Thursday, May 24, 2007

Unethical (a short story)

(I didn't have a blog in 1999, so the story you see below never got the audience it deserved before today. I was told by someone close to me that the story is "kind of creepy." You be the judge.)


This isn’t ethical. We are swimming in someone else’s pool and it is three in the morning and we don’t even live in this town. This isn’t ethical. This is criminal, Marnie, this is criminal. We are naked in someone else’s pool and it’s three AM and we are frolicking and the people who live in the house are sleeping and they’re thinking that everything is okay outside, that everything is alright with their yard and their gate and their pool and ooh that feels good, Marnie, that feels good.

But like I was saying, this isn’t ethical. This is juvenile and we are adults. If you combine our ages, we are all of fifty and we have too many years on this earth to be behaving in such an odd and reckless manner. We have mothers and fathers and our mothers and fathers have houses like this one, just like this one with a yard and a pool and a gate and we wouldn’t want them to be violated like this, to be vituperated upon with such a sense of youthful entitlement and we aren’t even all that youthful, you and I. We are almost our parents’ age when they had babies like us. We have to be responsible, Marnie. We have to be good.

Like I was saying when we drove here, over the mountain pass with the stereo playing the music of our teenage years, we should only do something like this only if we know that the people aren’t home, like if it was clear that they were on vacation or at work or something. As it is, if one of them – and all it takes is one – wakes up from a bad dream or has to go the bathroom in the middle of the night – just like you have to do Marnie, every night at about 3:30 – then we’re in trouble. The lights back here are bright and that’s their bedroom window up there and all they have to do is have a reason to look outside and think to themselves the sleepy thought that something is different and they will see us, strangers, naked strangers at that, out here flouncing and prancing around like children. They’ll know that we bypassed their gate and ran through their yard, stepping on their flowers, like you (accidentally I know) did and they may have guns. This is the suburbs, Marnie. They may have guns

And I just don’t feel right. I have a respect for property not to mention a respect for property owners with guns who have been stirred awake by the youth of a generation that they are not a part of, I mean you can just tell these people are older than us, our parents’ age, you can tell it by the curtains and the garden and the cars out front. Remember the cars out front? In the driveway? There were two of them and it was a two-car garage, so even if they store things in there, even if we allow for storage space, there’s got to be one car in the garage. That’s how people live out here. So figure they have three cars. That means at least three people of driving age in the house, in addition to any people who are not of driving age. But there’s at least one older child – a teenager I’d guess, or maybe someone close to our age. That’s at least three people we have to be concerned about waking up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.!At least three people who could all be having bad dreams right now – entwined bad dreams – that they will wake up from, screaming, waking not only the dreamer but the rest of the household as well. Did you think of that, Marnie? And come to think of it, that other window, that’s got to be a separate bedroom. Too much space between that pair of windows compared to the other pair of windows. That’s got to be the kid’s room. It’s a blue curtain. Probably a boy, a teenage boy. And having been a teenage boy I can tell you with confidence Marnie that he doesn’t sleep all the way through the night. Especially if he’s just hit puberty, which is possible. If his parents waited before they had kids, you know broke with tradition and waited until they were in their thirties. And that breaking with tradition, that’s to be expected here. Even if it’s the suburbs. I mean, this is California and I know you’re not from here like me, but they do things like that. Have kids late. And if he is going through puberty, he has to wake up a couple of times in the night and masturbate. That’s just the way it is, Marnie, that’s how thirteen year old boys are. And yeah I guess a masturbating suburban teenager wouldn’t be too upset if he saw your pretty body glistening naked in his pool. Unless he’s gay. In which case, he wouldn’t mind seeing my pretty body glistening naked in his pool. But that’s not the point. The point, Marnie, is that this is very much not ethical. Guns. The suburbs.

So let’s go, oh no don’t do that, let’s just go. Aren’t you getting cold? Sleepy? I am. Cold and sleepy, cold and sleepy. What’s that noise? Just a bird, probably. But that bird or any other bird – and birds are essentially infinite on this earth, at least for our purposes – that bird could make enough noise to wake the whole family up, all three or more of them, even the masturbating teenager. Birds can break through sexual fantasies, if they’re loud enough. So that’s another variable. And what if they have a cat? I mean, I know they don’t have a dog. I grew up with a dog yard and this isn’t a dog yard. But a cat? They could easily have a cat. And it’s May, the traditional mating season for cats here in California. The cat could be sitting at an open window right now, just lingering on the sill, waiting for a cat of the opposite sex to appear on the outside, through the screen that separates their love and then the howling will wake up the whole neighborhood, not just Mom and Dad and the kid, but the neighbors, one of whom could easily be a cop. Cops live out here, in the suburbs. They like the contrast between places like this and the cities they tend to work in, the cops. I don’t think this is a cop’s house though. I grew up near cop houses and they don’t have gardens like this one. They have pools, yes, but not gardens like this one. Cop wives, they tend not to be the gardening types. They like to live on the edge and drink a lot, to compete with their husbands. They don’t want to feel all safe at home, so if they do have a garden, it’ll be a more functional one, with vegetables one would eat. Like tomatoes. And cop yards tend to be more cluttered, not like this one. Cop yards have Big Wheels and softballs and unclean barbecues. This barbecue, it’s immaculate.

But I can tell you this, Marnie: If this was a cop house, you know he’d have a gun. But cop or not, gun or not, this just isn’t ethical. Yes, it’s fun and yes we’re not that old and maybe we should have some reckless fun like this before it all changes, before we have kids and a house like this one. Not too much like this one. Okay, nothing like this one. I don’t need a pool. Apartment living is fine too. But what if they were to wake up? One of them, all of them, it doesn’t matter. All their windows face out here. What’s that screaming? Someone’s up. Never mind. Yes, of course I still love you, why would that change?

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