Mike was a simple man of simple tastes. As a pool man, he had the freedom to set his own schedule, and the freedom to do what he would with his spare time. He worked less than twenty hours a week and earned as much as an office worker did every month. True, the job was labor intensive and hot, but in South Texas there were always pools that needed upkeep, so he always had twenty or thirty pools he took care of for a nominal fee.
Pulling up the gravel driveway to an older house, he checked his clipboard to make certain he had the right address, double checking as he didn’t see any of the usual signs that there was a pool around. Shrugging, he got out of his truck and walked around the back, getting his pool net and a few tablets of chlorine, before heading to the back gate. The lady who’d called in about this pool had said she didn’t have any dogs, but just to be safe he knocked his metal pole against the steel gate a few times.
No angry barking came from the backward, so he lifted the latch keeping the backyard closed, smiling in the summer sun as he did so. Once he rounded the corner of the large manor home, he was able to see the pool, a three-tiered construction with two raised platforms that acted as hot tubs and poured into the pool itself, a pump pulling water up into the highest tube from the pool, thus making a circular process that required very little upkeep.
Heading behind a small fence to where the pumps were, Mike checked over the equipment to make sure it was all in fine condition before turning it off. Walking back around, he got his first glance at the pool; it was a mire of algae and rot, flies buzzing over it as moss grew along the sides. It had clearly not been taken care of for a number of years, leading to a state of decay that would most likely force him to drain the pool and do a complete acid wash of the plaster itself. Heaving a sigh, he walked over and set his equipment on a dust covered chair before pulling out a cell phone.
Dialing the number of the lady who’d originally contacted him, he waiting for her to pick up. She did on the third ring.
“Hello?” A watery voice sounded from the other end.
“Yeah, Mrs. Lovelady? This is Mike, the pool man?”
“Oh yes dearie, how are you?” She replied, her smile obvious through the phone.
“I’m doing well. Listen, your pool is a complete wreck, and it’s going to take me a lot longer than I previously quoted to you to clean. This is a five-day job at best.”
“Oh dear… I knew it was bad, but is it really that horrid?”
“I’m afraid so. I can still do it, but a complete restoration like this is going to cost around twelve hundred dollars. Is that okay?”
“I can afford that, and I understand that it will be pricey, but I must have that pool cleaned as soon as possible.”
“Well like I said, I can have it clean in five days. I don’t think it’ll be too big a challenge, just a time consuming one.”
Mike paused as he saw the surface of the mossy water undulate, forcing him to look closer at the water. Still talking into the phone, he walked a little closer to the edge, pool net in hand. “I’ll get started today and you can pay me after the work is completed.”
“That sounds fine dearie, I’ll just leave a check for you under the back patio’s floor mats.” Mrs. Lovelady said cheerfully. “Is there anything else I can do to help you?”
“No, that’ll be it ma’am.”
“Well take care of yourself now, try and stay out of the heat as much as you can.”
Mike laughed. “I’ll try Mrs. Lovelady, I’ll try.”
“Goodbye Mike,” she said before hanging up.
Mike looked at the phone, shaking his head as he tucked it into his back pocket again. Taking a firm grip of the pool pole, he dipped the net into the water and pulled it along the surface of the water, dredging moss and algae long undisturbed from the top, revealing the murky water below.
Pulling the net full of gunk out of the pool, he emptied it out onto the lawn before dipping it once again in the water. For around twenty minutes he cleared the surface of the pool, and the two hot tubs, of the gathered algae and moss that had built up from years of neglect. By the time he was done, the pool was looking far more tolerable now, just murky.
Walking over to the skimmer baskets, he opened one up and pulled the basket up from the pool, emptying out the muck-ridden contents before dropping in four chlorine tabs into it, plopping the basket back in its hole afterward with nary a glance. The second skimmer basket proved to be more difficult, as it seemed that it was stuck to a long branch that was floating in the water.
Getting down onto his hands and knees, he reached out, bicep deep into the cold water fishing for the branch. Grabbing hold of the slimy thing, he tugged on it once to try and free it from the skimmer basket. It didn’t budge, but he did feel something puffy bump into him from deeper in the water. Looking down, he saw two glimmering golden orbs looking up from the darkened waters, before a long maw clamped down on his arm, pulling him into the pool.
Struggling to stay afloat, despite the beasts wishes, Mike paddled to the shallow end of the pool as best he could, but it was no use. The beast had him by the arm and was dragging him deep into the brackish waters, spinning with him in its cavernous maw to further disorient him. Mike screamed for help, but all that came out were bubbles.
Later that day, Mrs. Lovelady stopped by the manor and, with the help of her son, drove the pool man’s truck away. She looked through the yellow pages the next day, and found another pool company. Calling them up, she smiled into the phone.
“Yes, I’d like to hire a pool cleaner to come to my home, to clean the pool. Oh, next week sometime would be perfect, the weather should be much cooler by then. Should I just call back then or make the appointment now?”