Chekhov in The Gulf of Mexico

The resort staff are turning off the light at the poolside bar. The iron gate around the pool clanks shut loud enough to wake the kiddos whose sleep their mothers   toiled to obtain. This Saturday night is uniquely music-less, the usual spate of sounds drowned out — rough and slick alike, proclivities and druthers.   Even the band abandoned their tunes when the downpour came. Unwelcome guests, clouds clash though you can’t see the colors —   damson, plumbago, where the swimmer prunes and lightning in a soft synaptic burst suggests the heavens had a thought, which sank in the rollers.   In the morning another worker’s come. He brushes off the leavings of a palm tree from the cushions with a pillow. He cranks taut the skirts of the umbrellas,   so the colors resolve into a dome of crisp stripes. He loops the ropes expertly out of the reach of children, though the overall look, from above, is of bulls-eyes.   Slashed fronds, slats, louvers, wickerwork — whatever breeze can be gotten, everything’s sieving. Housekeeping the outdoors is an enterprise:   raking sand each morning like a Zen monk so that the guests can say, “This is living.” And the protected marsh is nodding, no surprise. He puts the TV, she her jewelry on. A divorceé, with her teenage son who mutters, almost immediately, that all the songs are about pair-bonding.   Each song, she might reply, is a repetition before it’s a departure. But he’s gone — he notices the poolside palms surgically relieved of their fruit. Tanning and blonding,   the guests make use of the green-banana light, and maybe the umbrellas are really meant to keep an epiphany from glancing off the skull.   When the sun reaches a certain height, a swish unwraps

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