tagRomanceHomeless Pt. 02

Homeless Pt. 02


Part 2—Jennie moves in. I make some important changes.


I usually spent around thirty minutes getting ready in the morning between washing, shaving, brushing my teeth, and dressing. I planned on a few minutes extra this morning because of Jennie. We were dressed, bed made, and out the door right on time. I knew from experience that Dr. Whitney's office was exactly sixteen miles away. Normally, that would take me about twenty minutes to drive. Unfortunately, at this hour there was always the chance of running behind a school bus and that's exactly what happened. There was no chance of passing on the narrow twisting road. Finally, as we approached the South Carolina state line the bus turned off into a housing development and the traffic cleared. Ten minutes later we pulled into the parking lot exactly three minutes early.

Jennie, as expected had to complete several forms that were mostly blank because she had never visited a doctor during her five-plus years on the road and she couldn't remember the rest. She had no records of vaccinations and had never received a flu shot or any other treatment. Jennie was called and she asked me to join her. "Please, Doug, I'm deathly afraid of needles." I held her hand as we followed Jan into the office. I explained that we both wanted blood and STD testing.

"Then you'll both have to give urine and swab samples. The urine must come at the beginning of your stream. Jennifer, I'll need a swab of your vagina and Doug, I'll need a swab of your urethra before you urinate. Understand?" We did. Jennie went to the lavatory while I gave blood. I stayed with her when she returned, telling her to close her eyes. That worked; she never felt the slight pinch. I went to the lavatory when she was finished. "Dr. Whitney will have your results next week." I paid my co-pay and Jennie's bill and we left. Two minutes later we passed the shopping center where I met Jennie only a few days ago.

There are dozens of restaurants in North Myrtle Beach so we had no trouble finding a place for breakfast. We had just ordered when I asked if she had ever played golf. "I played softball and soccer in high school, just like all the other 'out of control' kids did, but never golf, why?"

"I usually play two to three times a week, even in the winter. I wouldn't mind having some company. If we went out in the afternoon it would be warmer and we could play without even keeping score. If you played softball I think you'd pick up on it pretty easily. You probably won't be great, but neither am I. You'll be part of a vast majority. I'll need to get you some clubs and some golf clothes."

"Special clothes? Just for golf?"

"Yeah, you'll find them helpful even for daily wear. I have what's known as a 'wind shirt' although it's more of a pullover jacket that I take whenever I travel. It's thin and light, but warm because it keeps the wind from penetrating to your skin. I also have a merino wool sweater that's reserved for days in the 40's. It's really thin. I usually wear four layers—tee-shirt, mock turtle neck, the sweater, and a wind shirt. I have five, some heavier than others because the weather changes and sometimes they need to be washed. There are two big golf shops right down the road."

"Isn't this going to be expensive," Jennie asked. I just laughed, smiled, and winked. I'd told Jennie the truth—I had pocketed more than a hundred million—much more. I had been offered more than a billion dollars for my investment program. I accepted with a few conditions—employment for the two members of my staff and my ability to continue using the program in total secrecy. In return I agreed to never sell it and to allow them unlimited use forever. I didn't plan to live forever and I had no family or heirs. It was a no brainer, even for a nerd like me.

I was just finishing my pancakes when Jennie excused herself for the restroom. I paid the check and waited for her just outside the entrance. Soon enough we were driving south on US-17, the main road through virtually every town between here and Charleston. Five minutes later I pulled into the big parking lot at the PGA Superstore. Golfsmith was right across the street. "How do you know which one to go to," Jennie asked.

"It really doesn't matter that much. Their prices are virtually identical, but here they'll fit the clubs to you. That's important. I'll explain that you're a novice so the salesman will spend like forever with us. You'll see." I took her hand and led her into the big store. The one difference between the two stores was that this one also sold clothing and equipment for tennis. I had no interest in that. Sometimes I could barely hit a stationary golf ball.

Once inside I led Jennie to the area where she would be able to try various clubs. I wasn't at all surprised that we were intercepted halfway there by one of the salesmen. These guys must work on commission. They were even more attentive—always had been—than even the car salespeople.

