|Fish Out Of Water The Original
Author: Anotherjaneway PM
Eddie Kramer sees a mermaid in the surf and things go downhill from there. Season One- NBC era Baywatch style.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Romance - Words: 23,942 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Published: 11-24-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5531717
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Series: Baywatch -- In the time reference of NBC's airing.
The first season of the TV series, (pre Hasselhoff ownership)
Part: Complete episode Copyright 1990.
Code: Drama Canon TV Series- NBC era Baywatch ( circa 1989 )
Do not read the following long paragraph below if you want to be surprised at the story's outcome. Skip to the next paragraph to avoid it.
The Baywatch gang is surprised when one of their favorite rival lifeguards winds up in a rip current.
Trevor Cole mysteriously survives this usually fatal mishap and is haunted by visions of a girl no one else can see. Hobie discovers a clever companion curiously bonded to a paralyzed woman in a wheelchair and befriends both. Jill tries to ignore Trevor's flirting quirks only to learn about a deeper mystery that involves Trevor's oddly serious claim to have seen a strange girl in the bay the day he nearly drown. Shauni and Eddie have newly engaged couple nerves and Craig has a ball teasing them about it. Mitch has fits when Hobie ignores his restriction against playing near the jetty neighborhood end of the beach. Garner has his hands full chasing a robber keen on stealing exhibit artifacts from a mis shipped Lost Atlantis museum crate. All events come to a head when everything comes together in the same fateful place by the jetty.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Tower 19 Productions.
This era of the show, for your reference, starred (1989-1990) first season regulars....
Mitch Buchannon: David Hasselhoff Craig Pomeroy: Parker Stevenson Jill Riley: Shawn Weatherly Eddie Kramer: Billy Warlock Shauni McLane: Erika Eleniak Trevor Cole: Peter Phelps Hobie Buchannon: Brandon Call Don Thorpe: Monte Markham Gina Pomeroy: Holly Gagnier Garner Ellerbee: Greg Alan Williams John D. Cort: John Allen Nelson
NBC ran its brand of Baywatch for 21 episodes that first exciting summer in 1989. I was intrigued with the intricacies of their double plotlines and the music montage sections embedded in each well written story that first season run.
Two years later, David Hasselhoff bought rights to the show and turned it into the UNinteresting T and A fluff it is today purely for syndicate marketing purposes to make a quick buck. Unfortunately, you can see the writing plot quality severely suffered for it.
I wrote this in the hope of preserving the feel of that early quality double plotline writing style of NBC's first run Baywatch.
The Fish Out of Water version here below is an original adaptation that I made after the fact from my original TV teleplay script solely as an exercise in detailing visually with words.
I do the same exercise with all five Star Trek shows and the old 1970's series Emergency! too. And some Doctor Who.
Fish Out Of Water has since been reborn to the web as an Emergency/Baywatch crossover with that series' well known firefighting paramedic characters. Fish was split up and given to several staff writers to play with to co-join with the characters of Station 51 and it is now airing on Emergency Theater Live, a fiction role play showcase site. See its link in the author profile.
The original Fish teleplay below was written free agent and submitted to All American Television Inc. in 1990. I wrote and submitted Fish Out of Water as a drama student in St. Cloud, Minnesota USA, to Hollywood on the encouragement of one of my writing professors, Dr. Crow.
This tale, in script form, WAS read by the producers, who then stripped one character, Matt Brody, from my story, for final choosing as a regular reoccurring character into the Hasselhoff era of the series in seasons three through six starring David Charvet in the role.
I was thrilled my small characterization was chosen over so many even as I cried when my story script itself was passed over for the episode, Eclipse, (the one featuring a beach lady ghost only Eddie sees) in that autumn's NBC's season one.
I did get official recognition for "Matt Brody". I was sent a rescue can prop, a signed autograph picture of the whole cast, a script of Panic At Malibu Pier and a T-Shirt along with a video of the behind the scenes cast antics from the first year. No money exchanged hands since characters who have real names cannot be copyrighted .
(But do you think I cared? :) )
If you are curious.
I got my script read by being creative. This story was written in college on my freetime and I sent it to Captain Thorpe, Monte Markham, to his summer home after tracking him down in a common Hollywood Star address book encyclopedia.
He brought it into work, tickled that a mere student had the guts to send something direct to an actor type.
A janitor, alas, threw it out from a desktop but the morning secretary saw it there in a trash bin and pulled it out thinking it had fallen in accidentally, and put it into a stack of to-be-submitted scripts,
in the "hot" pile on top of stuff written by Cheers and Night Court writers trying to submit for Baywatch. They didn't know my work was unsoliticited by an agent until producers said,
Who is this? Novel stuff here. Too bad it's over budget on ideas,
but I like this Matt Brody guy... Call her.
And so ironically, an uplifted minor character from a rejected story script to Baywatch, made the big time.
Matt Brody is my legacy even though my story, Fish, didn't "swim".
At least, I got to drool over seeing my Matt on TV for years afterwards. Heh heh.
Enjoy the "tail.." (You'll understand the pun afterwards.)
Fish Out Of Water by Patti Keiper (Anotherjaneway)
Dawn was just past. The sea was choppy. It sucked greedily at the slender kelp strands shimmering in the warm morning sunlight while fleeing tendrils of fog still drifted over the newly reborn shoreline. The restless surf almost drowned out the sound of vehicle navigating the beach. C.B. hails and responses punctuated the endless song of the waves.
Garner Ellerbee was on patrol.
Garner looked like any other cop wearing a light blue polo shirt enblazoned with an iron on "L.A. County Police Department" badge. His three wheeler bike was similarly marked in white and gold paint. There, the comparison to regular police dress ended.
Garner's ebony legs poked naked out of navy Bermuda shorts and into navy knee socks and high top Nikes. His dark face and sharp crew cut contrasted with his mirrored shades and the soft blue of the sky. Garner scoped the shore up and down the long line of light blue lifeguard towers running north and south.
They would be coming soon. A lot of them.
The stocky black man chuckled to himself. It was going to be another beautiful June day in southern California. Every day for the past twelve years, Garner made this morning survey of his sandy beat befoe the tide of public people came. His department worked in close conjunction with the mammoth lifeguarding operation of the Coast Guard network.
Garner's beach was home to its headquarters, a high, gray planked building at the very midway point of an eight mile section of sand declared Roy Rogers State Park along the one way glass windows cocooned the tip two stories and a single, white sign adorned its seaside face, "Baywatch Headquarters" it said in neon orange blocking. The watch windows were masking the hubbub of activity within.
Garner soon noticed a fleet of yellow beach patrol trucks filing out of the base's garage bay. His eyes drew seaward. Already, the bright yellow rescue boat cruised a quarter of a mile out, covering the off reef waters with its usual visual surveillance. He waved to the vessel and was rewarded with an enthusiastic return of greeting.
Garner knew them all. He knew every lifeguard team on assignment personally. He hefted and thumbed the C.B. mike, "Mornin' to each and everyone of you lycra clad bodies. Ready for some fun in the sun today? Garner stats coming your way...."
The radio suffered a multitude of groans and moans from boat and trucks from all the lifeguards within them.
"Surf's swell is lovely with 4 to 6 foot crests and the in-reef water temp is steady at seventy two. Headcount; Beaches are clear. Truck seven, you have four or five cart people in the tunnel between towers 14 and 15. I rate them a mild headache on the nuisance scale. They'll be no trouble for your flockers. Hey, hey,.. I almost forgot! The San Pedro gang's on vacation in the beautifully rustic city jail sunshine. Aren't we lucky ducks?"
Some hoots and cheers kissed his ears. "That about wraps it. " Garner went on, "I hope happy, uneventful guarding fills your day."
A tenor voice piped on line, "Hey, Garner! Aren't you forgetting something?"
Garner Ellerbee felt about two dozen binoculars target him. "Whaa? Oh yeah." He got off his bike seat stretching the mic's cord behind him. With his back to his motorcycle, he whirled the mic in the air like a lasso, grumbling to himself. He bit his lip in concentration. At a crucial point, he let go...
The mic arched high, bounced once off of the black leather seat and up again. The mic tail spinned and neatly hung itself up on its own dash spigot clip. Snick!
A thunder of applause, whistles and hoots drifted across beach and water and from the radio.
Garner bowed graciously. Then he sat on his trusted "chariot" to had lost count of exactly how many water rescues, drug busts, gang fights and missing craft calls he had under his belt. The burly cop only knew that a lot of his reports or testimonies proved to be the glue of making his criminal cases stick. A few of them had even become his closest friends.
The C.B. radio came alive in excited voice, "Way to hang it, Garner! What was that? Twentieth in a row?"
Garner smiled. It was Jill Riley, a veteran Lifeguard of thirty. He could almost see her strikingly fresh smirk and flaxen ponytail. "Yeah.." he answered her. "Something like that. Where are you posted today?"
"Backside rim, Dmn it all. If you are here in three, maybe I'll still have enough chocolate eclairs left for you...."
"Shush, woman! My gut heard that. Don't you know I'm on a diet?!"
Jill answered knowingly, "Sure I do. That's why I'm having so much fun trying to break it."
"You demoness..!" he moaned.
"Weakling pawn!" she taunted, "Try not to drool on your shirt."
Garner chuckled again, patting his stomach. That shrewd woman would be the death of him sooner or later. He headed out to her tower with a chorus of seabirds smoking over his head.
It was going to be a beautiful day indeed.
South, at the very edge of the public beach, was Jill Riley's vision of h*ll.
Right next to her assigned tower was the exclusively private, Billingsly's Club. Its peach adobe grounds and Queen's pams smacked of the very eminence of money.
The beach there was filled with neat white metal tables and chairs, shadowed under black and white striped umbrellas. An outdoor bar nestled in between them on an island of black marble tiles.
Closest to the water was a decrepit, sun-peeled watch chair of white wood seven feet in height.
Jill groaned aloud at the sight of it for the chair belonged to the club's very own, personal, Australian lifeguard.
"Trevor Cole.." she said aloud. The name was an oath in her mouth. The man was attractive enough with his short, curly blond locks and laughing green eyes,....but,.. Jill groaned again, even louder. The fact that he was short was no comfort. The man was a walking gonad.
Trevor charmed every pretty thing on the beach with his greek physique and Aussie drawl. Teenaged girls would fake a sprain in order to have him pay attention to them. And he gladly embraced them all,
literally. Jill had even heard Cole had had one or two statutory rape charges in his past; it was why the county would not let him become a lifeguard on the public beach.
Jill looked at her watch. It was nine o'clock. There was already a crowd of swimmers in her water...and his.... She looked about..
Jill sighed and shifted her chair to give herself a clear view of the club's ocean front as well as the county's area waters.
"Mornin babe? Missed me?" a colorful voice asked.
Jill turned. It was him. She didn't miss a beat. "Can't say that I did. I'm sure THEY missed you." She indicated the people wading in front of his watch chair.
Trevor ignored the barb, "My..my..my. Don't you look lovely in a red bathing suit."
Jill regarded Trevor's black and white striped boxers with a grimace, 'New dress code, eh. Can't clash with the umbrellas now can we?"
Trevor's smile never wavered, "How about dinner tonight? A little wine.. a little music...."
"..A little PEACE.." she countered, "You've been trying to ask me out for over two months. Give it up, Trevor. I'm not interested." Jill put on her sunglasses and looked out to sea.
Trevor laughed and strode over to his chair and climbed up into it. He made a big show of flexing all of his visible muscles noisily, affording Jill a sideways glance every now and then. He caught her looking at him stretching his deltoids. "I know you want me. So why don't you just face the facts..?"
Jill gave him a double take in utter disbelief and gagged in disgust. She promptly picked up her director's chair and put a whole tower wall and two hanging beach towels between herself and Trevor Cole. "This is definitely the tower assignment from H*ll...." she muttered.
Across town, many miles from the ocean, a museum got a nasty surprise. It was missing a crate of artifacts for its new exhibit, Atlantis, Myth or Fact?
The curator turned on the UPS delivery man in a barely contained fury,"Why does this always happen?! Whenever we pay for a rush in advance, we always get shortended! This is the third time this month, now,... I want you.. to go back to base...and tell your superiors that they have two days to find it or else they are going to be minus one very big client!"
The man snapped to attention without thinking, "Yessir!" He turned on his heels and left.
The curator took a deep breath and regarded his now cold pasta rigoletto and rumpled cot in one corner of the receiving alcove. He put a hand to his sweat drenched brow,
"I have to stop living like this.."
Resigned to his fate, he turned back to his shipping order.
"Boy.. I could live like this forever.."
Eddie Kramer leaned out over the west rail of tower 34. Water kissed sunlight glinted from the ocean and dappled his tanned face and chest with vivid gold sparklets, "This is where I belong. Right here. In the sun. Right now." he thought with smug satisfaction. It was an easy day. Eddie had only had to go out to warn two little boys away from the pier's barnacle encrusted pilings. And that had been three hours ago. He bent over and pulled a cold St. Croix with lemon out of his cooler and tore the cap off with a twist. Its cool wet iced his throat with a silky caress all of the way down into his stomach. He shivered with a delicious chill, "Ooo.. that hits the spot."
Two girls lounging under the shadowing ramp giggled at his antics. Eddie smiled and politely ignored their idle interest. Secretly, he reveled in it. To his ears, that sound made the usual beach babble dance. Life was definitely going easy on Eddie "Buns" Kramer these days. It hadn't always been that way.
It had taken Eddie most of his life to get the inner city Philadelphia rebel out of his system. Eddie was an ex-con. As a teen, he found himself thrown in prison for what he thought was a healthy venting of steam built up from living in a shattered home.
At nineteen, Eddie Kramer was going nowhere. He was nobody.
Eventually, he learned that his old man had taken up with prostitutes and drug dealers and his world became an endless stream of failed suicide attempts. When Eddie was released from prison, he was ordered to do community service. The only thing that appealed to him even slightly was working at the municipal public pool. He chose it solely for the fact that it was out of doors. He figured he had spent too much time behind far too many locked doors as of late.
Once there, Eddie's life took an unexpected turn. The pool was a place of ...magic. People from all walks of life untouched by abuse sought refuge in its cool waters. They did nothing but screech and splash. A few just floated on their fat. But they were happy...
Slowly, as a lifeguard, a beaten down half Chicano, half German kid became a true guardianover their long hours of liquidy delight. Eddie learned no misery could ever exist for long in that warm crystalline blue. Some days, burnt red from the sun and stinking of chlorine, all he wanted to do was quit and never come back.
But he didn't, because finally, Eddie Kramer had become.....somebody.
