The chain-link fence around the swimming pool had jagged points at the top. I didn't realize that until later, but I wanted to go swimming. Of course, it was midnight and it would be stupid to go swimming at night – alone.
But I was 18; what did I know? I did know I could get arrested for trespassing, but you only get arrested if you get caught.
It was July, the summer night was hot and sticky, and so was I. After a night working at the ballpark, I really needed to wash off all the sweat, mustard and Coca-Cola that had soaked through my pants.
I’d gotten over all sorts of fences on the farm. Wooden, panel, electric and barbed wire. Chain link was different. I couldn’t get my shoes far enough into the holes to get decent leverage. But the roof was low, I was in pretty good shape and I weighed about as much as a large dog. I grabbed the corner of the roof, pulled myself up and hopped over the fence.
I was in.
I’d spent a lot of summer afternoons at that pool. I learned to swim there, I learned not to run with wet feet on concrete, and I accidentally saw a girl’s top pop off when I was about 12. This was the first time I was ever there alone.
I stripped down to my underwear and dove into the pool’s clear, bluish water. I swam from end to end, side to side, to the deep end and over to the kiddie section where I played with a blow-up alligator. Then I realized doing something wrong isn’t fun unless someone else knows about it.
I pulled myself out of the water, grabbed my clothes and went back over the …
Things were different on the inside.
The easy grab and jump on the outside was gone. The roof was too high. I couldn’t reach it.
I stepped on a lounge chair that smelled like coconut oil and lifted myself far enough over the fence to slice open my left shin.
Blood streamed down my leg.
I grabbed a towel someone had left on a bench, wrapped Daffy Duck around my leg, mounted the chair and hopped over the wall.
It’s easy not to tell your parents you did something stupid. Unless you think you’re going to die.
“Mom,” I said, walking into the kitchen the next morning, holding the bloody Daffy Duck towel over my leg like he was a wounded war buddy I didn’t want to leave behind. “I cut my leg.”
She asked me what I’d done, brandishing a greasy spatula at me like a cholesterol-laced truth detector.
I told her. Heck, I never could lie to Mom.
She took me to get a tetanus shot that morning and made me pay for it. The shot cost about as much as I’d made at the ballpark the night before. Life lessons are never fun.
Jason's latest book, “What Lurks Beyond: The Paranormal in Your Backyard,” is available at amazon.com.