in Friends

And all your money won’t another minute buy

Pebble Beach, California, overlooking the most famous golf hole in the world. I’m sitting on the second floor of Club XIX. I’m nursing a Jack Daniels, eating beer nuts and wondering where the pebbles are. A seagull frets up and down the railing, eyeing my munchies. The sun will set in an hour and thirteen minutes.

I’ve carefully timed the last four foursomes. It takes twenty-one minutes, give or take three minutes, for a foursome to complete the eighteenth hole. There are some low fences and threatening-looking signs around the hole, but all the guards are on the other side of the hotel. No visible security to speak of.

My plan will succeed.

I have researched carefully the means of disposition of ashes after cremation. Although cremated human remains are typically ground to a fine consistency, the ash is particulate. Human ash is the color of bone; it consists primarily of small bone fragments. It is heavier than air, and thus it will not dissipate into the air if tossed. I have been warned specifically of this in advance, and I have accounted for it in my plan.

The guys in the foursome — well-dressed, male, middle-aged, clearly on corporate juice — pat each other on the back. I present a low-wattage smile to them, step over the fence and stride nonchalantly to the thick old tree on the fairway of the eighteenth hole. The tree is ringed by a small, hard border of compact yellow sandstone.

I pull the jar from my jacket pocket. I open it and hold it reverently. “Thanks, Papa,” I say, and I spread a tablespoon of ash onto the ground beneath me —

I look down. Now there is a light, but visible, smudge of white ash on the border of the sandstone.

If I spread all of Papa’s ashes where I stand, I’m going to make a mess. I close the jar.

I look down the course. Another foursome is about a hundred yards away and looking at me curiously.

Plan B.

The ocean. The ashes go into the ocean.

I walk to the ocean’s edge. The sky is steel gray, overcast, with hints of green and red sunset asserting themselves. I hear a golf ball bounce somewhere behind my head.

I open the jar and hold it reverently. “Thanks, Papa,” I say. I rear back and fling the contents toward the water, as hard as I can —

And the ash explodes into a great white dragon fireball! It jumps into the wind above me and rolls majestically down the course!

Well.

As I walk off the course I stop to fill the empty jar with sand from one of the sand traps. I have no idea why I do this, but it seems necessary. There are no pebbles at Pebble Beach. I went back to the car and cried a little. Los Angeles is only two hundred miles away. Hell, I can make it there tonight.

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