Eddie Kramer sighed contentedly and carefully sighted his target with his frigid bottle of ice water. He flicked a wrist and casually sent an icy stream squarely down the center of a tawny back. A high pitched screech rewarded his efforts.
Shauni McLane sat bolt upright barely securing the ties of her sodden halter top,"Eddie Kramer! That was the most....low down... rotten sleazy trick you have ever pulled!"
The accuse just snickered from behind his binoculars. It was fun pulling a fast one on a fellow rookie. Eddie scoffed and just smiled some more. He liked what he saw. Shauni was a real looker; she was an ex-model gone athletic. Her hair never ceased to fascinate him. It was platinum and was always twisted in a french braid in defense against the sea winds.
Best of all, her eyes were light filled, with the warmest shade of the purest crystalline blue.
"That was nasty and you know it." Shauni breathed, gasping from the chilling river still running into her shorts.
"Oh yeah?" came a new voice from the tower. Craig Pomeroy stepped outside the door carrying a director's chair under one arm, "So's sunbathing half naked for all the eligible bachelors on muscle beach to see right in front of your fiance.."
Shauni's jaw dropped in utter astonishment, "Craig, I can't believe you said that!" She made sure her sodden towel she was shaking out flung wet sand all over the pair of them.
Eddie reached down over the top rail of the deck and caught her in an affectionate bearhug, "He's right darlin'.. You've got me insanely jealous of every man who merely flicks a tiny muscle at you." He smooched her lips dramatically.
Craig smirked, "You're gonna haveta get used to it, Eddie. It's part of the package that goes along with one of these.." He waggled the finger tht held a wedding band significantly.
Eddie cocked his maned head, "Is that so?...." he leaned farther back on his chair's legs, "Well,....maybe I should.
take it BACK!" He charged Shauni down the angled ramp grabbing for her engagement ring.
She shrieked in mock fear, "No you don't! No way am I ever going to part with this! I've had you on my line long enough, " she grew soft and let herself be captured, "And... I'm not ever going to let you go..."
"Oooo , that sounds so romantic.." Eddie crooned. They kissed.
Craig smacked his forehead and looked skyward, "I can't believe these two were voted the most professional lifeguard team of the summer's rookie crop, I mean looked at you ... All gritty and smoochy.. Eeooww.. You are definitely behaving like ....juveniles...I'll have you know.."
A raw blob of hamburger sailed through the air and plopped with a wet splat into the frying pan."And he SCOORRREEESS!! Yes! Hobie Buchannon is breaking hearts all over the basketball court tonight, folks. That's two for O, dad. Go for it."
Mitch Buchannon smoothed his brown touseled hair and flashed a withering look at his eleven year old son, "Now you're a heartbreaker and Wilt Chamberlain? Well, prepare to eat....my.
Hobie planted his brown eyes into the most doleful expression he could muster, "Dad, do you know how ridiculous a thirty seven year old man looks balling up a chopped up wad of slimy cow guts into a snowball?"
Mitch tried to ignore the innocent comment and failed at the last second. His ball of hamburger decorated the kitchen window in lovely strings of meaty gore.
"Got ya!" the boy smirked.
"No fair psyching out the competition!" Mitch laughed as he pinned Hobie into a headlock and messed up his blond hair. Mitch's hazel eyes reflected Hobie's energy and love of fun.
The petite boy broke free of the hold and plunked himself down into a dining room chair in front of a food laden table, "Rule number nine: No horseplay at the supper table unless you can get away with it. Dad, your elbow twitched that time."
"No it didn't."
"Yes it did." Hobie reminded him again. "Same as last week."
"No way..." Mitch said dishing up a serving of potatoes onto his plate, "I had everything under perfect, " he thunked another scoop of mashies onto his platter, "control.."
Hobie pounced, "So why'd you miss?"
Mitch regarded his son over Sports Illustrated, "Smart Alec. Aren't you going to be late for Junior Lifeguards today?"
Hobie rolled his brown eyes, "Dad, as a lieutenant at work, aren't you supposed to know when programs like junior life saving, end for the week? Eddie called here last night to remind you."
Mitch Buchannon laughed to himself, thinking.
Lieutenant, he thought. Newly promoted, kicked out of thongs and shorts for a desk and phone. Was it all worth it? Was it worth missing all of the action as an ex-beach guard? Mitch glanced over to a framed eight by ten of Jill Riley, Garner Ellerbee, Eddie, Shauni, and a few others in formal lifeguard uniform, all pouring champagne over his head from their bottles.
They sure threw him a good party when they'd heard the news.
Still, being in charge of Baywatch Operations was fascinating.
Mitch was the one who handled tower and boat assignments and coordinated water rescues. It was a far cry from just watching water for ten hours a day. And two weeks out of a year, Mitch could stilll get his feet wet manning a tower with a rookie-in-training.
"You're right, Hobie. I did forget your courses ended today. I guess I have to eat more of these things.." Mitch stuffed a huge forkful of fish sticks into his mouth.
Hobie chuckled, "Yeah.. mom used to be really good at keeping you on track with stuff like..." he broke off with a pained expression, looking up t his father with wide eyes, "Since...you know."
Mitch put down his magazine and put it away, "It's o.k., Hobie.
Talking about mom even though we're separated isn't forbidden or anything. Besides, open communication is the "in" thing now days and yeah, she was good at that. Have some milk."
Hobie was silent.
Mitch felt his discomforture and spoke just to fill the quiet, "Listen Hobie. I'm....thinking about inviting her over for a while to stay a few weeks in August before school starts. Gail's already said yes, and.."
Mitch noticed how hard his own fingers were gripping the table's edge. He forced himself to relax them, "You can't know how much she misses you.. Have you read any of the letters she's sent us?"
"No.." came the sharp reply.
Mitch tried not to show that his son's answer stung, "Wh-- Why not ? Hobie,,, Wh--"
"Because I didn't want to. " he replied. Hobie couldn't help glancing up at his father's face. He saw the hurt barely concealed in his eyes. A sudden stab ofguilt coursed through him and he found himself saying, "She can come here. That is, if she can stop drinking so much." The boy's tears flooded forth, unbidden, "I- I- I miss her too, dad. But it gets so hard acting normal around her. When she's here with you, I can't help but feel like some kind of football being bounced around between you guys whenever you fight over me."
"Hey...hey..hey.." Mitch wiped a tear away from Hobie's cheek, "It doesn't have to be that way any more now that I've...got custody. Maybe this visiting thing will be a chance for us to try to become friends again. At least, it can be a start..."
Hobie thought of all the bad times the three had experienced going through the divorce. And now, he was just about sick of facing it any more. But...he thought, people do change for the better. It was something both of his parents had taught him.
Hobie looked at his shoes, "O.k...let's.....give it a shot.."
His dad's smile washed away any remaining doubt in Hobie's mind, "Let's go for it!" the boy shouted.
"One for O, Hobster... Come here..." Mitch embraced his son.
Hobie tapped him on a shoulder.
"Hmmm?" Mitch mumbled from inside their hug.
"She can come on one condition..."
"And what's that?" Mitch asked.
"Hamburger rallies are our secret.."
It was the longest embrace Craig had ever seen. Craig Pomeroy smirked. "Three minutes! That's got to be a record or something. Hey, Eddie.. Maybe this year, we can hold a kissing contest at the big picn--" He broke off.
They were ignoring him.
He tried again. "Guys, don't you come up for air at all?
Shauni?? Hey--" ::Yep. Deaf as doornails. :
Craig looked skyward. Then he got a devil of an idea.
He thought of a particularly nasty lifeguard captain who was notorious for firing rookies on the spot for the slightest infraction. He gasped. "Uh oh. Thorpe alert. Thorpe alert."
The results were spectacular. The two entwinees sputtered and flew apart rearranging various items of intense concern such as loose hair strands and clothing. "Where!
Wh--??" Eddie blurted.
A towel cracked inches away from his face. Its master, Craig, beamed.
"Sorry guys. I just played a mean dirty trick on you BOTH. Aren't you lucky that ol' Thorpe is on vacation for a whole month!!"
Eddie's face looked rather pale from his initial shock but then he began to grin dangerously. The couple collapsed in limp relief into each other's arms. "Would you mind not doing that?! You know, this joking thing might turn into something you may not like buddy, ol' possibly-ex-partner-of-mine."
Craig was candid. "Yeah? Right. No horseplay on deck now. Listen, I'm serious." (He wasn't) Guys... it's pretty hard watching the water alone, no offense Shauni, but when you're around, Eddie's useless to me."
"I am not!" Eddie protested.
Craig grinned evilly. "Prove it." He tossed over a pair of binoculars to Eddie, who barely saved his face from eating eight inches of black metal and glass.
Then he glanced up at the ocean. He immediately frowned. He tossed a second pair to Shauni as well. "But I'm not on duty..." she stated.
"You are now. There's the start of a rip out there. Let HQ know about it."
"Right." Shauni said and jogged up the sky blue ramp into the tower and picked up a phone receiver just inside the frame doorway.
Sid, the switchboard operator answered. "Baywatch, HQ."
Shauni was brief. "Rip at 34. We need backup surveillance. Swimmers are clear."
In the nerve center of the watch station, Sid affirmed his latest call. "Righto, Shauni. I'm on it." He hung up, writing the info down on a piece of paper. He swiveled in his chair at the sound of approaching footsteps behind him. He greeted Mitch. "Boss, we've got a potential hot spot."
"Who's manning it today?"
"Craig and Eddie."
Mitch thought hard, "Ok, no biggie, ah... keep me posted. I wanna know the minute something does down, " Mitch started away, then he turned back, "OOo, no pun intended."
Sid smothered a laugh, "Of course."
Mitch left neatly.
Sid turned back to his switch board, quietly giggling to himself. "I hear ya."
Craig hefted a red neon rescue can onto a shoulder, "I'm going on patrol. Eddie, check with the other towers, see if they've got heavy water developing, too. Shauni, get the flag up."
The two nodded and watched Craig jog down the ramp and begin a scouting run along the water's edge, keeping his eye on the muddier water of the abnormal current he had spotted and its relation to where the sea bathers were. So far, things were normal.
According to his wife, Craig was the only transplanted Manhattan lawyer whose closet was half filled with power suits and half with ragged beach wear. He had to admit, even the maid scoffed at umpteen paris of sandy toe thongs lying alongside three hundred dollar eelskin shoes.
Craig combed some fingers through his salt powered, light brown hair as he ran. So far, he was lucky. As well as he could tell, the bay was still behaving herself and was cooperating with her usual fair day swells. There were no surprises, .......yet.
He returned to his thoughts.
Craig couldn't give up lifeuarding for the life of him. He took the gentle jabs dished out by fellow colleagues at his law firm in food humor, He chuckled at some of them" The surfer who never grew up, Hey sea bum! Ya do any heavy breathing to a gorgeous babe today?
Pomeroy made no excuses. He loved the work. It was in his blood.
He had come a long way.
Mitch Buchannon and he had been old college roommates back in the early seventies. Back then, the two were avid surferheads desiring nothing but a rad wave and an occasional one night stand. Together, they had the dubious honor of throwing the best beach parties around. Craig laughed to himself as he remembered all of the swimming races he and Mitch used to hold to see which one of them was the stronger. It seemed only natural for both of them to wind up as lifeguards with the county. The job suited their spontaneous egos.
They were one of the best lifeguard teams for many years.
Beach bathers, especially junior high aged ones, came to know them as the "Dynamic Neon Dudes". It must have looked funny seeing a tall, brawny Mitch next to a tall, but lithe Craig, running down the beach in tandem with matching black shades and red neon trunks. many female eyes were turned and it wasn't long before one particular black-haired girl carried Craig's heart away to the altar. It was Gina who took him to New yark to finish his PhD in law.
But the lure of the ocean remained and he soon returned.... to his beach. His sand.
It felt good under his feet.
Craig's eye followed the curl of the rip current flowing against the incoming surf. All of the swimmers were safely away from it, a good six hundred yards distant from the dark trough of out going muddy surge. He'd make sure that no one ventured into it...
He signalled the tower by waving his hand and gesturing with his life buoy by drawing a line straight above his head and down again three times.
Shauni saw him through her binoculars and signalled back, raising the red and yellow flag to half mast on its pole. One by one, the bathers heeded the cautionary and moved away from the rip. They moved north of the flag to where safety remained.
Craig relaxed a little and let them stay in the water.
Cory Davison drove her motorized wheelchair along the ocean view ocean gave her the tranquility that was so absent now from her life. cory found herself wathcing the snorkling instructors and their students learning the art of diving way out among the waves. She brushed an errant red strand of hair away from her eyes as tears threatened suddenly.
No, Cory Davison, ex-dolphin instructor for the Point Loma Naval Cetacean Institute, would never know the joys of swimming again. Thanks to a stupid accident, her legs were dead. Oh, it really wasn't the fault of the institute that an orca was turned loose by an animal rights activist into the tank she and her dolphins were training within. No, security had been as tight as it had always been that day.
Cory shivered against the memory.
She had reacted reflexively, without thinking, and she had put herself between the confused semi wild whale and her dolphin charges. The powerful wake leftby the whale's flukes as it veered off sucked Cory into an open running filter grate and her back was broken in two pieces. Full restitution had followed naturally and the settlement had been a big one....
So now, Cory had her life back.
She was without the freedom to pursue her life's ambition. Eight years of cetacean research had gone to waste. 'What a shame..' her colleagues had said in the hospital when they thought she was too sedated to hear them. "What a shame..." Cory the current quadraplegic echoed out loud. Quickly, she blinked away the sea and turned up the radio she had on a special mount by her head. It was the news of the hour and the weather report was next, "...This just in. The Naval Institute is missing a dolphin this afternoon from their highly classified testing facility. Charles Isaac, co-leader of the Greenpeace movement, was caught releasing the animal to the open sea while chanting animal rights slogans. The County Court House is expected to hear the case on Thursday. The amount set for bail is not yet known.... Moving on to the weather..."
Cory caught her breath, "Koko? Gone?"
She began racing her chair down the boulevard to the stony point of land reaching far out into the water. Once there, Cory began searching the breakers eagerly for any sign of dolphin. But only a wild pod of them were schooling fish beyond the reef in their usual fashion.
Cory's heart sank. But something inside of her would not die.
She took out a slender chrome whistle of high tech design on a matching chain from around her neck thoughtfully.
It was one o'clock in the afternoon. At 327 South Seventh Street, sunlight poured through a tiny flat's bay window that over looked the ocean. Its beams washed over therapy equipment against one wall and then onto a light walnut table.
There, a sun-warmed walnut frame glinted in the sun revealing a portrait of a slender girl in a wheelchair and a medal of valor from the Navy draped on a ribbon across its edge.
