Memorial Day, 1921
The afternoon was turning out to be a complete waste of time. They were on the fifteenth hole and Nucky used up all of the spares his caddy had been carrying around. The trick had to be used in moderation. While it was crucial that the Attorney General win the match, he couldn't let him win by too many strokes and the cheating significantly cut down his handicap. Harry continued to drone on and on, taking a swig of brandy from the flask he'd brought along every now and then. He certainly liked to hear himself talk. Nucky's nerves were wearing thin, but he had to keep up the charade if he was going to get what he wanted.
He teed up his shot and brought his driver back. But Harry sneezed just as he was completing his downswing, throwing off his concentration. The ball lobbed off the tee, while a massive divot went flying about six feet in front of them.
"Nuck, why don't you take a mulligan on that one?" his companion offered in lieu of an apology.
Ah, the mulligan. The second attempt at a shot, against the rules of play but utilized whenever possible nevertheless by novice golfers everywhere.
"Harry," Nucky responded slyly, "that's an illegal shot and you know it."
"When have you ever played by the rules?" his friend smiled back. "Isn't that how you got yourself into this mess in the first place?"
This was the first that Harry had brought up the election fraud after nearly three hours of play. Finally, it's about time. Nucky forced himself into a knowing grin, as the alternative was to grind his teeth.
Election fraud, he thought to himself. That was the sad irony of it all, wasn't it? Ultimately, they were almost the same charges brought against the Commodore following the 1910 election. It was really too bad that Luann hadn't finished the old dog off with arsenic when she had the chance.
Perhaps, instead of wasting the day listening to some half-inebriated windbag, he would be at the lake with Margaret and the children right now. Perhaps even, Jimmy wouldn't hate him so much and he'd be there with his family too. He paused a moment, picturing the two of them fishing while the kids built sandcastles together; Margaret and Angela setting up a picnic lunch for everyone in the cool shade of the trees behind them. A fleeting glimpse at what might have been…but now could never be. Not now, not ever.
Having fully recovered from the poisoning, Louis was taking full advantage of a life-mulligan. Jimmy had become convenient for him again. How fucking timely. Nucky couldn't image what lies he and Gillian whispered in the kid's ear (though some of it was certainly true) and wondered if things would be different if he'd only told Jimmy the truth himself that day at the hospital.
I have no idea where your mother is. And your father? I called him while you were convulsing and he hung up on me. He'd rather get his jollies with some whore than be here for you. Meanwhile I haven't slept in almost three days. You scared the shit out of me but...I'm so glad you're okay.
As they say, the truth hurts and he just couldn't do it. How could he damage the boy when he was already so frail—defeating his spirit might have just killed him. Yet the time would come years later when he had no qualms about either lying to Jimmy or vindictively hurting him.
"I thought you loved me."
"I'm not your father James."
It was both a statement of truth and a lie of omission. But it was still a lie. Probably, he thought in retrospect, the worst falsehood of them all.
He placed another ball on the tee, hearing the delightful lilt of Margaret's voice cooing, "There is another boy down the hall…"
Here he was, againraising someone else's children. His own life-mulligan; he would do better this time.
He lined up his shot and took a few practice swings. Adjusting his hips, he carefully eyed the ball and slowly drew his club back. An instant later, the driver whipped down sending the tiny white sphere flying high and straight nearly two hundred yards.
"Thompson," Harry chucked, "That is the last time I ever offer you a mulligan. You've been hustling me this whole time, haven't you?"
"No," Nucky smiled proudly, "it just took me a while to get my head in the game. Now, about this new Federal prosecutor you mentioned over the phone…"