Underground Pool: Am I Clean Yet?

By George Wylesol '12 (Illustration)

I woke up again on a warm Saturday in December. I sat up, rubbed my face with my hands, and looked around. I saw my jacket, pants and shoes lying in a pile on the floor. I put them on and walked.

I wore a light jacket on top of my t-shirt because it was so strangely warm. The snow, laid gently a few nights before, was melting and dripping from the trees and bushes; the regular plink, plinking of the meltwater kept time with my footsteps. It was a strange soundtrack that played constantly beneath this strange morning.

I walked through this park and saw a bunch of little kids crowded around Santa Claus, who handed them presents. Two little dogs lay on the ground beside him and their toy antlers sat wet and muddy in the melting snow. Santa’s fake reindeer had given up on Christmas. Santa saw me staring and waved. I waved back and caught his thoughts broadcasted clearly across the park: keep walking, you fucking pervert. The kids turned and they waved, too. I waved again and kept walking.

On the way home I slipped on an empty grocery bag and landed on my knees in the mud. I heard my jeans rip down the crotch and for a second I was thirteen again: We had gone up the mountains: my family, and a friend, and myself, for a ski trip. It was December, like it is now, and it was unseasonably warm, like it is now. It was too warm to ski so we drove around. My parents and my sister went to the mall. My brother, my friend and I crossed the interstate to a mini-golf course. It was closed for the winter. A goofy fucking alligator laughed at us from atop the tenth hole and we wanted to break it.  We hopped the locked gate but my jeans caught on the top and I fell, tearing the crotch and landing on my knees in the mud.

“Hey!”

I heard a yell when I landed.

“The fuck are you kids doing in there?” It was a scary man with one leg and a beard, on crutches across the parking lot.

Then I was twenty-two again: “Are you okay?” It was Santa and his rein-dogs, running toward me through the mud, beard bouncing all the way.

Then I was thirteen: We stood up in the golf course and ran like hell across the interstate, not looking either way, back to the van.

I was twenty-two again: I stood up, squinted at Santa, and waved to him for a third time.

I was thirteen: I cried in the middle seat all the way home, tears beaded on the gray upholstery like raindrops in a driveway. 

Twenty-two: I watched Santa stop running halfway through the park and walk his dogs over to a muddy red pickup. The kids loaded their presents into their parents’ little cars. I tried to wipe the mud off my pants but some of it had seeped through my new crotch hole and the inside of my left thigh was muddy. When I was thirteen and when I was twenty-two I stood unclothed in the shower and watched the black mud blossom around the drain in beautiful circles while our leaky Hechinger showerheads dripped into the bathwater, plink-plinking the soundtrack that shaped me.