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Volume 3, Issue 1, February 28, 2008
dirty pool
A Greater Power
by Benjamin Crowell

        Sean knew he wasn't the kind of guy who got a lot of breaks in life, and that was why he wanted to make real sure of keeping the house-sitting gig. Rich Chinese guy, here he had this fancy house on seventeen acres in the mountains, but he hardly ever came around except in the summer. Sean didn't live there full time, but it was cool to have a place to go and get away from other people, plus the money was pretty good, considering that the job wasn't much work.
        So when the white hazy crud showed up in the deep end of Mr. Wang's pool, it wasn't the kind of thing Sean was just going to blow off. He put in a bunch more chlorine tabs, got a sample of the water, and drove right down to Scotts Valley and got the sample tested at the pool store. They told him nothing was goofy with the chemistry stuff, and he was probably doing the right thing by just putting in more chlorine. Maybe run the filter pump for a couple extra hours every day until it cleared up.
        After that he probably did get a little sloppy. It was February, and normally the pool was real easy to take care of in the winter. He and Mike took off to do some surfing down at Cowell's Cove, which was excellent because nobody was around that time of year. The next day they flew back up HWY 17 like a cruise missile in Sean's truck with Donna Summer blasting on the eight-track. That would have got Sean back in plenty of time to drop by Wang's place and check on how the pool was doing, but stuff came up. For one thing, the minute he got in the door of the room he was renting the phone rang, and it was Cindy bugging him about the child support. Sometimes she didn't really seem to get the concept that they were divorced.
        By the time he got a chance to check the pool, a week had gone by, and it was worse, not better. It was nighttime, but with the outdoor lights on he could tell that there was even more of the white haze, and a smell like butterscotch. The smell made him queasy because he happened to be a little hung over. He noticed both of the floating holders for the chlorine tablets lying out on the deck instead of in the water. What was going on? He remembered putting them in the water - at least he thought he did. He tossed them back in the water. He went to pull the basket out of the skimmer, and then heard something skitter across the deck behind him. He jumped and yelled, and when he turned around, one of the chlorine floats was back on the deck, spinning around like a cockeyed top. He looked at the water, and saw something white sweeping around on the surface. At first he thought it was someone's arm, but it was way too skinny, and it curved and waved like a rope. It found the other float and coiled around it.
        Sean ran back to his truck and jumped in. He ran over some of Mr. Wang's bushes turning around in the driveway, and then burned rubber out of there.
        Back out on Summit Road, he was still going a little too fast, and that was how he got pulled over by Paul Hollis.
        "See your license and registration, Sean?"
        Sean handed them over. There was no way he was going to wiggle out of this one. He'd known Paul since third grade, but now Paul was Cindy's boyfriend, and probably believed whatever she said about Sean. Well, he was damned if he'd yessir-nosir him.

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        A Greater Power (pdf)
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