Despite the best efforts of the Peachtree pool neighborhood association board to write rules and follow county regulations… some anti-social behavior is simply beyond regulation.
National Geographic documentaries depict baby sea turtles born on expansive desert beaches. Though just introduced to life on earth, these half pint turtles brave hungry crabs, swooping birds and whizzing automobiles, instinctively crawling to the open sea. But even in the open sea, they are sitting ducks. Early life isn’t much different for toddlers migrating from the baby pool and heading to the open expanse… of the big pool.
Take for example Little Harold. Little Harold drifted contently along in his puffy water wings one sunny June day; acclimating himself to the big pool. He frolicked near the pool steps where his feet could touch the bottom, occasionally slapping the water with the palms of his hands. This is how Harold was building confidence; confidence in the lifeguards, confidence in his water wings and confidence in the litany of regularly-enforced Dekalb county pool regulations. Harold was the picture of utter cuteness. He floated chin at water level; playfully slapping his hands on the top of the water laughing at the water splashes… blissfully unaware that his confidence was about to be shaken.
Harold was the baby sea turtle. And lurking just outside of perception and above the water line was a pair of predatory eyes. They were patient; they were strategic; they were instinctive; and they belonged to the single most diabolical mind at Peachtree. Behind those cold eyes the plan had already been hatched. To the Christian, it was a plan hatched by the devil himself. But in the jungles of Peachtree pool, it was simply a plan born of natural selection. The eyes dropped below the water line and vanished into a dark form moving like a stealth serpent beneath the water line.
The disappearing eyes belonged to Staci. Where it came from will probably always be a matter of debate, but this adorable freckle-faced blonde-haired girl possessed a most unhealthy pension for the macabre. Though only 3, she swam effortlessly and had been jumping off the 3 meter high dive for one year. Staci did not know the meaning of fear. …Perhaps that’s why she enjoyed seeing it in others…
Harold’s perfectly round head lifted as he sensed danger. Somewhere in the back of his mind, something was wrong with the sunny day and all of the children who were laughing and playing. The lifeguard scanned the other end of the pool. The dark serpentine shadow moved into striking distance.
A few moments passed and Staci’s eyes reappeared again. This time right in front of Harold…she was looking him squarely in his eyes.
“Hi Staci…” Harold’s voice trailed off.
“Hello Harold.” A threatened flock of birds tore off the pine trees and a large cumulus cloud blotted out the sun. Staci’s eyes and curly blonde hair disappeared again. Henry’s eyes widened. He was scared.
What happened next was from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.
A calculated splash of water burst into his widened eyes which disoriented little Harold and the ballast of the water wings were thrown awry. As the unbalanced toddler tried to steady himself, Staci reached up from below, latched on to him like an octopus and pulled him thrashing and flailing below the waves. And that would’ve been it…
“Staci, knock it off, let Harold go.” The acne-laden teenage lifeguard spoke with the indifference of routine. Over the past month she was made keenly aware of Staci’s homicidal tendencies through several other thwarted plots. Today’s attempted murder was not unique.
Shocked (as was the case everyday) that she had been discovered, Staci beamed her innocent little freckle faced smile up to the waiting lifeguard. Playfully releasing her death grip tentacles on the submerged boy, Staci stepped away to head off again to the deep end. Harold’s head bobbed back up to the surface gasping for air. All of the moms of the other baby sea turtles rushed to little Harold’s aid. But as Staci’s little three-year old head slowly re-submerged below the water line, her eyes fixated singularly on little Harold again as if to say, “until next time baby sea turtle”.
Harold did not sleep well that evening.
In the three years that have passed, Harold redoubled his efforts to master swimming. Unpredictably, he has been well motivated to learn. Harold joined the Peachtree Piranha swim team this year and is at the top of his class. His coach says he swims as if his life depends on it. He remains the picture of cuteness.
Staci is also the poster girl for American cuteness. To date, none of the indictments have stuck and she remains without a criminal record… but she is still lurking.