Bartholomew felt just horrible about his cat, Oliver, attacking Geraldine during dinner, so he stopped by her house the next day to apologize. It was evening, and the sun was about to set. Geraldine’s father, Gerald, answered the door wearing pants that were two sizes too big and a shirt that was two sizes too small.
“Hello, and how’s your siding doing, Bartholomew?” asked Gerald.
“Oh, its fine, Gerald. I was wondering if Geraldine was home.”
“Your roof is looking pretty old. You should replace it soon. I’d be glad to come out and give you an estimate,”
“No, that’s okay, Gerald. Is Geraldine here?” Bartholomew asked peering over Gerald’s shoulder. Behind him he saw Gerald’s three sons wrestling with each other and throwing punches. As they disappeared out of sight, he heard the sound of furniture breaking.
“I believe she is out back. I would offer to let you walk through the house,…” Gerald looked Bartholomew up and down, “but perhaps you should walk around the outside. She might be in the garage or by the pool.”
Bartholomew walked to the back yard. He didn’t see Geraldine anywhere. But lying scattered by the pool he noticed a couple of bathing suits, one man’s and one woman’s. He walked to the garage and didn’t find Geraldine there either. He was walking back toward the house and decided to look in the poolside cabana. He opened the door and found Geraldine and a young man in towels standing very close to each other. Bartholomew stood in the doorway and stared.
“Hi, Bartholomew, how are you?” asked Geraldine. Before he could answer she continued, “This is Kyle. He’s my little pool boy. He was just showing me how his equipment works.”
“Ch-yeah,” said Kyle, with a nervous grin.
“Go on, Kyle, you were just going to show me what you do with your hose,” said Geraldine.
Bartholomew glanced at Kyle suspiciously.
“Well, I take this hose and place it firmly into the hole in the box just down here,” Kyle demonstrated as he attached the hose to a hole in a box on the floor of the cabana. “This connects the hose to the filtration system. Then I take the other end of the hose, which is out there,” Kyle pointed toward the pool, “and can suck any debris out of the pool. Eventually, I clean out the filter in the box when it is full, ch-yeah.”
“How come you’re both wearing towels?” asked Bartholomew.
Geraldine and Kyle looked at each other for a moment.
“Oh, Kyle was showing me some of the chemicals he uses and we accidentally got some on our swimsuits. We took them off right away and washed them out and put them out there to dry,” replied Geraldine. Noticing Bartholomew’s disbelieving expression, she quickly added, “We changed one at a time into towels here in the cabana. So, Bartholomew, what are you doing here?”
“I…uh...just came by to apologize about the dinner and my cat,” said Bartholomew. “I feel just horrible.”
“Oh, that’s very sweet of you. But really, I had a nice time. It’s a shame it ended a little early,” she said as she eyed Bartholomew’s crotch. She then turned to Kyle. “Did you say you were done with your hose for today, Kyle?”
“Yes, yes, I’m done working here today. I will be back again on Tuesday to clean. It was nice meeting you Bartholomew,” Kyle said as he offered his hand to him. Bartholomew didn’t shake it and simply stared out the window of the cabana.
Kyle walked out the door, picked up his swimsuit and exited out the back gate.
“Now Bartholomew, I don’t want you getting the wrong ideas about Kyle,” said Geraldine. “Your cat was not very friendly, but you are the sweetest and kindest man I have ever dated. YOU ARE GREAT! I’ve been telling The Nanny about you and she thinks I should hold on to you.”
“You have a nanny?” asked Bartholomew.
“Yeah, she’s an angel,” said Geraldine. “Besides, Kyle’s not my type; you know - all muscle, tan, great hair. Do you think I’m shallow?”
Bartholomew looked at Geraldine. He couldn’t help but notice her turned up nose with her large nostrils. In one of the nostrils he could see a couple of hard dry chunks of mucus attached to some nose hairs. Behind the mucus he could see her nostrils disappear into darkness inside her head. At that moment, Bartholomew was slightly repulsed by Geraldine’s looks and felt that maybe he was a bit shallow.
“No, I don’t think you are shallow. If anyone is shallow, it’s me. I’m sorry Geraldine,” Bartholomew said as he moved closer and gave her a hug.
