Poco Vista Golf Course, Parrot Bay Florida
THE FIRST HOLE
“Yeh, I know, but just who in the hell does he think he is… Tiger Woods?” Moorcroft whispered behind the cover of his slender, gloved hand. Peter Moorcroft was the golf pro at PV and had been since it was designed back in the late 90’s. Not used to hosting anybody of any real note since they hosted the Conan O’brien Open back in 2014, having the president of the United States play here and being ‘asked’ to round out the official foursome was perhaps more than he could handle. He leaned over his driver in dismay.
“Let me break it down for you Pete,” Lester Conrad replied as he rotated his golf ball in his hand looking for latent dings or smiles. “You’re a well paid golf professional on a picturesque golf course in south Florida. I’m the assistant secretary of transportation. He’s Brent Kirk… the President of the United States.”
Conrad walked over to the old suds and towel ball washing machine. He eyed out at the president who was wafting pulls of grass into the air for some type of wind reading. “Now if you don’t want to end up a middle-aged caddy at some nine hole public course in Boca Raton and I want to avoid becoming the ambassador to Guam or some other remote location we had just better learn to get along with his little quirks and fantasies out here on the links…capiche?”
“Gotcha’,” Moorcroft sighed as he shrugged his shoulders in submission. “Okay guys,” Laura Pratt the Assistant Press Secretary offered as she passed by them on her way back to the cart to retrieve a different club for the picky president.
“Give it a rest. Let’s just play the game.” She gave them an impish wink from under her pink visor.
And so the foursome, finally, began their round. Not knowing that soon all hell would break loose.
“Roger that,” President Kirk replied, trying to stick with the military tone of this advice. “Who has the honors this hole Laura?”
“I believe that would be…you sir,” she replied as she bent her blonde head down and glanced over her tally card as if she were verifying it professionally.
“Just a minute—just a minute,” she spouted out as she checked the secret service audio/video monitor just below the presidential GPS screen. “We’ve got a problem sir. Shadow-One is paging us. Sumthins’ up!”
“Let me get that,” Kirk said with more than a hint of annoyance in his voice. “One of those nervous nellies probably spotted a suspicious gopher or squirrel from his camouflaged perch up in one of these fairway trees. He yanked out the retractable phone. “This had better be good Shadow,” he said with irritation. “We’re trying to play a peaceful round of golf here. What have you got?”
There was a crackle of squelch and some spitting static on the line and then an animated shrill voice broke in. “We’ve got incoming sir,” the voice shouted. “You’ve got to get outa’ there sir—”
Kirk reached around to the front of the cart’s bulletproof window and adjusted the jutting little dish antenna.
“Incoming?”the president almost laughed. “What is it son, a flying squirrel? Maybe a suspicious circling hawk of some sort?” he cut in. A few seconds of silence followed this sarcastic questioning, and then… “Uh, Mr. President we got a confirm on a low flying UAV in your sector. We…uh, think it is—”
“What’s your name agent?” Kirk broke in. “Gilroy, sir.” The voice responded quickly.
“Well listen up Gilroysir,” Kirk said slowly so as not to be misunderstood. “Cut out the G.I. Joe crap and tell me, in plain English, what the hell is going on!”
Another moment of nothing but sporadic static and then the nervous agent piped up. “An unmanned aerial vehicle…a drone is thought to be honing in on your position. That is…I mean…heading your way.”
“Where is it right now son?” Kirk challenged sternly. “Approximately five o’clock from your position. Coordinates are as follo—”
“Dammit! Where in the hell is it?” Is it one of ours?”
“It’s coming out of the south sky sir,” Gilroy replied. “It’s only a few miles away. I can’t say for certain just yet. You have to abort your game Mr. President. Please check your scorecard. Your party needs to proceed to the eighteenth green. Head to the far side sand hazard there and we’ll escort you to the safety shelter.”
“This is insane!” Kirk shouted as he rotated his finger in the air to alert his foursome of their imminent hasty departure. “We have a bunker inside a bunker?” he said in disbelief. “That’s affirmative…yes we do. Please sir…hurry.”
“Okay,” Kirk said with a sigh. “We’re on our way. But you guys had better be right on this one mister. I’m up a couple strokes right now on these folks shadow man. I don’t want to be driving for a sand trap that I could probably easily avoid by laying up over there on eighteen,” he announced as he checked the back side of his little paper scorecard. “Got it?”
“Er, yes sir, I understand,” Gilroy replied with an awkward hesitation. “Godspeed sir.”
