Wall on Lake

Wall on Lake

Willie Fitzgerald

They find a wall on the lake.

The first person to see it is a woman walking her dog on the paved path around the lake very early in the morning, the wall appearing like a line of redacted text on the flat windless surface of the water.

Really, OK, they find a wall slightly above the lake—floating about two inches from the water, with the occasional garnish of resting seagull. Everyone agrees that “floating” is simply the easiest way of describing it.

The wall in question is exactly thirty feet long, twelve feet high and a foot thick, the red brick laid in a pattern of long-short-long and offset so that the 'short' brick sits in the middle of the 'long' bricks above and below it. The bricks are of indeterminate make, and the wall otherwise perfectly ordinary, excepting that you can swim under it.

The lake is sort of squash-shaped, set in a gentle curve with two bulbous ends. On the inside of the curve is a par-three golf course and a dock in which sit a handful of brown-hulled wooden sailboats and paddleboats available for rent Thursdays through Sundays, at the rate of eight dollars an hour.

Susan Graham, a 17-year-old honor student, becomes to first person to dive off the wall during a national telecast. A mason named George Ehrlich earns three talk show appearances and a low level of celebrity after he rides out in a police skiff to investigate the wall and then returns to shore to speak with reporters eager to learn more about the phenomenon.

Enthusiasm, though, eventually wanes. The local police recall all but one of their boats and set up a ring of dull, barnacle-spackled buoys around the wall. Paddleboat rental rates, understandably, go up.

One night George Ehrlich takes a shower after work and the overhead light goes out in his bathroom and he is left in the hot water in the dark. He reaches out of the shower and fumbles for the vanity light, his wet fingers slipping over the switch. As the lights come on Ehrlich thinks of a man who earlier that day had approached him on the street because he, the man, recognized him, Ehrlich, but could not remember the context.

Willie Fitzgerald

Willie Fitzgerald is a writer and the founder and creative director of of APRIL (Authors, Publishers, and Readers of Independent Literature) Festival in Seattle, WA.

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