This was Cory Davison's home. A place where her sharp realities could be escaped, if only for a little while, through the creation of pastel drawings. Hundreds of chalk dolphins etched on paper swam in a river of pages over the tan bedspread.
The papers were weighed down by a small crate of wood which lay on a pillow. An address label on its nearby lid read, "Attn. El Cajon Museum of Cultural History, 327 North Seventh Street, La Jolla, CA."
A rich treasure trove of artifacts lay within the box, glowing under the light, only partially packed in shipping sawdust.
No one was home.
Suddenly, a shadow marred the harmony of sunbeams inside the small cabana. A figure was standing at the window.
Black gloved hands tested the window latch and found it unlocked. White lamay curtains billowed in the wind, concealing the figure as it stepped inside the room. Paper dolphins flew everywhere and into the intruder's face as the crate was lifted into black clothed arms.
The robber grunted and nearly dropped the precious find in surprise. The eyes did not see a heavy object fall onto the bed from the crate before a drawing tumbled in the seawind from the open window and covered where the artifact fell. There was no time to waste. The crook had what was sought by so many.
The dark figure left the way it came.
A last breeze from the closing window cleared the bed of sketches, revealing an object of beauty which sent the sunlight sparkling into all corners of the room.
It was a foot high sculpture of a dolphin leaping within a curling wave and the light it cast so brilliantly from the sunlight graced the bed richly. The ancient statue was made of the purest gold.
Trevor was having an excellent day. He was looking for the day's perfect ten. he scanned his water and saw her.... a gorgeous blond almost lost in the foamy breakers. He smiled and waved at her. She waved back, all teeth and golden tresses.
Trevor cat called.
Jill, still stuck in the tower next to him, rolled her eyes with a look of long suffering. Totally avoiding a glance at Jill, Trevor checked the angle of the sun and noticed it was lunch time. He signalled his replacement, a zitfaced eighteen year old named, Matt Brody. "Yo, Matt! Front and center." he drawled in his Aussie accent.
The knobbed kneed kid grabbed his sunglasses and started jogging in macho style over to his partner and promptly tripped over his huge feet. He scrambled upright and managed to make it to Trevor without losing too much face, "Shift change?" he drooled eagerly.
Trevor shook his head ruefully. Whoever hired this dolt for lifeguarding surely had little in the brains department. Trevor figured he'd better tread lightly, though, for the kid might turn out to be the club owner's son for all he knew. At any rate, he couldn't resist a barb or two, "Stop sticking your chest out, kid, or you'll wind up cracking a few ribs."
"Oh,... ah, " Matt articulated, "I remembered my binoculars today, Trev."
Trevor smiled blandly, "Good. Every good lifeguard ought to have 'em, don't you think?"
"Heh, heh, heh." I know, buddy boy. That's why I brought them."
The Australian decided not to press the issue, "Fine."
The blond barbie was still giving him the eye so Trevor decided to pay his bathing beauty a personal call. He tossed his head seaward, "Hey Matt. Ain't she a looker?"
The freckled teen looked and saw no one in the water except Mrs. Fishmeyer. "Her?" he laughed, "You must have a thing for grandmotherly types."
Trevor glanced out again and saw his perfect ten still smiling at him from the seafoam."Matt. Quit kidding with me, all right? Tell me you see a young, blond woman out there by the reef buoy."
Matt searched again. "No man." he frowned. "You must have been in the sun too long or something. How about going in for a swim to cool yourself off?"
Trevor, still seeing his dream girl, nodded confusedly, "Yeah, right. I I-I think I'll do just that."
He jumped down out of his chair, letting Brody take his place and he waded out into the water in front of them. He swan dived into the waves marveling at how well the woman was holing her own in the large, white breakers out there. She was both head and shoulders out of the water, beckoning to him with both arms. Trevor shook hi shead. "Oh, well." he thought. "She's a mystery, but I'll soon find out."
He swam powerfully out to sea. "Hey,..what are you doing way out here?!" he shouted. She didn't reply but wavered tantilizingly close, flashing him a winning smile. Trevor tried again with an even bigger smile. "What's your name, doll?"
Trevor was very near her when she laughed and ducked beneath a wave. "Hey!" he cried. He waited expectantly for dainty hands to pull at his trunks. A minute past. But still, he felt no fingering caresses. Trevor grinned like a cheshire cat, So, it's hide and seek, eh? Two can play that game."
He dove under for a peek and saw a figure swimming masterfully over the coral shoals far beneath him. He caught a glimpse of shimmering green, and a......tail?!
Trevor shot upwards. Now he really WAS confused. It was far too shallow for tuna to be around. And just where did the girl disappear to? Then he heard silvery laughter behind him. Whirling, he saw a mass of hair and an incredible smile beneath the water.
Her beautiful face was framed by the noon day glare from the surface and his eyes watered heavily as he tried to look past it. He squinted, and suddenly, she was gone. "What th--?"
Then a huge whirlpool sucked him away.
He had forgotten about the rip current! Its strength was terrible and Trevor was helpless within it.
At tower 34, Shauni had just finished changing into her red lifeguard suit. She was starting for the door when the phone on the inside door frame started ringing. "I'll get it Eddie!" Shauni shouted, and answered it, "Tower 34, McLane here."
A voice babbled into her ear.
"A WHAT was sighted by Crystal Pier?!" she exclaimed. The voice reiterated details."Ok, I'll let him know. Oh, one more thing. I got shanghai'ed into duty because of the alert, would you put me active? Thanks." She hung upthe line.
Outside, Eddie was in a director's chair keeping tabs on the bathers and nothing where his partner was patrolling the shoreline. He saw that Craig was still jogging slowly south in a very routine sweep. So far, everybody was playing it safe by not gping onto the rough water. Still, Eddie could remember past alerts where one or two people, who thought they were being macho, ended up getting stuck within a rip. Maybe this time, things would be different. Heartened, Eddie relaxed his vigil a notch.
Shauni came out to lean on the rail near him, "Hey Eddie. You're not going to believe this! HQ just called with a very weird story."
"Oh yeah? Try me. There's not much going on out here." he said. He took a swig from his water bottle and set it down next to a chair leg.
Shauni took that as an invitation and sat down in the chair beside him.
"Apparently, HQ saw a Coast Guard clipper out in front of Crystal Pier chasing something in the water. At first, they thought the boat was going after some hot shot jet skier. A closer look revealed that they were actually trying to capture a dolphin with a noose! Imagine that!! Chasing an animal with a rope and five hundred horses of screaming boat engine. How cruel can anyone get?"
"Imagine that..." Eddie said as he fell into a paroxysm of chuckles.
Shauni cocked a confused eyebrow, "Eddie, I didn't get the joke here."
Eddie elaborated. "Oh, ha, ha (Choke).. It's Flipper.. Making a run for it. Maybe he got tired of all of those slimy sardines his trainers were feeding him."
For Shauni's small size, she flugged him a good one. "Eddie, the poor thing must've been terrified having those men roaring down after it like that... I hope it got away."
Her fiance' was slowly recovering, "What would the Coast Guard want with a dolphin?"
Shauni speculated, "maybe it was coming too close to the leisure craft lanes and they were afraid of it colliding with a speedboat."
"That's pretty far fetched wouldn't you say?" he commented.
Shauni's face soured, "Oh, and I suppose you can think up a better reason..."
"No, I probably can't. Wait a minute. I know why headquarters was watching them so closely so far out of jurisdiction.."
"All right. I'll bite. Why?"
Eddie began to laugh helplessly again. His smile was infectious.
Shauni grinned. "Spill it funny boy.."
"Well," Eddie howled, "A dolphin taking out a cruiser would certainly give us a little business to take care of, now wouldn't it?"
Shauni surprised him by saying nothing. "Finishing the story..." she continued distantly, retrieving something off of the floor, "..the watchman also said she gave them quite a run for their money.."
"Now "it" is a "she"? Why can't Flipper be a "he"?"
Shauni only looked at him.
Eddie humored her, "Ok, ok, What was Flipper doing during the big chase?"
"Oh,..." she said, seemingly only half interested, "She was seen weaving in and out of the pier pilings getting everybody thoroughly..." She flung something at him. "...SOAKED!!!!"
A flood of water from Eddie's own bottle cscaded down his front. Eddie jumped to his feet, "Aggghhhh ! I guess I deserved that."
"You sure did. It's a shame that was WARM water." Shauni burbled, "The bottle I wore this morning was slightly colder."
Blinded, Eddie coughed and groped for a towel, "And here I thought I was getting it for the crack about the dolphin..."
"I never forget a slight, dearest.." Shuani waved the towel just out of reach, "Looking for something?"
Eddie groaned and stopped groping around. He wiped his streaming face on an arm, "Ha. I can't stop laughing.." he said sarcastically, "Can I sit down now, Pool eyes? Thanks.." He sat.
Nearby, Shauni was laughing so hard, she couldn't breathe.
He couldn't breathe. Trevor tried to reach the surface of the water, and failed. Darkness swept him away.....
On shore, Matt was laughing with a few of Trevor's flockers when he looked up, sighting for his partner. Trevor was nowhere to be seen. Matt stood up in the chair, scanning with his binoculars to the rip. He saw a flailing leg break the surface once and sink again. "Jill!!!"
The tall woman shifted away from her water irritably,
"What now?" she snapped.
"It's Trevor! He's in the rip!!"
Jill glassed the area and saw Trevor's hand reaching feebly into the air. His head wasn't visible.
Matt started for the water.
"No! You don't have a can. Call it in!" She grabbed a rescue can from its hook on the roof corner of her tower and hit the breakers, porpoising powerfully out to the dark tongue of ripping water. The huge waves made it difficult for her to keep sight of Trevor's location, "Hold on!! I'm coming.."
From the beach, Craig saw Jill go in from the corner of his eye. He unraveled his lifeline and shipped the elastic band over his shoulder. He spotted her target victim. "Trevor." he said through clenched teeth, "If this is a joke, you owe me two plane tickets for Gina and me, for an entire Las Vegas weekend."
Throwing his tethered life buoy behind him, he swam out after her.
Eddie and Shauni were now aware of what was happening in the Yacht Club's waters and called Sid for the rescue boat and a beach unit. They began watching all other areas for other trapped people. There were none. The two guards sighed in relief. They divided their attention between the oblivious crowds and Jill and Craig's run.
"Come on, hurry..." Shauni urged. She couldn't even see where Trevor's body was hitting the top anymore. The siren from the beach truck grew from the north. She could see Mitch coming fast.
Jill Riley treaded water at the last place she saw Trevor go down. The currents were very strong and they were pulling her farther and farther out to sea and away from the beachhead. She let them, knowing the launch would pick them all up beyond the coral reefs. Jill took a deep breath and dove deep, hoping to catch a glimpse of pink skin or striped shorts; she saw nothing. Jill resurfaced.
Craig was stationing nearby looking further out along the rip streaming out to sea."Jill! Do you see him anywhere?"
She shook her head, "No, Where did he go? Christ, " she looked at her watch."It's been four minutes already."
Craig cursed, knowing that they were now well within the brain damage window timeframe and he urgently looked out towards the reefs again. He saw the launch already scanning their outer edge beyond the rough water where the rip's energy was dying. "The boat's covering the rip outlet. Standard search pattern. Go!"
And he dove deep to the left.
Jill searched to the right. A long half minute passed and they both saw nothing but murky brown blue. They resurfaced, gathered sustaining lungfuls before trying again. And again. Unsuccessfully.
Jill said, "Corkscrew. Uprip. From the bottom. We've got to risk it before we get too tired to try!"
"Ok.." Craig said. He knew the added risk she referred to was one he willingly gave on many rescue attempts. "Let's do it. I'm with you.." He gave the corkscrew sign to the launch so that they would plan for the lifeguards' safety as well with scuba geared backup if something should go wrong. He got his thumbs up from Newman in affirmation.
Jill and Craig began their dangerous free dive to the base of the rip's belly. Arching their sweeps in ever widening circles, they past each other from opposite directions thirty feet below the surface and each spiraled upwards in a column back towards the sunlight glimmering far above, letting the rip's force sweep them along its submerged tongue. Long seconds later, the sinking cap of current flattening his hair finally eased. They were almost at the terminal outlet! Trevor most likely was already cast out of it ahead of them near the rocky seafloor.
Craig's lungs burned as the silence of the cold water around him turned the blood in his head into a shrill ringing in his ears from oxygen debt. He would have to come up for air soon. The pain in his chest was almost ruling him when a blessedly darker shape crossed his eyes.
Jill's arm struck Trevor's limp body about the same time Craig's did. They each grabbed a pale purple arm and bore the Australian hastily to the surface. The trip up seemed to take an eternity and each moment that passed was a living hell for both the senior lifeguards as they ascended as fast as they could go. Was Cole dead? They saw no sign of motion in Trevor's limbs at all through the murk.
Loud wind's whine and blinding white sun immediately greeted Pomeroy as he broke the top. He shook stinging salt out of his eyes and he hyperventilated desperately to end his own frantic air hunger demand. Then he willed strength to drag Trevor up next to himself and Jill, just moments later, while she pulled both their cans close for their buoyant, supporting help.
His trembling hands fouled on something cool and heavy around Trevor's neck as he rolled the man's unconscious face out of the water. "What th-?" Craig blurted out in surprise. A strange, intricate pearl and kelp necklace adorned his throat, not the fishing net or other sort of similar debris he had been expecting. "This thing doesn't float at all. Somebody had to have put this here." he muttered. "Might explain why he couldn't get out of the rip on his own or lift his head out."
Jill was nonplussed, "Forget it for now. Is he breathing?" she said, pulling the odd glimmering jewelry away from the front of Trevor's neck and chest. They were heavy. The gold filagree chain they were woven into was too well made for either of them to break or even lift free from their victim. Gasping with effort, she helped Craig tip Trevor's head back over one of their rescue floats so that they would get the clear airway they needed.
Craig listened carefully by Trevor's mouth and was surprised that he didn't see any of the deep blue of suffocation on his lips. Seconds later, comforting breath's mist warmed his cheek and below, he felt good movement in Trevor's chest from the tight bearhug he had around him. "Yeah. He's... uh... he seems to be fine. He's just out, that's all. Weird.. He's not even aspirated either. There's no water in his mouth." he said, looking up at Jill with utter surprise. "I don't get it. He was under for five minutes! He shouldn't be breathing,.. But he is.." He laughed in sheer amazement.
"Are you sure?"Jill asked. "It's pretty wavy out here. Maybe the bumpy water's tricking you." and she stared hard at Trevor's mouth and chest trying to see what Craig could feel. She didn't trust the pulse she felt under her fingers to be one that was in no danger of fading away.
