THURSDAY: Swim Good

BY MILES WHITE

Copyright is held by the author.

THE PARTY was rocking at nine and might run until nine the next morning. It was a tough campaign but they were winning by a large enough margin that they would be able to call the shots on major platform issues at the convention. Everybody thought Jack could go all the way, that the nomination was virtually his. Tonight was about releasing some of the stress from the daily circus. Jack’s philosophy was: Sometimes you just need to blow it out. He gave them a night like this whenever he thought they needed one and let them party full out. He had no compunctions about jumping in himself. Jack was an old school party boy from back in the day.

Booze flowed like water. Jack had taken to chopping the corks off bottles of Brut with a sword that belonged to one of Custer’s soldiers at Little Big Horn. He had things like that lying all around his cabin. An old pair of glasses once worn by Gandhi sat on a mantel. Such wonders amazed guests at the parties he threw for his campaign team, but tonight he was amazed, because he had never before seen the statuesque bronze beauty in red lipstick and pink pumps he spotted across the room. He had not been able to take his eyes off her all night. He asked around and learned she was a lawyer helping to draft campaign positions on national security policy and would soon be briefing him. She might be a good pick for National Security Adviser. Jack, always susceptible to flirtation, hardly noticed the cabin filled tonight with bright young women throwing themselves at him like candy wrappers. He surreptitiously kept his eyes transfixed to the abundant endowments God had bequeathed to a woman named Jada. When he saw her calling a cab just past around four, he wouldn’t hear of it. He would drive her himself, even if it meant leaving his own party. No, you shouldn’t, she protested. Really, you don’t have to. He insisted. It’s the least I can do for the fine work you’ve been doing for the campaign. Please.

They both dropped pretenses once they got into his car. A little drunk, she held his head in her hands and probed his mouth with her tongue. He slipped his hands underneath her dress, caressing her breasts and bare behind. They fumbled around in the dark car for a few minutes but decided they’d better leave. They could go to her place. He headed the Lincoln hard down the gravel road that wound around the island towards the bridge. She slipped up her dress and sat on his lap, giggling like a schoolgirl. Jack held the wheel with one hand and used the other to unzip himself. Jada was feverish, and in the dark, she misjudged things. She put the full weight of herself down on him before he was ready. He screamed in agony and pushed her off him as his foot slammed the accelerator to the floor. He lost control of the Lincoln. The car swerved wildly to the right and flipped over, lunging through the darkness and exploding into the frigid lake.

As the car sank into the black water, Jack beat frantically on the driver’s side window and pushed at the door. Jada panicked and grabbed his jacket. Get off! he snarled. He elbowed her in the face, sending her flying across the car, but the blow and the cold water sobered her up. Jack finally broke the window with his feet. Letting the water flow in and settle around him, he slowly pushed himself out. He felt Jada’s hand grip his leg. He lashed out wildly with his foot, hitting her until he felt her hand drop. He kicked through the blackness towards the surface. He popped up a few seconds later, desperately gasping for air. Jack looked around trying to make out the road. There was no movement in the water. He leaned over and stroked. It took a few minutes for him to reach shore; he lay there exhausted. He had to clear his head and decide what to tell everybody. There had been an accident. He had tried to save Jada but couldn’t get her out of the car. They’d believe him. He staggered to his feet and started hiking towards the cabin. Jada stayed quiet in the icy water until he had vanished up the dark road. Then she began to swim.

5 comments

  1. JAN

    Miles,
    This story, like your last one, is based on real events. That bring the case, it comes across as reporting. I think you should step outside the reality box and use your talent to write something more original.

  2. Miles

    Dear Jan, Thank you for your comment. Please let me respond.
    Most of the stories I write are indeed based on original ideas. A few however, are based on real events that I interpret in order to add a twist to the story we know. I love doing this. However, both my stories published here were not simply retelling — in which case they would only be historical fiction, a recognized literary genre — but I am making up speculative elements I could not have known, leaving the broad outlines of the story in tact, so that the story we know now tells a “different” story. Therefore, to read the stories as simply “reporting” is to overlook the imaginative twist I give to the known story to produce a new story, one that perhaps offers insights about the story we know that cannot be known simply by the facts we have. This is a strategy of any writer or movie director working with historical fact.

  3. JAN

    Sorry Miles, but I didn’t find your “imaginative twists” all that imaginative.
    Of course, writers and producers can take any event, current or historical, and see it through their own lens. But the wider the field the more the truth is in jeopardy.

  4. Miles

    Dear Jan,
    I thought that to tell You Were on My Mind That Day from the perspective of someone whose voice you heard but who you learn had perished that day, told a story that could not have been told without that unsettling device; no jumpers got interviewed. If the passenger in the Kennedy car had shown up alive the next day, a political dynasty would have ended then and there, so having the passenger live is a consequential device as well. I’m sorry you don’t see these as the literary improvisations they are, where you start with the same material but try to get to a different ending.

  5. JAN

    Dear Miles,
    Really, what is the point..? Why change the ending to a real life tragedy with a simple sentence and just leave it hanging there? If your going to use literary improvisations — follow through.

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