Geraldine held onto Bartholomew for a long time. Then she pulled back and asked “Did you bring me anything?”
“No,” said Bartholomew, “Should I have?”
“Oh, I just thought maybe, to make up for your cat, you might have brought me something. You are such a thoughtful and kind person that way,” Geraldine sighed as she glanced out the window of the cabana to the gate where Kyle had left.
Bartholomew looked out the window, too. He saw the sun going down. He noticed, inside the cabana, piles of things stored there. He saw tiki torches, broken patio furniture, good patio furniture, pool toys, an arsenal of waterguns, floating devices, pool cleaning equipment, and some things he was unfamiliar with. It looked to Bartholomew as if Geraldine had more stuff in her cabana than there was in his whole house. Bartholomew looked out the open door and saw Geraldine’s large house with its many peaks and windows. He felt a little uncomfortable because it was so much larger and grander than his own humble home. He wondered what it was that Geraldine saw in him.
“Hey,” whispered Geraldine, “It’s almost dark. Do you want to go skinny dipping?”
Now Bartholomew felt very uncomfortable. “What?”
“Skinny-dipping,” restated Geraldine. “You know, swimming without clothes on. When it’s dark, nobody can see us, not even Gerald. C’mon, it’ll be fun!”
Skinny-dipping… it sounded so exciting to Bartholomew. Swimming naked with a girl is something he hadn’t done since he was five. But that was different, VERY different.
“Uh, okay,” Bartholomew said.
“It’s going to be dark soon,” said Geraldine as she looked into Bartholomew’s eyes. “Perhaps we should have some floating candles so we can see each other. That would be so romantic. I think there are some around here someplace.”
Bartholomew agreed. He would have agreed with just about anything right about then. He looked around the cabana for floating candles. He could see them on a shelf in the back behind some tiki torches and old furniture. He pushed aside the furniture, causing the tiki torches to slide along the wall and fall to the floor. Bartholomew reached over some more debris and grabbed a few floating candles.
“Oh, Bartholomew, you are so romantic. I think there are matches over there,” Geraldine said as she pointed at the window ledge.
Bartholomew maneuvered over to the ledge and grabbed the matches. As he backed up he bumped into Geraldine.
“Sorry,” he said.
“Oh, don’t ever be sorry for touching me,” said Geraldine and she put her arms around Bartholomew. Bartholomew held the candles and the matches up in the air and tried to hug her back.
“Well, it’s dark outside now, should we get ready to go?” asked Geraldine.
Bartholomew started to light the floating candles. He struck a match.
“What’s that smell?” Bartholomew asked.
The tiki torches that fell to the floor were now leaking kerosene. Some had flowed near to Geraldine and Bartholomew.
“Let’s go,” said Geraldine as she dropped her towel to the floor. In the low light of the match fire, Bartholomew could barely make out a smile on her darkened face. He could see Geraldine’s flat breasts and small nipples highlighted by the warm glow. His eyes licked like flames down her bony body to her belly button and then to the tattoo on her hip and then to her… Bartholomew dropped the lit match and stared at Geraldine.
The flame quickly grew larger as a puddle of kerosene had pooled just behind Bartholomew. They did not notice. Bartholomew kept staring and moved toward this body in front of him. Geraldine pulled Bartholomew forward to undo his belt.
The flames followed the kerosene to the pile of patio furniture. A blaze began behind Bartholomew. They didn’t hear it begin to crackle. Geraldine worked at his belt while he placed his hands on Geraldine’s breasts and caressed her shoulders. Remembering the incident with Oliver, Bartholomew kept his hands away from Geraldine’s hair. The flames of his passion were burning as never before. But soon his flames of passion were overcome by the flames behind him.
“What is that smell?” Bartholomew said as he turned around. “OH!”
Bartholomew tried to turn to look at the fire but Geraldine jerked him back to face her as she continued to undo his belt.
“Geraldine, there’s a fire!” Bartholomew said as he could start to feel the heat on his back.
“Oh, Bartholomew, I burn for you, too.”
Bartholomew turned his head around to see the size of the fire. Plastic hoses stored in a coil in the corner started to release an acrid yellow plume of smoke.