"See for yourself. He's not even cyanotic." Craig shrugged and he waved unnecessarily for the launch's pickup approach. Jill did another kind of check and covered Trevor's mouth with hers while sealing off his nose with a pinch. Almost immediately she felt a resistance to a test puff of air she blew into his lungs. An exhalation from a breath already healthily drawn met her own going in, with a conflicting rush of pressure. Jill released Trevor's face and looked up, wide eyed in disbelief.
Trevor WAS breathing easily, in no distress at all.
Craig smiled and trilled the twilight zone theme spookily. "And the spectre of death shall have no power over him who has no fear of the briny deep."
Jill set her mouth in a firm line, "Oh, ha ha.. " she said dryly, "Let's get Aquaman here ashore. If air exchange isn't his problem, this cold water sure will be soon enough."
Mitch and Matt met the launch as it ground to a halt on the beach.
Mitch hardly looked at Trevor as he grabbed him under the arms,
"We've got the resuscitation equipment laid out by the truck. If we hurry, we can--"
"You won't need it. " Craig drawled.
Mitch hesitated., shifting his grip as they carried Trevor over to a backboard waiting on the sand. Craig sounded more...bored than anything else. "What?" Mitch blinked.
"He's breathing regularly like clockwork, Mitch. Only he's out like a light."
The four of them eased Trevor onto his back and centered him on the long board. Mitch put an 0/2 mask over his face and secured an airway. He felt for a carotid pulse in Trevor's clammy neck.
It was there.
Mitch looked up, his face full of question marks.
"We can't understand it, either." Jill commented, "Maybe he was getting to the top longer than we expected."
Matt hovered close, "How is he? I'm the one who spotted him. I got Jill a-and.."
Mitch couldn't believe what his eyes were telling him. Here was a man who had been caught underwater for over four minutes. And he was still breathing... He shook his head, "I don't know.. I...he's...breathing just ...fine," he didn't meet Jill and Craig's triumphant conspiracy of smirks.
"We'll have to wait until the paramedics get here to be sure he's out of danger."
He saw Trevor was deeply unconscious but in good shape otherwise.
Mitch cleared his throat, meeting his guards' eyes in all serious business.
The anger rose up only then, "Just what the h*ll was he doing in the water!
Matt said that there was no one in the area who was in trouble!"
Jill and Craig fought to keep straight faces.
Craig spoke up, combing some fingers through his hair, "Beats the h*ll out of me.. Maybe there WAS someone going down out there. I don't know. I sent the launch back out on another sweep just to make sure."
Matt had noticed the strange necklace around Trevor's neck. He pulled it free and held it up and his mouth flopped open, "Will ya look at these!
They must be worth a fortune!" He pointed to an ornately marbled pearl that was the central piece, "Wow! This is a black pearl. Look at the size of it!"
The pearl hardly fit into his hand.
"That bauble isn't our concern right now, "Mitch told him, "Trevor is. Not put that thing in the truck for safe keeping and go get a thermal blanket,
Matt blinked, "Oh, yeah, ..uh, right." He went.
Mitch's walkie talkie crackled. It was the launch boat, ##Tower 34, this is Rescue One.##
"Go ahead, Rescue." the lieutenant replied.
##Yeah, this is Kip here. Ahh, ...We've circled the perimeter of the rip,
and...there's..no sign of another victim.## The voice sounded sad and uncomfortable.
Mitch reassured him, "Kip, tell the guys that there was a good chance that this one was an error, that the club guard may have been ill, ok?"
Kip was heartened, ##Will do. Returning to base.##
Mitch wrapped up the run, "HQ, our man's ashore. Water sweep's clear.
Recall all responding lifeguard units to base. Tower 34 out."
Craig crossed his arms together, "So there goes that theory. If anyone had been in trouble, the patrol would've found them by now." He frowned,
"Matt, what did Trevor see out there?"
The teen had finished laying a foil blanket over his partner's still form, "A perfect ten." he answered.
"Hmm?" Mitch queried.
Matt clarified, " 'A gorgeous blonde.' " he said. I didn't see anyone except Mrs. Fishmeyer. And all of us know that Mrs. Fishmeyer is far from being blonde, or a perfect ten."
The men laughed. Jill kicked Matt in the butt, "Cute, Matt, Th-that's real cute." she said sarcastically.
Matt went on, ignoring Jill, " I figure he got a little too much sun. He was acting a little funny."
"He ALWAYS acts a little funny." the rest said as one. Everyone exchanged surprised looks at their mutual outbursts echoed out of everyone else.
Mitch shrugged off the jinxed moment, "Well how do you explain that strange necklace?"
No one had an easy answer.
Under Mitch's hands, Trevor began coughing and struggling wildly.
The 0/2 mask went flying. It took all of them to hold him down.
"Hey, hey. Hey." Craig yelled, "Just take it easy. You're out and on the beach."
"NO!" Trevor screamed, "You don't understand! SHE'S out there.
Y-You've got to get her out of there!! *gasp*"
"Stop fighting us a second, Cole." Jill shouted firmly.
Trevor quieted, rolling over onto his side to spit out some salt.
"..oh.." he moaned.
Everyone else, except Mitch, began talking all at once.
The whole situation was a little too weird, even for the one who was supposed to have seen it all before. Mitch rubbed his face with a hand in irritated frustration, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute! Just.
Shhh!" he hissed.
Everybody moused down. Silence reigned except for the waves and seabird cries.
"Not you, Trevor! I want you to shed some light on this whole thing!"
Trevor croaked meekly, "Well...what do you want to know?"
he said, turning back over onto the board.
Mitch let out all of his breath in one long, controlled sigh,
"Trev,...WHO'S out there?"
"A girl. My girl, uh..." he changed track. "A dreamy blonde.
She was out there by the reef buoy.." Trevor answered dutifully.
"Annnd?" Mitch encouraged with irritation.
"A-and she wanted me to go out....."
Mitch smiled, "That's better." Honey dripped from his voice.
"....there." Trevor finished, pointing out to sea.
Jill piped up, "Whoa. Whoa. Mitch, ....let me try." Jill was dubious. "Trevor, when we got to you, you were alone. The launch just confirmed it."
Cole looked at all the faces riging around him one by one, "No way. No way!" his voice cracked. "Guys, I KNOW what I saw..."
Jill stood, "Yeah? Right! This is probably just another stunt of yours trying to get me to start paying attention to you. Well, I've got news for you. It's not going to work. "Going out into that rip was really stupid, Trevor. You know that?"
"Jill, keep it down." stage whispered Craig. "You're gathering a crowd."
"We ALWAYS gather a crowd, or haven't you noticed?" she tossed back, acidly sweet.
Mitch was determined to keep things civil, "Uh,.please don't..." he pleaded. Craig and Jill stopped. Inwardly, Mitch gawked. His two senior guards actually listened to him for once. Mitch could've gaped at them all day..but there was pressing business at hand. "Trevor,..from the top..."
Trevor dropped his head, with a hollow clunk, back onto the long board,
"I tell you, I saw her. There was something.. a big green fish or--... You see, ..there was this tail....a-and..."
Craig speculated, "It was pretty choppy out there. It was hard to see much of anything, let alone fine detail. Perhaps one of your teenaged devotees was playing a practical joke on you..."
"Good for her.." Jill quipped. "She almost managed to end your useless l-"
"JILL!" Mitch roared.
The blonde woman stifled into tolerable rumbles.
By now, Trevor was nearly overcome with shaky exhaustion,
"I tell you.. I-I never saw that girl before in my life!" Tears threatened to burst free, "She w-was so beautiful.."
"Try and relax now." Craig comforted, feeling Trevor's wrist for an updated pulse quality check. "Help is on the way. You'll feel much better if you don't try and move around too much."
Trevor grabbed his arm, "So beautiful.. like a siren from Greek Mythology."
Jill had had enough. She wasn't buying another minute of such b*llcr*p. "Oh for Pete's sake! You're not really going to BELIEVE him? Next, he'll probably tell us he saw a frickin' MERMAID!...I'm going to go wait for the ambulance until it comes. Call me if you need me." She stormed off.
Mitch was muttled. He tried a different tact. "Listen, Trevor.. we all know how sometimes a skipped workout or forgetting to take in fluids can sometimes cause a cramp. So, why don't you just drop the charade and adm--"
The distraught man nearly levitated, "I haven't missed a single morning's workout and I never, EVER to on duty without dring PLENTY of water before, during, and after my working shift. Just ask Matt here!"
Matt smiled in unconvincing support.
::Uh oh.:: Craig thought. ::Mitch absolutely hates conversations like this:
He decided to sit out the coming ringside rounds by putting away the 0/2 apparatus. Craig was securing the last strap in its housing when something glittered into the corner of his eyes from the sand at the waterline. Curious, he strode down to the hard pack and scooped up the object before the next wave scooped it away.
Mitch and Trevor were still at it when he sauntered back over to them.
"All right, already!" the shaken Australian shouted. "Perhaps the sun WAS a little too warm today. Perhaps I didn't see anything. Perhaps.
I was hallucinating! But I tell you, it was the most realistic hallucination I've ever seen. I mean, I could HEAR her, smell her perfume.."
Mitch narrowed his eyes, shrugged, and mulled over it, licking dry lips.
Finally he said, "You'd be surprised by what sunstroke can lead you to believe.."
Trevor was incredulous, "Sunstroke? Sunstr--?!" he broke off, miffed.
"All right, have it your way, guys. I didn't..see..a thing. To Jill, I was playing up to her. To you Mitch, I had a cramp brought on by too much sun! Ok. Fine! I didn't see ANYTHING real at ALL!"
Trevor let his head fall back,(Matt missed catching it)with a heavy clunk(Craig winced)and folded his arms crossly.
"Then how do you explain this?" a voice interjected. It was Craig.
He tossed the object he had found onto Trevor's chest.
It was an exquisite ivory comb encrusted with what could only be myriads of emeralds, rubies and more of those eerie black pearls.
The group was stunned.
Trevor stuttered. "Q-Quit joking with me, guys. This isn't funny."
"Well, neither is this!" Matt said flinging the intricate pearl and seaweed shell necklace to Cole. "We found THAT, around your neck."
Trevor paled at the heavy weight and undeniable reality of the crusting jewels held in this hands.
Mitch extricated the delicate comb from Trevor's numb fingers.
He gave a low whistle of appreciation. "This has got to be worth millions..Craig, I think we should give Garner Ellerbe a call."
"Yeah.." he entoned, slinking off to the Venice Beach skate path to do the errand.
Trevor laid back down again, "I-I-I don't feel well all of the sudden.
uh...This isn't happening to me." and he started shivering even as his rich tan washed into transparency.
Mitch pulled the blanket more snugly around Trevor's shoulders,
"Whoops, it's shock closing the gap. Don't fret, mate." he soothed.
"Maybe that girl you saw WAS a mermaid." He laughed heartily.
Trevor Cole didn't smile. For once, Trevor Cole had nothing to say.
Hobie was free. It was Saturday; he didn't have to worry about anything at all. No chores, no junior lifeguards.
nothing except the smooth ribbon of concrete weaving under his lime green roller blades. And about his two buddies, who were an infuriating fifteen feet in front of him, "Robby! Stevie!
No fair ducking underneath couple's arms. We race the straight way, up the middle!" Hobie sucked in the wind between his teeth and skated like mad down the asphalt path after his two friends.
Robbie laughed, doing a 360 around a bikini clad, walkman infested jogger, "What's the matter Hobie? Getting old? Let's go!"
"Yeah! Stevie echoed, "Hurry up or we'll miss her!"
"Miss who?" Hobie wheezed as the three of them hit the top landing of the Fifth Street stairs starting the descent down to the beach sand dunes below. They vaulted over the edge....
"Ahhh!!!!" Three boys' voices sang in terrified treble.
Plastic wheels vibrated downt the stone steps, threatening to rattle the neon helmets off of their heads. Rocketing momentum carried the trio bladers down and across the sidewalk flats at the bottom, startling a mob of frisbee players collected along the ocean wall, "Hey, look out!" one of them yelled, "What are ya doing? Trying to kill someone?!"
Hobie sliced up the sharp curve with ease, "That's the idea, mister.."
"Yeahhh!" Stevie hooted. "You guys are only worth ten points, though." Robbie added.
"How come only ten?" a blonde stud asked.
Stevie howled, "Because you look like a Neanderthal, man. My dad's got better lookin legs than you do."
The red-headed boy easily dodged a low flying beer can.
Hobie smirked. He was pulling ahead, "Come on you slackers! Get the lead out!!"
The seabirds were getting louder by the second now. Hobie looked down the path in eager anticipation. Deadman's Curve lay ahead and he knew he was going too fast... He couldn't help it, a blood curdling scream got out, "OhhhHHH SHHIIIII---------!"
Fortunately, his skates banked the sharp left through no volition of their own. Hobie felt his right skate clip the leaves off an overgrown border hedge inches away from the retaining wall's steep drop off. He opened his eyes and was amazed to find that he was still alive. Buoyed, Hobie surged ahead. "Ha!" he thought, "Now I'll show them. It's time for the grand finale."
A second flight of stairs neared. Hobie swiveled, backwards,
"Top this, dudes!" he challenged.
He was airborne.
Stevie and Robbie gaped as their friend spun once, high in the air. Hobie landed neatly at the bottom. Still grinning, the blonde boy smiled at his own tenacity. he saw that his two pals had chickened out at the last minute, buzzing the stairs nose forward. Hobie Buchannon crowed, "Scud wads! I'm champion of the world!"
Hobie turned ahead, pleased with his success, when the sidewalk ran out.
He had a brief impression of tan sand and blue sky. Twice. Then he hit like a ballistic brick. A huge plume of granite crystals sprayed high into the air. And down in a powdered arch of golden color.
Two teenagers sat up from their towels with a cry, their piled backs festooned in earthen khaki sparkles.
"Bummer, man." Robbie called from the safety of the landing. Stevie squeaked in mirth, unable to talk. Hobie was further humiliated when two high school aged girls rushed up to him, "Oh!" they fluttered, "Are you ok, little boy?"
Hobie sat up, spitting out sand, "Yeah," he said holding up his detached red helmet, "Saved by five pounds of fiberglass." Hobie faked a moan. The girls huddled in closer. "Do me a favor, huh? Would ya kiss my owie?" he pointed to a scraped knee. His would be rescuers straightened, "We're not that stupid. Don't press your luck, kid. Why don't you flag down that attractive lifeguard over there?" They jogged off. Hobie looked toward the nearest tower with brightening eyes, "Hey, yeah,
I never thought of that ang--"
A huge Arnold Swartzenegger type was assessing Hobie's status through his binoculars. Hobie shot to his feet and waved his healthiest hand vigorously. The lifeguard turned away.
