He turned to me at the beginning of the seventh, a nasty hole that features a second shot over a protected long and wide pond, sharp borders and a very narrow fairway strip. He smiled with what I would call a new smile, now that there was no thick and confusing beard that at times in the past had even blurred his delicate head nods, and said;
“Gee, it’s great to be back here. I always loved Dunwoody Georgia and the lovely relaxed rhythm of it. Even the caddies move as if they had been designed to float!”
He had shaved the beard he had used for years and left a modest upper lip and a light shade around face and chin.
Five years ago when he joined the golf club, he was looked upon with the expected dislike if not repulsion reserved for suntanned “furriners’ by some of the more “horse-manure-minded” members, especially if the ‘furriner” appeared to have come from far away sandy lands. All that turned into fictitious charm and hypocritical good feelings when his sponsors showed up with a “modest” contribution of 30 million dollars, of which ten were suggested to be shared by the 12 Board members as a personal contribution and reward for their effort in keeping the club area from becoming another low cost apartment complex. Five of those millions were to be distributed among the clubs personnel. He was immediately loved, respected and almost worshipped.
For some time there was a wave of curiosity about the new club member. He was a tall, lean man with large hands and wore perennial aviator glasses. He was always driven by a chauffeur that reminded some of Giuliano, the famous gangster from the Sicilian gang in the Bronx.
His golf was acceptable, with a handicap that appeared to rest between 8 to 14, which is not a bad range for an 18 hole adventure and played as twosome, with either myself or a friend of his who also sported that reserved Middle East look.
– 2 –
This all started five years ago when Aloysius, a good friend of mine and respectable executive of a Financial Corporation, invited me to lunch for the purpose of discussing the membership of a client of his that had just settled in Atlanta.
“My man, Owen Arena, is a golf nut and especially brilliant in bunker shots that look impossible. He is a gentleman, speaks several languages, I think he was born abroad but has lived in the States on and off since childhood. Do not be surprised when you meet Mister Arena; he looks like Osama Bin Laden and knows it and like Bin Laden, he disappears for weeks and returns suntanned even more and usually in a good mood.”
“What is his occupation?”
“He is Chairman of a Medical Foundation mainly dedicate to research of brain damage, inherited traits and all the basis of psychiatric disorders that occur in people with neurological conditions, epilepsy and biological ailments.”
“Is he a doctor?”
“No, but his mind is a like an encyclopedia. He can describe the findings of their Research, which uses advanced neuron-imaging techniques, shows similarities in brain cell patterns in people with schizophrenia and temporal lobe epilepsy and the improvised methods that have been devised at the Foundation.”
He paused to think a bit and then added:
“The research gives greater insights into both conditions, which may potentially lead to new treatments in the future. Their work is also developed with Emory University and its Research branch. He is a good golfer, well educated, nice and polite person and looks like Osama Bin Laden, and know it!”
“How did he react when Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan and then dumped in the ocean?”
“Aloysius replied at once: Nothing unusual except for a comment he made recently when discussing temperature changes in the world and in particular in the oceans of the planet. Only the sharp among us could learn something about Mister Arena then!”
“What did he say?”
“Not much but you be the judge. He said:
‘There are continuous changes at sea. Even the Arabian Sea that is supposed to be warmer than other oceans recently has been having cold spots near the coast of Pakistan that people did not expect!”
“Do you remember the team that located Bin Laden in Pakistan claimed that he was killed and then, without any evidence to prove it, stated that his body was dumped in the Arabian Ocean?”
MARCO A. MIRANDA SR.©