Lifeguard On Duty

It was early June and Kirk Davidson was counting down the days to the end of the school year. The twenty year teaching veteran was looking forward to the summer break so he could recharge his batteries and catch his second wind after another long school year.

Kirk was leaving the school at the end of the school day when he saw a woman approaching as he walked along the sidewalk toward the parking lot. He quickly flipped through his mental file rolodex trying to place her – former co-worker? Parent of a student? He was drawing a blank which made him feel uncomfortable when the woman greeted him by name.

"Hi Kirk, do you have a moment?"

"Uh…."

"It's DeMaris Mohler, silly," she said when she realized he didn't have a clue.

"Wow, DeMaris!" Kirk replied, slightly embarrassed. "It's been a while."

"Yep," she laughed. "I'm been following your exploits as the Swimming Team Coach. You're doing a great job."

"Thanks," He said.

"Can we talk for a minute?" She asked hopefully.

Kirk motioned for a bench underneath a tree near the parking lot and they both took a seat on it.

"I lost track of you," Kirk said once they were seated.

"I went off to save the world," she said proudly. "But that didn't work out so great so I've been back for the past five years."

"Doing what?" Kirk asked with interest.

"I'm the Program Director for the Recreation Department," she said.

"Congratulations," Kirk smiled.

"I'm enjoying it," Demaris replied. "So, what are you doing this summer?"

Kirk laughed. "Forgetting about this place," he said, gesturing to the school building behind them.

"You have a summer job?"

"I usually pick up some shifts at Home Depot," he said. "I'm pretty good with the paints."

"How'd you like to come out of retirement and lifeguard again?" Demaris asked hopefully.

Kirk rolled his eyes. "I'm forty-four years old, De."

"So what?" She replied. "You're still in great shape. I bet you still swim with the team, right?"

"Sure, but…"

"Listen, we're having a tough time filling our lifeguard slots," Demaris explained.

"Really?" Kirk was surprised. "I push life guarding on all the swim team kids."

"I know," she replied. "And we've had a lot of referrals in the past but this year not so much. I could really use your help."

"You're kidding."

"Unemployment is way down, jobs are a-plenty, and my pool of candidates is pretty slim this year," DeMaris said with frustration. "I need to find some qualified people. Hell, I'm even going to pick up some shifts."

Kirk looked at her with wide eyes. "Really?

"I can still do it," she said defensively. "I realize I've put on a few pounds since the glory days but that just means I'll float better!"

Kirk looked at her seriously for the first time. Her once long jet black hair was now cut to her shoulders and was some sort of frosted blond color. Her slim college figure was maybe a thing of the past but she certainly wasn't overweight for her age. She was wearing khaki shorts and a Green tee shirt with what Kirk realized was the Town of Greenville Recreation logo in yellow over her heart.

"I assume you're still qualified?" Demaris asked. "CPR and all that? As the swim coach?"

"Well, yeah, but…."

"This will be a better way to supplement your income than selling paint, Kirk," Demaris said forcefully.

"I haven't sat in the chair in twenty years," he reminded her.

"Wasn't it one of the best jobs you ever had?" Demaris grinned.

"Yeah, there was nothing like rolling out of bed, throwing on a pair of red swim trunks, and working in the sun all day," he admitted.

"So, making a return would be epic, right?" Demaris wanted to know. "You had such a passion for it back in the day."

"You know, returning to the lifeguard chair after all this time is going to be more challenging than you realize," Kirk warned.

"I think it's a really cool idea," Demaris replied.

"You really think you can get your lifeguard legs back?" Kirk frowned.

She glanced down at her legs. "They aren't that fat," she pouted.

"I meant muscle strength," a flustered Kirk replied. "Have you been swimming a lot?"

"I've been working out in the Y pool for a few months," Demaris revealed. "When the applications weren't coming in over the winter."

"You up to speed?"

"I've been swimming the two-hundred yard individual medley pretty well," she smiled.

"We have to be able to swim 500 yard freestyle in under 10 minutes, buoy with a ten pound weight, drag a dummy seventy feet, do the sidestroke and breaststroke and all that stuff."

"I know," Demaris said. "I've already lined up Rick Anderson at the Y to qualify us."

"Look, I don't want to be the weird old guy," Kirk complained. "I'm going to look like a pervert hanging around with high school and college kids in their bathing suits."

"Get your mind out of the gutter," Demaris said with annoyance.

Kirk gave her an offended stare. "Didn't you fall for the love of your life sitting in the chairs together?"

She blushed. "I trust you won't be chasing coeds around the chair," she said sarcastically.

"Whatever happened to Speedex anyway?"

"I married him," Demaris admitted sheepishly.

Kirk grinned with amusement. "You still together? Maybe he can sign up for a few hours too."

"I wasn't able to save the world with him," Demaris sighed. "That's why I'm back here."

"Sorry," Kirk remarked with sincerity. "You doing okay?"

"I'll be doing better if you agree to do this," she answered truthfully.

Kirk exhaled a long breath while studying her with uncertainty. "You sure you want to do this?" He tested.

"I wouldn't be here if I wasn't," she replied with confidence. She gave him a hopeful look. "For old time's sake?"

Kirk smirked. "Sure," he finally decided. "For old time's sake, even if you're crazy."

"Great!" Demaris beamed with relief as she dug out her business card from her shorts pocket. "Write down your e-mail and cell on the back of this," she ordered. "I'll be in touch."

Kirk shook his head with uncertainty as he did what she asked.

"Hopefully, neither one of us has a coronary," he said, handing the card back to her with his contact information on the back.

She smiled as she stood. "Thank you, Captain," she said warmly. "Who knows? We might even have fun."

"Or die trying," Kirk joked as he watched Demaris walk away, her hips in full swing.

He pushed his hand through his graying hair, shook his head in bemused doubt, and headed for his car.

Kirk was actually starting to feel encouraged and motivated by the insane idea but when his eighteen year old daughter Caitlin heard about the idea that night during one of her brief appearances on the house she looked at her father with skepticism.

"Dad, I don't think you should attempt being a lifeguard again," she advised.

"Why not?" He asked innocently as he sat on the couch nursing a beer.

"Because you're old!" Caitlin responded, aghast.

"Why don't you do it for me then?" He challenged. "You were a great swimmer on the team."

"Because I'm going to Florida right after graduation," she reminded him for the billionth time.

"Doesn't this sound better?" He asked.

"Hardly, Dad," Caitlin responded with an eye roll, throwing her long brown hair behind her shoulders with a head toss. "You'll do anything to stop me from going, won't you?" She accused. "Including dying trying to save somebody!"

"You don't think I can do it?" Kirk asked.

She shrugged her shoulders with indifference.

"Well, I suppose that's all the motivation I need," Kirk grinned. "No Dad wants to be a failure in his kid's eyes."

"Oh, Daddy," Caitlin groaned. "I have to go. Amber's waiting. Please think twice about doing this crazy thing," she pleaded as she headed for the door.

But Kirk's mind was more than made up.