DEEP END (2012)


Sean Joseph Patrick Carney

"Deep End" is a fictional story about a horrific event at Brooklyn's McCarren Park Pool in the summer of 2012 originally published in Familiar 03: Trouble in Paradise, edited by Justin Gorman, released September 2012. The publication featured an accompanying digital collage (below) by Daniel J. Glendening. Cover photograph by Tyler Kohlhoff

Robert Moses couldn’t have seen this coming.

A master builder and parks commissioner in depression-era New York City, Moses was famous for his gargantuan structures and the advent of urban car-commuter culture across the United States. In 1936, Moses worked with Mayor LaGuardia and funding from the Works Progress Administration, Roosevelt’s feel-good New Deal public betterment and employment program, to construct eleven mammoth pools across all five New York City boroughs. The most complicated of all the pools was McCarren Park Pool, located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  It was also, at the time, the largest. And while the other ten enjoyed thorough renovations in the 1980s to update integral aspects, the McCarren Park Pool was left to rot.

And so she stood vacant, decomposing. Naturally, this angered the public who demanded that the city’s higher-ups figure out exactly what the hell they were going to do with this gigantic hole in the ground that could accommodate nearly seven thousand bathers. Many residents insisted on a full renovation to return the pool to its former glory. Others, either territorial or xenophobic, cried for its total demolition to prevent an influx of outsiders. For two decades, red tape and other bullshit prevented the reopening of this public respite from the brutality of the Brooklyn summer. At the turn of the millennium, it looked like it would finally welcome back the sweating masses, but the money allotted to do so was slashed in the wake of financial complications resulting from the attacks of September 11th. Yet then, as all altruistic corporations are wont to do, Clear Channel stepped in and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the City Parks Foundation to begin hosting events at the pool. A string of concerts featuring bands I hate followed, but all of the talk, as talk often does, turned out to just be talk.

In 2007, Mayor Bloomberg took a moment out from sipping a twelve-ounce soda to announce that the pool would absolutely reopen. A year later, budget plans were approved and by the conclusion of 2009, construction was under way. The new public pool would be smaller, but would still hold an impressive fifteen hundred bathers at any given time. And on June 28th, 2012, a typically sweltering Brooklyn summer day, McCarren Park Pool officially reopened to the public. Within days, a series of altercations between bathers and lifeguards made headlines, resulting in an emergency closing of the pool in the interest of public safety.

Four days later is where I come into McCarren Park Pool’s thorny legacy.

The line to enter McCarren Park Pool snaked from the front door of the recreational center on Lorimer to the end of the block where it wrapped back around Bayard as far as I could see. It was 03:15pm on July 2nd and I had believed that I’d actually arrived early for the afternoon session. Daily, the pool is open from 11:00am until 03:00pm, then again from 04:00pm until 7:00pm.

I was visiting Brooklyn for a month after coming into a large cash settlement, the result of being struck by a Tri-Met bus in Portland, Oregon.  It was my second day in New York and the second day of temperatures reaching above one hundred degrees. A friend had tipped me off that this was one of the few ways to cool off in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area, save for some gratuitously ridiculous hotel that took reservations for its pool at $40.00 per head. All of my acquaintances seemed to be working that day so I’d decided to go stag and see if perhaps I might court an impressionable art school girl who could later bemoan ever meeting me in the first place. And since I’m considerably more sociable when drinking, I arrived soaked in booze.

As I found a place at the end of the line, it appeared that I’d be waiting a considerable amount of time. But being a seasoned drinker, I’d thought ahead and brought a flask of that sweet, earthy nectar known as Jameson. I’d like to say something profound about what it feels like to momentarily be the last person in a line of that size, but I was so fucking drunk I didn’t really notice at all. The one thing that I do recall vividly was how incredibly diverse the people were who’d turned up to collectively bathe. Word had traveled quickly. The fact that the pool was completely free brought hundreds of sun-addled residents from miles around.

