This was my entry for the semi-final round of NYC Midnight flash fiction comp. I was unhappy with so much about this story; I struggled with drama and the pool as a setting stumped me. In the end I got thinking about internet trolls, and how they have to be someone’s neighbour, and this in turn gave me a vision of Dave, lolling in the pool. My synopsis:
‘You may be offended by the sight of Fat Dave in the pool, but at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about it.’
Bella Vista Dave
In the centre of the Bella Vista complex was the pool area. From all four townhouses, residents could look down on this tropical oasis. From above, it was the picture of perfect symmetry. Around the outside were gardens of golden palms, birds of paradise flowers, and the pink and orange of fringed hibiscus flowers. Tasteful sandstone tiles lined the perimeter of the rectangular pool, framing the deep sapphire blue of the water.
But use of the pool had become the subject of a number of complaints from the residents, and the body corporate had decided to settle the matter by vote at the upcoming AGM. You see, at any time of the day or night, residents could look down and see the lolling figure of Dave on a Lilo in his tight shorts. Fat. Hairy. Often drunk. And they wanted it to stop.
Life was nearly perfect for Laura Randall, the resident at Number One. Her parents had bought her this townhouse, she had just been made assistant manager at Kara’s Kosmetics and she was certain Mike was going to propose to her any day now. She and Mike had spent most days in the pool last summer, but since Dave came and ruined the serenity, Mike had taken to surfing instead, and she was seeing less of him than she liked. When she looked down and saw Dave out there again, she swore under her breath and pursed her lips. She would definitely be voting to have him banned.
The resident at Number Two was Carlos. His son had left that year to study abroad, and Carlos often found himself sitting by the pool, contemplating life. But it seemed that no sooner had he sat down, Dave would come down and bomb into the water. They’d had some verbal confrontations early on, and Carlos worked to control his rage. Looking down at the prick, beer in hand, fat toes in the water, Carlos found himself fantasising about what he’d really like to do to Dave. Grab him by the throat. Hold him under the water a little too long. Feel the life drain out of his flabby body. But it had taken Carlos years to learn to control his anger and he wasn’t about to lose control on some pathetic slime ball loser in the pool area. Let the vote decide.
Elizabeth Perkins, resident at Number Three, had been the most vocal about Dave and his use of the pool. She had just retired from a long career as a school headmistress and was desperate for some rest and relaxation. Early on she had visited Dave at Number Four and implored him to give her some space. He’d given her a dumb confused grin and closed the door in her face. She tried to find out more about him, but there wasn’t much to know. He worked online from home, which was the reason he always seemed to be around. After she let her feelings be known, he made a point of coming down every time she tried to swim. And he started doing the same to all the other residents. It was Elizabeth who had petitioned the body corporate for a vote and she couldn’t wait for the outcome. If a majority agreed- and she knew they would- Dave would be restricted to using the pool between the hours of four and five PM.
But on the evening before the vote, all three residents received an unsolicited email. Sender unknown.
Laura sucked in her breath when she opened her inbox. Sitting there, at the top, was an email with a subject title that read ‘tinder slut’. She glanced around out of impulse, to make sure she was alone in the room. There was no written message in the body, but there were a series of dated photographs, showing Laura at a bar with an older man. Laura had kept her tinder habit alive a little too long after starting her relationship with Mike, and these photos were evidence that she had been unfaithful.
Carlos felt most lonely at night, and this had him more often going to his inbox, hoping for news from his son. When he saw the email with the subject line ‘manslaughter’ he thought there was some mistake. When he opened the message, he was shocked to see that it featured an image of a young Carlos in a mug shot, during a time in his life he had worked hard to put behind him, to forget. He’d gone to jail for manslaughter, served eighteen months for a stupid drunken fight, but had learnt his lesson. He had hoped his son would never find out. Carlos felt his pulse quicken and a tightening in his chest.
Elizabeth had always been proud of the way she maintained her double life. She prided herself on being dependable and professional in her working life, and for the way she concealed her private indulgences. When she checked her emails on the evening before the vote, she was shocked to see a message with the subject line ‘dear dominatrix’. Her back stiffened, and she leaned closer in to the screen before clicking it open. In the body of the message were a series of stills taken from what looked like CCTV footage at the underground club she frequented. Despite her half mask, one of the images was obviously her. She stood up and stumbled back from the screen.
At the body corporate meeting, the executive members were surprised to find that no-one had voted to restrict the resident at Number Four from using the pool. The matter was closed and they moved on to other agenda items.
From above, the swimming pool at Bella Vista was the picture of perfect symmetry, ringed by tropical gardens, the water a deep sapphire blue. On any given day, the residents could wave down at Dave, as he floated, legs spread on his Lilo, like some fleshy exotic flower.