“Dude! Are you still grounded?”
Shark opened his eyes from his restful state by the family pool to see his two friends from school, Newton Baker and Abel Bodey. The teenage boys were dressed in swim trunks. Newton plopped down in the pool recliner next to him.
“How’d you get back here?” Shark inquired.
“Dude, your mom let us in,” Abel grinned a little too broadly as he waved to Shark’s mother who lowered herself into a deck chair on the other side of the pool.
Shark grimaced. He was still grounded for his protesting stunt. Dennis had pried the truth out of his aunt after he had seen pictures in the paper. He had been less than pleased to see his son on the front page waving a picket sign, shirtless, in front of city hall. He had been lounging around the pool, sulking for the last few days, angry at his dad that he had been unable to see his girlfriend.
Silver had, for some unknown reason, taken pity on her son, although she had a tendency to go soft on her kids. Shark could usually weasel his way out of punishment on day three of an intended week-long grounding. Nonetheless, Silver had let his school friends into the house and they had discovered him by the pool.
“Dude! It’s so hot out here,” Abel complained, hopping up from his seat. “I’m gonna go grab us some colas or somethin’.”
“Yeah, no kiddin’. You’d think it was still Simgust and not almost Simvember,” Newton grunted.
“While you’re up… get me a popsicle from the freezer,” Shark demanded more than asked of his friend as he shifted in the seat.
He had been roasting outside for the past hour, and was in need of some refreshments.
“Hey does your grandma still keep her liquor out in the open?” Abel asked as he walked away.
“Yeah, why?” Shark rolled his eyes.
Everyone knew Marigold didn’t lock up her liquor cabinet. The bottles were out in the open for anyone who wanted any. Shark had never acquired a taste for alcohol and his sister was the last person in the world who would drink, so his grandma never needed to worry.
“Oh… just thinking a little rum’n’cola would hit the spot,” Abel grinned.
Abel returned after a few minutes, popsicles tucked under his armpits and colas in his hands. He didn’t bring any rum, to Shark’s relief. The last thing he wanted was for his dad to wake up and find him drinking while he was grounded. That would just make the grounding worse.
The boys chatted about the hot girls from school, making comments about their various appealing body parts. Everyone agreed Chase had the cutest ass. Shark wasn’t sure how comfortable he was with his friends talking about his girl so crudely, but he was dying for company on day four of his punishment so he let it slide.
Silver yawned and stretched loudly across the pool and proceeded to the diving board. Her skimpy silver weave bathing suit fringe danced back and forth. Shark averted his eyes, but his friends watched in fascination.
“Dude, you sure that’s your mom?” Newton chortled. “Or is that your step-mom?”
Abel snickered. Shark frowned.
“Yeah yeah…” he rolled his eyes.
“No, seriously, bro, your mom is wicked hot,” Newton said.
“She is a mighty fine woman,” Abel nodded in agreement.
Silver did a perfect dive into the water.
“Damn! She’s so sexy…” Abel was practically drooling.
Newton squeezed his eyes shut. “I can just picture her…” he trailed off. “Those thighs and all.”
“GAWD!” Shark shouted.”Shut up! Guys… that’s my mom.”
“Yeah, it’s a wonder such an ugly duckling like you popped out of that woman…” Abel laughed, standing up. “Your father is damn lucky to bang that one.”
“Shut up! Shut up!” Shark growled.
“I think I’ll go introduce myself. You know… I think she might be tired of your old dad…” Abel remarked cockily. “She might be ready for some younger meat.”
Shark leaped to his feet, ready to punch his friend’s lights out when suddenly all three boys were incredibly distracted.
As if Silver forgot the boys were there, she suddenly slipped out of her swim wear, standing on the edge of the diving board in all her naked glory.
She let out a loud whoop and completed another perfect dive into the swimming pool in her birthday suit. Shark gagged and doubled over in horror. He was mildly grateful that his friend Newton had the common decency to avert his eyes. Newton was all-talk, but no action.
Abel, on the other hand, was grinning from ear to ear and cheering on Shark’s mom as she bobbed back up from underwater, her naked breasts in full view. The boy clearly had no concept of the wild and drunken ways of Silver Racket.
