This sprang into my head from a writing prompt Sandy Stuckless posted in the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group.
If local authorities were to drain a pond or lake, what would they find?
Ron stood on the shore, eyes squinted against the glare off the water. The industrial pump the mayor ordered in from Weston sucked water — and probably the fingerling trout they had stocked the pond with a week before — out and onto the grass. The guys that usually spent quiet Saturday afternoons here pulling out dinner clustered in the distance. Ron could practically feel their ire wafting across the pond.
“It was a mistake. I keep saying that. I can’t live without it. You’re a dream for doing this for me, boo!” The mayor’s new wife, fresh from a two-year stint at Community where she learned little more than how to hook a guy with money, stood next to his town car and shrilled out apologies and promises above the sound of the pump.
Ron closed his eyes, trying to blot out the headache threatening to turn the day into even more of a waste. The pump sputtered, its engine caught then evened out again. He turned to look at the man at the controls.
“Gonna have to adjust the pipes to take it lower,” he called to Ron. He waved another worker forward and strolled over. “All this for a wedding ring that he could replace five times over?” He tilted his head toward the blonde standing next to the mayor.
“It’s love, he says.” Ron rolled his eyes. “More like-”
“Hey, Harold!” The worker who had crept down the muddy bank yelled up at them. “There’s something down here.”
All night and all the next day the pump worked. The mayor and his wife finally went home when it appeared they’d have to wait for their photo op with the diamond. The roof of a car emerged from the muddy water.
Harold stopped the pump when it started sucking mud and they waited. The anglers on the grass waited, arms crossed and heads together. The mayor and his wife waited, holed up in their mansion on the far side of town.
The water cleared.
The sun’s angle cut through the remaining water, revealing the body of the car submerged in the pond. A Toyota, maybe white or gray, late model. The side window was smashed in and small fish swirled in and out of the hole.
The body of a woman held together by faded blue jeans and a pink blouse lay half in and half out of the window. Her bare arms half covered with bloated flesh.
Ron moved clockwise around the pond, his gut suddenly filled with acid. He swiped at his lips with the back of his hand.
The woman’s skeletal hands twisted through the still-bright straps of a car seat. From the shore, Ron could only make out one bootie-covered foot kicked free of the floral blanket.
He turned away, gaze skating out across the fields to the far distance. Way off in down some other road where people were waking up, getting coffee, preparing for a great day. The smooth rumble of the town car as it pulled up alongside the pond. The door clunked open and then closed.