“After Eight”  (8) 

By Paul Larkin


If only Tiger would…..


            They put it down to the golf swing. That’s how they knew that something was amiss with Tiger. His heart wasn’t in it. The way he just kind of flapped at the ball and stared across the hills instead of down the fairway like the rest of them. OK that was strange, but who could have predicted that he would have done what he did? His nickname was Tiger because he had cut some fairly ruthless business deals in his day. Like a Tiger, you wouldn’t want to get in his way. But approaching his fiftieth birthday, his golf went all askew and he had stopped attending the Friday night drinks sessions in their club in town, not to mention the lap dancing  club that was de rigueur for all the guys who were serious golf buddies – lawyers, accountants and dentists all. No one else could have afforded the fees. That was what they called natural selection.

            They all got really worried about Tiger. He had kind of fallen off the golfing map of the world, with its trips abroad,  master classes and club hierarchy. Eventually, one of them was appointed to pay Tiger a visit, a just dropping by visit you understand, but as the delegated party drew his gleaming beamer up by |Tiger’s gate he saw that the house was for sale and there was no sign of life. He rang the house phone and then Tiger’s mobile but all he got was a message saying that the lines had been disconnected. He knew the next door neighbour was a retired judge and enquired of Tiger’s whereabouts there only to be told by the laughing judge that Tiger had joined some kind of damn commune!

            For some inexplicable reason, Tiger had sold his house at below market value, got rid of his three cars and joined an action group for sustainable living. This really was not acceptable to the group and using their contacts in the police force, they soon tracked Tiger down to a seedy part of town and despatched their best therapist to talk to him. The therapist found Tiger to be initially cooperative but increasingly prone to disturbing answer patterns.  For example, Tiger had continually pressed the therapist as to whether he himself was in therapy and when he finally admitted that he was. Tiger had laughed until tears came to his eyes and had called the therapist a "revolving door into a cracker factor". The therapist protested vehemently at this and tried to explain that therapy was an ongoing process but Tiger just shouted that therapy couldn’t fix a light bulb never mind clinical depression. He then went on to talk about conventional light bulbs and the need to get rid of them along with most of the ways of living which had made everyone, including himself, so miserable. This now, Tiger said, in his small bedsit and amongst people who really cared about life and love, was the best therapy and he urged the therapist to abandon therapy and his unhappy self; to  recreate himself as a fully conscious human being.

             It was clear that Tiger was unbalanced. He had lost his golf balls.  Thus began the tortuous process of having him committed to an institution that would make him well again. Of course, the more he protested, the more obvious it was to the professionals assessing his case that he was very unstable and might do damage, either to himself, or others. In the meantime, legal processes were initiated to source and retrieve Tiger's substantial wealth, which he had seemingly just given away.

            Happily, Tiger was finally reinstalled in his old home around the corner from the golf club. The range of tablets he was forced to consume every day meant that further golfing was impossible and he could only go out when escorted by a nurse, so the lap dancing scene was out of bounds but at least the equilibrium had been restored, not only to his life but that of his peers who had been so discommoded. Say what you like about the rich, they know how to take care of business.