Marcel walked slowly home and went to sleep without dinner. His wife asked him if he was sick but he was too unsettled to even notice her.
The following Saturday he went to the pétanque field and got into a game. He played poorly and was widely off the mark.
On the second game, he resolved to try Bill’s screwy suggestion.
When he saw his boule curving away from the cochonnet, he closed his eyes and thought hard “left, left”… To his surprise, the boule immediately altered its course and moved toward the left.
This is amazing he thought.
As he kept playing, his mind-controlled shots became more and more accurate until most his boules came to rest within an inch of the cochonnet.
His companions were amazed.
Marcel just smiled, good-naturedly.
And this went on for a few weeks. Marcel had now become a respected pointer.
He had not heard from Bill for some time and wondered once in a while what became of him, but it was just a fleeting thought.
One day, as he was crossing the street, he saw an older woman in front of him stumble and fall to the ground.
His first impulse was to lend her a hand, but he thought that he heard Bill’s voice urging him to do nothing. Against his better judgment but mindful of his mentor’s advice, he continued walking without looking back.
He felt a little uncomfortable but rationalized that Bill certainly knew better.
In the meantime his game improved significantly.
He tried his hand at shooting and after a while he became quite good at it. Like an air traffic controller he carefully monitored the flight of his boules and with incremental corrections he managed to hit his targets eighty percent of the time.
To his great satisfaction, he became known as a “decent shooter”.
But with increasing success, his mood seemed to change.
The humble, easygoing Marcel vanished.
Following Bill’s endless suggestions he became arrogant and quarrelsome.
He grew gradually aware of this but he felt too indebted to Bill to change his behavior.
One day, Bill urged him to cheat to insure a victory.
Reluctantly, but driven by hubris, Marcel discreetly pushed a boule forward to secure an extra point. And this became a habit.
But little by little a rumor started to spread. Marcel was a cheater! He had to be watched!
To go from bad to worse, things on the home front started to unravel. Out of the blue his usually amiable wife started to balk and his children to rebel.
Marcel noticed but could not resolve to stray from Bill’s pernicious guidance.
Everything has a price he told himself, and to continue winning he was willing to put up with a few minor aggravations.
To be continued…