FROM THE ARCHIVES: Nobody Like You

by Jeff Landon Read author interview May 28, 2018

By the pool we peel off our clothes—not all of them, though, just down to our underpants. I am trying very hard to not stare at Angie’s white panties or her Black Bra. I’m wearing boxers. Clean blue boxers, just washed, not ratty.

We stand on the edge of the pool. Angie rocks on the balls of her feet, getting ready. We meander over to the twin diving boards—one for Angie, one for me—and now we’re standing on the edge of these boards in our underpants. At the count of three, we jump. In mid-air, we turn our bodies into cannonballs and slam into the water at the same time.

It’s cold enough to hurt my teeth. In the deep end, treading water, Angie pulls me closer. To keep out intruders, the pool has a limited security system. Under the high dive, they’ve installed a searchlight—it’s about the size of a medicine ball—and it swivels slowly around the pool. It never stops, but it’s easy to fool. While the searchlight does a slow sweep of the pool—the hard plastic chairs, the red-and-white canopy over the snack bar window, the tennis courts—Angie and I float on our backs until the light edges closer to us. When that happens, when the light curtains the water beside us, we duck underwater and swim to a darker place. There’s a security guard somewhere out here, but he’s about five hundred years old and prone to all-night poker games.

Angie and I float on our backs. It’s late, and almost everyone in Arcadia Springs is sleeping. Almost all the houses around the pool are dark and small and brick. Streetlights flare through the pine trees and the moon is almost full. I don’t know what I ever did to deserve this night, or any of this time with Angie, but I’m grateful for it, this moment when we’re kissing each other in the country club pool in our underpants.

In the new quiet we listen to the tree frogs and crickets, a summer wind. I whiff the fried onions on Angie’s breath, but it’s not really a bad smell. You can get used to almost anything if you don’t think about it all the time.

I would very much like to spend the rest of life just like this, but we can hear someone, some footsteps in the near distance, getting closer. We rush out of the pool, grab our clothes, and gather under the snack bar, under the striped canopy. One problem: we don’t have towels. We stand there, soaking, holding each other close, shivering. Thunder rumbles behind the low mountains. We can smell rain in the air—it’s getting closer. Cars zoom by on the highway, going too fast. We listen for the footsteps, but they’ve disappeared. We hold each other, nearly naked and shivering, and we don’t talk at all until I say, “Dang, Angie—look at you.”

About the Author:

Jeff Landon has been published in numerous places, print and online, including Crazyhorse, Wigleaf, FRiGG, Another Chicago Magazine, F(r)iction, and others. He is also a contributor to New Micro, an anthology of flash fiction published by W.W. Norton in 2018. Lately, he's been doing some chair yoga.

About the Artist:

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.