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44 | ecotone And there used to be that girl named Cat who came into the T-Bird once or so a month generally on a weeknight when it was usually just you and Brian the bartender and maybe Carl, who we lost in the hurricane, and Tim. She was either the girlfriend or the wife of a rich man up on the North End of the beach where all the money lived. She would come in with a little briefcase and she would open it up and show us her samples, little black velvet compartments of precious stones, sometimes some red gems but mostly diamonds, diamonds, lots of diamonds. She handled the diamonds as if they weren’t worth a lot of money but we all knew that they were. This was during that time when you did things like the dead man float in the T-Bird pool. The pool at the T-Bird was shaped like a coffin, something you wouldn’t notice unless you were up on the roof, and we were up there sometimes, like the time we were all up there for the Blue Angels air show Cat mark richard fiction | 45 and the manager told Brian on the way down not to take any more checks from you. What you used to do sometimes was get in the pool with your clothes on and run two large daiquiri straws through your sunglasses so you could float facedown in the pool and breathe through the straws. You could get just enough air if you were calm and did a perfect dead man float in the pool. You believed the visual effect was better if you wore your cheap sports coat and kept your shoes on. Often you would decide to do a dead man float in the fall after Labor Day when people sitting at the bar would notice through the plate glass the pool lights tripping on in the early deadening dusk. A couple of drinks into their happy hour they’d watch the white and blue pool dapple, restful, peaceful, until you dead man drifted black in front of a light. Some tourist would scream and Brian would look over and have forgotten that you were dead man floating, and he would tell whoever had screamed that there was a lifesaving hook on the wall, and if he wasn’t busy he would come out with them because he was your friend and didn’t want them to bang you on the head with the big aluminum hook on the end of the long pole and possibly make him have to go in and get you, and knowing it was you, it was possible they would actually knock you unconscious trying to save you. You’re dead man floating in the pool one evening when Cat comes in and starts pouring big vodka martinis into her mouth, pouring them into her mouth, and showing Carl and Tim and Brian the diamonds. She’s pouring down two, maybe four martinis and she says she’s going for a swim. Carl and Tim and Brian watch her go out to the pool and they watch her shuck her clothes, a navy business suit and pretty underwear. She shucks it all off and she has a beautiful body with breasts that Tim says pointed toward the stars, and she’s out there and apparently she sees you dead man floating but she doesn’t panic. She dives in and you hear someone plunge the water, you have breathed yourself into a trance, which is what dead man floating does for you, like when you snorkel for a long time and your breathing is a nice part of the soundscape. There’s the plunge and then a beautiful girl swims naked beneath you and you can hear her make happy laughing noises as she swims back and forth under you and she’s starting to wave as she goes by. She plucks the straws out of your sunglasses and you hold your breath but when you finally have to gasp for air she laughs and drags you by your collar to the shallow end. Climbing the quarter...


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