there's no chicken fighting in the infinity pool
BY JOHN JODZIO
There’s a sign that says no chicken fighting in the infinity pool but here we are, Lisa on Jeremy’s shoulders, Lucy on mine. This morning when our flight touched down in Jamaica, Lucy and I were probably going to divorce but then we did some coke and fucked against a Bob Marley mural and now the sky looks like it is made of water and our love feels like it is made of steel and we’re drunk on strawberry margs and even though Lucy’s knees are cinched around my ears and her laughter is muffled, it still echoes through my muscle and bone like a lover’s laughter should.
We’ve won six times in a row and Lucy grabs Lisa’s arm and yanks her off Jeremy’s shoulders into the pool to make it seven. Lucy hasn’t fallen into the water in so long her braids are nearly dry. Jeremy swims over to the side of the pool and slaps down a hundred-dollar bill.
“Let’s make things more interesting,” he says.
I met Jeremy in college. A couple of times every semester he’d disappear to Foxwoods and play blackjack for an entire weekend. Sometimes he’d win, but usually he’d return flat broke and beg me for some ramen packets so he wouldn’t starve.
I look at the hundred bucks and think about earlier today when I asked Jeremy to chip in for the coke, he told me he was house poor, that his mortgage was kicking his ass.
“You’re on,” I tell him now, digging out the emergency hundred-dollar bill I always keep tucked underneath my balls.
Before Lucy and I left for Jamaica, my court-ordered therapist told me to look into people’s eyes and think I like you even though I may not like that person at all. My therapist said if I kept staring at people and thinking I like you, I like you, over and over, any anger I have would leave my body. My therapist said eye liking would help me come to grips with the fact that we’re all trudging through this life in our peculiar and mystifying ways and the way I have chosen is not necessarily the best way and that other people’s ways aren’t necessarily shitty ways. My court-ordered therapist said that if I kept eye liking everyone in my life, everything would go better for me and I’d probably get to stop seeing a court-ordered therapist.
The reason I have a court-ordered therapist is after a customer didn’t pay me for some consulting work I did I went to his office and yanked a ceremonial sword off his wall and tried to chop his desk in half. I didn’t get very far because the desk was made of solid oak and ceremonial swords are dull as fuck.
Eye liking didn’t work particularly well when I was stateside, but it seems to work great here. When the hotel screwed up our room reservation, I eye liked the concierge and got us an upgrade to a suite. When the bartender short poured my margarita I eye liked him and he grabbed the tequila and topped me off.
“I can tell you’re a decent guy,” he said.
“Damn right,” I said.
After we make the bet, Lucy and I lose the next three fights. It’s like Lisa and Jeremy have suddenly been granted superhuman strength and incredible balance and Lucy and I have been roofied. I went double or nothing each time we lost and suddenly we’re down $400 and I’m super pissed because now I’m going to be on the hook for both Jeremy’s cocaine and his dumbass jumbo mortgage.
“Were you fucking sandbagging us?” I ask.
“Just a run of luck,” Lisa says. “Ours was bound to turn at some point.”
“Absolutely,” Jeremy says. “Things are simply regressing toward the mean.”
I look over at Lucy and she’s giving me that calm-down motion with her hands that always gets me more riled up. I gulp down my margarita, motion to the bartender for another one.
“Sunk cost,” she tells me. “Let’s move on.”
Lucy and I stare out at the ocean. The sun is going down and the sky is streaked with umbers and ochres. In this light, all the dumb things I’ve ever done and said have not been forgotten but are probably harder to remember. The bright blue water of the pool and the bright blue water of the ocean look like they have mixed together and that they stretch on forever.
“One last time?” I ask.
“Christ,” Lucy says. “Okay.”
Lisa climbs on Jeremy’s shoulders, Lucy climbs on mine. We circle each other until Jeremy bull rushes us. Lisa tries to grab Lucy’s arm but I sidestep them and kick out Jeremy’s knee. He crumples into the water and drags Lisa with him. I eye like both of them when they surface but Jeremy slaps the water and yells, “Fuck!” He chucks his margarita at a terra cotta pot.
I move away from him, across the pool. Soon one of the managers is yelling at us.
Madame, he says to Lucy, please get down. Sir, he tells me, you are violating the rules of the infinity pool.
We comply without trouble or strife. We dry ourselves off and Lucy hooks her arm through mine and we head back to our hotel room to save our marriage by snorting some more coke and screwing until we are raw.
John Jodzio’s work has been featured in a variety of places, including This American Life, McSweeney’s, and One Story. He’s the author of the short story collections, Knockout, Get in If You Want to Live, and If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home. He lives in Minneapolis.
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