Sean jimmies the latch until the gate to the pool swings open. He strides up to a lawn chair and tosses his keys down, his towel, his Marlboros. He strips to shorts and, after dipping a big toe to gauge the water, dives in, doing a canonball.
I lay my towel and book, The Chemistry of Love, next to his things, eyeing the other bathers. I undress slowly, wait for one of them to be the pool manager, to get suspicious and ask for my ID. I have none.
Last year, Sean paid membership dues for the country club. He hasn't paid dues for this year but still comes, dragging me along. He wants to swim and sunbathe with class, to sit in the Jacuzzi with friends. So this is where we come.
I hang my legs over the side of the pool. My gut sags over my trunks. I cover it with an arm. Sean swims across the pool to splash me. I do a swan dive and chase after. On the other side, he says, "Let's do like 'The Man from Atlantis.' " He undulates his hand to demonstrate. We do like "The Man from Atlantis" -- his kicks fast, vigorous and bold; mine long, languorous and energy efficient. Underwater, Sean points at the surface. The sun glares off the waves. We come up for air, gasping, coughing, choking on the heavy chlorine gas that hovers just above the water before it dissipates.
He says, "Did you see that? The sun -- glimmering -- shimmering." He has that far-away look of his, moving his hands like he's rubbing lotion on skin. Sean always describes the natural as if it were magical, using his hands and single words, as if everything could be described in a word and a sleight of hand.
We get out and head for the Jacuzzi. Some of the parents keep a close eye on the "faggots." We would probably molest their children if they weren't watching us so carefully.
"Look at that one." Sean jerks his head towards an extra hairy chest. "My, my," he says, "what I wouldn't do for a piece of that." I study the man: mustache and nice build. Very macho. I never have understood Sean's taste. The faces might be appealing but the bodies bland, no curves for the eye to slide on, just a sheer cliff. I look again to find what I'm missing.
"Hmmm," he growls. We loll around the tub, soaking up the heat, rolling onto our backs and sides. "I think underwear makes a good swimsuit, don't you?" he says. I say, "No." I raise my head to see that he's taken off his swimsuit. "Ah, shit, Sean," and turn my head aside.
A minute later Sean puts his suit back on. He smiles and says, "I don't know what Americans have against nudity." And I say, "I don't care if you're naked. I just don't want any trouble, is all." He nods.
We go back to our stuff and towel off. Sean lies in the sun, I lie in the shade of the umbrella and read. Love, says The Chemistry of Love, is a function of neurotransmitters: testosterone, dopamine, and oxytocin. I glance at Sean who is lying on his stomach, eyes shut. Water trickles from his hair down the suntan lotion on his back. The water beads, making an oily, slick rainbow. It evaporates.
I try to read.
About the author:
Trent Walters is the nom de plume of con artist Michael Trent who convinced his parents he was a changeling at the age of three. "It explained some very peculiar behavior," his mother told reporters. He spends his free time analyzing your paper clip spending habits for the CIA in the ongoing war effort against Antarctica. Works of his have appeared in 3am Magazine, The Carleton Arts Review, The Pittsburgh Quarterly, among others he can't remember off the top of his head.