I stood in the swank lobby of a SoHo high-rise arguing with the domesticated ex-marine leashed to the front desk. He had a hole-punch of a mouth and little black eyes. His name was Jim.
I pointed at my face. “Jim, you’ve seen my face a thousand times. Look!” I pulled at my nose, eyelids, and ears. “It doesn’t come off, Jim, this is my god-damn face. Just buzz me up.” Jim stood and shoved a thick finger in my face. “You — ” but he was cut off by the ding of the elevator. Quin came sliding out in a Ferrari-red speedo. “Hurry up!” he said and dipped back into the elevator. I looked at Jim. He lowered his finger and sat back down. I ran to catch the closing elevator doors and slipped in beside Quin.
Quin was bouncing on the balls of his feet; he was waxed from the neck down. The years had not been kind; he looked like a pile of mayonnaise; a weak gut, thin arms, and flabby thighs — the left one decorated with a half-assed pinup girl tattoo.
“Yeah — ” He looked at me, even his eyes bounced, “yeah, yeah,” he said.
“Yeah, baby, yeah.”
“You gonna tell me what’s so great I had to leave work?”
Quin watched the floor numbers climb. “Why does this take so long!”
I leaned against the side of the elevator. “Well you could move to Jersey City with me, I live on the second floor. I can even take the stairs, and — huge upside — I can’t get lost in my apartment.”
“Mhm. Yeah man, yeah.”
The doors opened straight into Quin’s penthouse pad. There was a spiral staircase to the right, floor-to-ceiling windows straight ahead. In the middle of this Taj-Majal on top of the world that Quin called home, there was a massive steaming hot tub. It was solid gold.
“Another hot tub?” I asked, unimpressed.
Quin smirked side-long at me. “It is The Fountain of Youth!”
I walked up to it. The jets kicked on. I stepped back, “You’ve nicknamed your hot tub the fountain of youth?”
Quin sighed at me, “No, idiot, I had them turn it into a hot tub.”
“The Fountain of Youth! Don’t you listen?”
“Dude, The Fountain of Youth isn’t real,” I reminded him.
He gave me a pitying smile, “Everything is real if you pay enough,” he reminded me. “Now step back. Okay, you are here to make sure nothing goes wrong, you gotta watch me.”
“Like a good little friend,” I muttered. “Okay, so, say I believe you, what do you want The Fountain of Youth for anyway? You’re thirty-two.”
“Yeah, but don’t you want to go back to being a teenager?” He glanced down at his mayo-belly.
I shook my head “Hell no, I hated being a teenager.”
“Ah, you were one of those.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “What is that supposed to mean?”
Quin climbed up onto the side of the pool, “Oh you know, those people who are always bitching about high-school and how anyone who was cool is now a truck driver or some bullshit like that. Not true. I tell you; I was cool as shit and look at me now. Bet you wrote poetry, didn’t you?” I glared at him. “Thought so,” He said. He rubbed his hands together and winked.“Bet your poetry was rubbish.”
I gave him the finger.
“You’ll pull me out if anything goes wrong, yeah?”
“Yeah, yeah alright.”
He stepped in and submerged himself. I waited. Nothing. I looked out of the window. I could see the curvature of the damn planet from that window.There was a sound from behind me, a splashing. I turned back to the tub as a young boy’s head appeared, it screamed, then disappeared again. I ran over to the edge.
I followed the shrinking shadow below the surface then plunged my hands in and pulled out a newborn baby boy. It coughed up a bit of water then cried like hell.
“Shit,” I told the baby, it cried some more. “Dude! Hey man, Quin?”
“Wahh!” Quin said.
“Alright man, alright. I’m going to get you to the hospital. Hold on.”
I held him at arm’s length and ran for the elevator; the pinup girl tattoo growing more harrowing, shrinking as we went. I hit the “Lobby” button with my knee. Quin wailed as we descended. I looked at him. “You idiot,” I cried, “You stupid baby” — then panic hit me — “what the fuck am I going to say to Jim?”
Thank you for reading! The artwork for this piece was created by Nikita Klimov, and it was originally published in our publication ‘The Moss’, on Medium.