======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
Ohio State Senator Ray Taylor finished his three-mile run in just under thirty minutes. It was August in southwest Ohio. The time on the microwave inside his rather large Terrace Park home read 6:15 a.m., which meant that he had a little over an hour and a half on this Wednesday morning before he needed to be at the country club for his 8:00 a.m. tee time.
Session in the Ohio state senate runs from January to June, and the running joke amongst Senator Taylor’s close friends was that his job was “an all expenses paid vacation courtesy of the Ohio taxpayer.”
Ray’s wife would be asleep until 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. depending on how much Ambien she had taken the night before, and he cursed her internally for the somewhat manic behavior that she had been exhibiting since she turned 45 six months ago. “No bother,” Ray thought. “I have 18 holes to play.”
The driving range was on Ray’s mind as he got into the shower, but as of late, the range had been nothing more than a fool’s errand. Ray could hit eleven or twelve balls in a row straight down the driving range fairway with ease. His golfing companions warming up next to him would often proclaim things like “That was a fucking pill, Ray – nice shot,” despite the fact that they were in public and some of the members didn’t appreciate such foul language at a club as prestigious as Terrace Park CC.
But those shots were of no use to the senator on the course. It never translated into his actual play, and for that reason, Ray decided that this morning he would forego the range before his round and just see how it went.
The temperature hovered around 73 degrees but felt closer to 85 on this early August morning (as most days do during that time of year) and the leaves were just beginning to turn shades of orange, red, and yellow.
Autumn in Terrace Park, Ohio was Ray’s favorite time of year, and he knew that he only had a few more weeks of really great golf left before all of the foliage would be replaced with depressingly bare trees. “All quiet on the western front,” he muttered to no one as he pulled his 2016 Cadillac CT6 (leased from a man Ray referred to eloquently as “his guy”) into a parking space near the club house.
He said his usual “hellos” and “good seeing yous” to the grounds and maintenance crew who had just started their work day and made his way into the locker room to get changed.
Jackson Taylor wasn’t feeling hungover at the moment, which was a strange and unfamiliar feeling for the 23-year-old fresh out of college.
He came to on a nearly deflated air mattress inside his bedroom. That he had been sleeping on a mattress with a small hole in it for over a week was at the most problematic, and at the very least, a minor inconvenience.
His back hurt and he had to wake up in the middle of the night to re-inflate the forty dollar mattress he had bought from the Target down the street, but it was cheaper than the alternative of going to a mattress depot and paying a thousand dollars for a new one. He had burned his queen mattress in a fit a drunken foolery a few weeks back, and if he was being honest with himself, his back could probably not take another week of sleeping on an air mattress.
His now deceased mattress had been with him while he attended Ohio State, but one night Jack was drunk with a few friends and thought it would be a good idea to take it outside and burn it with lighter fluid and some unleaded gas they had found in their garage.
It was just after 6:30 in the morning as Jack rolled over to his nightstand and finished off the last of a glass of room temperature water that he must have filled up before he passed out. He knew his dad was just finishing up his morning run and was either playing golf at the club or having another uneventful breakfast with his mother while CNN played quietly from the tv situated inside their breakfast nook.
Jackson had moved out of his parents’ house one month ago to start working in Detroit, a drive that was just a shade over four hours from his parents home. He graduated with a 2.8 from The Ohio State University in May, and, after what seemed like years to Jackson, he had finally landed a job in nearby Detroit.
What his mother and father didn’t know was that he had quit his position with the environmental consulting firm (which his dad had gotten him) after one week on the job. He had spent the last three weeks partying with old college buddies who had also moved from undergrad degrees at Ohio State to the up and coming city in southeast Michigan.
For most of his life, Jackson had coasted on relatively good looks, connections from his successful parents, and a personal mantra that was either genius or horribly moronic – “It always works out.”
Jackson was running low on money, so on Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. (after he had walked to a corner store for a bagel, egg, and cheese, of course) he called his father to ask what his next move should be. He was still drunk when he scrolled down to “Dad” in his contacts and pressed “Call.” .