Saving Mr. Quarrels
We decided to get our fishing poles and go over to the golf course and
go fishing in one of the ponds out there and do some more thinking. Walt
set the weather machine to make sure that the day would stay nice, and
we set out for the pond. The folks at the country club didn't really
mind if we went fishing, as long as we didn't bring Adolph. Adolph was
an old basset hound that lived in the neighborhood. He was a pretty good
dog about most things, but he had a thing about golf balls. Whenever
Adolph saw a golf ball, he would go for it, doing that funny looking
sideways, half run, half trot that only basset hounds and some horses
can do right. If he got to the ball before the golfer did, Adolph would
pick up the ball and sit there until the golfer got there. Then he would
stay just out of reach while the golfer chased him and tried to get the
ball back. We used to take Adolph out there just to watch Lester
Crabtree chase him. Mr. Crabtree, we used to call him Mr. Crabby, was a
great golfer and was in charge of the golf course. He would really throw
a fit about Adolph. He would jump around and holler at Adolph. He chased
him on his golf cart. He threw rocks at Adolph. Once he threw every club
in his bag at Adolph. It was Mr. Crabtree who hired us to make sure that
Adolph didn't come to the golf course anymore. He let us fish in the
ponds for doing that, but going swimming was not allowed.
So we went to the little pond on the back side of the golf course
because it had the best shade to sit in. We fished, and talked, and
thought, and watched the golfers. Every now and then, one of the golfers
would knock a ball into the pond. It usually made a big splash and
scared all the fish for a while. That was pretty funny because usually
who ever hit the ball in would stomp and cuss a bit and sometimes hit
another ball or two in. We would laugh, but not too loud because we
didn't want them to come over and run us off. One fellow hit the ball
right over by us, and it just barely made it into the pond. He came over
looking for it, and Walt showed him where it went in. While the golfer
was looking in his bag for another ball, Walt saw the guy's ball in the
water. It was just a little ways out and the water was real clear, so
Walt walked out there and got it. The water was only about knee deep
right there. The golfer was really happy that Walt did that and thanked
him for getting the ball. He also gave Walt a quarter.
We went back to fishing. I was kind of dozing and Walt was flipping his
quarter in the air when all of a sudden Boo jumps up and hollers “I
got it.” I didn't know what in the hell he had. He wasn't even holding
his fishing pole. Boo said he had an idea about how we could get three
dollars and seventy five cents more. I was worried because I remembered
the last idea that Boo had. Boo pointed at the pond and said, “I'll
bet there are a million golf balls out there. If we get some of them
out, we can sell them and to get the money to buy the plans to build the
jet engine for the rocket car.”
“It's a jet car,” Walt said with a frown. Walt and I had to admit
it, though. It sounded like a good idea. So, now we had to come up with
a plan to get the golf balls out of the pond without Mr. Crabby catching
Walt was the master planner for this entire operation. He was clearly
the best choice because it was sort of like what his dad had done in
World War II. His dad was in the Navy and had swum up to Omaha Beach and
blown up stuff so that the Army could get in there and shoot all the
Nazis that were in France. Anyway, Walt knew all about how to go
swimming without getting caught.
Walt's plan was simple. At about dark thirty, instead of going over the
Dickson's house to play kick the can, we would get our masks and
snorkels and head out to the pond. We all had to be sneaky about getting
out of the house with the mask and snorkels because if anyone's mom knew
we were taking off at dark with our masks and snorkels, they would know
something was up. Boo was supposed to bring something to put the balls
in. I was bringing a flash light. Walt would draw a map of the pond. I
wasn't sure we needed a map of the pond because it wasn't very big.
Walt said, “You always gotta have a map.”
Anyway, it was his plan and if he thought we needed a map, then we
probably needed a map. We were going to just wade around in the pond,
feeling with our feet for golf balls. If anyone came, we would go under
and breathe through our snorkels till they left. Then we'd come up and
start hunting golf balls again. I thought it was a great plan.
That's exactly how we did it, too. The three of us met up and went out
to the pond. We waded in and in no time were finding more golf balls
than you could imagine. Walt said this golf course must have the worst
golfers in the world, on account of all the balls they hit in the pond.
