Sunday, I witnessed two teenage girls dunking a white pool lounge chair into our community swimming pool. I told my wife. She went to the window and admonished the girls for their actions. The girls swore at my wife and fled the scene. My wife and I tracked him down - they lived in the neighborhood - and told their parents about the dunking. The girls were upset at being caught and attempted to rationalize their actions. After telling the parents what we witnessed, we left them to deal with their kids.
So I started thinking...
Three alternate futures for these two girls.
Rainy April 2016. .
Blbom: I saw crazy lady who chased me last summer.
Blbom: I know, huh. The creepy guy who kept saying "I saw you" wasn't there.
Blbom: Right? Just wanted to see if the chair floated.
Blbom:What if some kid was drowning and I needed a flotation device in a hurry? Somebody could die. We did them a favor.
Blbom:We should get an award or something.
Blbom: Totally going the Chaz's pool party.
Blbom: Yeah, let's dump all his chairs in the pool.
“My mom acted like a drowned a baby or something.” I smear back charcoal under my eyes.
Brandy’s is too quiet. With the lynch mob at her door, Brandy’s Dad told her “You’re done.” She’s pissed.
We sweat in our black yoga pants and sweatshirts, but we’ll be more camouflaged at night. Mom hid the pool key in the Lavender jar, as if I wouldn’t find it. My brother wanted to come with us back to the pool; no way. He’s all “you can’t call my sister an asshole.” We need stealth.
I unlocked the pool gate. “I bet you a billion dollar’s there’s nothing wrong with that stupid chair.”
Brandy shoves a fistful of Chocolate Espresso Yummy drops into her mouth. “Which one is it?” We stay away from the lit pool and circle around the gazebo. I touch the second chair from the left; my fingers slide along the damp back strap. “See. Fine.” I touch the second strap from the top. It feels weird. Stiff and rough instead of the slick and bendy. “We should drag it home and show my mom it’s fine. That’s why their pool chairs.” The second strap breaks loose from the chair frame and hits the concrete. “Shit.”
Brandy picks it up. The cream color smears off in her fingers. The strip looks metallic and sparkled in the pool light.
“What is this?” I say.
Brandy traces a name engraved on the metal strip: Bell Laboratories. “Doesn’t your Dad work there?”
Bright white lights from like a thousand cars slam our eyes. A man’s voice echoes around the pool area.
“Stay where you are! This is the FBI.”
Lee Nu peers out the flaky curtains at the Spanish tile roof house cross the walkway. He savors Brandy’s message, running his dry tongue along his lips, feeling a tingle running up his legs. “I show you what you want,” she had written. Lee Nu imagined her boobs under her blouse and shivered.
She left the method up to him. Something about throwing stuff in the swimming pool and not getting a car. He hears music from the house across the walkway. They’re getting ready to barbecue. He loosened the propane valve on the fat tank under the barbecue. “The creepy guy” -Brandy called him – does the barbecue. He’s going to get a face full of flame, crisping his hair and Lee Nu will lay his face between a girl’s tits.
He fingers the curtain to see the house. Shouting. Plates clashing. The front door opens.
Here we go. He rubs his pants. One of the daughters steps out of the house. She carries an aluminum tray.
“Why don’t we wait ‘till he gets home?” she says.
The long-haired daughter sets down the tray on the barbecue stand.
Lee Nu raises his fist to bang on the window, to warn her. Instead he taps the glass. No, don’t. Don’t.
The daughter lifts the lip, waves the black fire-starter wane over the burner. She shouts back to the house. “There’s too much oil in …” Flick. Whoosh!
A ball of blue and orange flame balloons out and blasts the daughter’s head. She screams. The tray of red meat splatters on the concrete patio.
The scream. The scream. He can’t get it out of his head. A fire truck and an ambulance showed up. After they all left, he opened the door and vomited from the stink of burnt hair.
It wasn’t supposed to be her. It wasn’t. Stupid creepy guy. He always barbecues.
In the message, Lee Nu hears Brandy's panic. “Oh God! What’ve you done?”
Sometimes a mistake is a joke ten years later. Sometimes it lasts a life time.