Undisturbed Pools

Insomnia was an ongoing problem. Brown got, maybe, on a good night, two or three hours of sleep. By long-standing arrangement he had access to the pool at all hours of the night. Floating there and listening to the 3 AM traffic soothed him. For hours he could stay like that, his mind a white and restful blank. On Friday there was another floater in the pool, down where the shadows gather over the deep end. No matter, as long as they were quiet.

The rising sun took him out of the pool. With the light filling the room, he could see the other person was floating facedown. “Hell, not again,” he sighed, and went to get the hotel detective.

“Best guess is he died about ten, eleven o’clock at night, after the pool’d closed. He was dead the entire time you were down here?” The police were dredging the pool, and skeptical. “And you didn’t notice?”

“Just glad he was quiet.” All the long vees of his face grew longer. He was hoping.

The detective grunted. “Well, early tox reports say he’s got a high concentration of barbiturates and alcohol in his blood. Don’t leave town, and stay where we can reach you, but it looks like suicide. We’ll know for sure after the autopsy.”

He kept himself quiet until after they’d gone, and told himself that this time he’d just stay in his room, catch up on his reading. During the midday movie he fugued. When he resurfaced, his hand was holding the phone to his ear.

“Hello?” said the voice on the other end. “Homicide.”