The foursome had gathered around the president’s golf cart for an impromptu, if not hurried, debriefing about the situation. The sky was beginning to ominously cloud over. Kirk pulled off his sun glasses and peered off to the southern horizon. He shook his head in consternation.
“What’s up Mr. President?” Conrad tried awkwardly.
“What’s up is an attack drone aircraft is heading this way,” Kirk responded as he looked them all over there beneath the dipping branches of a spreading chestnut tree. “We gotta’ hightail it for number eighteen. My ubiquitous guardians are going to escort us into a secret protective bunker there until this situation is resolved. I’m terribly sorry, but there’s no time for questions. Let’s just do this. Get in your carts and follow me.”
The two carts were off and running, cutting across this fairway and negotiating in and around water hazards, sand dunes and flower laden hedges. Kirk was a proficient multi-tasker as he switched from brake to throttle, studied the scorecard map clipped to the center of the steering wheel and scanned the darkening sky for a sign of the approaching robotic marauder. The disheveled Laura Pratt held on for dear life.
“Are we there yet?” she half joked.
“Just up ahead there,” he replied as he pointed off to the ivy covered clubhouse complex. We should be—”
“Look up there,” she cut in with a shout as she pointed off to their left. Off in the distance, just below the rolling gray-black clouds, a daunting shape like a small inverted letter v was gradually descending…approaching them it seemed. There was an abrupt snap of white lightning that zigzagged across the darkening horizon. Then a barely audible buzzing noise emanated from the soaring intruder.
“Jeezus!” Kirk shouted back. “That’s the drone. We’ve no time to lose.” And at that he slammed down on the accelerator pedal and they ripped across a huge blowing garden of white and red begonias as they headed for the pea-stone driveway that led up to the side of the final hole by the clubhouse. Conrad and the chest grabbing, horror-struck Moorcroft were struggling to keep up.
“He’s ruining the whole damn course,” Moorcroft shouted as both carts crashed over a brick facing and splashed onto the little pebbled cart path. The obnoxious buzzing noise of the UFO was now just behind them. It was very close. “Shut up Pete,” Conrad yelled back just before another booming clap of thunder and lightning. Moments later, just as the wild carters were pulling up to their sandy objective, the rain began to patter. A large knot of men dressed in ridiculous camouflage golf outfits was milling about the periphery of the soaking sand trap. A young boy cuffed to the safety bar of a golf cart marked POCO VISTA SECURITY was crying into his shaking chest.
“That’s Kendrick Moss…the course chairman’s son!” Moorcroft said excitedly from his shotgun seat.
THE EIGHTEENTH HOLE
The president de-carted, as did the others in his haggard group. Kirk reached behind and deftly withdrew the golf umbrella from his red, white and blue leather bag. The spitting rain had now turned in to a full-fledged downpour.
“You all better stay right here,” he said over his shoulder. He marched over to the olive drab gathering of secret service agents. A tall, taciturn figure carrying a black metal box adorned with an assortment of dials and little thumb sized joysticks emerged from the soaking group. The man, carrying the box out in front of him as if it were some kind of bomb or birthday cake, slowly approached the seemingly very displeased President Kirk.
“You’re agent Gilroy I take it,” Kirk spoke out from under his billowing umbrella with a steely glare. “Uh, yes sir Mr. President,” was the decidedly less than glib reply.
“Whatcha’ got there Gilroy?”
“Well sir, you see…it seems as if this control box belongs to that kid over there,” he looked over at the bawling boy in the security cart. “It seems that we’ve made a sort of faux pas in our--
He was rudely stopped in the middle of his embarrassed explanation by a loud, cracking crash in the mushy sand bunker just behind them. Everyone froze in place for a few moments as they looked over at the sad arrangement of twisted, broken pieces and parts. There was another rumble of thunder off in the distance. The sobs of the shackled pilot had grown louder still as he witnessed the terminal landing of the birthday gift from his father.
“You’re not a licensed CSO pilot are you then agent Gilroy?”Kirk half-smiled as he reached out and grabbed the toy planes’ control box.
“Sir?” the embarrassed agent replied. “Combat Systems Officer,” Kirk said. “They’re the ones who fly the UAV’s in our elite drone squadrons. Now, unless you and your band of merry men have a better idea, I’m going to return this to your captured terrorist over there. I can only hope that he will accept our humble apologies for bringing down his plane. I will see to it personally that we make the arrangements to buy him a new…drone! Okay?”
“Roger that… er’ I mean yes sir.”