gaiety, Tyke’s chin rested on his chest like a sparrow’s. Sally lowered his sun hat over his eyes, and adjusted the strap that had been woven into the basket to support a sleeping babe’s head.
"Darling.” she whispered in gentle reproach. “If you’d only had this idea a little sooner.”
WITH TYKE no longer acting as an irritant to Pat’s temper, her brilliancy faded and the game settled into a dingdong battle. Sally won a stroke, halved the next two holes, lost her stroke, halved another, and won it back again. Arriving at the seventeenth, she was still three strokes down to Pat.
Then she remembered. Two years before she had come to the seventeenth, trailing her opponent, and a spectacular drive had given her the cup.
A stand of spruce cut diagonally into the fairway. To carry it, a ball must not
only be long but unusually high. Carried, however, it meant a straightaway to the green. Driving wide of the trees left the player confronted with a nasty trap, and too far from the green for an iron.
Sally forgot Pat and George. And the three strokes she had to make up. Above all, she forgot the trees. A driving iron, laid back a little. And count out the backswing, easily. Then let it ride, down into it, and through.
Sally’s ball flashed out, straight for the spruce.
“Just because you did it once,” George began ominously, but thought better of it. “Nice try, though.”
Michael yelled, “It’s clearing!”
Pat hesitated. Obviously she was tempted to try to duplicate the shot. But there was the horrible possibility of penalty for lost ball if she floundered into the trees. And the drive might save Sally, at the very best, no more than two strokes. Pat could play safe and still hold the Traynor Memorial in the palm of her hand, and with it George’s enthusiasm and an excuse to go on to the City and District.
Pat laid down a nice ball just wide of the trees. A thin secret smile curved her lips.
“That was very wise of you,” Michael observed sardonically, and Pat flushed.
George made no comment. Fie was regarding Sally, his forehead wrinkled with thought.
Pat overplayed the green, chipped on, and took two putts, while Sally’s approach dug in its toes beside the pin. One putt gave Sally a three.
COMING to the eighteenth, Pat was still one stroke to the good.
“You know, Sally,” observed George from the depths of his abstraction, “I’ll take back what I said. That shot was no fluke. Anyone who can pull off that stunt twice in a lifetime is a golfer. Join Pat and me, and start training for the City and District. It’s my bet you’ll mop up the field.”
“Thanks, George,” Sally said promptly. “I’ll accept your suggestion with pleasure.” It didn’t matter, at the moment, that Pat was leading in the Traynor Memorial. Sally’s ball, flying straight on its way to the green, seemed to sing a small sweet song of a far happier triumph.
Sally stood back and Pat took her place Pat’s cheeks were as bright as the scarlet border of the kerchief that held down her fair hair. Pat looked, in fact, as if she had just been slapped briskly.
"Threesomes are awkward. Count me out of your plans for theCity and District,” Pat said to George, and slashed into her ball.
It rose on a wide slice, coming to rest at the foot of a hawthorn, out of bounds. George silently produced another ball. Somehow, Pat managed to keep it straight. But she topped it, and stood watching stonily as it scuttled along the grass taking with it her last chance for the cup. Then she strode after it, not waiting for the others.
“This is what I’ve been waiting for!” breathed Michael. “Pat should appreciate a kind word from an old friend right now.” He reached across Sally and shook hands with George.
“Thanks, pal ! Thanks for proposing that threesome.”
“What’s that got to do with it?” George wanted to know. Shouldering Pat’s clubs, he started after her. “I’m afraid Pat’s just not the golfer I thought,” he remarked, as one mourning over the dead.
And. indeed, Sally suddenly felt that Pat scarcely existed.
“Wait, George!” Michael cried. “I’ll trade a papoose for Pat’s clubs.”
“Done!” said George with such vigor that Tyke opened his eyes, saw the scene was still connected with golf, and began to bounce in his basket.