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Bailey thrust his pocked, fleshy face in front of Kappel. "You're very late," he scolded.
“I'm late, but I’m not very late,” retorted Kappel, who was a stickler for precision.
He left Bailey, just like that. It seemed like the objective of the minigolf was to climb up and round the synthetic rock hill till you reached the Buddha head at the top. You could see its serene moon-face hovering above the treetops. It was probably wire mesh sprayed with foam. Kappel crossed a footbridge over a stream. The water was silent and still, with fish and tendrils of plants suspended motionless as if encased in glass. At the first hole a giant monkey stood astride the green, its tail swinging like a pendulum. You had to drill the ball past the tail and make it ricochet off a backboard so it would carom down a zigzag of ramps at angles of 45°, then 30°, then 22½°.
“A miracle shot,” the crowd cried as they surged round, clapping Kappel on the back. It was one of those cases where you didn’t actually have to take the shot, you got a terrific score just for figuring it out. The crowd swept him forward, toward the Sphinx now. They were dressed like office workers, like at his own company. Then they all dissipated away as suddenly as they’d arrived. Kappel paused between the Sphinx’s giant paws, gazing up at its dumb cross-eyed palooka face framed by the usual cobra headdress.
He stepped thru a doorway in the Sphinx’s faux limestone chest and entered a vast, dim hall where his footsteps echoed on the hard floor. At the centre stood a sarcophagus or rather, on closer view, it was a blue sea trunk with brass fittings. Josephine was waiting there, wearing her black dress with the décolleté. She was as feral, as voluptuous as ever. He burned to haul her down onto the floor, to possess her right then and there, which would prove immediately and with intensity that this was the cosmic plan.
“You're not going to marry me, are you?” said Josephine. Worry lines multiplied across her brow.
“Somebody has to do the golfing,” he said. He resented that Josephine hadn't packed a travel bag, that she believed the mere demonstration of a sea-trunk was sufficient. So he was on his own. He thought they’d been married forever, and now it was as if there had never been anything.
But now she was full of agony. “Don't leave,” she pleaded, reaching out her arm like in the great days of love.
Kappel was somewhere else. The ball skipped up a ramp then bounced round a corner behind a boulder. A waterfall fell tepidly amidst the rocks, sploshing into a clay pool. At his feet the green carpet was worn flat and dotted with bizarre stains that as he gazed at them came alive and spread in expanding circles like unstoppable blood. Kappel — who had played Pinehurst, who had played Pebble — had he come to this?