Harrison Miller's wife stood in the shallow end of the pool surrounded by her admirers. From his chaise on the deck, Harrison could see the men's chests and shoulders, their heads bent toward her, faces expectant. Courtney wore a red bikini; her long dark hair was piled on top of her head and held in place with a large silver barrette, and her hands were on her hips. All five men towered over her, and she smiled slightly as she shifted her attention from one to the other, her eyes hidden behind enormous sunglasses.
Then the tallest of the group, with the darkest, thickest head of hair, swooped down like a giant bird, picked up Harrison's wife, threw her over his [End Page 91] shoulder and carried her upstream. Shrieking, she pounded on his back, her legs fluttering in protest, but by the time they got to the middle of the pool, she was laughing. The man put her down in water that came up several inches above her waist; slowly he slid the strap of her bathing suit off one shoulder and then the other. Courtney pulled away her top, exposing her breasts—breasts that had nursed her daughter, breasts that for the last two and a half years had belonged only to her husband!—and flung the piece of fabric onto the cement so that it landed just a few feet away from Harrison.
By then the pool was like a giant soup of breasts. Saggy ones with dark nipples, small, upturned ones that fit perfectly into a cupped hand and enormous silicone jobs, big and round and shiny as beach balls. Not everyone was young in that pool, some were close to Harrison's mother's age. She had left when he was eight, doubtless to frolic in just such a pool as this. If his father had volunteered to go with her on a few adventures, would she have stayed married to him? Might her fears, her depression, her sexual boredom, have been allayed?
Surprising, Harrison thought, how public nudity rendered people oddly sexless, as if returning them to the nursery. He felt none of the excitement of conquest, of the hunt, that he had when he was single, sitting in a room of attractive young women who wore their clothing like camouflage, or weaponry. But the human body, as it pushed toward middle age and beyond—men in various stages of paunchiness, women with stretch marks and cellulite—was not meant for such careless exposure. Hadn't they all suffered enough?
Harrison wore his bathing trunks but he did not go in the pool; neither did the woman in the chair next to him, who wore a voluminous yellow shift and big floppy yellow hat. From the bag at her feet emerged a never-ending supply of turquoise and brown yarn; she was knitting furiously and rarely looked up from her project, yet Harrison found her surprisingly aware of everything she did not look at, as if her eyes worked differently than other people's. She was Nancy Dawes, wife of Kevin Dawes, the man in the pool who'd carried off Harrison's wife. They were from Michigan—Battle Creek, she'd told Harrison the night before at dinner. Kevin worked for Kellogg, in product development.
"You know, we could move to the clothed beach," Nancy said, still not looking up. "We'd fit in better over there anyway."
"I'm getting tired," Harrison said. "Hot sun."
Nancy placed her knitting in her lap and moved her chair a bit closer, examining Harrison's shoulder. She was a large woman, with short hair streaked several shades of blond, deep set gray eyes and a wide, prominent nose. "I think you're getting burned," she said. "Your skin's pink. Need any lotion?" [End Page 92]
Harrison didn't answer; his attention was once more on Courtney, who was lifting herself out of the pool, both arms rigid...