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Vince Dawson didn't follow diving anymore.
He didn't watch it on TV. He didn't look up the stats in the paper or online. He didn't go to any of the meets, though he knew where they were, knew what cities were holding what events and when. But he didn't know what names were in the top seeds anymore, didn't know who was making a good show of it and who was having a bad year. He could have guessed, based on who was in the game when he'd turned his back on the sport three years ago.
Turned his back on the sport.
The sport had turned its back on him first. Though he tended not to admit it or even think about that much, unless he was three-sheets-to-the-wind drunk. The long and the short of it was, Vince didn't follow diving anymore.
Still, if he was at the pool, or out on the lake, he couldn't help himself. It was in his blood. He'd watch the kids fooling around and playing. He'd watch them dive. It was probably why he came, to watch these kids do it for the pure joy of it. Some were lousy, some tried hard, and a few had that natural gift for it, that love of speed and air and water and the ability and grace to move through them that made them shine.
August was always hot in Texas and this year was no fucking exception. The pool was a madhouse, everyone and their uncle out there, trying to get wet and maybe beat the heat for awhile. The place smelled of chlorine and coconut oil, of sweat brought up by the heat of the sun. The deck was as busy as the water. The whistles of the lifeguards were barely loud enough to be heard over the raucous noise, the splash of the water.
Vince had brought his own deck chair and he was lying in it, his eyesclosed beneath his sunglasses, a bottle of Coke in one hand, his cigarette, this one as yet unlit, dangling from the other. He wasn't asleep, but he wasn't really awake either--just kind of dozing away the day. It was too hot for anything else. Hell, the only reason he was here was because the A/C in his cousin's little house wasn't working right and Vince was too fucking lazy to try and fix it.
It had nothing to do at all with missing that chlorine smell, the splash of water as it was cut by a diver.
A chant of "Austin, Austin, Austin" nearly had him opening his eyes, but even that seemed like too much work, and so he didn't. The chanting stopped suddenly, as if the whole place had decided to take a collective breath at the same time. Then a cheer went up, calls and whistles, and Vince gave in and opened his eyes.
He watched as a boy climbed out of the pool in the deep end. Young man, really, skinny as anything and with legs that just kept coming and coming up out of the pool. Tall and Skinny's friends gathered around him and then he headed for the three meter board, the chant of "Austin, Austin, Austin" starting up again.
"Austin" climbed with an easy grace and strode down to the end of the board with confidence.
Vince found himself holding his breath along with everyone else.
The kid waved to everyone, then turned around with a playful little ass wiggle. The crowd hooted and clapped, and then the kid came off the board. Did a reverse three somersault with a half twist. Reached for the water and pegged it with just the barest backsplash.
Fuck him raw.