You could hardly step anywhere without stepping on one. It was more like
we were just picking them up than hunting for them with our feet. Boo
had brought a picnic basket to carry the balls in, and it was filling up
real fast. I had just tossed another ball in when Walt whispered, 'Get
I looked up. It was getting pretty dark, but I could still tell that
there was someone coming over the hill on a golf cart. It had to be Mr.
All three of us went under water. We were on the back side of the pond,
right by the putting green. We stayed under for a long, long time. The
snorkels were really coming in handy. Finally, I peeked up a little bit
so I could see. Mr. Crabby was gone. I kicked Walt and Boo to let them
know that it was okay to come up. I must have kicked Boo's mask off,
'cause he came up hollering and choking and thrashing about. When he
did, we heard a horrible, blood curdling scream, a loud gasp and a thud
right behind us on the green.
That scared the living bejesus out of all three of us. Without even
looking back, we all took off to the other side of the pond. I really
think we ran across the top of the water. As you probably know, running
on top of the water is pretty hard to do. Walt's dad always said that
doing something hard was usually just a matter of proper motivation. We
motivated our butts clean across the pond real fast. If we weren't
running on top of the water, then we were running no more than knee deep
in it because we were as highly motivated as you can possibly be. Once
we were on the other side, we stopped and looked back. Someone was lying
up on the green, and they weren't moving. We ran back over to the green.
This time we ran around the pond. When we got there, we saw Mr. Quarles
and he was just lying there. He was the greens keeper, and he was deader
than a door knob.
“Sniper must have shot him! Damn gorillas,” I said, ducking down and
looking all around.
“No,” Walt said. “He wasn't shot by no sniper. We didn't hear a
gun shot and there ain't no gorillas on the golf course.”
“Maybe they used a silencer like ole James Bond,” Boo said. I
thought that sounded reasonable.
“There ain't no snipers here,” snapped Walt. “I think when you
came up hollering and splashing all around, it must have scared poor old
Mr. Quarles to death!”
Boo looked crushed. Boo had always liked Mr. Quarles and now Walt had
just told him that he had killed Mr. Quarles. Walt leaned over Mr.
Quarles and checked him out. He was still breathing, so it must have
been his heart that gave out.
Walt pounded his fist down onto Mr. Quarles' chest about eight or ten
times. He had seen doctors on TV do that, Walt said, and it usually
brought dead guys back to life. Mr. Quarles groaned, so obviously it
worked. Boo looked very relieved. Mr. Quarles might have been at
Heaven’s Gate for a second, but thanks to Walt, he wasn't dead long.
We were all very happy that Mr. Quarles was alive again. Walt said that
Mr. Quarles must have had just had a massive coronary or a stroke or
something like that. At this very moment, Walt explained, Mr. Quarles
was teetering on the brink between life and death.
All of a sudden, getting caught in the ponds, and the golf balls, and
getting the plans for building a jet engine didn't seem very important.
We had to save Mr. Quarles. It was clear to all of us that we had to get
Mr. Quarles to the hospital, or at least back up to the club house real
fast or he was going to die again. Mr. Quarles was groaning some more
now and coughing some. Walt said he thought Mr. Quarles was having
trouble breathing now, that he must have swallowed his tongue. Quick as
a rabbit, Walt rammed his fingers in Mr. Quarles mouth to clear his
airway. Mr. Quarles gagged and Walt screamed and jumped back. I looked
down and Walt had pulled out all of Mr. Quarles teeth. I could tell this
was getting worse and worse.
Mr. Quarles had driven out there on this three wheeled thing called a
greens keeper's cart. It had a little bed on the back sort of like a
pickup truck bed. All three of us tried to drag Mr. Quarles over to the
cart, but he was so big and heavy that we could hardly get him to budge.
Walt said we had to hurry because Mr. Quarles' thread of life was
slipping through our fingers. We had to do something fast or Mr. Quarles
would die again.
I had a flash of inspiration. Since we couldn't get Mr. Quarles over to
the greens keeper's cart much less lift him into the cart, we could
drive the cart out over to Mr. Quarles. We couldn't pick him up, but we
could tie him to the back of the thing. Then, we would drag him behind
it up to the club house and call an ambulance. Walt said I was a genius.