In front of me were three black teenagers who were playing that game where you make an OK sign with your hand and if your buddy looks at it, you punch him in the stomach. This was very popular where I grew up as well, so in my drunkenness, I felt a kind of kinship with these boys and a certain pride in having unknowingly had such a black experience in my upbringing. A moment later though I wondered to myself if these young men were possibly affiliated with the ones who had assaulted that lifeguard on opening day. I clutched my tote bag to my chest tightly and took a quick pull from my flask.

At 4:00pm, they began letting people in and the line started moving incredibly quickly. Bonus. I stumbled along with the rest of the soon-to-be bathers and marveled at the sheer volume of people. It was a Monday; didn’t these people have jobs? Maybe they all worked at galleries in Chelsea - I feel like those are always closed on Mondays. I myself was on a much needed vacation, so I had every right to be there. I wonder who pays these people’s rent. Soon, I rounded the corner at Bayard and Leonard and the entrance to the pool itself was visible. It was excruciatingly hot and I was becoming a bit self-conscious of how much my sweat reeked of whiskey, but the promise of soon diving into cool, blue water kept me focused and alert.

Nearing the entrance, I suddenly realized that there was an obscene amount of news crews all on site documenting the masses. I assume that the segments were intended to be feel-good fluff pieces at the end of the nightly broadcast, but felt certain that every cameraman and reporter was secretly hoping that a full blown riot would break out and they’d be bumped up the food chain at whatever shitty local affiliate they called home. Strangest though was the presence of a group of people from, the snobby and overly self-aware Chicago music website that inevitably hates every single record that I find relevant. They once reviewed an early Mars Volta record and literally used the phrase “swimming in a sea of turgidity”  - which to me seems an incredibly turgid way to describe something.

It became apparent what they were up to as soon as I got closer and noticed that they were plucking people from line to interview who were absolutely, 100% the antithesis of their demographic. They then placed each of these individuals in front of a video camera and offered them a pair of headphones. Momentarily disoriented, the people pulled from line listened for about thirty seconds to, oh, I don’t know, the fucking Mountain Goats or something stupid like that, and then the bearded young white men from Pitchfork would yank the headphones off of them and shove the camera in their face.

“What do you think?”

“It’s nice,” replied one of the portly Puerto Rican women they’d chosen. “But is that a boy or girl singing?”

The white boys would have a snicker and then usher the unknowing participants of this minstrel show back into line. For some reason, this made me incredibly angry and I glared daggers at the crew as I passed by. A young man wearing a Brooklyn Nets hat and a Burzum t-shirt made me particularly upset. He caught me staring and gave a smug head nod. Before I had a chance to bound out of line and sodomize his face with my fists, the swelling masses behind me lurched forward, propelling me towards the entry to the pool.

Employees from the Parks and Recreation Department directed men left, women right. I located a locker and after changing into my trunks shamefully in front dozens of men and boys, stuffed my tote bag inside of it. Thinking ahead, I guzzled the remainder of my flask and stowed the empty vessel beneath my personal items in the locker. As I closed and secured the locker door and I was suddenly positive that I was about to vomit uncontrollably. Something about that last swig had been raw, primal. I could taste alcohol in the tears welling up in my eyes, which doesn’t even make sense. My jaw went limp and my mouth began to water as the room around me spun slightly. In desperation, I sat down on a bench and rested my head against the cool metal of one of the lockers. Booting all over the floor of this locker room was certainly not an option. Think of the children.

It took a few minutes, but I regained my limited composure after casually swallowing a mouthful of bile and vomit I’d hiccupped in my throat. I spotted a drinking fountain out of the corner of my eye, and while the thought of a public nozzle like that normally disgusts me, it was on this day a proverbial savior. Suddenly though, out of the corner of my other eye, I saw the most supremely lavish lap hog I’d ever witnessed offline. Tracing my eyes from its knotty head up its veiny shaft, I saw a bush more wrangled and unruly than seemed possible; it defied the laws of physics. The filthy pubic hair looked dreaded, and I could have sworn that he’d placed one ceremonial ceramic bead somewhere in that dank, fragrant thicket.

My nausea returned with a vengeance and I staggered to my feet to avoid eye contact with this cycloptic sexual organ. Its beholder noticed me swaying as I rose and chuckled, “I see you’ve met Michael Clark Duncan as John Coffey in The Green Mile.”

