by Scott Emerson Bull
"Damn heat," Jacob muttered, as overhead the sun bleached the sky, claiming
temporary victory in its immemorial battle with darkness. He leaned forward on
his chaise and lit a brown Turkish cigarette, an old addiction that refused to kill
him. He was too old to care. He'd stopped counting birthdays after fifty-nine and
was convinced that death kept him at arm's length just for spite. If God possessed
an ounce of mercy, he would have taken Jacob by now, but Jacob knew the Devil
had right of first refusal and evil's patience had no limit.
A screaming child shattered the surface of the pool. The kid's parent, a stooped
man with frazzled hair and dead eyes, hovered close as if expecting disaster. It's a
sin to bring kids into this world, Jacob thought. What future did they have
anymore? He spied one of the cabana boys and waved his empty scotch glass.
"And be quick about it," he told him. "The first three are wearing off."
In the pool, the splashing kid swallowed a mouthful of water and flailed away as if
drowning. The father grabbed the kid by the arm and pulled him to the steps,
ignoring the offered assistance from a middle-aged woman in a pink bathing cap
and matching sunglasses. The woman shrugged and continued her journey around
the pool, collapsing on the empty chaise next to Jacob in a muddle of paperbacks
"My Lord it's hot," she said, in perfect Middle American. "I wanted to escape the
cold, but this is ridiculous."
Jacob closed his eyes. Maybe if he ignored her.
"Looks like you're enjoying it though," she went on. "My ex used to go on about
global warming and I'd tell him he was nuts. Now look at the world. Is it true
what they said on the news? Did another polar ice cap break away?"
Yeah, lady, Jacob thought. The earth is melting and the days are getting hotter and
the nights blacker and it's all thanks to those wonderfully toxic gases we belch
into the air.
The woman continued unfazed. "I have a brother who lives on the Outer Banks
and they swear the beach is creeping up to their bungalow. What a world we live
You don't know the half of it, Jacob thought.