I had always suspected as much, but I had never said so. The three of us
quickly agreed that this was the best possible course of action and it
was probably Mr. Quarles only chance to survive. Boo found some rope in
the cart. Walt figured out how to start the cart and drove it out onto
the green. He accidentally ran over Mr. Quarles foot.
Quicker than you could say 'Jackie Robinson', we tied Mr. Quarles feet
to the back of the cart. Mr. Quarles was trying to say something,
mumbling mostly, but I couldn't understand what he was saying. I think
it's pretty hard to talk when you're mostly dead and don't have any
teeth. I told Mr. Quarles to stay calm, not to worry, because we were
going to save him.
Walt jumped into the driver's seat and started the motor of the greens
keeper's cart again. Mr. Quarles tried to sit up. Walt revved the motor
up, popped the clutch and we took off like a rabbit. The cart shot
forward for just a second, until we had taken all the slack out of the
rope we used to tie Mr. Quarles to the cart, then it jerked almost to a
complete stop, and Mr. Quarles suddenly laid back down. Mr. Quarles was
so heavy that the front wheel of the cart kept trying to rise up in the
air and that made it hard for Walt to steer. The back wheels spinning
like hell, slinging grass and dirt everywhere as they chewed their way
through of the soft grass of the putting green. I was afraid that we
were going to get stuck on the green, but Walt gave it full throttle. It
was slow going, but pretty soon the cart had gnawed its way off of the
green and onto the hard dirt of the fairway. As we bounced down the
fairway picking up speed, I looked back at the green. It looked like
someone had plowed two deep furrows right across it. Oh, that was ugly.
Then I looked at Mr. Quarles bouncing along behind the cart. I was
starting to think that maybe he had a chance, that he was going to be
It was a long way back to the club house. We had been in the very back
of the golf course. Walt drove as fast as he could and he tried to stay
off of the cart paths as much as possible because we were dragging Mr.
Quarles behind us. I figured that chat from the cart paths would really
eat him up. I told Walt to make his turns real wide because Mr. Quarles
was getting whipped back and forth when Walt made the tight turns and I
was afraid Mr. Quarles was going to hit a tree or wrap around one of
those ball washing things. Walt must have forgotten about Mr. Quarles
for a second because he took a short cut that we usually took when we
were on our bikes. I think it was just habit, but anyway, Mr. Quarles
snagged on a couple of bushes or something. It slowed us down a bit and
almost threw Boo off, but the bushes gave way in just a second and we
sped back up. All things considered, I really think that Walt was doing
pretty good for someone who had never driven anything before.
While we were bouncing across the golf course dragging Mr. Quarles, I
was thinking, “We're going to be heroes!” I just knew we would get
our picture in the newspaper and that people would all say how they had
always misjudged me, Boo, and Walt. I imagined that the Mayor might even
give us a medal for our quick thinking and lifesaving efforts. We had,
after all, saved Mr. Quarles from his massive coronary. My mom was going
to be so proud of me. She had spent a lot of time crying after Boo and I
got expelled from Miss Black’s School. It was going to be good to see
her smile again. I was thinking that dad would smile so big and be so
proud, too. Maybe Miss Katherine and Miss Black would even let us come
back to school. It's not every school that has a couple of real live
heroes in attendance.
The final stretch was down fairway number 18. It was a long dog leg that
ended at the bottom of a hill. We really picked up some speed going down
the hill on that hole. We flew straight toward the pro shop. To this
point, Walt had not needed the brake and had not bothered to look for
it. The time, however, for using the brake was now upon us and it was
soon abundantly clear that Walt should have looked for the brake a
little bit sooner.
We were going really fast, so rather than hit the club house, Walt cut
the wheel real sharp, and trying to do one of the sliding, skidding
maneuver things you do on a bicycle to stop. Well, I'm here to tell you
that don’t work so good on a three wheel cart. The greens keeper's
cart whipped around and tilted up and over. It threw me, Walt and Boo
clear, but it broke the rope and slung Mr. Quarles through the leader
board. The greens keeper's cart flipped over three or four times,
throwing up huge chunks of turf and dirt out of the practice putting
green. Finally, the greens keeper's cart came to a stop after it crashed
through a chain link fence and clobbered an awning by the swimming pool.
It missed the high dive.
