Late last Friday evening, Persimmon Pines Police finally got a break in a case they'd been trying to solve for more than a decade. Persimmon Pines Police Chief Candy Stazniack, announced through her spokesman, Commander Tee Yun Kim, that Police had arrested Plunker Landing resident Guy DeChamois, 51. He was arrested on the 4th fairway at the Slippery Meadows Golf Course after witnesses saw him bolt from a hiding place behind a large rock and scoop up a Golf ball that had just been hit from the 7th tee by the Chief, herself. She later reported: "I saw this little Frenchy guy dart out and grab my ball while it was still rolling. So, I called for back-up and nailed him in the woods."
DeChamois, the Owner of Le Chat en les Chapeaux - Un Parisienne Haberdasherie, was booked on suspicion of aggravated ball-hawking and possession of Golf ball stealing equipment. Specifically, Police say, he was found to be in possession of several plastic shopping bags full of new and slightly used Golf balls.
DeChamois' Court-appointed Attorney, Patricia Ulyee, Daughter of longtime Hooking Hills Starter Nat Ulyee, said her client is "innocent, unless he hasn't told me everything - or, the Chief of Police is telling the truth." The Prosecution argued DeChamois was a flight risk and Judge Orson E. O'Hall agreed - ordering the Defendant held under house arrest until trial next January.
For Readers unfamiliar with the history of this case, it had its genesis in April, 1984 when a 911 call was answered by then Patrolman Candy Stazniack and her ride-along partner, Cadet Tee Yun Kim. The pair was parked in a secluded area of Valley Heights Country Club "staked out for perps." Valley Heights Head Pro Snoot Dockery reported members had lost several golf balls in the "Poor Man's Elbow" section of the course which borders the condo community known as Traylor Acres. Stazniack recalls the incident and said she and Tee "threw yellow crime scene tape all over that Golf Course and closed it down for days. But, forensics turned up nada." (That’s a foreign word meaning, “nothing.”)
Over all the years since the first report of lost golf balls, DeChamois has lived here in Traylor County. Plus, Police reports indicate several Golf Course sightings of "a flamboyantly dressed man in the woods."
Since this column is entitled "Golf Beat," this Reporter decided to pay a visit to the Defendant in the case at his home just off State Road TT, along the banks of the Plunker River.
Guy DeChamois, a short man, well known in this area for his wiglet and his extravagantly colorful clothing choices, readily invited me in. He is out on bail; and, views his house arrest ankle bracelet as a fashion accessory. We sat down in the Den of his home over glasses of imported wine and some unidentifiable cheese (definitely NOT American Cheese) and he told me his story.
"I have a sale going on right now at Le Chat in les Chapeaux. So, the day I was, how you say 'arrested,' I was wearing my merchandise - a bright yellow shirt covered in red flowers - and a very hip pair of purple pants we are selling for only $35.00, don't you know?"
I nodded. "Nice pants."
"Merci. So, after a hard day of selling the pants et. al., it was important for me to get the exercises. You see?"
"So, you're saying you were not at the Golf Course on any kind of nefarious mission?"
DeChamois nearly choked on the large sticky mass of cheese he had just bitten into. "Mais no!" He coughed and stood. "Excusé moi. I must get a, how you say, 'napkin.'"
He hurried out of the room. I relaxed, took a sip of wine and tried to swallow the piece of cheese in my mouth - which seemed to be growing larger all the time. At first, my eye went toward the window looking out over the dry bed of the Plunker River.
Of course, there's no water in the river bed right now. but, in the Spring, when the Traylor County Electric Authority releases water from the Persimmon Spires Dam on Buffalo Pelvis Lake, my guess is, it's probably much more wet looking.
As I pondered what the river with water in it might look like, my eye wandered away from the window and across the walls of the Den. It was then I realized every square inch of the walls in the room was covered with Golf balls.
What I had at first taken for wallpaper was, in fact, thousands upon thousands of golf balls. Inset in the "ballpaper" were framed collections of various balls from different periods of Golf History. I was sitting in a veritable Golf-Ball-Atorium.
By the time DeChamois came back into the room wiping his chin with a paper towel, I was on my feet examining the evidence. "Ah! My collection! You noticed!"
I backed away; not wanting to appear overly interested. "Nice. How did you stick your balls to the wall like that?"
"Epoxy," he offered.
"How long..." My voice trailed off, as I was struck by the enormity of the evidence in front of me.
DeChamois took another sip of wine. "Since 1984 - the year I move here from Toronto."
Was he toying with me? Was this some kind of sick game for a Serial Golf Ball Stealer? I had to get out of there - and quickly! I grabbed my notebook and stood. "I have to go. My Mother just sent me a text message."
"So quickly Mr. Green? You haven't had time to examine my balls!" He put his hand on my shoulder and pushed me back into my chair.
He handed me another glass of wine and explained his side of the story in a nutshell.
He told me he has an addiction to golf balls - a psychological need. The medical term for this condition is "Golfospherizoidinal Psychosis." He told me he could get a note from his doctor, if necessary.
The accused swears every ball he picked up was either lost or about to be - and he does not feel he did anything wrong. "Wrong-ish perhaps. But, not completely wrong," he asserts. He went on to say that he had friends in high places with several Golf Ball Manufacturers. They have offered to pay for his legal defense - because, his affliction "has resulted in a very large boost in sales in this area."
I guess my silence spoke volumes. Tears welled up in DeChamois' eyes. "I am not a criminal. I am a collector. I could not stand being in prison - surrounded by walls...and no balls!"
As I drove home, I realized one inevitable truth: For DeChamois to get into this mess - it took a lot of balls.
Editor's Note: Since this story was written, the Persimmon Pines Times was been contacted by Mr. DeChamois' Lawyer, Patricia Ulyee. She asked us to "cease and desist" from printing this article on the grounds that Mr. DeChamois could be construed to be "incriminating himself." Well, Of course he is. He's a crook and needs to be sent to prison for a long, long time. Ed.
Larry Caringer has been writing humor for broadcast for a long time. Now, he's writing it for you. The stories, here, are from a collection of short stories from his book "Golf Beat: A Year in the Life of Persimmon Pines."