Robbie and Stevie died on the sand, "Crashed and burned!"
"Strung and hung!"
"Shut up!" Hobie scowled.
"Ooo, we're quaking." Robbie teased.
Stevie looked up from the skate he was unlacing, "Are you two snagwads finished yet? Look, uh, Hobie, when you're done feeling sorry for yourself, she's right over there."
Hobie chucked off his last skate, "Where ? "
"Over by the jetty, man. You blind ? " Robbie was already light years ahead of the two of them, stepping over the rocks at the foot of the jetty. He began gesticulately wildly,
"There she is! Come on you guys !! "
Hobie stood, but he didn't move.
"What's the matter, Hob ? " Stevie asked.
"I-I can't go out there.. ."
"Why not ? "
"It's too dangerous."
"Awww, who says ? "
"My dad does. He says the rocks are loose out there. You could fall in."
"Oh," Stevie huffed, an irate hand on a hip, "And for that we're just supposed to forget the whole thing? Not me. Suit yourself."
The irish boy lugged his skates onto a shoulder and took off for the jetty.
Hobie fidgetted. If he was spotted on the jetty by the lifeguard,
his dad would probably find out about it. Most likely, he'd be grounded for a whole month ! But he really wanted to know who " she " was....
Gingerly, Hobie looked up and down the beach. he saw that his lifeguard sentinel had gone into the water for a workout. And there were no beach patrol trucks in sight... Maybe if he was only out there for a minute.. then immediately back again..
Hobie made up his mind, and ran after his friends.
Garner was eating lunch. A huge chili dog and onions, insisted on spilling all over his shoes. He groaned, trying in vain to stuff two thirs of it into his mouth as he walked the beach. A seabird dove low at his face.
"Akk ! Get away ! "
Garner only succeeded in losing even more cheese onto his shirt,
"Ah, wonderful. Just.."
He heard the sound of tire trucks behind him. He turned. It was Craig Pomeroy on pier patrol. The slender lifeguard grinned in recognition. "Hi, Garner. How's it hangin' ? " His eyes flickered to the mess running down the policeman's shirt. "Very funny. Did you see that ? I nearly lost an eye to one of those d*mned seagulls ! "
Craig shrugged, "Well, you are eating on their beach.. and you do look well fed and kinda slow."
Garner stopped chewing. "What does that supposed to mean ? "
"Good pickings. You were easy to steal from."
A commotion drew away their attention. They heard thrashing inside some bushes from behind a retaining wall in one of the beach front backyards. It was followed by furious watch dog growls and sounds of struggle. There was a hollow thud, and suddenly, the frantic barking ending in a keening whine and silence.
Garner instinctively ducked behind Craig's truck. He opened the passenger side door, keeping low, "Something's definitely odd's going on over there. Let's get under some cover."
Craig nodded, waiting for Garner to get inside of the cab. Then he drove the yellow truck into the shadows beneath some low fronded palm trees a short distance away from the beseiged house.
They both froze as a wooden slated crate dropped right in from of the truck's bumper. Two black trousered legs inched down the wall and a unmasked robber dropped onto the beach sand. The figure's eyes were so intent on the beach crowds that he never noticed the beach truck behind him. Hands picked up the crate and the prowler started creeping down the fence line. Garner motioned Craig to sink down into his seat. Then he drew out his gun. "Freeze,
mister ! Police ! "
The intruder whirled and saw Garner shielded behind one truck door and the wink of a badge. He ran out into the bright sunlight.
Garner flew out of the truck, "He's unarmed ! Call it in !" he shouted after putting his gun away. Ellerbee took off after him, motoring powerfully. "Halt! Or I'll shoot!" he said anyway.
The robber ignored him, gaining speed in spite of having the heavy crate in his arms.
"Aww, man." This was just what Garner hated. An unknown assailant loose in crowds of innocent people. He forced himself to go faster.
Craig saw them chase onto the sand along the water. He grabbed the C.B mic, "Baywatch ! This is Pomeroy ! I'm just shy of the seventh street cul de saac. Garner is in pursuit of a man in a black jumpsuit. It looks like a robbery in progress. Roll police jeeps my way on the double ! The suspect's heading north."
"10-4, Craig, " Sid answered, "They're on the way."
Craig spun tires as he went after them. He didn't know what to do except be a visual reference for the coming police units.
He followed the chase a short distance away, clearing the beach with his lights and siren. Beach flockers fled to either side of the activity with startled cries. Garner felt more confident with each passing second. So far, the robber either had no other weapon, or he wasn't planning on using it. And the man didn't appear to be in the greatest of physical shape either.
The intruder stumbled and grabbed a child. He hurled him into Garner with one arm, holding tightly to the crate with the other. Garner caught the screaming little one and absorbed the impact by rolling with him onto the sand. He sat up cradling the boy's head, checking him over,
"You're ok, son." Garner ferociously waved Craig on ahead to intercept the burglar. "He's ok. He's ok! Craig! Go on!"
When Craig saw the tiny boy go down, something inside of him snapped. "..No.." The he saw that Garner wave that the child was uninjured and to stay on the man.
He did so, literally. He cranked the sirens to full volume and sped inches away from the man's heels...
Breathing hard, the running crook saw the red flashing lights up the beach from the other responding police units coming toward him. He swerved away from the ocean, making for the pedestrian tunnel.
Craig cut him off and the robber's hip bounced glancingly off the truck's fender.
It was time to end this chase, once and for all...
Craig decided to get the man into his element. He pulled hard on the beach truck's wheel to the left, forcing the fugitive to either head for the water or get run over by two tons of Chevy truck.
A high wave tripped the robber, making him drop his precious load. Pounds of jewels and museum artifacts poured out onto the sand and kelp piles.
Craig's eyebrows rose, "Just look at that, will you?" he mumbled as dozens of beachgoers scooped up the glittering booty in greedy handfuls.
Two black and whites burst into the circle of looters,
"Don't move an inch, people!"
The arrival of the police jeeps froze everyone in their tracks.
The treasure hit the sand musically as people abandoned their finds.
Craig and a third police unit stayed on the thief's trail,
keeping track of the man's whereabouts even through the ensuing hubbub of the excited crowds.
Craig timed the waves and drove the truck as far onto the hard pack as he dared.
Quite suddenly, the man dove directly into the sea, heading out.
"Got you!" Craig said as he screeched to a halt, flicking off the siren.
He stepped out of the truck but kept the rover's lights flashing brightly for Baywatch backup to see from the tower.
Garner caught up with them, puffing badly, "He's getting away..."
Craig just smiled. "Not in those clothes he isn't." he sighed in effected boredom, "Shall I go get him?" he asked, putting on the elastic band of his rescue can, "You're too tired to go for a swim."
"Ha. Ha. Just be careful. He may have a knife or something."
Pomeroy went in, neatly diving under the huge waves. The man in black, on the other hand, was taking the full force of each wave into his face. The man sputtered, feeling the pull of his weighted clothing , trying to bear him down.
Craig noticed his troubles. "Hey mister!" he shouted across the twenty feet separating them. "You're gonna haveta kick off your boots and pants soon, or you're not gonna make it."
The robber coughed, "I'm doing * choke* fine.. Just stay away, ok?"
"Look, uh, sir, either you can come back to the beach now or I'll get you after you sink in a few minutes."
"Just shut up, lifeboy. I'm trying to concentrate here."
Craig shrugged amicably, "Suit yourself.." He waited patiently, floating easily on his can.
The exhausted robber took in a mouthful of seawater and nearly lost his fight to remain at the surface.
Craig hovered near, pushing his float towards the man, "I think you oughta take this now. You get any more water into your lungs, and you'll end up getting pneumonia for sure."
"I said shut up!" He lunged for Craig, who neatly pinned him in a shoulder tow grip. The robber was effectively immobilized.
All the fight went out of the man and he went limp, out cold, from emotional stress.
Craig kept the man's head out of the water as he swam him to shore, "Why do you thief guys always do this the hard way? You can't win." He tightened his grip, "Hang on, we're almost there." he said out of pity into the man's ear.
On the beach, a second lifeguard team had seen Craig begin his game of wait and fetch and was now set with a warm blanket for the comatose crook. Craig couldn't help but snicker at his leisurely accomplishment. He would be sure to not let Garner hear the end of it any time soon.
The lifeguard looked down and felt a surge of compassion for his victim. "I wonder what drove you to steal that stuff?"
On the hot sands, Garner Ellerbe wasn't so nuturing, he just itched to slap on a pair of solid steel handcuffs around his quarry's wrists.
It was busy in the breakroom. Two radios were going at the same time. Most of the male lifeguards were clustered around the coffee machine, listening to the Oakland A's game and they were getting louder by the second.
Shauni McLane turned up the volume on her own radio. It was a news update on the status of the escaped dolphin last seen around Crystal Pier.
##...........Coast Guard officials lost the marine mammal when the animal disappeared into a coral cove too shallow for the capturing clipper vessel to continue following. ##
"Yeyy! She got away!" Shauni celebrated.
Jill looked up from her Smithsonian magazine, "Hmm?"
"The released dolphin some crazy guys let go from the Naval Institute. It's still free.."
"Oh, oh. oh. ok." Jill sniffed, figuring it out. "It's a shame it won't live for long."
"Won't live f-- Jill, what do you mean?" Shauni asked.
Jill chewed on her reading glasses, "Think about it. All this creature has known is the confines of an eighty by three hundred foot tank. There, it knew no sharks, or fishing nets,
or even the reality of a large, open area. The sheer size of the sea has got to be overwhelming to the poor thing. Yeah, I'd say the odds are stacked against him."
"Her." Shauni corrected, clearly becoming distraught at her friend's speculations.
"Whatever. Shauni, it sounds like this is really getting to you.
Maybe you should stop listening to all the new flashes until things settle down."
Shauni sat a little straighter in her chair, "I don't think I'm over reacting. It's just that dolphins are ...so....cute.."
Jill stifled the broad smile threatening to surface, "Uh, huh. And.
you want to know what uses the Navy might have planned for her in case she ends up back at the Institute?"
"Well, that thought did cross my mind." Shauni admitted.
Jill relaxed into her seat, once again amazed at people's curiosity over dolphins.
As a graduate student, Jill Riley had once been as attracted to them. In fact, Jill had spent four years on an exploration vessel traveling the world, filming the friendly animals.
And she had past up one or two marriage proposals because of her rich devotion to her work. Jill liked to think that those failed relationships hadn't effected her; she was wrong. Eventually, Jill linked up with a biology professor at the University of San Diego as a teaching assistant.
One day, Dr. Croft and she were in his office, grading papers, when he suddenly collapsed from a massive heart attack. Jill was horrified.
She didn't know what to do for him. She had never taken a first aid class in her life. It took only two minutes for CPR trained people to arrive but nothing seemed to help. Dr. Croft was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Jill never forgot that day. She felt herself entirely at fault. She couldn't stop thinking that somehow, her own ineptness could have possibly contributed to her mentor's early death.
She abandoned her job at the college and enrolled herself into every first aid class she could find, vowing never to be caught unprepared in such a situation ever again. Her new schooling took her into the budding paramedical field with Karen, the first female paramedic in Los Angeles,
and then onto beach lifeguarding.
That had been seven years ago; but she never forgot her time with the dolphins. They were always going to be a part of her, like Professor Croft had once been.
Jill Riley smiled at her young friend, "Uses for dolphins,.. oh, let me see now."
She met Shauni's gaze with a reluctant look, "What do you want first? The good news or the bad news?"
"Give it to me straight, " Shauni breathed, "I can't stand it."
"Well, ... the navy has been known to...strap bombs on their backs..and--"
Shauni sucked in her breath, "Ooo, they don't!" she fervently wished.
Jill bit her lip, nodding. "Yeah, they do. I once saw some photographs from Pig's Bay, Cuba, where a dolphin took out a passenger ferry liner accidently instead of his target dummy boat. I mean, there was absolutely nothing lef--" she broke off. "I'm sorry, you didn't want to hear that." Jill frowned.
Shauni held up her hands in supplication. "No, no. It's all right.
I asked for it." She took a huge gulp of her coffee and grimaced;
it was cold.
Jill was at a loss for words. She opted to remain silent.
Shauni frowned in a sudden thought, "How can our government let this stuff go on? It IS still going on, right?" she answered her own question, "It HAS to be or why else would the Institute be so secretive and their training programs for dolphins.. There's got to be a reason why those activists have been causing trouble over there for so long... Man, there's got to be an easier way than using animals for military research and development."
Eddie Kramer came walking by with a bag of popcorn. He had overheard part of their conversation. He held out the rare snack. "Found a packet that no one else knew about.. Want some?"
Jill dug in eagerly. Eddie noticed Shauni's unusual lack of interest in the buttered morsels, "Shauni?"
She didn't hear him, eyes growing full and moist.
Jill spoke up around a crumbly mouthful. "She's worried about the dolphin."
"Oh, " Eddie nodded. He turned to his fiancee and hugged her from behind, waving the steaming bag under her trembling chin.
"MMm, don't these look good?" he snatched up a few and held them to her mouth, "Come on, eat me." he said in a tiny cartoon voice, pleading in baby talk, "Eat me, Shauni, plleassse..."
Shauni's face showed a whisper of a grin.
"There you go, " Eddie said in a normal tone, "Got one out of you that time. I love your smiles. I never get sick of them. Come on,
quit worrying about poor ol' Flipper. She'll soon be safe at home."
"At home just in time to be a living bomb!" Shauni countered.
Eddie scratched his head in confusion, his attention was already half back onto the Oakland game, "Shauni, don't make such a big deal out of all this. Some animals.. are... are just meant to serve man."
Shauni scoffed, eyes blazing. "As pieces of meat to torture and maim all for the sake of science?"
Eddie covered his mouth in horror. ::Oh, boy.:: he thought. ::Now, I really opened up a can of worms.:: He tried to reiterate, "I didn't mean that. I-I- I'm just as opposed to rabbits and mice being used to test new make up products as ..as..as you are." He smiled at his own reasoning ability, "And I'm sure that there are plenty of roles that dolphins fill that are good, too. Am I right, Jill?"
The blonde woman looked up from a volley ball game on TV, "Hmm?
Oh, yeah, uh, plenty. The Navy had a dolphin in the sixties, named Tuffy,
who was actually a deep sea "lifeguard" of sorts. He used to carry a rescue line to divers who became lost in the murk around a sea station and showed them the way back to Sea Lab in just a few minutes. Tuffy was creditted for saving twelve lives."
