Have you ever had one of those days? You think that everything’s going your way and then BAM! You’re flattened like roadkill? That’s what happened to me when I met Cindy. I’d been coasting through life for far too long, doing just enough to get by without actually doing anything at all. Always on the verge of the next big thing.
I did live with my mother, mind you. And Meemaw. And Uncle Terrence. But he might just be one of those people who always seems to be there. Who knows?
But anyway, I’ve been scamming my gym membership for the last eighteen months, so I figured I’d go for a swim that day. It’s easy, it’s free and I get to look at hot women? That’s what I call a combo. Of course, that day is when I met Cindy.
‘Morning sweetheart, you gonna pay for your membership today?’ Maureen asks me from behind the glass.
‘Come on Maureen, I’ve already told you that I’ll only pay when you agree to go for a drink with me?’ I flash her a grin. ‘Besides, you know I don’t keep cash in my speedos.’
‘Danny, there’s more than enough room in there. Everyone knows there’s nothing else going on downstairs.’ I feigned being hurt as she rang up a public session on the till. ‘Go on, you lunatic. I’ll let you off this time. Stop ogling!’
‘Oh Maureen, but where’s the fun in that?’ I fired her a double thumbs up from the doorway.
I love swimming. Well, pretending to swim while actually just floating and checking out the scenery. And by scenery, I mean the bikinis. I mean, damn! I was chilling in the deep end, looking at an absolutely fabulous pair walking past the big window when she walked in.
It’s the only way to describe how I felt. She walks in, impossibly long legs stretching up to her barely covered behind, with blonde hair coiling down her back to rest just in the small. I was in love.
Then Jackson walked over.
Jackson Molyneaux. Lifeguard extraordinaire, saves children in his spare time as a firefighter and has a pet Labrador. He’s also a truly obnoxious man, thinking he’s all that just because he got some bravery award. I mean seriously, the whole life-saving thing gets old.
Dick. Chatting to her, probably telling her that he swam to France to raise money for charity. I mean, he didn’t. He swam around a swimming pool to raise the money for it instead. Ergh, even talking about him leaves a bad taste in my mouth. You know what, sod it. I’ll impress her. I’ll save someone, or do something impressive. Yeah, watch out Jackson. Danny Boy is on his way.
I’ve got a plan.
1) Impressive display of… Something. Get her attention.
2) I go swimming again and talk to… to…
3) Find out Red Bikini’s name.
That’s easy enough right? I mean, yes, there are a couple of flaws. Namely that I have no idea if Red Bikini’s even going to be a regular. Wait a minute… New plan.
‘Maureen, my darling, my honey, my ragtime gal…’
‘No,’ she glared at me over the top of her half-moon glasses. She’s a sitting stereotype for elderly receptionists everywhere. ‘Whatever it is, Danny, I ain’t telling you shit.’
‘But Maureen! I just need…’
‘Unless I hear the words “To pay my membership fee” then I won’t tell you nothing else. Now, what do you want to say?’
I paused, rolling the ideas around in my mind. On one hand, I have my coasting lifestyle, my principles and my desire to never pay for anything in my life. On the other, I have the prospect of the smoking hot blonde. I’ll leave those ideas to bounce around.
Something has to win soon.
‘Danny!’ Maureen broke me from my reverie. ‘You gonna say something or what?’
‘I’ll… Pay my membership.’ I held my credit card out in front of me, defeated. She snatched it from my hand like it was the proverbial candy and I was the baby. ‘Now, can you just tell me if the blonde that followed me in yesterday got a membership?’
‘Oh, you mean Cindy?’ She stared at me again. I’m really starting to hate those half-moon glasses. ‘Lovely girl. Paid her membership up front too. Asked lots of questions on the way out. Turns out she’s new in town, after someone to show her around. Asked a lot about Jackson too…’
‘I think she called him a hero…’ She passed me my card back. ‘Next! Now, Danny, piss off so I can do some work.’
So now it comes to this. I can show her around town, I just need to get her to notice me. So here I am, on the high dive board. I figure I can do some showy dives, pretend I do this all the time, then offer to take Cindy round town. It’s the perfect plan. What can go wrong? Besides, it takes out that awkward charity element. There’s just so many of them, how would I know which to go for?
So, I’m here on the high dive. I cough, dramatically, so that everyone is looking at me. Raise my arms high and dive. A thing of beauty, I catch her eye on the way down and smile.
They tell me that Jackson pulled me from the pool when I passed out. That my stomach was roughly the colour of Cindy’s bikini. When I came round, I walked slowly out of the centre. Past Maureen who was trying and failing to stifle giggles. I got out into the autumn air and heard a shout.
‘Danny?’ I turned around to face the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. ‘Umm, do you know anywhere good to eat around here?’
This is the runner up out of the two stories I wrote this weekend for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge.
It was a lot harder than I thought.
The Idiot in Tin Foil