We knew they were American

the moment they emerged and began trudging toward the pool

we knew, not because of the aloof tilt of the father’s chin

nor their accent, ricocheting flatly between apartment blocks

it was the Stars and Stripes bikini that gave it away

and the matching Stars and Stripes swimming shorts

on father and son

the father, an enormous man, booming of voice, bulbous of face

bloated of body

the son, his father in waiting

no friendly nods, no smiles returned

we were not there

we did not exist


I put my head back into the book

the pages, like me, slowly baking in the sun

then, a gunshot and dozens of heads snapped around

Portuguese, French, English and Irish stared, soundlessly

at an obese man in Stars and Stripes swimming shorts

struggling to rise from a sun lounger

that had shattered beneath him


a sun lounger that belonged to somebody else


eventually he got up and walked away

as if it had never happened



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