The small group of middle aged women began to arrive at the pool, glad that their class coincided with the unusually warm January morning. They greeted each other and proceeded to stake out their spot, laying out towels on chairs and putting their water bottles on the small tables.
At the deep end of the pool, the aerobics instructor waved a hearty welcome to her six regular students as she set up her portable boombox.
“Whose turn is it to pick up the rubbish left behind last night?”
“That would be me,” Roxanne said, grabbing assorted pool toys and other items floating on the water. “Hey, this is a nice pair of goggles. Anyone wants them?”
“Just put everything in the Lost and Found box over there,” a woman shouted to her.
The sweet song of birds playing among the branches was interrupted by a muffled skirmish that was taking place under a large pine tree. Squirrels seemed to be fighting over a dark object.
“I’ve had it with the squirrels in this neighborhood,” Nadia said as she slowly entered the water. “They run around on my roof all day long and the patio is strewn with their acorns.”
"Billy shoots at them with his BB gun” another woman said. “I know it’s probably not the right thing to do but they are so annoying.”
“And there are dozens of them here in the pool area,” Nadia chimed in. “I bet some of them even carry rabies. It’s dangerous for all of us.”
“Look at them. They’re probably fighting over some toy left in the pool. Oh, look! The red tailed squirrel got a hold of it. And he’s off and running with it. I wonder what he found.”
Never could the women have imagined.
The previous evening, in a secluded home in the neighborhood, under a shimmering moon, by a roaring fire
shoes were kicked off,
a black sports bra was carelessly tossed on the lawn.
“Lord, I hope it’s not holding an animal between its teeth.”
“I think squirrels are vegetarians.”
“Ladies! Let’s go! We only have forty minutes!” The aerobics instructor jumped in the pool after cranking up the speaker.
Agile, strong bodies arched, bent, stretched, embraced and entangled, blissfully unconcerned with anything but each other.
The red tailed squirrel sprinted along the top of the black metal fence railing that surrounded the pool area followed fiercely by other squirrels. Their playfulness mesmerized the women while they exercised.
“Ladies, focus!” The aerobics instructor yelled out again over the din of the music. “Hand weights up! One, two, three, four…”
Deep into the night, the two bodies rose and fell with only the night sky and dying embers watching. .
“God, I hope it’s not a dead bird or something” groaned one of the women, splashing water as she exercised in a circle.
“Nadia, squirrels don’t eat other animals!”
“I hate to differ, but they do eat other animals.”
Ravel’s ‘Bolero’ played in the background.
The class ended and the women began to exit the pool, all still fascinated with the red tailed squirrel’s antics and with the dark item grasped firmly between its teeth.
“Well, whatever it is, I bet the squirrel will take it to a nest.”
They shared the softest of touches and the firmest of grasps.
The red tailed squirrel now seemed unconcerned that the other squirrels wanted its treasure and skillfully climbed the drain pipe at the corner of the pool house building. Red tail quivering, it reached the roof and made a sharp left turn to continue the run across the eaves when, suddenly, its small body was jerked back by what it was carrying.
“Ahh, look!” Roxanne said, squinting in the sunlight. “The little guy’s treasure is stuck up there on the edge of that pipe.”
Lips barely brushing tendrils of hair at the nape of the neck, they both trembled with emotion.
“It looks like some type of cloth. You know the woman who lives a few blocks away who watches her three year old grandson during the week? I heard her say the other day that he had left his sun shirt here.”
Nadia laughed. “Well, kiss that shirt good-bye. Look at the squirrel tugging at it like crazy to get it loose. By the time he’s done, that shirt will be in shreds.”
Gardenia and tuberose and body sweat deliciously blended…
Convinced that the mystery was solved and that no one had to be afraid of a dead animal on the roof of the pool house, the women began gathering their clothes and towels to leave for home.
A loud gasp, interrupted their task. Everyone looked at Roxanne, pointing at the pool house roof.
… as deep moans and heavy sighs intermingled with the rustling of leaves battered by a sudden burst of powerful winds.
More gasps as the women finally saw the squirrel’s abandoned treasure for the first time.
They fell into each other’s arms…
Now unfurled and gently blowing in the wind like the flag of a pirate ship was a black brassiere, hanging loosely from the drain pipe by one of its straps, taunting the women, attacking their moral sensibilities.
“What the hell?”
“Where did that come from?”
“It’s outrageous! We need to get that down!”
… into languid, peaceful sleep.
The black sports bra continued to wave from its perch on the drain pipe, ignoring the women’s comments, refusing to give up the prior evening’s secrets.
And a red tailed squirrel snuck away with a new treasured item that had been carelessly tossed on the lawn.