"Yes, you can help us. I want a set of clubs for my friend here. She's a total novice."

"Then I assume you'll want an inexpensive set of clubs."

"On the contrary, I believe that one should always have the very best equipment. Let's see what you have then I'm sure she'll want to try them out." He smiled and led us to the back of the store where the ladies' clubs could be found. They had a good selection from TaylorMade, Nike, Adams, and Callaway—all top brands. He showed Jennie how to hold the clubs using several types of grips. I always used an interlocking grip so that's what I suggested to Jennie.

Apparently, the salesman agreed. "It's the most popular and I find it helps control the club more effectively. He helped Jennie select a glove and we proceeded to the practice area. "These shafts will seem light to you. Don't let that fool you. They're graphite and they're extremely strong. I've never even come close to breaking one of mine so you don't have to worry about that. Now...here's some advice—golf is a game of contradictions." Jennie replied with a puzzled look. I'd heard all of this before. "Believe it or not, to get the ball into the air you have to hit down on it. It's called trapping the ball—squeezing it between the club and the ground or, in this case, the mat. Next, if you want the ball to go far, swing easy. Swinging hard, or over-swinging, just gets your body out of rhythm. Only bad things will happen then like hooking or slicing and your distance will suffer, too. Just relax and swing in an arc. Ever play softball?"

"Yes, I played on our high school varsity four years."

"That should help you—it's basically the same swing except now the ball is smaller, on the ground, and not moving." Jennie tried a few practice swings before actually addressing a ball. Her first few swings were weak, but then she seemed to get the hang of it. All told she hit five shots with each club before going back to the TaylorMade Aeroburner's.

"I like the way this one feels, Doug. Is that okay?"

"It's more than okay—it's exactly right." She tried several drivers and some fairway woods. Why they're still called "woods" when they're made of metal has always astounded me. Anyway, Jennie liked the TaylorMade there, too. Once we had the clubs we walked over to get a couple of bags.

"Why do I need more than one?"

"You'll need a cart bag for when we play. It'll help you organize the clubs and it's big enough to hold extra gloves, raingear, plenty of balls, tees, and first aid supplies in case you get a blister or a cut. It'll also have a compartment that's insulated to keep cold water or Gator Aid. On the downside, cart bags are heavy so when we go to the range to practice you'll want something lighter and easier to carry. I also use mine when I travel. She selected one in pink and the second in purple. They were both excellent bags so I was satisfied. I handed them to the salesman, telling him to meet us in shoes.


"Yeah, you can play in your sneakers, but they're not waterproof like golf shoes and you can slip quite easily. Golf shoes have cleats." She tried several, picking a pair that was more like sneakers than shoes. We bought two. Next: putters. I explained and Jennie tried a few on their putting green. After almost an hour she picked an Odyssey Works Superstroke—a good choice in my opinion. We spent another hour on clothes before buying three dozen balls and several ball markers, towels, and other assorted tools. My bill came to $3,427.16, not too bad all things considered.

On the drive home I told Jennie that I'd be away for the weekend. "I think it would be good if you came with me."

"Where are we going?"

"Santee, South Carolina."

"Where on earth is that?"

"I-95 runs right through the middle of it. That's how we're getting there. I'm getting a dog."

"Why can't you get one here?"

"I could, but this will be a special dog. Before you came to live with me I was there alone every day and night except for when May was there cleaning. I had a team of burglars break in early one morning about two months ago. The alarm went off and I grabbed my pistol. It's a smart gun that requires my thumbprint to be fired. I shot one of them when he tried to knife me and the other ran. The guy lived, but he'll be paralyzed for the rest of his life—the bullet went through his lung and severed his spinal cord. For a while I thought I might go to jail, but the DA decided not to prosecute. The one I shot had a long record of burglary and even armed robbery and the fact that he did cut my arm made the case one of self defense.

"I thought at the time that I might need a guard dog. Dogs are notoriously light sleepers and they have sensational hearing. I think a barking dog would probably scare most burglars away, besides you could always call the dog back. You can't do that with a bullet. I'd like to have you with me so the dog will know you. We can take our clubs and practice. Then when we come home I'll arrange some lessons for you." Jennie leaned forward and kissed me. It had been a wonderful morning.