I was OK. Boo said he needed to puke, but he was OK, too. Walt was a
little shaken up, but he was OK too. I checked; he wasn't stupid or
stuttering. I thought everything was going to work out all right after
all. About a dozen men came was running out of the club house bar to see
what all the commotion was. They stopped dead in their tracks when they
saw all the wreckage. The practice putting green was plowed up really
bad where the greens keeper's cart had gone flipping through it. The
chain link fence around the pool was buried with the greens keeper's
cart under the awning, and it was starting to smoke. The leader board
looked like it had been hit by a bulldozer. I hollered, 'We need an
“Not yet you don't, you little bastards,” slurred Mr. Quarles,
limping out from the wreckage of the leader board.
Mr. Quarles looked awful. His clothes were just shredded. His shirt hung
off him more like a cape than a shirt. He had lost both of his shoes and
one of his britches legs. He was bleeding from a lot of little cuts and
scratches all over his body and it looked like a good bit of his ear was
hanging down. There were more places bleeding on him than not. He didn't
have any teeth, and he could hardly walk. But walking, he was. He was
fighting for every step as he came right toward me and Boo and Walt.
Other than the cuts and scratches, the missing teeth, and the limp that
looked like it hurt a lot, he seemed pretty healthy. But holy cow was he
mad. He was so mad he was just quivering as he limped toward us. He was
dang near foaming at the mouth. I didn't understand at first why he was
so mad, and then I remembered that Walt had run over his foot. We, on
the other hand, had just saved him from his massive coronary so I felt
that, given the circumstances, he might be reacting just a bit more than
was reasonable. At the same time, however, I was also starting to think
that maybe he wasn't hurt too badly by his massive coronary. I asked
Walt, “How long does it take to get over a massive coronary?”
“Longer than that,” Walt, who was looking kind of pale, replied.
I started getting this sinking feeling. I felt like I was going to throw
up, which made me think of Boo. I turned to Boo to tell him something,
and Boo was gone. Mr. Weaver and some other men got between Mr. Quarles
and me and Walt. Mr. Quarles eyes were on fire, and he was reaching out
trying to grab me and Walt. He kept hollering and cussing and saying he
was going to squeeze the very last drop of blood out of our “worthless
little hides” and calling us “murderous little heathens.” An
ambulance finally showed up, and they took Mr. Quarles away. It turns
out that he didn't really have a massive coronary. When Boo popped out
of the water shouting and screaming and all, it scared Mr. Quarles so
bad that he dropped his Peach Brandy and fainted right there on the
spot. He might have been drunk. I could understand that. It had been
dark for a while and who knows what kind of monster he thought was
popping out of the water. It takes a brave man to go out on the backside
of the golf course all by himself at night. I have heard that Peach
Brandy makes you real brave. I probably would have fainted too if
somebody jumped up screaming out of a pond in the middle of the night
when I wasn't expecting it.
Anyway, they took him to the hospital to bandage up all those scratches,
fix his ear and check for broken bones. They had to give him a shot to
calm him down and get him in the ambulance. The fire department came and
put out the fire that the greens keeper's cart started in the wreckage
of the awning. The fire got pretty big while everyone was wrestling
around with Mr. Quarles trying to keep him from killing me and Walt. It
took three or four of them to hold him down so they could give him that
shot. I don't think they even called the fire department until after
they gave Mr. Quarles that shot and took him away. Mr. Crabtree just
stood there looking at the practice putting green. He didn't say much.
He may have been crying because the green was a hell of a mess. I was
thinking that if he was this sad about the practice green, he was going
to be pure-d-oh heartbroken when he saw the green back there by the
Walt and I sat on a bench over by the pro shop watching the firemen
while we waited for our dads to come and get us. Dr. Guntree stood there
by us, watching us. He didn't talk in that calm voice he used at his
office. Occasionally, he would look over at Mr. Crabtree, then, just
right out of the blue, Dr. Guntree would reach down and slap the crap
out of me or Walt.
I saw dad's car turn into the country club parking lot. I just knew this
was gonna be ugly.
I had been ungrounded for one stinking day.
Excerpted from "Me, Boo and The Goob: A Southern Adventure" by William L. Garner. Copyright © 2016 by William L. Garner. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.