Range Life


Roger finally made up his mind when he parked at the Van Nuys golf course. He had gone back and forth on the long drive from Malibu, but there was no way around it. The wheels were already in motion. Some sins could not be forgiven.

He checked his reflection in the mirror before climbing out. With the wraparound sunglasses and salt-and-pepper stubble he looked just like every other weekend warrior at this low rent facility. Roger opened the trunk and slid a club from his golf bag. The steel brief case that held his sniper rifle was locked tight beside a stuffed duffle bag. He didn’t usually travel around town like this, but he planned to disappear after today.

He slammed the door and went to buy a bucket of balls. The second level of the driving range was empty, just as he’d expected. He strode along in the blazing sun and claimed a spot at the far end. The smell of fresh cut grass filled his nose as he dropped a ball onto the rutted turf. It took a few practice swings to get the rhythm, but everything eventually clicked. His first drive bounced just short of 220-yards.

He was deep in concentration when a middle-aged Korean man took the spot in front of him. A cigarette dangled from his lips as he nodded a silent greeting to Roger. Both men coaxed balls into place with the tips of their tasseled shoes. Watching from a distance you would never know they were negotiating.

“Where to this time, Lee?”

“Sacramento. Usual fee.”

Roger stepped up and hit another monster drive.

“My prices have gone up.”

Lee took longer getting ready than Roger did, but his ball also went fifteen yards further.

“How much?”


Lee’s shoulder blades tensed up. Roger knew that only a guilty conscience would agree to this.

“You’re going to price yourself out of the market.”

Roger got back into position. His practice swings were smooth and relaxed.

“Elizabeth just graduated high school. I have her education to think about. Besides, you don’t have anybody better than me.”

“I hear good things about that kid you’re training.”

Roger brought his club back and unleashed. It seemed like this one might never land.

“He’s a crack shot, but we both know there’s more to this game than aim.”

“It always worked for you.”

“Things are different now. I need to broaden my horizons.”

Lee thought it over while his ball hooked out of sight.

“Fine. I’ll make the arrangements.”

Roger had his answer. He raised his right arm and shook it to adjust his watch. The platinum band slipped back into place, but that wasn’t the result he was looking for. Lee waited a beat before turning to face him.



“You underestimate me, Roger. I had my men sweep the perimeter on the hillside behind us. Your little plan just got your protégé killed.”

“Damn. How did you know?”

“You’ve been acting erratic ever since Las Vegas.”

“Maybe that’s because you’ve been fucking Joanne whenever I leave town.”

“See? That’s exactly what I mean. The Roger I knew would never let something like this get between us. We’ve known each other since boot camp, for Christ’s sake.”

“She’s my wife.”

“And I write your checks. You think anybody else is taking a chance on you these days? You’re damaged goods after that last fiasco.”

“You set me up!”

Roger raised his club and lunged. Lee ducked and prepared to counter with a punch, but never got the chance. The bullet whistled in from over 750 yards away. Roger knelt down and spoke to his old friend in a steady voice.

“Guess you never thought to check the far side of the range.”

Lee clutched at the red dot blooming right over his heart.

“It isn’t every day that a father gets to be present for his daughter’s first kill.”

He pulled out his cell phone to dial 911. With any luck the police would arrive before Lee’s men could even the score. Roger just had to act horrified for a few hours before continuing on with Elizabeth’s education.

~ fin ~

SW Lauden Book Shot

S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available now from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, will be published by Rare Bird Books in September 2016. His standalone novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books on Feb. 29, 2016.