We stopped at the Farmstead Golf Links where I was a member and walked together into the clubhouse where I picked up a ticket for three bags of balls. For some reason this course puts their range balls into these neat nylon mesh bags which disappear at an alarming rate according to the head pro who is a friend. We redeemed our voucher for the balls at the bag drop and walked together to the range about 75 yards away. We were almost there when Jennie told me, "I can see what you mean about these wind shirts. It's breezy here, but I'm warm—much warmer than I thought I would be." I showed her what most people thought was the best way to practice—starting with a wedge and moving up to the longer clubs. She did as I suggested and before long she was striking the ball as though she'd been playing for years. She was a natural; I wasn't. I could hit most shots fairly well, but every now and then... Well, let me put it this way—golf is only one of the four-letter words I've been known to use often on the course.

After the range we walked to the putting green. It was mid-afternoon and it was deserted. I gave her three balls and told her to have fun. Fifteen minutes later I was just about to stroke a twenty-footer when I heard her shout, "YEAH!" She continued when I looked up. "That must have been forty feet...maybe even longer." I left my ball to give Jennie a knuckle bump, but she jumped up to wrap her arms around my neck and pressed her lips into mine. "I'm having such fun. It's hard to believe that less than a week ago..."

I stopped her there. "Let's not talk about the past. It's no longer important. Only your future matters now." Leaning down, I kissed her again, but only a short one. "Back to work," I told her as I patted her butt. It looked as good in her jeans as it did naked in my bed. We stayed until the weather turned cool then returned to my car to stow the clubs in the trunk. A minute later we were on our way back home.

Once there I showed Jennie how to clean her clubs. "I'm sure you've never watched golf on TV, but if you had you'd see that the caddie cleans the club after every shot. I play with some guys who never clean their clubs. It's important to keep these little grooves clean. They grip and spin the ball. You'll learn more about that when you take a few lessons. I think you'll do really well. You seem to have a knack for the game. Next week we'll get you out onto the course."

"I had a lot of fun today, Doug. Thank you so much. Running into you was the best thing that's ever happened to me." What could I say? Absolutely nothing; she kissed me then, ramming her tongue down my throat. Man, could she kiss!

Anyway, I washed the clubs in my laundry tub and she dried them, returning them to their bags. We were done in about twenty minutes then I surprised her by removing her golf shoes and washing them. I finished by washing mine then we carried all her clothes into the house. I dropped them onto the bed and went to one of the spare bedrooms for some extra hangers. We showered quickly—no fooling around—and went back to the car to go out for dinner. We were both hungry, not having eaten since breakfast.

I debated driving all the way back to Myrtle Beach, but I had promised Jennie we'd go to Original Benjamin's and I liked to think of myself as a man of my word. At one time I would have been forced to drive down Route 17 past light after light, probably being lucky to average 30 miles per hour. About five years ago a bypass was created—SC-31, the Carolina Bays Parkway—where the speed limit was 65, but the average speed was closer to 75. That was where I headed now. Thirty minutes later I pulled into the restaurant's huge parking lot.

We were greeted by a "pirate" who gave us some cheap plastic bead necklaces. Just inside the door Jennie marveled at the model of the Queen Elizabeth. It must be thirty feet long and the detail is incredible. I gave my name to the hostess and we moved into the bar to wait until we were called. It was January—the middle of winter—and we still had to wait. Jennie looked at the sticker I'd been given. It was on my shirt. "Yellowfin Tuna?"

"Yeah, that's how they'll call us when they have table for us. It's easier than calling a bunch of names they've never heard before. Margarita?"

