fter two holes at Circle Park, I wanted to call it a day. I wanted to cry, to go to the Circle Park Lounge and have Hawaiian liqueurs served out of flaming coconuts and wooden glasses shaped like Easter Island statues. I wanted to go back to Louis' rental car and take off my boots. I wanted to go back to the hotel, have them send up to the suite a round of roast beef sandwiches with pineapple slices and a case of Kirin, and watch ESPN.
But there was more disc golf to be played.
“Shit,” Louis muttered, “See those guys?”
“What?” I asked.
“Over there.” Louis pointed at a pair down the trail in front of us. “Those guys aren't disc golfers, they're narcs.”
There were two smiling older men dressed “casually,” with short hair, sneakers, white socks and florid floral shirts tucked into running shorts. One of the men was short and fat with a red shirt, the other tall and thin in a blue shirt. Red shirt threw his disc. Red and Blue shirt both laughed, then walked to pick it up. They glanced at us. They glanced away. Then Blue shirt picked up Red shirt's disc, and threw it back the other way.
A smirk of incredulity crept across Dirk's face: “Where are they going? There's no basket over there.”
“These guys always fuck with me,” Louis said.
The two men, we quickly realized, were pretending to play disc golf. One of them had a disc bag, the other a visor, but except for these realistic touches, they showed no apparent interest in throwing at the baskets.
“Huh?” Dirk asked. “These guys follow you when you come to Kanai?”
“No, man, always—like, fuckin' everywhere and every minute. They're like my personal narcs. Fuckin' follow me everywhere. Fuckin' assholes.”
We looked at each other nervously. No one who knew Louis could be unaware of his fondness for vacationing and associated recreational activities, but two narcs assigned exclusively to him?
With Louis, one never knew, but none of us had any desire to confirm Louis' assertion; for obvious reasons, narcs made the Unknown nervous.
So did Louis, though, when he got agitated.
“And I was looking forward to a peaceful game of disc with you guys, those fucking bastards,” Louis hissed, pulling a gun out of the back of his jeans, grimacing and waving it at the narcs as if fanning flies off shit.
“Uh, Louis, hey, man, take it easy. What's with the gun, anyway?”
“Smith & Wesson Model 6904, 12 rounds in a clip, and one more in the chamber, total of 13.”
“Isn't it, like, bad luck to have 13 rounds?”
“Dunno. I've never had to use all 13,” Louis said.
We were at the tee and I was hoping Louis would put his piece away and impress us with his throwing instead.
This hole was a modest par 2002, and involved nothing short of climbing a mountain peak. Scott stared up at it, nervously weighing his disc in his hand. We teed off.
The first couple of dozen uphill throws were almost fun. An hour later, with one hand I was clinging to the boulder I was perched on, with the other tossing the disc a few feet above me, hoping it would rest on the rock, and not slide back down.
I wondered whether we would ever get a chance to eat.
Eventually, the acclivity became extreme. We had reached an asymptote. The mountain was so steep that it became inadvisable to release the disc while throwing. Hanging from rock above a drop I dared not look at, rather than throw, I would reach overhead and wedge the disc carefully into a crack in the stone, before advancing another few feet, following Louis' choice of handholds and footholds, repeating the overhead wedge maneuver, over and over, gasping out my stroke-count between clenched teeth.
But daylight, waning, finally heard the sound of our discs hitting chains.
We set up camp on the peak and spent the night there, drinking armagnac and listening to Louis tell stories
As we sweated around our small campfire on the Hawaiian mountain peak, Louis talked about his adventures disc golfing off the shore of Antarctica. He and his crew had made it there by hitching a ride on a freighter out of Tierra del Fuego. It was a harsh course. Boats could only approach the region at the height of the Antarctic summer when the icebergs were broken up. Louis told us of freezing nights under electric skies, frostbite, and sled dogs that would go mad from the barrenness and need to be shot. Compasses would do strange things. Discs would freeze to gloves. In their trek across the glaciers there was the constant danger of breaking through the ice into the freezing water beneath. Discs would get lost, slicing into the snow so deeply that even the radio trackers didn't work. They carried pickaxes to excavate the baskets from the ice that had buried them, sometimes working for days just to make that final putt. The penguins, he said, would flock to his thrown disc, believing it to be food, and would need to be chased away. And at night, when it was dark and clear, the blazing cosmos laid out above, he saw some very strange things he wasn't comfortable explaining.
"Discs spin the opposite way down there," Louis said, gesturing with his flask as if toasting the night.
"It's true. Coriolus forces."
"You're fucking with us, Louis."