From By the Bath House

An excerpt


The whitecaps rolled and curled to crash skywards off the breakwater. Looking up the shore in the other direction, you could see the Castrol GTX sign flashing green, white, red, 6:30, 15 degrees Cº, just as it had always done. When you came for mood walks on fall afternoons and summer evenings, when you made love in those pungent alcoves, the taste of beer, someone vomiting off the lifeguard tower and now with Eddy, the sign kept flashing. Underneath it, the streetcars rolled past the Edgewater Hotel. You could hear the hollow metallic rush of their wheels, the day’s first factory workers impaled on their seats.

Castrol GTX . . . green . . . white . . . red . . . it is seven o’clock . . . it’s 14.7 degrees Cº.

“Eddy? ”

“Hunh? ”

“They say that every seven years things change. Do you think that’s true? ”

“Maybe.” Eddy sunk his head deeper into the blanket and ran his hand up her thigh.

Janice looked back out at the lake. Whitecaps rolled and curled against the breakwater, shattering into foamy globules. Seagulls leapt upwards to bob and hover, bob and hover. Shadows slipped out of the Edgewater Hotel to be absorbed by rolling wheels while, above, Castrol GTX time clicked to degrees centigrade. Every seven years. She ran her hand up from the bronzed base of Eddy’s back, between the broad blades of shoulders and beneath gilded curls to the band of his neck. She squeezed, thumb and forefinger over a pulsating jugular.

But then thumb and forefinger sprang away and her hand hung lifeless over the prone figure. Eddy stirred, moaned, and fell asleep again. Janice turned away, drawing her knees to her chin. There was an empty bottle on the blanket next to her. An involuntary spasm sent hand to bottle and girl to feet. And then she was whirling in the sand with a spinning weight of glass in orbit. The bottle, shining and clear, grew weightless and took flight. It smashed against one of the bath house columns and tinkled onto the urine-y sand at its base.

Jan stood motionless, letting the wind send wisps of her hair askew and listening to the seagulls crying, the foam globules crashing. After a few moments, she sat down on the blanket again and put Eddy’s hand back on her thigh. She sat like that for a very long time.