"Yes, please." I ordered and a few minutes later our drinks were placed on the bar in front of us. I dropped a twenty on the bar, leaving the change as a tip. Jennie and I chatted while we drank. She was really excited about our day. She had just asked me a question about golf when we were called. After reporting to the cashier we were led to our table, but not before our guide picked up a basket of hush puppies. Jennie and I sat and ate a few before going up to the buffet. I always ate the same things—cold boiled peel-and-eat shrimp on my first trip, crab-stuffed mushrooms, fried shrimp and fried scallops along with an ear of corn on my second, and several pounds of crab legs on the rest, usually eating until I could barely walk. Jennie went for salad and soup to begin, commenting as I fed her a large shrimp with cocktail sauce how good the vegetable beef soup was.

I realized then that I hadn't thought to buy Jennie either a wallet or purse. She'd had no need on the road, but now they'd be essentials. Oh well, tomorrow was another day. I followed my usual routine, finishing after having eaten nine clusters of crab legs. Jennie wasn't that far behind me, having eaten six.

We were back in the car when Jennie next spoke. "I don't think I've ever eaten so much. I couldn't believe how good the food was. Doug, I have to thank you for the best day of my life." I sat there silent, unbelieving that such an ordinary day had been her best.

Finally, after almost a minute, I responded, "I'm truly sorry, Jennie. I keep forgetting how miserable your life has been, but I want you to know that I had a wonderful time, too. I think running into you was just as lucky for me as it was for you. You have so much energy and so much curiosity that I get a big kick out of watching you as you experience things for the first time." I reached across the console to take her hand in mine. I knew she was grateful as hell, but how far did her feelings for me really go? I wasn't ready then to tell her how I really felt. I knew I could easily fall in love with her, but would she feel the same about me? Only time would tell.


We'd left the restaurant at 8:45 and the sky had become cloudy and overcast so the night was black as pitch when we passed through Calabash around ten after nine. The road forms a big "S" with a right turn that takes it down near the ICW and a left that runs roughly parallel to the waterway. We were about a mile from the house when I first noticed the bright blue, red, and white blinking lights in the distance. As we approached we realized the lights were coming from my driveway.

Sunset Beach has its own police force, but the majority of law enforcement is still done by the sheriff and his deputies. There was one car from each agency in the driveway as I parked on the front lawn. Of course, I was challenged by one of the town officers until I identified myself as the owner of the house. "What happened?"

"We got an alert from the alarm company. Your sliding glass door was forced open. Looks like they got some of your stuff. I'd like you to check and tell us what."

"Doug, do you think they stole your computers?"

"No, they're locked in place and the password is fourteen symbols long so I doubt they were able to gain access to my files." We walked in to find a lot of vandalism—torn cushions from my almost new leather couch, marker on the walls, beer missing from the fridge. They'd also gotten my I-pad and a laptop I used for email or writing if I wanted to watch TV. There was nothing of value on the hard drive. I wasn't foolish enough to put my billion dollar investment program on something so easily lost or stolen. However, that didn't mean I didn't have a nasty surprise for the thieves.

"We know this was done by kids. Real burglars don't destroy furniture or write on the walls. We believe their MO is to knock on doors. If someone answers they ask for someone who obviously doesn't live there. If nobody answers they break in and steal what they can. I sure would like to catch these bastards."

"Then come with us to my office and I'll show you where they are." He looked to be confused, but he did follow Jennie and me into the room. "I'm a PhD. in computer engineering so I've taken my laptop and I-pad and made a few changes to how they operate. There's a password, but no special password screen so if you don't know about it you'll open the computer, but also activate a GPS chip that I installed. I can pull up a map showing their location in seconds. Hold on a sec..." I activated the GPS tracker using the icon on my desktop. Initially, there were two dots—one red for the laptop and one green for the I-pad, but a minute later I had the latitude and longitude down to the nearest second. A map appeared when I pressed F12 and I was able to zoom in all the way to the address.

"Once they turn these on the GPS will continue independently whether the unit is on or off. Okay, 3746 Duncan Street. That's just up the road on the left past that big pond with the observation deck."

"We're on the way. I'm sure we can get a full search warrant based on what we have. With our new technology the judge's staff can send it to my vehicle and I can print it out right there. How's that for service? Will you be home tomorrow morning? I'd like to send one of the day deputies over to fill you in. If we're lucky we'll find some of the other stuff they've taken, too." We shook hands and they were gone less than a minute later.

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