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The Big Chill

It was nearly two weeks earlier. The pool’s solar panels turned slightly, tracking the Sunday afternoon sun.

Chuck and Kandie’s house was electrified by an invasion of people: hollering, singing,, and politicking. Drunken revelers stood hypnotized by the meat hissing on the barbeque. Bikini-clad bodies coloured the lawn like a blaze of flowers. Waiters attended them like bees. A banner above the swimming pool announced Kandie’s April Pool Party.

Everyone important was there: Chrissy and her husband the Mayor, Duncan Anderton, in Stetson, best maroon silk suit and chain of office. His freckled face wore a smile as wide as his corporation. He’d once been a highly popular Country singer and dance caller. He was looking forward to being called to call tonight. His hand held Bourbon at the ready. Martin Shaw, chief of police was smoking his pipe by his sidekick ’Goldentooth.’ Jakob Hamburg, head of the farming union, was drinking beer like it was a Munich bier fest, Rod Bremmer, head of the Carlton workers union, was whispering in people’s ears, Silvia, the new police medic, was eyeballing the governor. There were a host of others, but Dr.Chuck Ellephanie, Kandie’s husband, in black silk shirt and lemon tuxedo, had led his party of serious Orientals away to his quiet planning suite.

Chrissy and Kandie were both slightly merry. They’d dressed up as mediaeval monks and were processing around the pool singing Gregorian chants to introduce people. The words were ad-libbed: a rap about each victim. Some were embarrassed, which was probably the idea. Those they thought might become lovers got Latin: ‘Amor vincit omnia.’

Kandie sang from one side of the pool, Chrissy from the other. Everyone could hear them.

To escape their possible revelations, muscle man Ralph McMann, Carlton’s production manager, pressed himself up out of the pool. It showed he did a lot of weights. He wandered over to stand next to six foot six Martin, proving Ralph was taller.

Kandie shuddered, threw off her monk’s habit and dived in. The water caressed her yellow-thonged body. “Wrrrgh!” Unexpectedly chilly.

Kandie got out half naked and zig-zagged over towards the Mayor, who’d suddenly stopped ear bashing Martin to look up at Ralph, as if he couldn’t’ quite place him. Kandie sucked in a deep breath and poised, looking at Chrissy, ready to chant, “You guys going to wake the dead? Tough call in this town!” Ralph joked. “Nuns do believe in the re-erection” defended Duncan.

“Oh Dunk, you’re drunk,” chided Kandie, affectionately.

“What’s he preaching about?” Chrissy asked, nodding at her garrulous husband.

“Change. Evils of change,” Martin Shaw rumbled, rolling his amber eyes mockingly, “As ever.” Crop-haired Martin looked like a good man to have on your side in a fight.

“Let’s leave them to it,” Kandie sighed.

Duncan surveyed her toplessness with admiration. Chrissy dragged her away. “Come on, get thee to a nunnery!”

“Let’s go serenade the mysterious Silvia. Who is Silvia? What is she?” Kandie giggled. Duncan turned to Martin Shaw, the Sheriff Chief of Police again.

“As I was saying, you know how I feel about this, and I know how you do”. The Mayor leaned forward conspiratorially. “I’ve got nothing against our Chuck personally, but if he hadn’t developed that damn fusion engine here, we wouldn’t have this boom. Industrial hell: too many people, uncontrollable. Newcomers don’t understand our community. Hertferd used to be a quiet, peaceful friendly little town where everyone knew everybody.”

“And knew their place, you mean?” spat Ralph.

“Not necessarily. Now look, people may say I’m old fashioned, but isn’t it always better to stick with what’s valuable: vintage, like my Jaguar E-type?”

“Not always.” Ralph interjected, “No sir. The Carlton boom’s brought this town employment and a future...”

Duncan looked surprised. “But what a price! A huge price”

“It’s well worth paying,” Ralph retorted.

“You must work….” Duncan started

“For Carlton,” Ralph finished.

There was an embarrassed silence and the three of them looked around the party wondering what to say next for a moment.

“You know Duncan, I really think we ought to chill out a bit,” Martin said.

Ralph looked at Martin and thumbed at the pool.

“Let’s do it do it,” Ralph hissed urgently. “Chill!”

Martin sighed. Reluctantly he gently removed Duncan’s hat and whiskey glass, then they picked him up determinedly by his arms and legs.

“Hey, guys, get off me. What are you doing? What the hell are you doing?” Duncan yelped.

Revellers ran down from all parts of the party to watch the unfolding hilarity

“What do you think?” Ralph hollered to the gathering crowd. “In the pool?”

They started to chant.

“In the pool! In the pool!”

Ralph changed his chorus. “Chill him?”

“Chill him! Chill him!”

It sounded so ominous, Chrissy howled “No!” but she was drowned out.

“In the pool! In the pool! Chill him! Chill him!”

“No! No! This is my best goddam suit! Guys what have I done to deserve this?

“On the count of three!” Ralph shouted. The crowd joined in as Duncan swung.





Cheers, screams and yelps came from the crowd.

As Duncan went in, a lot of the pool came out, soaking onlookers, who shrieked. A dripping waiter came forward and stretched down his hand to help. Duncan emerged like a drowned shaggy dog and everyone was laughing at him. Duncan wasn't laughing.

"Give me a goddam stiff drink you crazy sons of bitches, I'm cold."

A sympathetic Chuck obliged. Kandie had fetched him. But it was only coffee.

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