Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: "Splash" 4-11-13 Deadline (04/04/13)
TITLE: The Rug
By Ann Menschel
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Waves of heat shimmered above the concrete surrounding the hotel pool. Drew lay on a lounge chair broiling in the Florida sun. He adjusted his mirrored sunglasses and ran his hand down the back of his head – waiting, preening, wishing he had applied sunscreen before beginning his vigil.
The crowd had thinned as the afternoon progressed. Squealing little girls and teasing bigger boys were retrieved by harried parents. A couple college girls swam a few laps, dried in the sun and hurried off to their next adventure. Two old men sat beneath the shelter of an umbrella, playing cards at the table beside him, while waiting for their wives to return from shopping.
“Oh boy, Charlie, get a load of this,” said one old guy, folding his cards and laying them on the table.
“Now that’s a sight for sore eyes,” replied the other. He turned in his chair and ogled, making no attempt to mask his interest.
“Huh. I’ve seen better.”
“In your dreams, maybe. Those are some well preserved specimens.”
As Drew casually looked across the pool, three very attractive ladies settled into chairs, sipping sweet tea and chatting flamboyantly. Finally, the wait was over.
Upon arrival at the hotel earlier in the day, Drew had noticed a sign in the lobby welcoming former Miss America contestants to their 15th reunion. His afternoon plan to visit antique shops was quickly replaced by a vigil at the pool. Slowly recovering from a nasty divorce, this seemed a great opportunity to test his ability to attract the ladies. No one knew him here. What did he have to lose? What was the worst that could happen?
Nonchalantly he rose from his lounge chair, removed his sunglasses and strolled toward the diving board. He stretched his five feet six inch frame to its full height, sucking in his little pooch, causing his chest to expand. One hundred twenty eight pounds of middle-aged manliness climbed onto the board. Unconsciously his hand slid down the back of his head, straightening his hair, followed by a quick flick to each side of his moustache. The three gorgeous women momentarily glanced his direction before resuming their animated conversation.
Undaunted, Drew walked to the end of the board and bounced twice. The board cooperated by screeching with each bounce, once again drawing the attention of the ladies. Two more quick bounces and a spring into the air launched Drew into a respectable dive. As his body broke the surface, water splashed onto the ladies. Now he had their complete attention.
Drew swam under water to the far end of the pool. Pleased with his dive, he surfaced, slung his arms over the edge of the pool and looked over at the ladies. Expecting an appreciative audience, he was surprised to see them gathered along the edge of the pool, peering intently into the water. He stood up to get a better view. A black blob floated on the surface.
By habit his hand went to the back of his head to stroke his hair. He stopped in mid-motion. Raising his hand a little higher, he touched the top of his head. A low groan emanated from deep within. He slowly sank into the water hoping to drown out the laughter of the ladies as they scooped his toupee from the pool with a net.
Stripped of his dignity, a failure in his first attempt to get back into the hunt for companionship, he dog paddled over to the side of the pool.
“I think this must belong to you, darlin’,” drawled one of the Beauty Queens.
Without an upward glance or a word spoken, he reached into the net and retrieved his hair piece. He swam to the other side of the pool and pulled himself out, picked up his sunglasses and began the long walk to his room.
As he passed the two old men still sheltered under their umbrella, they paused in their card playing to grin at him.
“Now that puts a new spin on having the rug pulled out from under you, don’t it, Charlie?”
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