Shauni brightened measurably. "Really?" she sniffed.
Jill nodded vigorously. "Absolutely."
"Maybe that's what our dolphin does and maybe that's why they want her back so badly. Cause she's so valuable."
"Could be. Could be." Jill touted, happy that Shauni was perking up.
Shaui began eating what was left of Eddie's popcorn. She got a far away look in her eyes. "Yeah, that's what she does.
She saves lives. Just like me.."
Sitting behind her, Eddie got a little too enthusiastic over the game.
"Way to go, team! What a way to blow them to smithereens!!"
Shauni's smile paled into a shocked look and she erupted into tearful, sobbing keens.
Jill slugged Eddie with her magazine, "Way to go Mr. Psychology,
now you've REALLY cheered her up a whole bunch!"
Eddie regarded his co-workers with a genuine dismay and he promptly enveloped Shauni in a deep hug, stroking her hair and murmuring reassurances. "What?! What did I say now?"
Hobie negotiated the last of the salty stones at the end of the jetty.
"There she is!" Stevie called in triumph.
Hobie couldn't believe his eyes.
A small, gray dolphin frolicked in the water. Her body was fully covered with steel blue freckles from nose to tail and a light pink flushed her belly. She was quite near the humans, chuckling merrily.
"Close your mouth, Hobe, or you'll gather fruit flies." Robbie quipped.
"Huh? I wonder if she's tame."
"Of course she is, Dumbo. Why else would a dolphin like to follow people?" Carly smiled. "When we left her this morning, she hung around by us all the way back to the beach."
"She followed you?"
Stevie and Robbie started down by the water's edge to a ledge traversing the length of the manmade jetty. It's width was very narrow.
"Be careful you guys." Hobie cautioned, as a wave sprayed them all in a cloudy mist.
"We will." Robbie said, "But you're going to have to come with us or she won't go along."
Reluctantly, Hobie jumped down to the ledge, clinging to the back wall like glue. The waves made him dizzy.
"Come on!!" His friends yelled over the sea's crashing din.
Hobie went. Deep inside, he was thrilling at the nearness of the cavorting animal. She seemed to stick closest to him, chattering to herself all the while.
They made it to the pathway at the foot of the jetty near the concession stands in three minutes.
"Whew," Robbie sighed, "I'm thirsty. Let's go get something to drink."
"Yeah!" Stevie cheered.
Hobie stopped them with a hand, "Wait a minute." he beamed. "I've got a great idea!"
"What?" came two echoes.
"Let's go get some fish to feed Suzy."
"Why did you name her that?" Robbie asked.
"Because I liked it. Well, how about it?"
His two buddies agreed, "Let's do it."
They ran around the concession stand to the bait shop behind it. The three children had barely enough money to buy fifty small mackerels in a styrofoam bucket.
"Must be a good day for fishing, eh, kids?" the baitman laughed, "Gonna catch a big one for sure?"
"We already have." Stevie said seriously.
"Oh, yeah? How big?"
All three of them stretchd out their arms as wide as they could reach. "Bigger than THIS!" the red haired boy claimed, as they ran away excitedly.
"Yeah, sure." the fat man mumbled as he turned back to his work, "Everybody's a storyteller these days."
Hobie and his friends had a wonderful time feeding Suzy.
They were so absorbed in their task, that they failed to notice a shadowy figure sheltering under the concession stand eaves. The figure spoke. "She's being a pig, guys, but I'd go easy on the mackerel. She might get a sore stomach if she overeats."
The children whirled about. The dolphin started a happy chorus and began leaping in huge archs over and over again in a noisy spectacle. Hobie couldn't figure that out.
Suzy wasn't acting that way before the woman came,
"Boy, she really seems to know you.." he exclaimed.
The seated woman smiled and began braiding her long blonde hair, "Coincidence, I'm sure. See the ripples next to the sea wall? The dolphin's spotted a school of scalpin there. That's why she's excited."
Stevie and Robbie were a shy act and stayed by the dolphin.
Hobie went nearer to the skinny lady. Only then did Hobie see that she was confined to a wheelchair. He didn't ask about it. "What's your name? I'm Hobie Buchannon."
"That's a solid sounding name. Glad to meet you, Hobie.
I'm Cory Davison."
"Hi. The two rude ones over there are Robbie and Stevie."
Hobie went on eagerly, not really hearing what Cory had just said. "They're the ones who found Suzy..."
The small woman frowned, "Su- Suzy?"
"Yeah, the dolphin. I named her." Hobie clarified.
"That's not her name." Cory said softly.
Hobie didn't quite catch what she said, "Pardon me?"
Hobie smiled politely and went back to his friends. Robbie poked him in the ribs with a discreet elbow, "She's a little on the weird side, wouldn't you say?"
"Her?!" Hobie asked, jerking his head over to Cory.
"Nah,..she's just a little preoccupied, that's all." said Hobie.
Shauni had made it back to Tower 34 just in the nick of time.
It was three o'clock on the nose. Eddie had gone on patrol and had left her alone for a short time. She glassed the water with a practiced sweep. The rip current had died to harmless swirls.
The alert, was over. It was easy to relax. Even the swimmers sensed the sea had become calmer, for they laughed and splashed louder than ever among the tide's incoming waves. Shauni scanned for trouble spots and looked to the slate stone jetty in a routine check.
She delighted in what she saw. The errant dolphin was there spouting streams onto three kids at the jetty's foot. A woman in a wheelchair was with them but she remained well away from the edge of the steep rock piles. Shauni noticed that one of the boys was Mitch Buchannon's son, who wasn't supposed to be out by that part of the beach. Shauni shrugged, she didn't know why Hobie wasn't allowed to hand around the jetty neighborhood.
He was playing it safe enough by staying on the cement causeway.
The blonde lifeguard put on her sunglasses and refocused her attention back to the shallows in front of her tower. She made a mental note to ask Hobie how much fun it was to play with and feed a tamed dolphin. She couldn't help but feel a little envious.
::Oh, well.:: she thought. ::There'll be time for that later.::
They had run out of fish from their third bucket. Hobie felt that Cory had enjoyed feeding the dolphin more than the rest of them put together. Suzy acted differently towards her. Between mackerels,
she always returned to a certain spot, just touching Cory's outstretched hand with her head, before racing off again after a tossed fish.
It made him feel a little jealous. Robbie and Stevie had already become bored and had left for Baywatch HQ. He considered doing the same thing.
"Wait a minute. Want to see something neat?" Cory asked him.
Cory looked around in her hand bag, not finding something,
"I wanted to show you a trick that all dolphins can do with a little encouragement. I need something to wrap up one of these rocks down here by my feet."
"You mean this rock?" Hobie asked as he hefted a grapefruit sized chunk of stone.
"Umm. Hmm. " she accepted the boulder. Her grip was surprisingly strong, "Yep. Now I need a piece of cloth to put this in. Find me a scrap, and I'll show you something that'll knock your socks off."
Unceremoniously, Hobie peeled off his shirt and presented it to his new friend.
Cory blinked, "I can't use this. It's going to get wet."
"That's ok, I can always dry it when I skate back home again for dinner."
"All right." The crippled woman bound the stone within Hobie's red striped shirt. When she was through, she tossed the stone into the water beside the dolphin. "Now," she breathed. "Raise an arm over your head and pretend that you're throwing a baseball. Then tell Suzie to fetch the toy. She'll do it."
Hobie was skeptical. He couldn't even believe he handed over his favorite shirt. He figured it was gone for good, so he had nothing further to lose by humoring her and doing what she asked,
"Fetch, Suzie! Fetch the toy!" He swung an arm out over the water.
Unseen, Cory put something to her mouth and blew.
The dolphin moved.
And dove deep, disappearing for several seconds.
The sodden mass flipped out to land by Hobie's feet. The dolphin chattered happily.
"Wow! How did she do that?" Hobie said, retrieving his soaking shirt.
"Dolphins are really intelligent animals. Rather like a family dog."
"But dogs have to be TRAINED to do tricks." Hobie insisted.
"You've forgotten. Koko is tame."
Hobie spent a minute wringing out his shirt. "I know SHE is, but ..what I want to know is h--?"
A scuffle of thongs on pavement broke his concentration. It was Eddie Kramer, "I see you found the little daredevil everybody's been looking for. She gave the Coast Guard boys quite a chase."
Hobie looked up and grinned, "Yeah.. Cory here says th--"
Hobie looked around. Cory Davison was gone.
"She was here a minute ago."
Eddie fixed Hobie with an all business glower,
"Uh, huh, and your shirt just happened to blow into the water way over here by the jetty on its own while you were just roller blading."
"I'm waiting, then how did it get wet?"
"The dolphin fetched it for me. She's real smart! Er,.. That woman, er, who's gone, ..wrapped my shirt up around a stone and.."
Eddie was unmoved, "Sounds like a line to me..."
"No, really! It's the truth!"
"Hobie..." he warned.
Hobie shut up.
"I thought you were supposed to be a junior lifeguard. You know the dangers out here by the jetty better than anybody. Your dad isn't going to like this."
The remorseful boy looked at his stocking feet. "So you're going to tell him?"
"Maybe," Eddie said, hefting his can onto a shoulder, "Maybe not."
Hobie looked up, a desperate hope in his eyes, "You mean?"
Eddie interrupted him, "Provided that you are out of here in five seconds. I'm counting.. one,.....two...."
Hobie scooped up his skates and made tracks, "I'm gone. Bye, Eddie."
The boy disappeared instantly.
Eddie shook his head ruefully, "Kids today; they'll do anything."
He turned toward the sea and was greeted by a treble warble. He crouched down, "Hey ya, girl. Are you going to cause trouble for me?"
The dolphin chirped companionably.
Eddie smiled. "Yeah, well, I think I'll stick around for a little while."
His instincts were right on. It wasn't too long before he was nearly run over by a cluster of excited children, cheering over their discovery of the famous dolphin from the new flashes.
"Hey, hey, hey. Be careful, " Eddie warned, "Those rocks are slippery." He looked to the hyperactive creature by his feet.
Then he laughed, "It looks like you're gonna be a pied piper to every kid in the neighborhood."
The marine mammal leaped happily.
"Ok, guess I can stick around and make sure you all stay safe."
Eddie retreated to an open space to keep an eye on things.
(This section was written by Jeremy H, from my college days. He likes skydiving and writing letters to people like me as a penpal.
His stuff runs to the next - symbol to switch the scene.
Trevor awoke the next morning in a cold sweat. All night he had dreamed of swirling water and of the beautiful woman in the surf.
He turned to the clock on his nightstand and found that he had only slept three hours. He laid back down again..
Sleep came next to impossible. Finally, he got up and threw on a flannel shirt and a pair of Levi jeans.
Trevor Cole walked to the beach to listen to the calming sound of the waves.
He sat on a well known rock to watch the newly rising sun. The sky was a brilliant pale red behind him and the seafoam was dashed pink at his feet.
He looked around him, surprised that so few people were enjoying the dawn,
as he was.
Trevor heard a splash to his left. With a sudden start, he peered out into the water. He was just in time to see a tail slide under the surface. He ran closer to the waterline, his heart hammering in his chest. ::Not again.:: he thought.
But he saw nothing else. "A sea lion, yeah. That's what I saw." he said aloud.
His head still hurt from his near drowning two days ago and a cough came up unbidden from deep inside Trevor's lungs. He sat down once more, shivering. The doctor had said Trevor had been very lucky. He had only suffered a mild case of sun poisoning.
It was his fever that had driven him into the water. The Australian suffered another chill, recalling that day. The whole numbing experience still had a very powerful hold on his emotions. There was a dim fear that wasn't ever there before.
The off-duty club lifeguard stood and began to walk, ghosts hounding every step.
He ended up at Crystal Pier. Here, too, was devoid of people. The restaurant at the end of the walkway was still closed. Trevor leaned over a rail and looked deeply into the sea. Warm winds caressed his face, making his eyes water.
Slowly, a semblance of peace settled gently over him.
He thought he was alone, until he saw her.
A blonde haired woman sat, almost obscured, in one corner of the deck.
She was staring at the horizon with a far away expression on her face.
"Hello." Trevor smiled.
The woman jolted, a shocked look on her features."Oh, hi!..I- I didn't hear you approach."
"I didn't mean to frighten you, sorry."
The young woman brushed away the hair from her eyes, "You haven't. I just didn't expect to find anyone up so early."
Trevor smiled politely but didn't say anything in return. He rested his forehead on top of his arms propped along the white railing. The headache was back again, and growing.
"I've come to this place every day for the last ten years, and I've never seen anyone so depressed by the beauty of a dawn on the ocean. Want to talk about it?" Cory finally said.
Trevor sighed. "Am I so transparent?"
He regarded this stranger in a new light. She had long hair the color of the purest fire. Her eyes were the greenest he had ever seen. Her oval face was set with a quiet patience and she had wrinkles by her mouth that told of an almost perpetual smile. She was wearing a jacket that matched her eyes and a blue plaid blanket lay, covering her lap.
Strangely, Trevor found himself spilling out his soul to her. He discovered she was hanging on his every word, intently.
"....so then I got a clean bill of health and was released from the hospital.
You know, I still can't figure out who or what I saw out there."
"Maybe your friend Mitch was right.. Perhaps you were seeing things.."
"No chance of that, the other lifeguards found a weird piece of jewelry around my throat when they dragged me out."
The small woman said nothing.
It was beginning to cloud over; California was going to get its share of rain. Trevor looked at the sky. "Say, it's really getting dark. How about I walk you home?"
She looked up with a wry smile.
"What's so funny?" Trevor asked.
"That's going to be a little difficult to do.." she said, folding up her blanket. That's when Trevor Cole realized she was in a wheel chair with her legs locked tight into it. Taken aback, Trevor apologized and offered to push her home."Thanks, but I'll manage. Say, listen. If you ever want to talk again, I'm here this same time just about every morning." She turned to wheel away. Just then, a shaft of sunlight burst through the cloud cover and bathed the both of them in a golden haze.
"Hey, do I know you?" Trevor asked.
But the woman was already out of earshot and blending into the fog as she moved away.
Trevor succumbed to the wishes of his body and sat down once more on his favorite rock to rest a few minutes later. Sweating, Trevor finally acknowledged that his fever was back once again to plague his very thoughts.
A truck pulled up along side of him and he snapped from his reverie. He recognized Craig Pomeroy from the public beach, "Hi.." he ventured.
"How are you feeling today, Trevor?" Craig asked, genuinely concerned for his former charge. "We saw you out here by yourself, looking a little green."
"I'm not going swimming again if that's what you mean." he smiled weakly. He frowned. "Maybe I am still sick.." Trevor looked up with worn eyes. "I imagined I saw something in the water again today."
