Walter struggled to put his swim trunks on over his wet buttocks. He hated to let the other men see him lose his balance teetering on one foot but he was too proud to lean against the wall or try to hold onto the locker to steady himself.
Meanwhile his wife Lois was in the women’s dressing room hobnobbing with the other ladies who came for the free swim for seniors on Tuesday nights. All of them rested themselves on the benches and traded community gossip, grandchild stories, worries about children throwing their lives away, and Wal-Mart prices. They showered after they put on their suits, unlike the men.
Because the arthritis class was free, the group shared the indoor pool with the handicapped swim program. This made for a crowded time, but it was worth it – after all, it was free. One night Walter had caught a cold when someone left the door to the outdoor pool open, and since then he had had to wear a t-shirt when in the water. But overall it was good for the limbs.
Tonight, though, someone had pooped in the outdoor pool and it was closed. Swarms of young people wanted to share the pool. New lanes were roped off and visitors could see a solid mass of bobbing heads and flayling arms. Suddenly wild shrieks went up – a young boy about 11 was waving a gun, a water gun, the kind that shoots out fire hydrant force streams of pure chlorine mixed with a little H20.
Walter jerked around and received a full frontal spray in his eyes. Lois screamed. Ignoring his heart condition, Walter lunged for the offender, barely missing him as he dove under and swam through Walter’s legs. His face beet red, Walter now vowed revenge. But how?
Lois noticed a girl her granddaughter knew lurking in the far corner of the pool. Treading over to her, her noodle clutched in safety, Lois blocked her from moving and told her her proposition. No one had to know and the girl furtively exchanged her water gun for the money Lois thrust into her hand under the water.
Lois dog paddled over to Walter, the gun concealed under the now churning froth of the pool. Walter ducked his head under and when he raised up, still kept the weapon submerged.
By this time everyone was in complete chaos and the senior citizens were giving up and leaving the pool in droves. There was no room in the hot tub so most headed for the showers and dressing rooms. Young yells reverberated off the concrete sides and intensified into a piercing wall of noise. Lois watched Walter as if seeing him for the first time. He was a submarine possessed.
Moving slowly but with glazed eyes, Walter was approaching the offender from behind. Confident he had won against the old people, the boy was wielding his power against several girls huddled in the corner. Walter calculated his move and, when the boy sensed someone behind him and turned around, let out a stream smack into the boys eyes. He screamed, yelling “Mommy”. His mother came running but, when she saw Walter, decided not to get involved.
Walter waded out of the pool and into the dressing room. He sat down on the bench and took his dripping shorts off. Next time, he’d lean against the wall to put them on.