Services Rendered


It was Mason’s idea to clean pools.

More to the point, it was Mason’s idea for me to clean pools while he drove the van around doing jack shit.  Most of Mason’s ideas involved me working my ass off so he didn’t have to, but this job servicing the pools of the rich and infamous was turning out to be a good gig.

At least until today.

My idea of good clients were old folks, retirees with dependable cash flow, but Mason–being Mason, kept booking wannabe starlets with the hopes of getting laid.

“William,” he would say, “Lonely housewives love the pool boy.”  This was typical of my brother.  Mason made most of his decisions with his cock.

Take Tina Crenshaw For Example.

Not much of a looker, but a smokin’ body.” His words, not mine.

He’d been servicing her for weeks, but now she was getting needy, blowing up his cell, wanting to leave her husband, that kind of thing.  So in an effort to avoid her, he asked me to take over the Crenshaw’s pool.  I wanted to say: Fuck you Mason, clean up your own mess.  But I didn’t.  I said “Okay“.

Like a sucker.

The first thing you notice about Tina are her legs.  The corded muscles of her calves showed off the work she put into them.  They were runner’s legs.  They just went on forever, twin tan highways.  She could parade them too.  She paced that stucco Balcony like a lioness in a cage, while I pretended not to notice.  I skimmed leaves from the pool and Tina pranced back and forth, a sentry on a castle wall.

I was kneeling at the edge of the water, testing the PH balance, when I got my first close up of those legs.  My eyes followed them up her white satin rope, over her obnoxious fake rack, and stopped at her pout.

“Hi, Mrs. Crenshaw.” I said.

“Where’s Mason?” she said, arms crossed and hip cocked.

Up close her legs were still nice, but her eyes–not so much.  They were beady little things, sunken in and almost black, shrouded in Robert Smith style eye shadow.  In fact, all of Tina’s facial features were too small for her head.  They pooled together in the middle of her face, causing her chin and forehead to look inflated.  Her bleach burned hair fell thin and wiry, and her eyebrows were definitely painted on.  Bless her heart, she tried, but her age was getting harder to cover up.  This close, she looked every bit of fifty.

“He had something come up, asked me to take care of you today, I’m Will.”  I rose and stuck my hand out to shake hers, but she made no attempt to grab it.  She just looked at it like it was carved from dog shit.

“Mason sent you here to take care of me?”

“Yes, Ma’am, I hope that’s okay.”

She stared me up and down.  Sizing me up.  I almost laughed.

“Well, I suppose you’ll do.” She said.  I watched her strut away and slip back inside, leaving the door wide open.  I knew what that meant.  She might as well have given me a key.

When I finished with the pool, I packed up my gear and wrote out an invoice for services rendered.  I walked to the door Tina left open and called her name.

No Answer.

I called again, still no answer.  Then I noticed the satin robe lying over the sofa in the sunroom.  I should have left right then, but why should Mason have all the fun.  I could see Tina’s toes peeking around the edge of the sofa and I took a step into the house.

“Mrs. Crenshaw, are you trying to seduce me?” I said, doing my best Dustin Hoffman from The Graduate.

“She can’t hear you Mason, she’s dead.” Mr. Crenshaw said right before he wrapped the extension cord around my throat.  The same extension cord he used to strangle his wife.

I caught a glimpse of Tina’s bloated face staring up from the sofa as I blacked out.

“Thanks Mason, you son of a bitch, thanks a lot.”

~ fin ~


Brian Panowich is an award winning author, a Georgia firefighter, and a father to four incredible children. His first novel, BULL MOUNTAIN (Putnam Books) topped the best thriller list of 2015 on Apple iBooks, placed in the top twenty best books of 2015 on Amazon, and went on to win the International Thriller Writers Award (2016) for Best First Novel, as well as the Pat Conroy Award (formally the SIBA Award) (2016) for Best Mystery. The book was also nominated for the Barry Award, the Anthony Award, The Georgia Townsend Book Prize, and was a finalist for the 2016 LA Times Book Prize. BULL MOUNTAIN was also recently selected for the coveted BOOKS ALL GEORGIANS SHOULD READ list by the Georgia Center of the Book, and has been the recepient of several foreign press awards. Brian also placed second for the 2016 Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Best Debut Catagory. His second novel, LIKE LIONS, is slated for a 2018 release followed by YEAR OF THE ROOSTER due in 2019.