"No you didn't." said Craig, answering easily. "There's a tamed dolphin loose. He's been wreaking havoc on us for three days. People keep drowning themselves to see him."
Trevor had to smile at that.
Craig opened the door of the yellow beach truck. "Come on, How about coming to HQ with us for a cup of piping hot coffee? It looks like it's going to rain any second now."
Trevor felt the first drops fall onto his shoulders. "Sounds like a plan." He stood.
"Are you sure all the women won't lynch me once I'm there?"
Craig grinned. "Been that much of a pest to the lifeguards, eh?"
Trevor slowly eased himself into the cab seat next to Roy. "Guess I must've been a big one. Say, fellas, on your way here, did you happen to see a blonde haired woman in a wheel chair leaving the pier's beach area?"
"Nope. She a friend?" Craig asked Trevor.
"Nah, I just met her this morning. But I swear to you, I've seen her somewhere before."
"Did you catch her name?" Craig asked. "Maybe I know it."
Trevor frowned. "That's funny... I don't KNOW what her name is." He moaned in frustration. It was one more thing to worry about.
"Don't get worked up about it." Craig soothed. "A few aspirin to lower your sun fever and two cups of caffeine ought to jar your memory."
They drove off.
Behind them, the song of a dolphin mingled with the rain.
Cory wheeled up the ramp of her apartment. It was the first time she had been home for days. She had stayed with her old friend Linda and helped her dog whelp fifteen Labrador puppies.
There was an official notice on the door frame. Cory ripped it down with shaking hands. It outlined a search warrant and a copy of the police report telling of the robbery that had occurred.
And of the death of her neighbor's dog.
Cory unlocked the door and hurried inside frantically. Inside, she found all of her things were undisturbed, except for the crate.
It was missing.
Cory eased herself onto her bed. Her dolphin drawings had been neatly stacked in a pile and a handwritten note from one of the visiting officers lay next to them. It scrawled how much he had admired her artwork how he had personally made sure the house was re-secured with locked windows.
Somehow, that innocent intrusion was nerve wracking. She hugged one sketch tightly to her breast. It was a pastel of the little golden dolphin statue.
Cory's will snapped and she started to cry swollen tears without a sound. The drawing swam before her eyes, "Oh, Koko, they've found me. I-I was going to give all of the treasure back. It..it was wrong to keep it for so long.. I wasn't thinking.. I wasn't !!" Cory beat her dead legs in frustration with hard fists. The pain in her hands finally made her stop.
She lay back down on her pillow, staring deep into the eyes of the dolphin drawing, "You are the answer to all my dreams. Koko, I won't let them take you away from me!"
The rain had completely burned away in the brilliant sunlight.
Mitch's office glowed in yellow warmth. Mitch Buchannon got up from his filing and twisted the venetian blinds shut.
There was a knock at the door. "Come in.." Mitch invited. He looked up.
A black and white photograph appeared in the open doorway.
"Look familiar, Mitch?" Garner said as he stepped into the room.
Mitch made his guess, "Yeah. Isn't that a photo of the jewelry we pulled off of Trevor Cole's neck? And that's the comb Craig found."
"Right on." said Garner. "The stuff is priceless. The comb alone is worth a cool 2.6 million."
"Whoa...." Mitch's boggled. "I wonder who's losing sleep at night over these things."
Garner smiled. "The La Jolla City Cultural Museum. They reported one of their shipping crates as missing earlier this morning."
"No kidding." Mitch said, "Why'd they wait so long to report it?"
"Now that's the interesting part of the story.." replied Garner, shuffling through the arrest folder he had brought with him.
"Try me. Coffee?" he held out a cup to Garner.
The ebony policeman shook his head vehemently, "No thanks. You lifeguards keep feeding me enough as it is.." He split a gut, remembering the chase Mitch had only read about. "Ha! Mitch you should have seen Craig pulling out our man, looking as smug as you please."
"You mean the robber who dumped all of his goods out onto the beach while trying to get away from you guys?"
"Umm hmm. Trevor's necklace, comb and that crate belong to a new exhibit opening up next week. The missing artifacts were accidently SENT to the wrong address by courier. Our robber had a serious beef with the UPS system and he figured he'd right things properly, once and for all, on his own." Garner related.
Mitch gawked. "Not the museum curator?!"
"The one and the same." said Garner. "All he had to do was check out the only other address in town that was nearly identical to the museum's own address.
N. Seventh Street as opposed to S. Seventh Street.. All of the stuff was there except for one thing, a small gold statue of a dolphin."
"And you found the statue in the house."
"Yes," said Garner, "And before you pounce all over me, the search and seizure we did in your district on the beach was legit, although the owner wasn't home at the time. We're still trying to locate her. The residence belongs to a one Cory Davison, an ex-Navy scientist of eight years."
"Gonna go talk with her?" Mitch asked. "What does she look like?"
Garner handed him a dossier and a photo of Cory.
"She's beautiful. Are you going to press charges for mail theft?"
"No. During the search, we found a letter she had written to the museum.
She was going to send the crate back to where it belonged when she was ripped off." Ellerbee said.
Mitch set Cory's photo down onto the corner of his desk.
There was another knock at the door.
"Come in." said Garner and Mitch in stereo. They looked at each other in a mild double take.
Two Coast Guard officials entered. One of them said, "Excuse me, lieutenant?"
"Buchannon." Mitch finished for him, taking his hand in return greeting.
"What can I do for you?"
"One of our helicopter pilots has sighted an escaped naval dolphin in your area.
I'm sure you've heard about it."
Garner piped up. "We sure have. He's been running these lifeguards completely ragged."
Mitch agreed wholeheartedly with Garner. "As he so bluntly put it. Yes, we have.
We've heard and seen the results of your dolphin's encounters especially."
"Yes, sir. It, unfortunately, got away from us. We were wondering whether or not a joint operation could be set up to recapture the animal using our trainers and your lifeguards. You see, we were thinking about using nets and--"
Hobie Buchannon skated into the room and collided with his father's desk. He came nose to nose with Cory's photograph and read the name typed in bold print at the bottom, "Cory Davison, huh.." he breathed. Then he saw the military men with the Naval Institute's logo all over their uniforms. His heart took a leap.
They were coming for the dolphin! He tried not to show the trepidation on his face.
Mitch was startled. "Hobie? What are you doing here? Can't you see that I'm a little busy right now?"
Hobie was crestfallen, "Gee, dad. I thought we were going to have lunch together."
Mitch edged around the desk, "Excuse me, gentlemen. This will only take a moment." He grabbed Hobie by the shoulders and started wheeling his son out the door, "How many times have I told you not to skate inside headquarters? You'll scuff the floor." Mitch smiled politely over his shoulders at his visitors.
Hobie was oblivious to the finer points of etiquette, "You'll never guess what I found yesterday...."
"Yeah, how'd you know?"
"I'm clairvoyant. Now would you mind getting out of here?"
"Sure, no problem. One more thing, dad."
But his father was already half inside the office again. "I don't have time to talk right now, Hobie.."
Hobie called out after him, loudly. "It's about the picture of the lady on your desk. I ran into her a few days ago. I think she's a dolphin trainer who's worked with the escaped dolphin!"
But Mitch wasn't listening anymore. "Later!" came the faint reply.
Hobie shrugged and skated for the front door. He nearly ran into Shauni around the corner.
"Whoa there!" she burbled as she caught him and saved them both a tangled fall to the floor. "Where's the fire?"
"Sorry, Shauni." Hobie wriggled out of her arms and got out of there.
She preceeded on to Mitch's crowded office.
Hobie's voice floated back towards her, "I wouldn't go in there if I were you..." he warned.
::Uh, oh.:: she thought. Another father/son disagreement. She knew well, how those went. They still happened between herself and her OWN dad.
For twenty one years, Shauni had had to butt heads with him.. over everything: Which school she would attend, which cheerleading team to join, what clothes she was to wear. It was all very nauseating. She had absolutely no sense of individuality because Daddy had created her in the image that he wanted to see. Just to appease her own frustrations,
Shauni started carrying out interests of her own, secretly. Like her modelling.
::Now that had fit well with Daddy's wishes.:: she thought ironically.
::Not.:: Shauni didn't even bother to tell him the amount of money she landed as a clothed exotic dancer in a nightclub her senior year in high school.
The real problems began when she had started dating. Every guy had to be a doctor or a lawyer straight out of Yale with a six digit paycheck. ::Daddy was always the perfect matchmaker.:: Shauni frowned.
But it was plain ol' Eddie Kramer who encouraged her to break away from the well do to Mr. McLane's devices to become whomever she wanted to be,
no matter what. One of the first things they did away from Daddy McLane,
was to go through lifeguard training together and then she moved out,
despite a storm of protests. Only the law and the fact that Shauni was already a three years legal adult that kept Daddy McLane from pursuing them and taking her home again with him to the McLane Mansion.
Naturally, Shauni fell in love with Eddie. For he was the first person who had ever respected her as the separate, living, FEELING individual she was who still had hopes and aspirations going on that were very different from those of his own. And he had never, ever stifled her; not even once.
And that made Shauni feel truly loved for the first time in her life.
::Now the true test'll actually be marrying him and then having children of our own.:: she mused. ::Will we allow our kids the freedom to be themselves too?:: Shauni hoped that she had learned that lesson well enough in time for them.
She smiled, thinking how wonderful it would be if they would turn out as free as Hobie Buchannon seemed to be.
Shauni steeled herself and entered Mitch's ready room.
Four heads in close conference looked up.
"Shauni, what can I do for you?" Mitch piped up.
She handed him a stack of index cards, "Here are the rescue cards for the last past week. You requested only those ones that involved the tame dolphin in some way."
"Ah, great." Mitch smiled in relief, "Just in time." He took them from her and slapped them into the palms of the highest ranking navy official.
"Nine people have nearly drown because of your freed dolphin. One of them, was a beach front lifeguard. I'll do anything to get rid of it." he said firmly, his eyes sparkling with anger.
The big man aquiesced, "Ok. Let's get to work then. Here's what I've got outlined so far." and he started to recite his plans coordinating lifeguard clippers and coastline helicopters.
Shauni turned to leave, then she turned back again after a slight hesitation.
"Uh,, Mitch ? "
"Yes ?! " he whispered, in barely contained fury.
"I saw Hobie hanging around the jetty neighborhood yesterday."
she said, thinking she was being protective of the child. "I thought you'd like to know that."
"Hobie ? He knows he's not supposed to go there. Where is he ? "
Shauni pantomimed rollerblading, shrugged both shoulders, and left.
Mitch really had a hard time concentrating on the schematics of the huge dolphin "safari" operation after that.
The official's voice droned on, "So, would this course of action be acceptable to you, Lieutenant ? "
Mitch looked up, "Hmm ? "
Garner choked on his donut, laughing hard behind his back. -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Hobie, minus his skates, dejectedly tromped up the ramp leading to Eddie's tower. He slumped wordlessly into the canvas chair next to him.
The older red trunked man mimicked the boy's actions and slumped just as low into his own chair. Hobie was mildy surprised when Eddie didn't ask what was bothering him. In fact, it looked like Eddie was feeling a little down, too.
The boy broke the silence. "Did you lose a swimmer today?"
"Nope." Eddie said, not looking at him. "Lover's quarrel."
Hobie killed a moment by juggling with Eddie's sunglasses,
binoculars, and a civilian CPR book.
"Neat trick." Eddie said unenthusiastically.
Pretty soon, Hobie got bored with counting all of the gorgeous babes he saw walking by in front of him. "Wanna talk about your problem?"
"If you talk about yours." Eddie countered. "You first."
"Ok, pretend that you are dad."
Hobie took in a deep breath, imagining his father's face in front of him. "Dad, you told."
"He did?!.....uh, I mean. I did?"
"Yeah! Two muscleheads are with you now going over the big dolphin hunting trip details!"
Eddie ran some fingers through his hair, "Oooo, rough, uh.. *cough*
What can I do, son? She has to go. People have gotten themselves in a lot of trouble trying to get closer to her. Would you want to be held responsible for their lives?"
"Well, I am, Hobie. I have to worry about the thousands of people who come to the beach every day, expecting me and my guards to keep them safe."
Then, a big, almost grown up, eleven year old boy, started to cry.
Eddie startled, pulling his feet down from the tower railing. "Oh, geesh.."
He put a reluctant hand on Hobie's shoulder. He hated it when kids cried too. He saw at least ten of them every day. He hated it especially when one of them was a close friend. "Aww, Hobe. Show some backbone.
Just think, she'll be going home soon now and won't be starving anymore."
Hobie's tears flooded anew. "But I wanted mom to see her!!"
"Look, I know how difficult this is for you; when you want something so bad.. that...that ..that you can almost taste it." He nodded encouragingly.
"No you don't. *sob*"
"Sure I do. Listen.." Eddie guided Hobie's head to his red jacketted shoulder and held him close. "When I was nine, I found a puppy that didn't belong to me.
I had him for two whole months before my dad located his real owners. My dad then told me, that I had to give him up.. That night, they came to take him away.
I ran to my room and locked the door so I wouldn't hear them come inside the house to get him. When the front door closed for the final time, I couldn't resist peeking out my window. There I saw that the pupply belonged to a little boy, even younger than I was, and that he was crying...because he was so happy to see his Little Lucky again. Later, in school, I kept picturing how many nights that boy must've stayed awake worrying about Lucky and wondering whether or not he'd ever see him again. ...Then I understood, Someone ELSE needed that puppy more than I did and that it was very wrong to keep him apart from those who originally loved him."
Hobie slowly stopped crying and just sat there, nestled in Eddie's arms.
Eddie didn't want to move, "So you see, Hobe. That dolphin has a place where she belongs and it's up to all of us as lifeguards, to take her back there."
Hobie thought hard about the boy, and the puppy, ...and Suzy.
Finally, he found his inner peace.
Hobie was on the jetty.
He didn't know why he was there, it just turned out that way.
He was on the storm ledge again, working his way out to sea.
The violent waves made him dizzy, splashing on either side of him.
He closed his eyes to steady himself. When Hobie reopened them, he saw that he had found what he was looking for.
Mitch walked onto the main deck of Baywatch. He went over to the main duty watch guard at the windows, "Bird eye my son,
would you? I need to talk with him. Real bad." His foul mood permeated the room.
Every lesser ranked lifeguard tried to disappear behind slates and retaining walls. Mitch split the air. "Have any of you guys seen Hobie?!"
Jill and Trevor Cole looked up from their coffee cups. Jill responded,
"I saw him at Eddie's tower a half an hour ago. He looked pretty upset."