As a result of some unholy breeze, I caught a gulp of its stench in my nostrils. Every part of my insides lurched. “That’s what you’ve named your penis?”

“Yessir, boss. Like the drink. Only not spelt the same.”

It was too much. First of all, this man was undeniably Anglo in descent and hardly taller than me. Where he got off naming his cock after the Magical Negro character in that bloated Stephen King adaptation was beyond me. Granted, it was a beast. But he himself was so tiny, petite even. Still, his tentacle-like sperm cannon would have given any woman reason to blush. It must have added three pounds to his skeletal frame.

Forgoing the drinking fountain, I hurdled over the bench between us and darted towards the pool. I was stopped by a teenager in a green parks department shirt who informed me, relatively politely, that all bathers were required to rinse off before entering the pool area. Glancing around, I saw a dozen showerheads jutting out from the crude brick walls surrounding me. Beneath them, men and boys from all walks of life hastily rubbed the water over their bodies to complete this matter of protocol. In my drunken state, I stared at them, stupefied. It reminded me of Auschwitz. Something was wrong with that whiskey, I am sure, because I immediately knew that they were delousing us.

I danced quickly under the scalding stream and the second that the teenager turned to inform another bather of this policy, I darted out from under the poisonous waterfall and into the pool area. The brightness hit me, a disorienting and oppressive violence of light. I’d left my sunglasses in my tote. But was it worth going back into the locker room and having to experience that chemical cleanse again? No. It most certainly was not.

To make matters worse, as I rounded one corner of the massive blue spectacle that is McCarren Park Pool, I realized that I’d also forgotten my towel. This was getting bad. Squinting, I peered through the mass of oily bodies and located a small cement patch uninhabited by any of these filthy animals. In a moment, I was there, seated on the sun-baked concrete. It felt comforting through my trunks as the warmth worked its way up through the fabric and onto my tightened sphincter. My butthole released its clench slightly. I exhaled a long breath. Was this my Zen Garden?

After approximately ten minutes of watching others getting whistled at constantly by the lifeguards atop their pompous orange towers, I decided that it was time I joined them. Very carefully, as my balance was, at this point, essentially nonexistent, I crept up toward the pool’s edge. I must have looked completely absurd. My legs were, without a doubt, a solid two feet ahead of my core. My Pilates instructor would have been furious, had I ever actually attended Pilates.

The sight of a gaggle of tweenage slags halted my awkward advance towards the pool. They were terribly young; their breasts misshapen, soft masses hardly filling out the patterned bikini tops each sported. I ogled them severely as drool poured down from my gaping mouth, finally nestling into my unkempt and ungovernable beard. A tactile-sensory-hallucination had the index fingers and thumbs of both hands twitching and feeling drenched in shejaculate, wrapped in virgin vaginal muscles and yet-to-be-punished buttholes. Having the four of them simultaneously was a mandate.

She was obviously the youngest of the group, my muse as it were, and she approached me with a coy smile and underdeveloped hips. A toothy grin spread across my numbed face as I turned to face this lusty Lolita in orthodontic braces. I marveled at the flatness of her stomach, one that had never ingested a dozen of drinks in one evening followed by an entire Domino’s pizza moments before passing out. The young possess innocence in mind and body, and it was my destiny to commit genocide on both. Like a tractor beam, my humble member swelled to its supreme potential and purged forth the fabric of my trunks in her general direction. Upon the appearance of said boner, a young man walked up from the side of me and staged an unnecessary confrontation.

“Maybe you should chill on the stiffy, bro.”

It was that bastard in the Burzum shirt. He’d obviously followed me inside and had been biding his time, waiting for a moment to give me shit. My baby girl stopped just short of us, intrigued by the potential for a physical altercation between two men, neither of whom could have been her father, but certainly a close friend just a few years his junior. Turning my person and my throbbing erection away from him, I motioned for her to come closer. He sidestepped in between me and the dame. He got his face into my face.

“I don’t like your vibes, man. Maybe you need to readdress your vibes,” he said.