“Geraldine, we have to get out of here!” Bartholomew yelled as he tried to push her to the door. Geraldine finally had Bartholomew’s belt undone and was working on the top button and the zipper of his pants.
“Geraldine, you have got to stop! We have to get out of here!”
Bartholomew began to panic as the yellow smoke began to fill the cabana. He tried to run to the door, but by then Geraldine had succeeded and had pulled Bartholomew’s pants down around his ankles. He fell to the floor of the cabana and frantically crawled on his hands and knees toward the door.
Bartholomew reached the door and pushed it open. Immediately, the flames grew twice as big and the plume of foul smoke roiled out the door and into the night sky. Bartholomew crawled out, turned over and lay just outside the cabana on the cement apron surrounding the pool. He wondered what had happened to Geraldine—he could see nothing inside the smoke-filled door of the cabana. Suddenly, big yellow eyes, a mouth full of large crooked teeth and a smoking disheveled nest of hair emerged out of the doorway and landed on Bartholomew.
“Oh, Bartholomew,” Geraldine said in a hushed sexy voice, “Make love to me here, now. I’m on fire for you, my little cabana boy.”
“NO, STOP!” cried Bartholomew as he tried to crawl away.
“GERALDINE?” The voice of Gerald rang through the air. “GERALDINE, ARE YOU OUT HERE?”
Geraldine quickly rolled to the edge of the pool, grabbed her swimsuit and slid into the water.
“Here Daddy, I’m here in the pool,” she said as she slipped on her swimsuit bottoms and then her top.
“ARE YOU OKAY?”
“Yeah, Daddy, I’m fine. I’m in the water, away from the fire. But I think Bartholomew needs help.”
Gerald walked over towards the cabana and saw Bartholomew lying on the cement with his pants around his ankles, his white underwear glowing in the light of the flames. Gerald picked Bartholomew up off the ground and helped him away from the fire. He then pulled a hose from around the back of the house and started to spray the cabana.
When the fire was starting to die down, mostly because it was running out of fuel, not because of the efforts of Gerald, he asked Bartholomew and Geraldine what had happened.
“Well, Daddy, Bartholomew was in the cabana getting some floating candles so we could swim in the dark.”
“But, how did the fire start?” asked Gerald.
“Oh, Bartholomew was lighting a candle and some of the tiki torches fell on to him and knocked down the candle and spilled kerosene all over.” Geraldine tipped her head at Bartholomew indicating that he should follow her lead.
“That cabana is…was… such a mess, I knew someday something would happen. I’ve been meaning to have a bigger one built,” said Gerald. “But what are your pants doing around your ankles?” he asked, looking at Bartholomew.
“He didn’t have a swim suit so he was going to swim in his underwear and only got that far before the fire happened,” interjected Geraldine before Bartholomew could answer.
“Well, thank goodness I’ve got insurance,” said Gerald as the sound of fire engine sirens sounded in the distance.
“I’m so sorry,” Bartholomew found himself saying. “I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
“Don’t worry,” reassured Gerald. “Since I own the insurance company, my crews can rebuild the cabana for me this weekend. Really, you might have done me a favor. Now I can have a bigger cabana built with a Jacuzzi attached. It will be bigger than what’s-his-name’s next door. This’ll be great.”
Bartholomew pulled up his pants, said goodnight to Geraldine and Gerald and walked out the same gate through which Kyle had exited only forty-five minutes earlier. As he walked home, fire trucks passed by heading to a fire that already was out. He slowly staggered home wondering just what it was that was happening to him. He thought about the incident with Oliver and the smoke alarm. He thought about how scared he was of the fire in the cabana. Two fires! He thought about Geraldine and was glad that she wasn’t injured during either incident. He thought about Geraldine and how she kept tugging at his belt despite obvious threats to their lives. Then he thought, for a brief moment that, perhaps, Geraldine was not his type of girl. Maybe she wasn’t the type of friend who could help him make good decisions. But Geraldine was always telling Bartholomew what she liked about him. She, obviously, was a good person who thought very highly of Bartholomew. He put the thought that Geraldine was not the right woman for him out of his mind - at least for a while longer.
Written by Mark Granlund
Illustrations by Tim Jennen
Written by Mark Granlund
Illustrations by Tim Jennen