The Ballad Of Hank The Tank, Part 3Serge Bielanko
For like twenty-three bucks, we got the kids this inflatable swimming pool from the swimming pool aisle at Walmart.
Summer pleasure is now ours for the taking.
And although Violet is old enough at three to realize the in’s and out’s of some very basic/general pool etiquette: no throwing knives, no fireworks in the pool, no eating in there…that sort of thing, Henry is a very different story.
The first afternoon we bought the thing, I was back there in the yard trying to inflate it with some old electric air pump I had found in the garage/ basement of one of the 86 different houses we have rented over the past few years. It’s a plastic crappy pump probably sold in Brookstone or something in the late 1970’s, a ‘specialty gift’ aimed at the gentleman with everything, a little something for blowing the ash off of the end of his lit cigarette so he doesn’t have to twitch his finger.
So, I’m trying to convince some air to live inside the flappy plastic pool when I creep a look out of the corner of my eye at some movement.
He’s totally nude.
And he’s circling my workspace with some sort of weird agenda, I can smell it. I can tell by the way he’s moving, slowly, deliberately, not just bashing his way through the early afternoon like he usually does. I clock his activity and see that he’s following some meandering trail he has conjured up in his brain, looping me in lazy wide ovals that cut easy through the grass.
Hmph. What’s that? He’s got something in his mitts, something low, tucked down near his side.
I doubt it, but it is Henry and he does seem to have close connections with someone or something from the Dark Side that I don’t quite understand.
Anyway, I get distracted and I’m kicking the pool around a little, trying to get the air to go in, which, against all odds, it does after a while. So after about 20 minutes of air wrestling, I start on filling her up with water from the hose. This also seems to take an eternity and after about fifteen minutes of that, when I see that all that I’ve got is like maybe two inches of water in the pool, I’m beginning to wonder what the hell I’m going to do if a lot of bugs and stuff get in there.
Is a pool like this supposed to get a new dose of water every day or so? I sure hope not. The very thought of this starts me panicking a little. In my mind, I saw myself filling up the pool with six or seven inches of cool clean June hose water and then tipping it over to drain and dry her out sometime around the end of September, when the nights begin to get brisk and summer fades away.
But now, I’m blindsided by this new idea I’ve stumbled upon. There’s no freaking way that these kids are going to keep this pool clean, huh? And between the Kamikaze bugs and the kids and their messes matted to their bodies, pancake syrup layered under dog hair on their arms/ melted congealed Fruit Roll-Up cemented to boogers and cracker crumbs on their legs, I suddenly realize that I’m going to be out here every week changing this gross water, aren’t I?
This is the carnival of thinking going on behind my skull at the precise moment that the hose head is bobbing around down there under my seven inches of clear aqua when I notice Henry again.
This time he’s coming in hard.
His face is the face of the bravest kind of warrior, all wind in his eyes/hell-bent grin exploding out of his ruddy cheeks, as he blasts across the green backyard, his circling my wagons thing all busted up now, his teeny pecker flapping about like the distant battle flag of the hardest-charging army to ever cross these plains.
I want him going into the pool to be a special event. I pictured it being graceful and elegant, me lifting him in, him giggling with love and adoration. It was supposed to be a summer memory for the ages.
“Henry! Stop! Waiiiiiiiiit!” I holler at him, but it’s useless.
He’s bound for glory. The kid is on the move.
In the final seconds of his approach, as he slips away from my reach, I notice that he is still holding fast to the thing in his fist.
It hits me all at once.
“Henry! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!,” my voice Doppler-Effects up on to the mountain side until it’s just another faint echo of human silliness tickling the ears of a hundred deers.
Then, in perfect slow-motion, I watch as Henry slams into the bouncy outer wall of the pool and flips himself over it and into the water, the huge wad of fresh country dirt in his hand touching down into the quiet artificial sea at the very same moment that his young body lands in a fit of laughter.
The dirt swirls in a gorgeous array at first, slow chocolate tornadoes rising from the clean white fields, dancing in and out of the cackling laughter pouring out of my son.
And I just stand there and watch as a perfect summer kicks in to it’s perfect opening song.
You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.
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