“Kindly fuck your grandmother’s ass in a Chicago graveyard, you gaylord jackwagon.”

And as if he were a cheetah of the most animalistic variety, he lunged at me with his skull, smashing it into my own with inconceivable force. A lifeguard’s whistled screamed through the air, followed by a shrill voice screaming, “Stop! Stop immediately!”

I looked beyond Pitchfork’s ugliest prodigal son and saw one of the young, tan lifeguards running top speed in our direction. In less than a second, my brilliant mind calculated the odds that my attacker would be held accountable for this transaction when I was here, plainly drunk, pointing a raging cock at an underage girl. It was clear that I would be found in the wrong despite not actually having committed any senseless act.  This required immediate action.

The adrenaline in my system from being bashed in the face took over and I could feel no pain. I leapt like a raptor with a boner claw at the bearded bastard. In the time it took him to blink, I was all over him. My fingernails tore at his fleshy eyelids. My boner slammed with brute force into his sternum. My entire body slammed with audible impact into his own and threw him to the concrete ground. Regretfully, on his way down, he inadvertently crashed into my prepubescent pixie and took her down simultaneously. Both hit the ground at supreme velocity and I knew the fan had indeed been struck by the shit.

That young lifeguard rounded the corner of the pool and bore down at an unlikely speed. No escape route presented itself, and I panicked momentarily at what I should do next. A water exit was my only option. Into an unparalleled crouch I went and then sprung forward beautifully into the air. Below me was a sparkling and crisp blue oasis. I brought my knees into my chest, rotating slightly forward, then straightening out and entering the water at a perfect Olympic dive angle. The refreshing wash passed over me as I pierced her wet surface.

A second later, my skull slammed at an inappropriate speed into the concrete bottom of the pool and my body immediately went supremely limp. Unbeknownst to me, McCarren Park Pool has a depth of no more than four feet at any point. I tasted at first a kind of citrus in the back of my throat and nostrils as the shock of cracking my head arrived like lightning before the thunderous pain. Then it was all iron and battery acid. The pain itself was unlike anything I’d ever felt before and I inadvertently gulped in a lungful of acrid chlorinated water. Two strong arms grabbed my middle section and hoisted me above the water’s surface.

Then all I heard were screams. I was unable to see anything but a viscous red filter over the sky above me. The arms of the lifeguard set me down on the side of the pool and I felt the familiar warmth of the concrete wrap itself around my back and thighs. Against the lifeguard’s firm warnings, I sat up somewhat automatically and realized that my eyes were clogged with blood. Balling my hands into fists, I bore them into my eye sockets and flung the blood in all directions. This gave me sight again, and my brief fear that I’d knocked out my eyeballs upon impact was relieved. I glanced over my left shoulder to the pool and an entire quarter of it had cleared out where the water was a sick, rust-orange tie dye pattern. The sheer amount of blood that had poured out of my head was unfathomable. Looking down at my chest and stomach, I grew faint realizing that pints of my life force were flowing out of an enormous contusion at my hairline. It appeared a fiction. My inebriation was exponentially increased as I lost more blood. I was going bonkers. Shit fucking balls to the wall bonkers.

More lifeguards came running from all corners of the pool towards me and I knew I’d be arrested for assault, plus drunkenly endangering myself and others at the pool. I scrambled to my feet clumsily and booked it towards the fence along Bayard, intending to hop over it and escape into the late afternoon crowds exiting the G or L trains in Williamsburg. The boy in the Burzum shirt was nowhere to be seen. My baby girl tiny baby had also disappeared. As I approached the fence I understood that I was too slow, completely unable to maintain the speed to scale and leap it before these svelte teenagers with summer authority caught up to me. Then I saw my only option: one of those ten-foot long aluminum rods with nets used for skimming debris from the top of a pool’s surface.

I tore it violently from the fence and spun around to face the mob of orange-clad bodies rushing towards me. Flanking them from the outside were police officers I’d previously not noticed. They must have been stationed at the pool in anticipation of events of this ilk. They screamed at me to drop the rod, but I had entered a pure, feral state that none of them had ever known. The fastest lifeguard, a young man no more than seventeen years in age, reached me first, anarchically blasting his whistle in sharp, erratic bursts.

