Episode 20 – More About My Replacement
As I’m reprimanding Chandler, I turn to see Duncan Taylor-Wickham yelling like a madman: “What the hell are you doing? That’s Chandler Davis. You have no right to tell him what to do!”
I’m immediately pissed. “Excuse me? We’re teaching swimming, in case you haven’t noticed, and Chandler needs help.”
Taylor-Wickham dismisses me with a wave of the hand. “Don’t worry about it! I’ll coach him. By the end of camp, he’ll be better than everyone.”
“Oh, really,” I say. “What’s your secret?”
“Hard work. Chandler will work with me after hours. Right, Buddy?” He pats Chandler on the shoulder like they’re old pals. It fucking turns my stomach.
“Have the Kramers agreed?” I ask.
“Absolutely. I’m very familiar with their desires…uh, requirements.”
Ben chimes in. “Duncan, this is Jesse Pena, by the way.”
“Oh, Pena, hi,” he says, giving me a limp handshake. “Do you swim much in the city? Aren’t the beaches crowded?”
“I don’t know. I skinny dip in the park.”
He looks at me blankly. “Seriously?” Probably figures I’m so low class, it’s a possibility.
“Where are you from?” I ask.
“Greenwich, but we’re hardly ever there. We’re in Palm Beach in the Winter and the Adirondacks in the Summer.”
“Interesting,” I comment. The guy obviously assumes nothing I say could top that, so I don’t even try…skip our house in Lugano. I realize, to get his attention, I’d have to recite my “credentials” and it’s not worth it…relationships aren’t based on bullshit. He’s a strange guy…handsome and athletic, but speaks in such a snobby way, it’s ludicrous….high-society lockjaw. Because of his lineage (or whatever), I try to fathom what’s so special, but the more I see, the more I recognize he may be a hit in Palm Beach, but undoubtedly bombs with down-to-earth people…such a fucking stiff! There’s literally no emotion at all, nada…doesn’t seem to have any interest in mere mortals, i.e., Ben or me.
Ben turns to him. “So, will be working with me and the kids?”
Taylor-Wickham acts rushed…like he’s got to get to the White House or something. “Maybe an hour or so. Lowell needs me to help test the boats…make sure they’re seaworthy, or should I say lakeworthy. My family’s had boats for years. Grandpa went to Choate with Jack Kennedy and they visited back and forth all the time. Jack called him for advice. My family thought it was hilarious. ‘Who’s running this country anyway? Ha ha ha!”
“Uh huh,” I mumble. Frankly, I could give a shit. The fact that his grandfather knew the President doesn’t say shit about Duncan. Guess he wants us to know his family’s part of the “old boy” network.
Ben rounds up the kids. “Let’s pair off for races, Cutler versus Murphy, McIntosh versus Vance, Davis versus Feinstein.”
“I don’t want to race,” Chandler Davis complains. “I don’t have to…do I, Duncan?”
Duncan hesitates. Hasn’t a clue how to handle the situation…laughs like it’s a big joke. Looks around for someone to bail him out, but we don’t. Fuck him!
“Hey, I know,” Chandler says. “I’ll race if we swim naked.”
Ben steps toward him. “Chandler don’t be a pain. You’re wasting everyone’s time.”
“But it’s more fun naked. You and Jesse can swim naked too.”
Duncan still doesn’t say shit…stands there like a bump on a log.
“Chandler, come on,” I tell him. “Everybody else wants to race. Do what you’re told, or report to the office.”
He grabs my trunks…tries to yank them down. “Cut that shit out,” I say holding tight.
“Chandler,” I say sharply, “Let’s to the office. You’re totally inappropriate. The Kramers’ll have to figure out what to do with you.”
His face drops. “Jesse, I’m really sorry. Please don’t take me up there. I don’t want to go home.”
Ben gives me a let-it-go kind of look, and frankly, I’ve no desire to go to the office. I glance at Duncan who isn’t doing shit. Chandler’s giving me ridiculous puppy-dog eyes. I pull him aside. “Listen, what’s with you? Calm down and behave like a normal person. You’re disrupting the whole class.”
“I know,” he says with mock sincerity…smirks at Duncan. “I’ll be better from now on. I promise.”
“I’m serious,” I tell him. “I know you’re just humoring me, but I’m not putting up with it. You’ve created enough drama already, and it’s a pain. Find somebody else to pester. Ben and I are totally fed up.”
“Okay. I’m really sorry. I’ll do whatever you want.”
The races get underway and Chandler surprises everybody. Finds his stroke and beats Jason Feinstein easily. “How’s that?” he asks smugly.
We’re stunned. “Why did you do that ridiculous dog paddle in the beginning?” I ask.
He’s grinning from ear to ear. “I wanted my opponent to be over confident,” he says. The kid’s a fucking enigma.
To be continued…