He sifted the blazing hot sand through his sunburned fingers, allowing sand to wriggle its way into the small opening between fingernail and skin. He did this repeatedly, enjoying the feeling of the tiny grains falling silkily through his grip, no matter how tight it may be. He surveyed the west end, then the east end, then the south end. He looked down upon the beach, his beach, through dark sunglasses pressed up against a nose whiter than an angel. Two children were tackling each other and kicking up sand and disturbing beachgoers. Not on his watch. He strode over to the commotion coolly.
"Stop it, or you're off the beach for ten minutes," He threatened and promised. The two boys ignored his demand and continued roughhousing.
"Aren't you going to do anything about them," A plump woman stretched out on the beach complained.
"Relax. You could have asked them to stop, why didn't you?" Said Jay. The lady grumbled and repositioned herself on her towel to align herself to catch the bulk of the sun's rays.
Jay told the boys to stop twice more. They ignored him, forcing Jake to flatten one out on the sand. He did it in a not hurtful manner; a simple shove to the middle of the chest. Lifeguards were allowed to do that, if the situation were grand enough. This situation wasn't grand enough, but Jay was tired of putting up with people's shenanigans all day every day.
"Now listen, little punks. Get off of my beach for ten minutes. If I catch you here any sooner, by god, one second too soon, then I'll have the police drive you up and you will be in handcuffs in the back of his or her car. Now get out!" The boys started to cry at the lifeguard's harsh tone. Luckily, they understood, and rushed off the beach. Jay returned to his post on the sand (The lifeguard's tower broke and was being repaired), where he sifted through the sand until he needed to referee more situations.
Jay hated his job, yet loved it at the same time. He hated insolent children and parents and their trifles, hated sorting them out, hated receiving the looks he got for just doing his job and keeping the beach safe and enjoyable. He kept telling himself that it didn't matter what people thought of him when he used a harsh tone. My job is to keep the beach safe and fun and make it an enjoyable place for people. If someone is disrupting or preventing the enjoyment of someone, it is my duty to stop them, no matter what their opinion is. He disliked the hot conditions. The brutal Florida sun beat down on Jay's exposed neck, ears, and face for upwards of eight hours every day. Sure, lemonades and sodas are available for the lifeguards, but the refreshment those drinks provide can only last for so long.
But Jay enjoyed his job immensely also. He was flattered that someone of higher authority could trust him with the lives of thousands of people. He often broke down out of nervousness; nervous for the life of a child or someone else. That pressure situation of diving out into the ocean to save someone was exhilarating, and those were the moments he dreamed of as a little child learning to swim and watching his father lifeguard.
After a couple more days, the tower was fixed and Jay returned to the majestic height and great view of the reef and the nearby dock filled with plants, shops, and people. When he reached the top, a shower of boos rained down upon him. He bowed and smiled at the crowds, for their boos were compliments. Dislike towards a lifeguard could mean only one thing. It could mean only that the lifeguard wasn't a lazy moneymaker who sat and drank lemonade while whistling and shouting at kids to stop doing whatever they were doing. It meant he was doing his job and doing it well. He smiled and sat down.
On top of the tower, Jay's blonde hair blew in the wind. His blue eyes sparked with his teeth in the sunlight. His tan grew darker, though that was hardly possible. He sipped Coke out of a mug, waiting for something to happen.
He was relieved of his position at four by Amanda. Nobody booed. They clapped, instead. Not for Amanda, but for Jay's absence from the beach. He dialed his ride's number on his cell phone.
"Hey Jared, Jay. What time are you coming to get me?" He inquired.
"What time am I coming to get you? Darn! Sorry, I completely forgot that's what I was supposed to do, mate!" He said without the least bit of apology in his tone.
"Well, just come and get me now."
"I'm at my uncle's house…so let's see…I'll be there in…two hours."
Jay started yelling into the phone but the other end clicked before Jay could get very many shouts in. He slapped his forehead. Great, just great, he thought. Now I have to spend two hours here in this maelstrom of death.
He walked over to the volleyball court. Nobody wanted him to play. Denied.
He walked over to the sand castle competition. Denied.
He walked over to the football game. Denied.
So the poor lifeguard just took a nap in the sand until his friend arrived three and a half hours later to pull him from his slumber and out of the maelstrom of death.
