The day Billy Hamilton drowned at the New Highland Public Swimming Pool, it was hot. It had been hot for weeks, even for West Texas in June. The weather was a tick on a tired dog, heavy and bloated. Afternoon tornadoes square-danced across the dusty horizon like fierce lovers; thunderstorms crackled in at sunset and setup to stay the night. By morning, the storms were long gone, leaving a few downed power lines and wind-shorn trees, but never a drop of rain. It was hot.
That’s why Billy was at the pool. Of course—every kid in New Highland was there that day, except for the losers like Keith Mackenbrook, sentenced to summer school for failing math and art. Who flunks art class? Or Scooter Jones and the rest of the football jocks—busy tackling colorful burlap dummies, and running sweaty laps round the dirt patch the town called an athletic field.
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