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The Itch and the Burn. New Jersey Karma

Anything that could dig a hole had crawled underground. The poolboys feel the burn.

Swimming guy by Pixabay and Pexels 1024

[dropcap style=”font-size:100px; color:#992211;”]I[/dropcap]’d been drinking a bottle of water at each house.

In the span of a normal day, that might have been enough. But it was pool season, and we’d drank enough tequila at lunch to get a ship of pirates across the ocean. I picked up the empty plastic bottles of water on the floor and drank the remains.

As I was getting out of the truck a Lexus pulled into the driveway. A black girl climbed out. A black girl with an ass like a verse in a lost song of Solomon. It shifted around like a wild animal on the hunt. ‘Juicy’ was stitched across her cheeks.

I followed each bounce like a drunk chicken into the backyard.

“Stop staring, bro,” Frankie said. “You’re going to creep them out.”

She kissed The Hammer’s hand and went in-side.

“Dude,” the Hammer said to Frankie, “I’m having important clients over for dinner. I need a pool that doesn’t smell like a Red Lobster.”

“We’ll take care of it,” Frankie said.

“My girlfriend… she’s not happy, man.”

“We’ll take care of it,” Frankie said. “I promise.”Swimming guy by Pixabay and Pexels

Frankie told me to dump all of the shock into the pool. The other pools we had worked on were swim club sized. But The Hammer’s pool was a fiberglass bathtub. Maybe five feet bigger than a Jacuzzi. Six bags of shock would sterilize a skunk in the next town.

But what did I care? The Hammer seemed to be getting fresh with Frankie. The shock was subtle payback with no evidence. The Hammer would itch and burn, but he wouldn’t know why.

“Hold off on three of those,” Frankie said. “We’re going to have to get in the pool.”

I didn’t like the sound of this at all.

“Do we have to?” I asked.

“There’s a hole in the liner. The pool will be empty by tonight if we don’t patch it.”

We stripped off all non-essential clothing. This day was shaping up to set a heat record; anything that could dig a hole had crawled underground. Even the squirrels had disappeared.

We still hadn’t picked up any sunscreen. I looked at the freckles on my shoulders, but they’d molded into a brown cancer mass. I was starting to see the events of this day as a montage that had been branded with an R rating. A predetermined course with a script I’d never read but had always known. The Sunday nuns had promised me he was an all-knowing God. They must have understood this also meant that there were no coincidences in life. Somewhere, in that celestial theater of our Lord, he was watching with a beer and a bag of popcorn. Smiling. Knowing that it was all playing out exactly the way it should be.

Which was fine, except that it seemed we had a slight difference of opinion as to what constituted good art.

Extract from Play the Devil by Scott Laudati.

Published by Kuboa Press.
Image: Pixabay/Pexels


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