It was a day just like any other day; a boring suicide thought producer atop the tower, staring endlessly at the same people go around laughing and complaining. The tide was low and uneventful. No surfers were out today; Jay's one lifeline in case of an emergency. A commotion rose on the dock. He thought he saw someone look up at his tower.
Jay quickly stepped off his tower and ran over towards the dock. A crowd had gathered around a couple people that were going off their rocker. Nobody booed, nobody shouted. He arrived and a man told him of the situation.
"Help, Lifeguard! A kid drifted down into Jar's Lake and can't get out!" He exclaimed.
Nobody had tried to swim out to the child, eight hundred yards away in Jar's Lake. Jar's Lake, of course, was not a lake. It was a gathering of sharp, jagged rocks in a little circle out in sea, a death trap to anyone who floated in there. Waves crashed on all sides of the circle, engulfing the strongest, most powerful men. The one thing Jay was frightened of was a mission to Jar's Lake. A draining 1600 yard swim through rough and unpredictable seas. He lowered his head in defeat, starting to walk back to his tower. Phoning a boat would be useless. It couldn't fit into the small circle and would just cause more damage. Plus, by the time it got out there, it would be too late. He reached the end of the dock when a force inside his mind withheld him. He heard the child's scream play in his mind. He heard the child's agony and shivers went down Jay's spine. He sensed the child's fear of the depths and felt scared himself. He saw sharks surrounding the innocent child, biting off limb after limb after limb until the sharks finally reached the head. He pivoted and with a newfound strength and speed blew by the crowd, diving into the water. He landed with nary a splash and rocketed through the sea naturally. He had been trained to swim by his father. All of that elementary training came back to him now as he pounded the sea with both hands rapidly in an attempt to reach the boy as fast as possible. He remembered his childhood, his defiance of going over the basic techniques with his trainers, but now he wished he'd gone over them one last time; one more practice round, one more lap in the water; that little extra bit that might have saved him one, two, three seconds; that little extra effort that could have been the line between somebody's life or death, all resting on him, all resting on him, all resting on him, all resting on him…
Water filled Jay's lungs. He gasped for air, his only companion in the darkness that is the sea. He had almost reached the Lake. He was both physically and emotionally drained and didn't know how he could ever make it back. The scream echoed in his mind once more, spurring a surge of movement and life through his otherwise lifeless body. He reached the Lake in a daze, woken by a wave that crashed over him immediately upon his arrival. He spat water out of his mouth, mixed in with spit and blood. He searched frantically for the child, calling out time after time, but no one responded. Jay dove under the water, the salt stinging his unprotected eyes. Fish flashed in front of him, blinding him, hindering him. He then saw one rather large fish floating in the water. It had two legs and two arms, about the size of a child's, twenty feet below the surface. His ears started to hurt due to the pressure of the deep water, a head-splitting pain, worse than altitude. The child was sinking into the water, further, further, and Jay was making little progress in the wild water. Jay had been under for one minute when his lungs began to fault. He almost gave up when he grabbed on to a shoe. He yanked it up with all his might, his might now reduced to a weak, old grandma. He grabbed the child by his torso and kicked rapidly for the surface. He emerged and panicked. He drew in the sweet oxygen, his lungs thankful for the nectar. He laid the child out on a rock and began giving him CPR, fearing the worst. Waves slammed against them, but it couldn't stop Jay. In his heart was determination and in his eyes was thunder. The child awoke and Jay McClellan started weeping, weeping for the child's life and the swim back to the shore. He knew he would never make it. He could swim 1600 yards easily, but not in the ocean, the giant beast, not in horrendous conditions. His body had been thrown against the rocks many times now, staining his tanned skin a dark blue. He said some words to the child, but they were drowned out by the sheer ferocity and noise of the sea.
They took off from the Lake, the child scared out of his mind. Jay was huffing and puffing by the time they were only ten yards out. He vomited into the water yet continued on. A wave crashed over them pulling them under, yet he continued on, holding with an unbreakable grip to the child. 600 yards to the shore, and Jay McClellan could feel his body start to give out on him, yet his heart held strong, pumping within Jay's muscular body. Thump. Thump. Thump Thump. Thump Thump Thump. They were half way to shore when Jay arms quit on him. He had one last task before falling into the depths of the sea. He unzipped his life jacket and placed it on the strangely calm child. Jay touched the child's hand and looked into his eyes for a brief moment until his eyes closed and he slid into the sea. The child was rescued by boat ten minutes later.
No lifeguard has ever been booed since Jay McClellan.