Canton, South Dakota
FROM THE UPSTAIRS bedroom window in her Aunt Cora’s house, Michelle Benedict watched another old duffer step up to the fourth tee of the nine-hole golf course across the road, crouch over his club, and do that funny little golfer’s dance as he lined up his shot.
She decided to watch him blow it.
For blow it he surely would. The ghosts from the cemetery were working on him. She could tell by the way he hesitated, focus straying as he adjusted his green cap, then started over with his golf dance.
From her vantage point she could see the four flag fluttering in the warm prairie wind. It looked like an easy shot, but from where she stood, all nine of the course’s holes looked easy. Not that she was much of a golfer, but Hiawatha Golf Club’s flat layout contained only one real trap, and that was the Indian cemetery between the fourth and fifth fairways.
“Damn, I landed on ‘sacred ground’ again,” she’d heard more than one golfer say. Some cursed it; others joked about it. But ever since she’d inherited her aunt’s house, Michelle had taken a serious interest in the old cemetery. She had some strong feelings about it. Strange feelings. Defensive feelings, even though she didn’t know a soul who was buried there. It just didn’t seem right to build a golf course around a cemetery. Especially not this cemetery.
The old duffer finally swung his club back and took a whack at the tee. The ball sailed into the clear blue sky like a pop fly. The golfer touched the bill of his cap and watched the white dot travel. Michelle knew exactly where it was going. She could feel it. She could almost hear the wail of those ghost singers in her ear. The west wind would have its way, and the ball would land on one of more than a hundred unmarked graves behind the screen of shrubs.
According to club rules, the golfer wasn’t supposed to drive his cart into the scraggly enclosure or play the ball out or otherwise disturb the ghosts. He was supposed to take a two-club-length drop.
Some golfers did. Some didn’t. To most of them, the sunken plots probably just looked like big divots, and it wasn’t as though any of the town fathers were buried there. Just a bunch of crazy Indians planted for all eternity right in the middle of Hiawatha Golf Club. Crazy Indians who had once lived under the watchful care of Dr. Tim Hubble, Aunt Cora’s husband. The asylum, along with Dr. Tim and Aunt Cora, were gone now. Only the cemetery remained, along with a house full of fussy furniture and boxes of Dr. Tim’s papers.
And there was Michelle, of course, full of fond memories of her aunt and funny feelings about what lay across the road. Forty years had passed since the last grave had been dug over there, but still . . .
There must be some family members somewhere, she thought. Maybe they’d be interested in Dr. Tim’s records. Maybe they didn’t know about the golf course. Maybe they’d agree with her that this just didn’t seem right.
The wind nudged the ball, sliding through the zenith of its arc, toward the hedge. Michelle smiled. The ghosts were in the game today. Another golfer was about to visit the Indian cemetery, sure enough. The old duffer shook his head and rammed the club into his bag as the ball dropped out of sight.
Pine Ridge Sioux Indian Reservation, South Dakota
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