Hoisting the rod back as if it were a shovel, I jammed it forward with all of my might directly at his person. The plastic frame around its net shattered as it caught the center of his throat. The metal rod bore forth and tore a garish hole through his trachea and out the back of his neck. Blood exploded like fireworks into the faces of all of those behind him. Specks of it splashed my face and it tasted virile and clean. I yanked the rod brutishly from his throat and his corpse dropped onto the concrete in a pool of red. Two more lifeguards ran in from either side of me and I grabbed the rod from its center point with both hands and clotheslined them rigorously. The audacious force with which I struck them lifted their feet a yard off the ground and they both smashed horribly on the ground, their heads making a sickeningly dull thud as bone met stone.

The police officers were but a dozen yards away at this point and they’d drawn their guns. Barking orders, they formed a half-circular unit around me and the remaining five lifeguards. It was complete and unadulterated mayhem. Ignoring the police’s shrill commands, the two largest male lifeguards charged forward. I kicked one squarely in the groin and he dropped to his knees wincing just as the other took a swing and connected a brick-like fist with my jaw. Several of my teeth cracked and splintered in my mouth, but I spat them out in a bloody mess into the first’s face. He squealed as my blood entered his open mouth and I ducked and plowed into the midsection of the one who’d slugged me. A gunshot cracked and I spun him on my shoulder into the line of fire. The bullet entered my human shield’s back near the kidney and he jerked like lightning had struck his spine. I felt the life pour from his body as warm blood ran down my shoulders and stomach, collecting at the dam of my elastic waistband.

Dropping him on the ground I turned to the remaining three lifeguards. They were already spinning on their heels and bolting away from the action as the police closed in quickly. The chunky, sub-bass whips of a police chopper’s blades distracted me momentarily and I looked up to see two gunners dangling out the open door yelling muffled commands through a megaphone. My right knee then exploded as another shot was fired on the ground, and I was thrown onto my back. Now on the concrete myself, I crawled vigorously towards the lifeguard’s body whose neck I’d pierced and nestled my body under his own. More shots rang out and I felt his lifeless shell jerk from the impact of numerous bullets aimed at me. He became my life blanket, his tummy and mine touching intimately, his dead face pressed against my own.

Knowing that this was the end, I decided to really give them all something to talk about. With his body on top of mine, I began to chew my way into the gaping hole in his throat. The police were on me in no time, bashing me with batons and unloading cans of pepper spray onto the ground in an attempt to ricochet it into my face now buried in his neckhole. They pried and pulled, but my grip on his body was certifiably unholy and I worked diligently at plowing my gnashing teeth through his mangled windpipe, all the while blood and tissues rained down my own throat. One officer fainted, his body limply hitting the ground beside me and I reached out and tore off his cap. With one hand still gripped like iron to the flesh of the teenage lifeguard’s muscular back, I yanked feverishly at the police officer’s hair, tearing off chunks of his scalp in handfuls and hurling them at the others.

I suddenly heard the syncopated chugging of an automatic weapon from above firing down upon me and the wrist of my hand working on the officer was torn open from a piercing bullet. It literally separated the hand from my arm. More bullets exploded as they hit the concrete all around me. The noise itself was of the wildest sort; a symphony of destruction. By now, I’d worked my entire face through the lifeguard’s neck and could suddenly see the pool again as I popped out with horrendous glee. Hundreds of bathers were screaming and trampling one another in an attempt to escape the scene of the bloodbath. I let out a long howl like a wolf in heat. My cock shot out into an unwieldy erection, lifting the lifeguard’s body at an awkward angle above me. Then I saw the bloodied man in the Burzum shirt on his hands and knees crying fifty yards away. He’d think twice before damming a cock river in the future! But my princess was long gone. I jerked my head back and forth, taking in every angle possible to search out her potent body. Out of nowhere, the fist of one of the remaining officers smashed into my face and everything went black.

The following day, the McCarren Park Pool was closed permanently. If Moses had simply designed it with a deep end, none of this would have happened.