"Upset? I'll show him upset.." Mitch growled. "Trevor, you're with me.
Jill, go call Eddie and see if he can spot him, will ya? Hobie's got some explaining to do." He grabbed up the required red rescue can he had to keep with him into his palm. Mitch turned on his walkie talkie and hooked it to his belt, "We'll be on the boulevard, Jill. Buzz me when you find him.
Come on, Trevor.. Move it!"
A rookie spoke up to no one in particular. "Eee, I feel sorry for Hobie."
"Hobie?" jibed her companion, admirer's hearts in her eyes, "I feel sorry for Trevor.."
Jill spit coffee all over her newspaper.
Trevor had to run to keep up. He peeled off his shirt as their fast walking pace drew sweat. "Why are we going to see Hobie?" he asked.
Mitch told him, "Because I just found out that he didn't level with me about being at the jetty a bunch of times this week with his friends. My son's never lied to me this badly before." He jumped when his radio beeped. He answered it, "Riley? Go ahead."
##Eddie said he left to the north about five minutes ago.##
"Ok, thanks. I owe you one." he turned to his companion, "How much do you want to bet he took his friends out to go see that dolphin again?"
"He's spotted it?"
"I'll say, Shauni's said that he even fed the thing fish to keep it around."
They continued toward the jetty neighborhood. Mitch put down his binoculars,
remembering something. "How are YOU doing? I forgot that you're still on the sick list.." and he slowed down his ferocious walking pace to a crawl, out of deference to Trevor's less than top notch condition.
"Going back to work soon?"
"Day after tomorrow. I figured that going back to work as soon as I'm cleared will help me get my mind off that woman I saw."
"Still think she was real?" Mitch wondered.
"I don't know. That memory's still a real fuzzy mystery."
Trevor admitted, wiping sweat off of his brow. He only faintly started puffing, out of breath from their exertions.
This time, both of them jumped when Mitch's radio beeped again.
"Buchannon. Go ahead."
It was Manney, the watch guard in HQ. ##Lieutenant. We've found Hobie.##
##Climbing on the 5th Street Jetty at the beach terminus with a couple of other boys..##
Mitch scowled. "That tears it.. I'm gonna kill him.."
He walked faster.
They were almost there when Garner Ellerbee flagged them down..
She was there, swimming in the last place Hobie had seen the dolphin. It was a woman with long blonde hair in a shimmering green bathing suit. Her back was to all three of them.
Hobie went closer to her, "H-Hey there.. H-Have you seen a dolphin around here anywhere? We saw it yesterday and--"
The woman turned to face the children, a look of surprise on her face. It was Cory Davison!
Hobie was shocked, "You're the lady I met yesterday. The one the police are looking for!"
Cory shook her head in desperate denial, moving away from him.
A sleek dolphin erupted to the surface, blowing powerfully.
The paralyzed woman was sitting on its back!
She cried out, "Oh, no! Leave us alone!"
Hobie scrambled along the ledge, trying to keep up with Cory and Koko, "Hey, Cory! Wait a minute! I just want to help you--"
At that moment, his foot slipped on a slick boulder and he tumbled head first into the deep froth.
He had no time to cry out.
"No!" Cory screamed. "Koko! Forward!" She and the other kids tried to grab him but a wave swept him away out of sight. Cory guided Koko nearer to the jetty. The animal swam with great strength over the next wave's crest and down.
Hobie was gone.
"Hey Garner? What's up?" Mitch asked, tossing his can into the air.
Garner puffed as he caught his breath, "I just wanted to tell you that we found out more about Cory Davison. Apparently, she's a dolphin trainer who knows the escaped animal."
Mitch stopped in his tracks, "Hobie KNEW that. He tried to tell me.
I wouldn't listen." He started moving again. "Hobie's probably with her and the dolphin right now trying to fix things up."
"Great! Perhaps she can help us capture it.." Ellerbee said. The three of them rounded the last bend leading to the overlook.
Trevor went white as a sheet, looking through his binoculars, and stumbled.
"Trevor?" Mitch asked.
Garner grabbed the Australian's shoulders in support.
"What's wrong? Are you ill again?"
Cole stared blankly ahead, letting the binoculars fall through numb fingers. "It's her.." he pointed to a far distant woman in the water near the jetty. "She's the one I saw in the surf the day I almost drown."
They all beheld what looked for all the world, like a mermaid.
Then the walkie talkie sound an alert. A swimmer was in trouble somewhere.
Sid the dispatcher's voice came over the radio. ##To any available unit.
We've a boy off the jetty. Who's rolling?##
Mitch choked. "Hobie!!" He started running, dropping his radio, using his can as a barrier to protect his legs and face as he slid down through a tangle of bushes choking the length of the sandy cliff's face, to the beach below.
He didn't hear Eddie come over the line, but Garner did.
##Truck Two, responding. We're on our way, Baywatch#
He scooped up Mitch's abandoned radio.
As they rushed over the sand, Cole and Garner could see the lights of Eddie's truck as he sped through the wave splash to join them.
Mitch made for the beach, stripping off his tan uniform as he ran. Now, they could all see that Cory was on the back of a dolphin and that she was screaming for them, "Hurry!! I can't find Hobie! He was right under me..!"
Buchannon backstepped to a halt. He made his choice and peeled shoes and pants down to his red trunks.
"Hobie?!" He unraveled the line on his rescue can and slipped into its band. He hit the breakers, swimming in powerful strokes towards her. Mitch's plunge into the water, upset the dolphin.
Koko went wild with fear when he splashed near her eyes and Cory tumbled off, "Kok-- Come h--" A wave slapped her in the face.
She started to drown.
On the beach, Trevor saw her fail, too.
He, too, shed shoes and shirt. He knew that Mitch needed help now,
for Hobie was nowhere in sight. He dove in.
Mitch kept his eye on the woman. She was having a lot of trouble staying afloat. He was torn between diving to search for Hobie, and helping her. He chose to go for Cory.
"Here! Hang onto the buoy!" he commanded her.
"Can't! Paralyzed..Too tired.." She slipped under.
Mitch took a breath and went down after her, dodging clumps of burning oil. He grabbed her waist and pushed her to the surface.
She sputtered, sucking in huge lungfuls of air, choking on the acrid smoke around them.
"Easy, I got you." he encouraged.
"*choke*" she said, trying to speak. "T-he boy's--"
Mitch brought his float in front of them.
The swirling water was deafening. He agonized over leaving her, "Cory!
Listen! You've got to try and hang onto this. I've got to go after my son..!"
He tried to release her but she had no strength left. Mitch couldn't leave her.
He spun them both around, searching desperately for any sign of clothing. "Hobie!"
"Wait!" Cory shouted, growing more clear headed with her renewed ability to breathe while in his arms. "Koko can find him." She blew her whistle and the small dolphin surfaced next to them. Cory commanded her. "Koko. Seek! Retrieve the toy!"
Mitch was beside himself, "What are you doing?"
"Just trust me! Koko, now!" she sobbed. She made a sweeping gesture and the dolphin suddenly dove under the burning waves.
Trevor Cole got to them both, seconds later. Cole saw that Cory was in pretty fair shape, managing to keep her head above the water despite of her paralysis. "Take her!" Mitch said. He took off the lifeline float and gave it to Cole to use for Cory. "Look for the dolphin!!"
"Just do it!" Mitch twisted in a circle in agony, still searching for Hobie.
"I'm so sorry. I did it again.. I'm....s-sorry.." cried Cory.
"Shhh.. Just relax. Let me do all the work. Concentrate on breathing lightly." Trevor hissed.
Ten feet away, the dolphin broke the surface of the sea, bearing Hobie in her mouth by his shirt. Trevor spotted them, "Mitch! Over there!"
Mitch got to his son and turned him face up. The boy was limp and unconscious.
He tried to see if Hobie was breathing, but a wave suddenly swept over them and he was forced to cover up Hobie's nose and mouth with a hand to keep them submerged until the danger passed. Mitch held his breath, hearing his own heartbeat thud rapidly, waiting for the deadly swell to pass by.
It pushed them nearly to the sharp rocks. He and Hobie burst into the air a few seconds later. Rocks loomed at them horrifically. Without thinking,
Mitch grabbed onto Koko's close offered dorsal fin and the animal tail kicked them away into some calmer, current free water.
There was more time between the waves.
Mitch tipped Hobie's head back over the dolphin's flank and listened. Hobie wasn't breathing. After the next wave, Mitch gave him a breath. "Oh, G*d. Breathe!"
He couldn't tell if Hobie had a heartbeat.
Mitch began to swim to shore, looking behind him for incoming swells or other lifeguards. He found his rhythm, giving Hobie two breaths in between each wave's duck and cover move.
He got him ashore. Garner helped bear him out of the water, "Is he breathing?"
They stretched Hobie out onto the stained hard pack. Garner felt Hobie's neck after the next breath. "He's still got a pulse."
Mitch nodded, continuing his efforts. "Come on, Hobie! Breathe!"
The boy remained still.
Eddie and Shauni arrived and the siren ceased. They skidded to a halt a few feet away from Hobie. They leaped out of the truck, grabbing equipment they would need.
Eddie dropped to his knees with an ambu bag and oxygen. He tapped Mitch on the shoulder. "Ok, Mitch, I've got him.'
Mitch was in unreality. Hobie was going to die if he stopped and all he knew was that someone was now trying to pull him away. He fought back, grabbing at his son's head again.
"Mitch!" Eddie cried out, "Let us use the O2 on him! He needs it!"
Garner dragged his friend away forcefully, using an arm lock to control him, "Listen to Eddie. He's going to help Hobie.."
Mitch shook violently and came back to himself. "All right.. I'm all right.. Let me go..."
Garner released him.
Eddie and Shauni worked desperately. Shauni took the boy's hand into her own. "Hobie? Can you hear us? Hobie. Come on, honey.
Take a breath. You're out of the water.."
They all looked at his fingers. They were motionless; only the ambu bag hissed as Eddie Kramer delivered breaths.
Then Hobie squeezed her hand.
Trevor had Cory near the beach. He picked her up and carried her to the sand by Eddie and Shauni's rescue truck. She was coughing violently.
"You're going to be ok. Both of us are. Concentrate on breathing slowly."
He laid her down just before he had to lay down himself to rest.
Gage and Buchannon bustled Hobie onto a backboard after immobilizing his neck with sandbags. Things looked good. Hobie was breathing on his own, taking oxygen well. And he could move all of his limbs. Hobie was loaded onto Eddie's beachtruck for the short trip to Headquarters to await an ambulance while beach medics and the others tended to his I.V. starting and crash recovery medication delivery.
"You have some hard explaining to do, young lady.." Garner gruffed.
Cory looked up from the sanctuary of her blanket, "Yeah,
I guess I do." She was lying propped up on an ambulance stretcher.
Cory felt better. Her head was clear again.
Trevor appeared from around the rig's door.
"You?!" Cory gasped."You're the one I saw on that beach that day?.. I didn't mean to get you in trouble. It was just....I was so happy to be swimming again." She looked away, uncomfortable.
"With the dolphin?" Garner asked, puzzled.
"And a scuba tank. I used to work at the Institute before...."
Cory looked down at her legs in shame.
Trevor bit his lip from where he was getting some minor burns attended to on his forehead. "Look, it was my fault for getting caught in that rip current. Not yours."
"But I distracted you.."
"It's not your fault!" He said angrily. He pushed away Roy's hands and walked away to deal with the crowd.
Garner fixed her with a stare. "It's about time you were straight with us. What really happened out there? Why did you do all this?"
Cory sighed, caressing her own damp hair nervously. "After I heard on the radio that Koko had been freed, I went to look for her, with this..." She showed him the silver chrome recall whistle and chain she clutched tightly in her hands.
Silence stretched for several seconds. Cory shifted, restlessly, and pulled off her oxygen mask. "Officer, you can't know how much I've missed being in the ocean. I had to know that feeling again. Do you understand? With Koko,
I was free.."
Garner was a study in seriousness. "Talk about Trevor."
"I was feeling good that day. I had found the crate at my doorstep.
I couldn't believe what I saw inside. Such beautiful things. And the statue of Koko. I wore the comb and necklace to celebrate my first swim since the orca whale accident. I don't get the attentions of many men anymore.
That's why I teased Trevor. I thought he was cute." she looked away, embarrassed.
"Go on." Garner said.
Cory looked up at the brightening sky, "But then he got caught in the current and was swept away. I thought, My G*d, I can't let this man drown. He was almost unconscious when I managed to get a hold of him. I gave him air through my regulator, but he passed out. He looked so beautiful in the water, like an angel.
Before I knew what I was doing, I put my necklace around his neck and I kissed him.
Then I saw the lifeguards coming and I pushed him into their arms."
"Why didn't you stay with them?" Ellerbee asked her.
A medic shoved past Garner. "Excuse me, Sergeant Ellerbee, We've got to go. The boy's already left for the hospital."
Garner relented and he stepped back. He saw a last glimpse of glistening green eyes as Cory began to cry for a great many things that would be no more.
"What will happen to her?" Shauni wanted to know. Garner had forgotten that she was still there. Garner smiled at her. "Oh, I have a sneaking suspicion that the courts will go easy on her. After all, she did help save two lives."
Shauni nodded and together, they watched the manned Malibu paramedic ambulance disappear into the distance up the tarmack. Soon, they didn't know what sounded more mournful, Koko's crying distress whistles at being separated once again from Cory Davison, or the wind blowing through the dying waves.
Mitch and Hobie were at the zoo.
Dolphins leaped in their enclosed pool. The water danced in the sunlight. They chattered excitedly, begging Hobie for more fish. Mitch hiked up his son so he could more easily reach over the fence. His son threw in a sardine and three dolphins played tag with it.
Hobie grinned. "Wouldn't it be neat if all dolphins were as smart as Koko?"
Mitch laughed and set his son down, "Yeah, it sure would. Maybe the dolphins are the smart ones and we're the ones who need to do all the learning."
"Think so?" wondered Hobie.
"Yeah," said Mitch. "Aren't their brains larger than ours or something?"
Hobie looked up from the dolphins, "Jill says it's too close to tell."
The both of them leaned on the rail, watching the light play on the dolphins'
Hobie chuckled, reaching up to hug his dad's neck. "You know, I think mom's going to like it here."
"I know she will Hobster, I know she will."
Hobie Buchannon coughed lightly, clearing his still raspy chest and he felt his father's hand grasp his shoulder protectively.
To reassure Mitch that he was ok, Hobie reached up with a grip of his own and squeezed it affectionately.
To his thoughts, Hobie gave. ::Koko. I'll never forget you.::
In his head, the dolphin's smile, seemed endless.