The Pool Guy
Adam Golub is an American Studies professor who teaches courses on literature, childhood, popular culture, and monsters at California State University, Fullerton. His stories have appeared in The Bookends Review, 101 Fiction, The Sirens Call, and Winamop. He is co-editor of Monsters in the Classroom: Essays on Teaching What Scares Us, (Mcfarland, 2017 ). ‘The Pool Guy’ was Brenda Carre’s choice as first runner up in our 2016 Raven Short Story Contest and earned honourable mention in the 38 th New Millennium Writings Award for Fiction. Adam lives in Fullerton, CA.
The Pool Guy
Ty took a break from sexting Maddie to ask the pool guy about the leaf blower guy. “I heard someone attacked him with a golf club,” said Ty. “That’s right,” said the pool guy. “Someone just walked up and cracked him, Goodfellas style. Jesús tried to fight back with the leaf blower, and supposedly there was a duel for a few seconds, all King Arthur and shit, but police say this maniac was on a mission, he was hulking, all Rage-virused out. Jesús never stood a chance. He’s got a skull fracture, man. Lacerations on his arms. Teeth are all busted up.” “That’s terrible,” Ty said as his phone chimed. And then I climb on top of you like a jockey on his favourite horse. Maddie was a simile sexter. “Lonnie in eighteen has a get well card clipped to his door that we’re all signing,” said the pool guy as he skimmed his net along the surface by the deep end. “He’ll bring it to the hospital tomorrow.” “Cool,” said Ty. Nice, he texted Maddie.
“Hey, I’ve noticed some ducks have been hanging out in the pool lately. You finding any duck shit in there?” asked Ty.
“Ducks? What, they take a wrong turn on the way to the Sopranos? I haven’t noticed any duck waste, but don’t worry, the chemicals will kill off anything in there. I mean dissolve it completely, Alien acid style. Duck crap don’t stand a chance in this pool.” “I know where I’ll be taking all my shits from now on,” said Ty. “How Caddyshack of you, Mr K,” said the pool guy. “Cinderella story. Outta nowhere,” Ty said, looking down at his phone. I grind on you like coffee beans making sweet hot coffee. Maddie worked in a Starbucks. “Speaking of Cinderella story, how’s the screenplay coming along?” asked the pool guy. “Sequels are hard.” That’s it, texted Ty. Make mine a grande. “I’ve got a million-dollar idea for a movie,” said the pool guy. “You wanna hear it? I can tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” “I’ll take my chances.” “It’s about a guy who cleans pools.” “Shocker.” “One day he shows up at one of his regular jobs and finds a body floating in the pool. Flips him over, pulls him out. It’s no one he recognizes. Turns out nobody knows who this floater is. No ID, no one files a missing persons report. It’s a complete mystery. Cops don’t really care because they have enough on their plate, so they don’t launch an investigation. Death is ruled a John Doe suicide. So the pool guy makes a point to try to discover this man’s identity. The deeper he digs, the more questions he
asks, the more obsessed he gets. But it’s dead ends all around. No one knows who this guy is.
“The pool guy’s got a blurry photo of the floater that he took with his phone the day he found him, and he keeps a print copy of the photo on his bathroom mirror. Gradually the face in the photo starts coming into focus. Like, each day he wakes up and looks at the picture on the mirror and the face is a little more defined, more recognizable. Until the pool guy realizes that the body floating in the pool is him. He’s the dead guy. He found his own body. But he also discovers that it wasn’t suicide, it was murder. And then it becomes a race against time to figure out who killed him, because each day that the photo on the mirror becomes clearer, the pool guy starts to fade. Like in real life, his body starts kinda disappearing. And just when he’s on the verge of solving the mystery, just as he’s on the track of the killer, he gets hit by a bus, because he’s almost invisible at that point and the bus driver can’t see him crossing the street.”
“But where are the ducks?” asked Ty. “What this screenplay needs is more ducks.” “You dig it? It’s like The Sixth Sense meets DOA.” “Meets Dorian Grey.” “What?” asked the pool guy. “Who?” I want you to explode like a baking soda volcano. Maddie was working on her multiple subject teaching credential at Cal State Northridge.
“If you don’t like that one, I’ve got one more,” said the pool guy. “A million-dollar idea for a documentary. Wanna hear it?” “Fire away,” said Ty. “You track down as many guys as you can who are named Elliott who were kids when E.T. the Extraterrestrial was in the movie
theatres, and you ask them what it was like to grow up as Ellee-ot. Like, how badly were they teased? How annoying was it? How did it shape who they were? Did they change their names? Go by a nickname instead? Or did they embrace it, introduce themselves to people in the E.T. voice, have girls say their name like that in bed? It’d be awesome to see all these Elliotts interviewed in one movie.” “My brother’s name is Elliott,” said Ty. “Sweet. We can start with him.” “He lives in Kyoto.” “Even better. We can ask him if the Chinese do the E.T. voice with him.” “Japan. Japanese.” “Sweet. Lost in Translation. Is your brother like Bill Murray?” I want to be inside you like E.T. wants to go home, Ty texted. ???? replied Maddie. “My brother moved to Japan eight years ago. He started off teaching English, but now he’s a male escort. He accompanies lonely Japanese women on dates. Sometimes he has sex with them. Sometimes he kisses them. Mostly he just holds their hand or dances with them.” The pool guy stopped skimming and looked at Ty. “For real?” “Totally.” “I need to move to China.” “I tease him all the time.” “About being an escort?” “No. I say his name in the E.T. voice. I also send him texts and emails that say, ‘phone home.’” “How does he feel about that?” “You should ask him. He’s coming to visit next week. Hasn’t