Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Lifeguard (11/09/06)
TITLE: Lance Goodbody, Lifeguard Extraordinaire
By Jan Ackerson
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“Mr. Goodbody? Can we continue?” Officer Wright tapped Lance on the shoulder. “I still have lots of questions about what happened down there.” He pointed toward the beach, where paramedics from two ambulances were attempting CPR on several victims.
Lance dragged his gaze away from his own reflection. “Sure, dude. What d’ya want to know?”
“Well, in the first place, why did you let those people swim today? Weren’t the conditions too dangerous?” Behind the officer, four-foot waves crashed into the sand.
Lance snorted. “Hey, it was their choice. No one forced them to go into the water.”
Officer Wright stared at Lance in amazement. “Isn’t that your job, though, to keep them from danger?”
“Well, if you want to get all technical, I guess so. But man, it wasn’t that bad, dude. Just one time in the undertow won’t hurt. Besides, it’s boring swimming in the nice, calm water all the time. People gotta have a little bit of fun, dude. It’s no big deal.”
“Tell that to those guys being worked on over there.” The activity on the beach increased as one paramedic used heart paddles on a victim, while others called out frantic instructions.
Lance flexed a muscle and brushed a few grains of sand from his bicep. “Listen, dude, I gotta get back on my stand. Lotsa chicks—uh, people—down there are looking at me. I mean, looking up to me. I’m kinda like a role model. So is that all?”
“No, that’s not all. I have several more questions, Mr. Goodbody. Didn’t you see those people waving for help? Couldn’t you hear them screaming?”
“Dude, I heard ‘em, but I just couldn’t let it get to me, y’know? I mean, if I swam out there every time someone was in a little bit of trouble, I might offend ‘em, see? I don’t want ‘em to think I’m judging their swimming ability or anything.”
The officer blinked in disbelief. “But they were dying out there! You knew how to save them—why didn’t you?” On the beach, two of the victims were zipped into body bags.
“It’s like this, officer. Everybody’s different—there’s lots of ways of getting rescued. Maybe my way wouldn’t work for those people. Some people just aren’t into being dragged out of the water.” Lance spoke as if to a child. “You gotta respect their point of view, man.”
Officer Wright sputtered. “You call yourself a lifeguard?”
Lance examined his well-manicured fingernails. “Chill, dude. I figured someone would save ‘em. And you know what? There’s millions of beaches. I just can’t be responsible for all of them, so why sweat it? Besides, I didn’t want to—“ He hesitated for a moment, smoothing his tank top over his chest muscles. “—get all messed up, y’know?”
Snapping his notepad shut, Officer Wright spoke sternly. “Mr. Goodbody, I need to see your lifesaving certification.”
Lance patted the pockets of his swim trunks with a sheepish look. “Whoa, dude, I don’t have that on me. Truth is, I haven’t renewed it in years. Once a lifeguard, always a lifeguard, right? Besides, it’s a bummer going to all those refresher courses.”
The last of the bodies on the beach below were loaded into ambulances. Officer Wright watched for a moment, then continued his interrogation. “Why wouldn’t you want to keep your skills current?”
“Well, officer, it’s like this. I can learn all I need to know about swimming by just hanging out here at the beach. I don’t need that lifeguard instructor always telling me what to do. And besides, those classes are just full of do-gooders—always blowing their whistles at every little splash. I’m a good enough lifeguard, dude. I even donate money to the Lifeguard’s Retirement Fund. Want me to show you how well I can swim?” Lance bounced on his toes, as if preparing to dash into the water.
The policeman shook his head. “That won’t be necessary, Mr. Goodbody. I believe I know just exactly how good a lifeguard you are.”
The ambulances pulled slowly away from the beach, their sirens silent.
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