Lifeguarding

Here’s a taste of my first full-length novel, which is still a work-in-progress. It’s about an easygoing college student whose life is completely turned on its ear when he meets an older woman at the country club where he works.

Read the entire first chapter below.

1. THE JOB AND THE MEETING

I had the perfect college job.

I first heard that the Providence Country Club had lifeguarding openings from my roommate. He was a valet there and said he could put in a good word for me. I went through the certification and got hired during the summer of my freshman year. I didn’t know what to expect, I’d never lifeguarded before and pictured myself giving CPR once a week and constantly blowing my whistle and yelling at kids who were running around like ants that just had their nest stomped on.

Turns out, it was nothing like that at all. The work was simple, the stress was just about nonexistent, and I could finally work on tanning my pasty Irish skin.

The pool was in the middle of a gorgeous, top notch golf course. Huge, majestic oak trees draped in spanish moss, pristine ponds, lovely rolling fairways, and the greenest grass you’ve ever seen surrounded me on all sides when I was there. The scenery at the pool was hard to beat, too – by that I mean the trophy wives with nothing to do all day but hit the gym, lay out by the pool, drink margaritas, and gossip. But I’ll get back to them in just a minute.

Really, all the job was was just sitting and watching people swim. Even when it was summer and the area was littered with little kids, there were never any accidents or major issues. The only drawback is that I got sunburned nearly every day. And when the madness of summer was over and the kids went back to school. It couldn’t have gotten any better. Those were the slow days. Only one person on duty – me.

I’d arrive at eight in the morning. Clean the pool for two hours, or if it was already clean, I’d just sit behind the towel desk and listen to talk radio or draw before swimmers arrived.

Sometimes I’d write. Or I’d read. Or I’d study. Sometimes I’d just think. If a lap swimmer would happen to come in, I’d have to sit out there for twenty or thirty minutes tops, and then it was back to relaxing. Ten bucks an hour to relax. It was smooth sailing.

I worked alone the entire fall. I learned to juggle. I caught up on some books I’d been meaning to read. The cook from the pool grill and I got very good at ping-pong. One Saturday, when the forecast was nothing but rain, my boss and I put a sign out that said “POOL CLOSED” and went to a football game. What a job. By my second summer there, they had made me head lifeguard, and I was making twelve bucks an hour. Can you believe that? A damn good salary for a broke college student . . . doing pretty much nothing but taking it easy.

Then I met her and things began to change.

The first time I saw Claudia Colvin was on September 15th, 2005, a Thursday. It was another humdrum day at the pool. I had just finished vacuuming, and was rolling the monstrous cleaning apparatus back to the pump room when I saw a female figure signing in at the towel desk. Normally, I’d be there to greet the first swimmer of the day, unless I was cleaning, as I was this particular morning. She was wearing a one piece, red bathing suit, like the kind they wear on “Baywatch” (I, for one, do not find these suits attractive in the least). She was tucking her hair into her swim cap when we crossed paths – she on her way to the pool, me still wheeling the vacuum.

“Good morning!” I said. When I started at the Club, I found it a little uncomfortable to be chipper and greet all the members with a smile. But the head honchos had pretty much drilled it into us that you will lean the member’s names and you will smile and greet them every time you saw them. It was pretty much second nature to me after a year of working there. This woman, though, I didn’t recognize.

I thought maybe she didn’t hear me from beneath the swim cap, or was just having a bad morning or something because she didn’t respond at all. Didn’t even look in my direction.

I put the vacuum up and walked back to the towel desk before I headed out to the pool. I wanted to check her name on the sign-in sheet. She only provided a last name, “Colvin.” It wasn’t familiar to me. There was a core group of about eight lap swimmers that would come out to the pool every day – even when it got to be November and December and the weather got pretty chilly. The pool was heated, though, so if you were able to brave the twenty seconds it took to walk from the pool to the locker rooms, you could still swim comfortably. Sometimes there would be a rogue member that would come swim a few laps and leave, never to be seen again. I figured “Colvin” was one of these.

I pulled up a chair across the water from her. It’s a little awkward to go lifeguard for an adult that is just swimming laps. I mean, what can really happen? It always made me feel like I was stalking them. Sometimes they’d look at me with a “why are you here?” expression. But, according to my job description, if there was someone in the pool, I had to be there too.

“Colvin” had been going at it for about ten minutes when she stopped in the shallow end to take a breather. I looked out to the golf course to avoid any awkward eye contact. To my surprise, she spoke.

“What’s the ph level of this pool?”

I hesitated, slightly taken aback by the accusatory nature of the question, along with the lack of any pleasantries. Good thing I knew my stuff.

“I keep it at about 7.4,” I replied.

“Have you tested it this morning?”

“Yes, ma’am, I test the water first thing every morning. Does it feel okay to you?”

“It’s fine, I just wanted to make sure. And you don’t have to call me ma’am. Call me Claudia.”

Interesting, I thought. How exactly did we get to the first name basis?

She swam for ten more minutes. When she stepped out, she took off her swim cap, revealing a wavy mane of dirty blonde hair that hung down to the middle of her back. She shook it out, arching her back in the process. At this point, I was definitely checking her out. Now, understand that there are some real milfs who come to the pool. I mean some grade A, choice cuts. So I like to think that I have a pretty sophisticated palate when it comes to determining their level of hotness. Claudia was certainly up there, although I didn’t quite consider her in the elite crop of hot moms that come to lay out nearly every day. For one, her face, though pretty, wasn’t quite up to par. She just had that look of having had one too many long nights of binge drinking. Moderately puffy eyes. Crow’s feet. Her body was quite nice, but sort of had that middle aged droopiness about it. The unflattering one-size-too-small, hips-cut-too-high bathing suit didn’t help matters. Let me be clear, though – these faults were minor and I my milf radar was pinging. Besides, I know I’m not a 10 either. Actually, knowing where I stand looks-wise has been quite an advantage in my ever present search for female company. I know not to go out of my league.

“Have a great day,” I said as she walked back to the locker rooms.

Again, not even a wave or acknowledgement of my comments. So, I can call her by her first name, but she won’t respond to me when I speak? These were just the first of many mixed signals I’d receive from Claudia.

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