The Martins lived two doors down from us, and they had a pool in their backyard. They didn’t have any children but Tom and Hillary (they told us to call them by their first names) would open up their fence on the weekends and let all the kids on our block come and swim. There weren’t that many of us: just me and my little brother Casey; Lucas, Christine, and Erin who all had bright red hair, the twins Amy and Heidi from by the bus stop, and Mark, my very best friend who lived next door. Hillary made awesome lemonade and we’d swim and have splashing fights and play chicken for hours.
At the end of the school year Tom and Hillary said they had to move. They were putting stuff in boxes already, but they were going to throw one last party for the neighborhood, to say goodbye and to introduce us to the new people who would be moving in.
Mark and I began making plans for an all day water extravaganza as we walked to the Martin house after lunch. There was going to be some swimming, and then a big splash fight. We’d get the noodles and just float for a while; then play water tag and practice diving. We ran ahead of Mom to go straight for the water, but Tom stopped us just inside the fence.
“Slow down there fellas. I want to introduce you to Mr. and Mrs. Winters who are going to be moving in next week.”
I nodded hello while Mark stuck out his hand. Mr. Winters reached down to shake his hand like he was a little scared and Mark busted out with THE question that had been in every neighborhood kid’s brain ever since we had heard about the move. “So,” he said as casually as he could, “what do you think about us coming over to use the pool sometimes in the summer?” Mr. Winters let go of Mark’s hand and looked at his wife; Mrs. Winters shook her head. She said, “We’ll have one big pool party in the summer for the whole neighborhood of course, but otherwise we’re very private people. And there are insurance issues so it’s difficult. I’m sure you boys understand.” She smiled at us and patted me on the head as she went by to say hello to my mom.
We stood there shell-shocked as the adults moved away. Finally we went for the pool with Mark cannonballing in to splash Heidi and Erin perfectly. I followed him with a crooked dive.
“Insurance issues and privacy, that’s stupid,” Mark said, holding on to the other side of the pool.
“Yeah, it’s not like they need the whole pool for just the two of them.”
“I bet they won’t even swim every day. People like that shouldn’t be allowed to have a pool.” Mark held his nose and went under, he had been practicing to hold his breath for a long time. When he came up he wiped his hair back and said, “Maybe we can get them back.
“I don’t know, I’ll come up with something.” With that Mark swam away to try and dunk Lucas.
We played all afternoon. Amy cried once, and my younger brother swallowed some water and got sick a little. It was fun. The snacks got put away because dinner was cooking, and I knew the pool was almost over. It was the rule at Tom and Hillary’s that after dinner the pool was closed. I was getting all depressed when Mark slapped me on the back and told me to follow him
All of the neighborhood kids were floating or sitting at the deep end of the pool, and Mark outlined his plan to get the Winters. It was simple, and genius.
“I talked to Tom and he agreed that after dinner the kids could have one more race across the pool before we have to get out. So, everyone needs to race.”
Christine had a grumpy face. “I don’t swim fast enough, I never win.”
“It’s not about winning the race. It’s just an excuse for all of us to get back in the pool.”
“We’ll only get the pool for five more minutes, what good is that?” Lucas asked.
“Because, starting now, no one should go pee. Drink lots and lots of lemonade and soda and water. Then, when we get back into the pool…” Mark held out his hands like he had finished a magic trick.
“We’re not ever supposed to pee in the pool,” whispered Erin. “We’ll get into trouble.”
“Besides isn’t that a really mean thing to do to Tom and Hillary?” asked Amy.
“It won’t be Tom and Hillary’s pool anymore, it belongs to the Winters and they’re never going to let us play anyway. Is everyone in?”
Everybody nodded or said yes.
In the next hour I had three glasses of lemonade. I saw Heidi, Amy, and Erin drink two cans of soda each. Lucas and Christine found a big bottle of juice and passed it back and forth until it was empty. Casey was drinking water out of the hose. Mark finished the pitcher of lemonade I had been drinking from, and then brought it back to Hillary.
“Is there any more lemonade? It is really good.”
“Of course there’s more lemonade. Let me just fill the pitcher up for you. Will you be able to carry it when it’s full?"
Mark nodded at Hillary, who went into the kitchen. Mrs. Winters brought back the pitcher, full to the top. “Mrs. Martin asked me to bring you this. Would you pass it around to the rest of the kids, she said this is the last of the lemonade.”
“No problem, Mrs. Winters. I’m happy to help.” Mark took the pitcher from Mrs. Winters, smiling at her the whole time. He carried the pitcher to the kids’ table just as dinner was starting. He poured lemonade for everybody. Casey leaned into me and whispered, “I really have to go, now.”
“Can you hold it until after we eat?”
“I don’t know.”
“You can play with my transformers at home if you can hold it.”
Dinner at the kids’ table was quiet and squirmy that night. We finished the last pitcher of lemonade but no one ate very much because everyone was concentrating on holding it. Mark went to tell Tom that we were finished and asked if we could have the race now.
Tom stood up. “We want to thank all of you for being such great neighbors, and especially all of you kids, for playing in our pool and having fun for the past few years. Let’s do one more race before we go!”
We all scrambled to the edge of the pool and lined up. Casey jumped up and down in place, and everyone was shifting their weight or leaning. I suppose we looked nervous about the race. Then Tom yelled start and we all jumped in. The race started slowly, but everyone got faster after the first little bit. Lucas won the race, but none of us cared. We had done it. We went to the front yard to play tag, and left the pool to the new neighbors.
****This is my entry for round 2 of week 23 of LJ Idol. I had to chose one of the two topics left and decided on "pass the ammunition". You'll be able to find the links to all 13 round two entries here as replies to the first comment, and with only 13 of us playing round two every entry promises to be a doozy. You should go read them all! If you do and let me know, I promise to not ever pee in your pool.****