Pools by Eric Suhem.
We bought the house in the hills, situated in a picturesque canyon. It had been an underpriced bargain, the previous owner desperate to sell. The house itself was cavernous, and we would never have enough furniture to fill it. The canyon winds seemed to swirl through its halls. There was a large empty pool in the backyard, lined with cracking cement, vines crawling around the grey interior, a dried-out diving board perched over the deep end. There seemed to be an alluring bleakness to the empty pool.
While my wife focused on the house, I set about restoring the pool to its original condition. As I dealt with the various cement and water contractors, I found a wadded-up piece of paper at the bottom of the dry pool. On the wad of paper were the chlorine-stained words Dead Pool Scrolls. I could not decipher the rest of the water-smeared words, and deposited the paper in a drawer, where it was soon forgotten.
The pool was eventually restored, and we enjoyed evenings in the water, as whippoorwills and hummingbirds flew above us. In the summer, we went on vacation, and returned to find that our neighbor to the south, Bill Poseidon, had, in the name of neighborhood sociability, built a tunnel connecting his pool to ours. Soon, various guests of his backyard parties would swim through his tunnel and emerge in our pool, snorkels darting about aggressively, their goggles fogged. More and more unfamiliar men and women in aqua suits crawled up from the inner edges of the pool, and congregated on our patio, saying that they had simply felt a yearning to strap scuba masks to their skulls and enter the mystery of the underwater tunnel.
Whenever we tried to confront Bill Poseidon about his tunneling into our pool, or initiate legal action against him, we felt some sort of supernatural aquatic force, like a psychological water jet or tidal wave, pushing us back, making us abandon our efforts. During this time of frustration, I was searching through desk drawers for something when I found the Dead Pool Scrolls from the bottom of the pool. Perhaps there was something in these stained cryptic words that could help us with this dilemma. But who could help us decipher the code?
I noticed the balding pool maintenance man. He was always trolling the neighborhood inexplicably in his truck, which was filled with insect nets, brushes, hoses, and chlorine supplies. I showed the Dead Pool Scrolls to the balding pool maintenance man, and an ancient twinkle entered his eyes. I can help you with this, he said slowly. Meet me by your pool tonight at midnight.
At midnight, I met the balding pool maintenance man by the diving board of our pool. As usual, there were scuba-outfitted people from Bills tunnel, flopping around on our patio in their rubber fins. The balding pool maintenance man looked at the Dead Pool Scrolls, and began chanting the words, as birds fluttered about. <<italic< Oh whippoorwills in the whirlpool it was meant to be a night of chlorination, but you congregated near water jet #1, leaving me with water jet #2. Oh whippoorwills, possessed by evil water forces from the south, end your shepherding of rubber-goggled invaders to our realm. Be gone, Poseidon! Be Gone!>>
Upon completion of the chant, birds flew up out of the yard, and the aquatic force that seemed to be holding us back before was now pulling the wetsuit-wearing scuba divers off of our patio, into the pool and Bills tunnel. The tunnel hole then sealed itself and disappeared. I thanked the balding pool maintenance man. All in a days work, he said.
We never heard from Bill Poseidon again, but we still wanted to drain the water out of the pool. I was pleased over the next few months to see the cracks and vines return to the cement.
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