USA! by Steve Denehan

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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