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Heartbreak

"I was talking to a doctor friend," David Joy told me. "And when I mentioned how Tommy died, she immediately asked me if he had a drinking problem, because she said a burst artery like that was often associated with waifs and strays, people who run themselves down. And that's what Tommy had done, in less than four months. Remember, he was grieving as well for the loss of his firstborn son, and he felt hugely guilty that he wasn't there when it happened."

Young Tom seemed to rally, many have said, in that last week before Christmas, going off to Edinburgh for five days to visit with old friends. But perhaps that was more tying up of loose ends. He arrived back in St. Andrews by train that Christmas Eve in time for his dinner party. Afterward he'd stop for a final bracer at the Golf Inn and then slip right past his parents' lighted cottage windows, taking a right out to the Old Course along Grannie Clark's Wynd, the town lifeboat's well-worn route to sea.

Out at the eleventh green, he watched for a time the cold wind sweeping clouds across the moon's face and the far banks of the River Eden. He knew he shouldn't be out there. He thought of that ridiculous Molesworth match he'd played merely to please his father and friends. And of that match in North Berwick with the Park brothers to please Margaret, trying vainly now to recall the person who ever cared about such things. "Go on, Tommy," she'd said, sending him off at the train station with a last kiss; if nothing else, he should have been there with her to say a final goodbye.

He stared back down now at his own too-familiar hands firmly resetting the eleventh hole's cup, thinking how pleased his father will be to find things, however briefly, all shored up and back in place there. Then he stood, pulled his wool cape up around his neck and started across the fairways back toward his parents' cottage. Staring up along North, South and Market Streets, along the shoreline path of the Scores, he could see the gas lamps of St. Andrews flickering against a gently tiered hillside, his usually stolid, castle-like hometown looking now like some huge, fragile wedding cake set out for the north wind's taking.

Starting up over the Swilken Bridge and then down the eighteenth fairway, he thought of his folks just over there at Six Pilmour Links, waiting; and just a straight shot up the road, at the far end of North Street, alongside the church ruins, of his older brother, and of Margaret and their child, waiting as well. "I've done this so many times before," it only then occurred to him, the wind and cold clamping down on his weakened lungs, "and better than anyone else, getting home, completing a round."

"On the cathedral, sir," he could hear his father's voice saying to him now, and only to him, a true gentleman. "Just aim on the cathedral."

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