May 25, 2022
by Travis Dahlke
Randy and I used to clean the Del Mar in-ground pool for an attorney who lived alone in this big house. Before we could finish, the attorney always made us drink beers with him. Most times he'd go on about mutual funds and his daughter up in Rhode Island. If he got really drunk, he would scream at his fence. He said Rhode Island was going to hell. He said his daughter was going to hell. He said his whole neighborhood was going to hell. He said, behind the Frohmer's house next door was a pond, and inside the pond was their furniture. Driving by, it looked like a regular pond that kept still in the winter or where geese left curled little piles of shit all over the adjoining gazebo. The attorney told us he had only been to the Frohmer's once, for a Memorial Day barbecue. While everyone was eating his ex-wife's famous berry parfait, he walked down to the pond and saw beneath the surface, chairs stacked up on canopy bed frames, lamps, frying pan racks, and bureaus, all submerged in scum. The oldest furniture formed a reef. One night, when the Frohmers were on vacation, the attorney's ex-wife took off all her clothes, snuck into their yard and swam down into the pond. She told the attorney everyone had it backwards, that the furnishings had always been there, growing into something bigger. When I asked what they were growing into, the attorney wouldn't tell me. He said his ex-wife said there wasn’t a piano down there like everyone thinks, but there were curtains, which is worse. For some reason, whenever we drive by a marsh or a stretch of wetlands, Randy pretends to be asleep.
Travis Dahlke is the author of "Mount Summer" (Out to Lunch Records). His work has appeared in Joyland, HAD, No Contact, and The Longleaf Review, among other literary journals and collections. His novella, "Milkshake," was published by Long Day Press in April 2022.