The Pool Boy's Beatitude

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physicist Jack Joseph understands dark matter and the desire to find the God
particle. What Jack doesn’t understand is Jack. He has a Master’s degree in
particle physics, an ex-wife, a sugar mama into spanking, a passion for cooking
and chronic dependencies he needs to feed. He cleans pools to maintain this
chaotic lifestyle. Spinning about in a Large Hadron Collider of his own making,
facing a jail term, the particle known as Jack is about to collide with a
particle known as Sarah.


There is, perhaps, nothing so complex as the
human mind, and the mental acrobatics through which it rationalizes, assumes,
justifies, excuses, explains, and muses.

Jack Joseph has such a mind.

He has an advanced degree in particle physics, and spends a great deal of time
thinking about what he knows — which is that he really doesn’t know. Nobody
does. Meanwhile, he works as a pool boy for a number of wealthy, eccentric

He’s also a functional alcoholic, with a wife from whom he’s estranged, an
unexpected girlfriend, and a patron to whom he plays “mistress” (if
there’s such an equivalent in the masculine sense).

testament to the power a single decision can have on someone’s life, and the
ways in which the consequences of that one decision burgeon to overwhelming

                                            The Pool Boy’s Beatitude  

                                                        Chapter One  

            If in fact there are aliens from outer
space I suspected one had landed on the bar stool next to me, researching the
effects of bourbon on the Martian brain.

 “I’m not getting anywhere and I’m fucking sick
of it,” the Martian said to the bartender.
       The bartender poured him
another shot and commented out of respect for his customer with typical
bartender indifference. “Yeah, it’s tough out there.”                 My
own observation: Aliens like this Martian made bartending a tough way to earn a

You had to be a saint, a martyr or a masochist.  

alien downed the shot, slammed the glass down hard and motioned for 

another. “I’ve fucking had it with the rat
race, working my ass off for nothing, being passed over, getting nowhere.”  

I took a long drink of
beer. Why me? Why on the stool next to
me? Why in this bar of all bars?
“It’s impossible to be getting anywhere in
infinite space,” I said, and set my empty mug up on the bar. I motioned for
another, “There’s no place to be getting to.”        The
alien looked at me. “I don’t live in outer space. I’ve got a flat on Cass  


            “Your flat you can get to,” I said, as
the bartender approached. “Detroit is a closed manifold. But the universe is
infinite, it’s impossible to be getting anywhere. You aren’t the only one not
getting anywhere, nothing is.”  

         “Fuck you.”  

         “No thanks, I have Elle
for that.”  

            The alien turned away and stared at the
neon red Frog Lounge sign in the bar’s window. I wasn’t sure why, but I
continued to explain the laws of motion to him. “If you had a Porsche that
could go a hundred millions miles an hour and you drove it for a 

hundred million years and then stopped,
you’d be no closer to getting anywhere than you were when you started.”  

            The bartender laughed as he refilled my
glass. “That’s funny. But it makes me feel better about being a going nowhere
bartender. What do you do for a living?”

“Pool boy, Elle’s pool boy,” I said.  

           “I thought maybe you
were an astrophysicist or a cosmologist.”

          I laughed. “I clean
swimming pools.”  

          “Are you in grad

 “No, I’m thirty. I
have a Masters in particle physics, did my thesis on pool cleaning.”  

“Jim Hines, bartender,
degree in Philosophy, minor in lit,” the bartender said.   “Jack Joseph,” I said, extending my hand.
“No joke, physics is my game, but pool boy’s my trade. What about you?” I said
to the chubby alien, who had loosened his tie and  turned to listen.  

          “Jeff Reamer, logistics

         “And not getting
anywhere,” I added.  

          “Skipped over for a
promotion, he said.”  

            It was getting late and my head felt
even later. I looked at my watch. It was after ten and I did have some pools to
clean in the morning. And Elle would be looking for me.  

“Well, I need to be getting somewhere.”  

         “Where’s that?” Jeff

          “To Elle,” I said.  

         “Going home to the little
woman?” Jeff sniped at me.  

          “She’s not so little, 36
double D.”  

she have a pool that needs cleaning?” Jim asked.  

I nodded. “Yeah, there’s a pool.”  

 Jim wore a huge
smile. “The pool must be tended to. Don’t forget to check her chlorine.”   I looked at Jim-the bartender-Hines. I
thought for a moment, a long moment. “The pool is covered, closed for the
night. There won’t be any swimming.” I nodded at my empty glass.  

         “What about Elle?”    

afraid of water.”  

“Then you might as well swim here, physicist,” Jim said. He
poured me another


            At eleven-twenty when my cell phone
rang, my head was ringing, too. I fumbled
to get it out of my pocket, and by the time I did, it had quit. I looked
at the recent calls, it was Elle. I should go home to my wife. I should not
drink anymore. I should look for a

real job. I should do a lot of things. But
tonight I wasn’t going to do any of them. I closed the bar with Jeff the
logistics analyst and Jim the bartender, and I drove home blind. In the morning
I wouldn’t remember driving home. It was not the first time.  




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