Rojo – A Short Story

My girlfriend, a psychoanalyst by profession and nature, wants to know more about the public swimming pool incident.

And I don’t know what to say about it. Her brain is a machine that analyzes life in excruciating detail. Everything is meaningful. There are no accidents. If you let her run wild, she’ll find a link between the way you order coffee and some hidden childhood trauma. This swimming pool story doesn’t belong on the chopping block. It happened. That’s enough.

I mentioned it about a month ago. Not the whole spiel, just the gory part that people are normally interested in. We’d only been seeing each other a short while and things were great. It was new love. Uncomplicated. Lots of red wine, late night talks, and playful sex. We were capping off a good day with a walk along Sunset Cliffs Boulevard, hand in hand, as couples do.

Photo: Marilyn Ordorica |

Photo: Marilyn Ordorica |

We stopped south of Osprey Avenue to watch a group of teenagers playing on that arch of rocks above a deep channel. A natural high diving board. They waited for waves to rush in and collide against the rocks and then off they’d go. The ones who jumped first would bob in the choppy water, egging the others on to follow.

That looks fun, she said, would you do it?
I said no, just watching them made me feel anxious.
I mentioned the incident.
That makes sense, she said. Did you see a counselor about it?
Again, why?
I got over it.
Before I could answer, the cops showed up to put a stop to the kids jumping off the rocks, and we moved onto another topic. The swimming pool story, in my mind, was cast back into its dark hole.


I was five. It happened in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where I grew up.
Grandpa Chuck was taking me on a special outing to MacArthur Baths, a public swimming pool center on the beachfront, just the two of us. I was upset because of something that happened at school.


  • The rest of this story will be available in an upcoming volume of short stories.