Drool Party

Drool Party

One night a year in early July, the men and boys in swimsuits squat at the pool’s ledge to await two lifeguards’ whistles.

The chlorine is all they smell, the burbling water is all they hear and—blindfolded—they see only black.

Six hundred wadded-up bandaids mottle the waves.

The two lifeguards, at the pool’s perimeter, dump in two 48-quart coolers of domestic beer in plastic bottles—with two bottles disguised as beer.

Their whistles squawk.

Legs kick, arms splash, & watercrests shoo away bandaids.

A bald man plays tug-of-war with a boy in a kelly-green leotard over a bottle; he pulls bottleneck while the boy, bottle bottom.

The men twist open the bottles and pour them on heads; at the shallow end, toes scratch the floor. Cheering and cheap beer smell fills the natatorium.

The bald man tips a bottle toward the halogen and dumps it over his head for an instant before bringing it down to chug. Among the bandaids, beer bottles begin bobbing; water flows into their mouths and they glug to the floor. The bald man, his chest hair now wet-pasted, thrashes at the waves until he grabs what he thinks is a beer, opens it, and pours ketchup on his head. The other swimmers prod their noses in the air to sniff the vinegar. Splashing stops and mouths water. The man pleads his innocence; his head flings red drops as it whips around.

From inside one of the coolers, the lifeguard pulls out a Ruger and fires at the man’s chest. The shot cracks. The swimmers say, “Red White Blue and so do you!” They then resume their horseplay.

The body sinks to the floor. The other lifeguard readies his carving knife.

Someone shakes the second ketchup bottle down the boy’s back. The boy’s shoulderblades move under the sauce. Now men dogpaddle toward the scent. The lifeguard aims for the boy, who scrabbles for the ladder, his rifle quivering toward the heads of the other men lumbering toward the young one. The other guard waits for his fellow worker.


About the Author

Perry Genovesi lives in West Philadelphia, works as a public librarian, and serves his fellow workers in AFSCME District Council 47. He's a '23 Best Microfiction nominee, and his published fiction is forthcoming or has been featured in Volume 1. Brooklyn, Expat Press, The Disappointed Housewife, and collection on tiny.cc/PerryGenovesi. He's forever impressed by how many of life's problems seem impassable until one simply eats. Twitter: @unionlibrarian 


Photo by Malaya Sadler on Unsplash