Shark was cursed with an alcoholic, ex-showgirl-wannabe for a parent, and he was thoroughly disgusted. Since she had lost her job working for the city, Silver had been careless and carefree to an extreme. He was getting sick of her antics… literally. If he wasn’t so mortified, he would’ve gone over and screamed at his mom, calling her a whore, because she was acting like one. What mother skinny dipped in front of her teenage son and his friends?
“Oh gawd!” Abel moaned and closed his eyes, gripping his shorts. “I think I feel a boner coming on. Damn! Your mom is the hottest thing on the planet.”
Shark lost control and angrily shoved his supposed friend into the pool. Abel reemerged, laughing and wiping the water from his eyes.
“Hey man! If you didn’t want me to be your mom’s new lover and all, you should’ve just said so…” the boy smirked. “Although now that I’m in the pool… maybe Silver and I could make you a new little baby brother or something…”
“You’re disgusting,” Newton stuck out his tongue.
“I’ll kill you!” Shark screamed, scaring away some pigeons sitting on the nearby brick wall.
“Come on, man, let it go,” Newton grabbed Shark’s arm and tried to pull him away.
Shark had already jumped in the pool and was wrestling his friend. He had his arm around the other boy’s neck, keeping him in a chokehold. Abel flailed and coughed, elbowing Shark hard in the abdomen. Newton jumped in too, attempting to break up the fight.
Silver seemed to finally realize there were others in the vicinity and hopped out of the pool. To Shark’s relief, she put her swimsuit back on before flouncing into the house. Shark was mildly distracted, and Abel socked him in the jaw. He let out a loud yelp and pushed the other boy back under the water. Lolly came out to investigate after hearing the commotion and started screaming when she saw her brother choking his friend.
“I’ll… kill…you…” Shark said through gritted teeth as all three boys thrashed about in the water. “And then… I’m…going…to…go…kill… my…mom…”
It took Dennis jumping into the pool, in his sweat pants, no doubt, to break up the fight between the teenagers. Lolly, in a panic, had gone to find their father. Shark was somewhat relieved to see his dad, though he knew he was in more trouble now than he had ever been.
Once they were on dry land, Dennis walked over to comfort his daughter, who was crying. Shark rolled his eyes. Why was his sister so upset?
“Get out of here!” Shark yelled at Abel. “You’re dead to me. You hear? Dead… to… me…” he punctuated his words.
“Shark! That’s enough!” Dennis ordered, releasing his daughter from her side hug. “Go get some towels…” he told Lolly.
She nodded, bit her lip, trembling as she ran back into the house.
“Now what the hell is going on?” Dennis asked.
“You’re such a loser, Dennis!” Abel made an ‘l’ with his hand and placed it against his forehead. “If your wife ever wants a real man… tell her to call me…”
Dennis flushed red with anger, but unlike his son, he managed to control himself.
“I suggest you leave,” he said, icily.
“Get the hell out of here… you asshole!” Shark shrieked.
Abel cursed some more and walked out of the pool area, slamming the gate behind him.
“Dude…I’m…I’m…” Newton flubbed. “…sorry…” he looked down at his feet in embarrassment, grabbed his shoes from beneath the pool deck chair and followed the other boy out.
Shark didn’t realize how badly he was shaking until his sister returned with the towel. He yanked it from her hands and wrapped himself as he sat down angrily by the side of the pool. Lolly’s eyes widened and Shark looked up and managed to grunt a quick “thanks.” Dennis ran his hand through his hair as he sat next to his son, towel wrapped around his neck.
“What the hell happened here?” Dennis asked. “Why were they even here? You know you can’t have friends over when you’re grounded.”
“I didn’t invite them… Silver let them in…” Shark bit out, dangling a foot into the water.
“You shouldn’t call your mom by her first name.”
“Yeah? And you shouldn’t let your wife skinny dip in front of my horny friends.”
Dennis opened his mouth to speak but didn’t say anything. The Racket men sat side-by-side in a few moments of silence, the anger, the frustration, the pain, and shame hanging between them. Lolly came and sat next to them, dropping her legs in the water, and leaning against her dad’s muscular shoulder.
The trauma of everything that had happened lingered, punctuating the sticky Southern afternoon air like a shiv. Shark might as well have been shanked in prison. He could never show his face at school again. God knows what foul things Abel would be spewing all over the eleventh grade. Silver reappeared after a few minutes, fully clothed, much to everyone’s relief, drunkenly waving a margarita glass in one hand and her cell phone in the other.
“Who wants pizza?”