Beauty Pool Knockout

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SS46: “Beauty Pool Knockout”

An original, sweet story here—I was quite pleased with the way this came out. Upon re-submission, this Smokey Saga has been given a new, fresh edit, hopefully gaining some more eventual well-deserved attention for its sequel.

*****

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014, 10:02 p.m.

It was a dark and stormy night.

No, seriously. It really was.

The 77° temperature mingled with the dense rain and unforgiving winds, giving way to thunder and lightning, shaping a tropical atmosphere extending to the outskirts of town. Fully bloomed trees shook, rustled and shed leaves months ahead of schedule. Rumbling black clouds hogged the celestial spotlight from the quarter moon and dull starlight. Wet gusts buffeted pedestrians on foot, and challenged visibility of drivers en route to their destinations. So-called “windproof” umbrellas were nearly whipped right out of their owners’ hands, while struggling to keep their stretchers down. And the soaking precipitation gave promise to a bright, shiny rejuvenation of nature the following morning.

Braver individuals who did not allow the weather to interfere with their plans stepped out to dinner, the movie theater, the 24-hour convenience store, and other late-night venues of activity. Homebound folks curled up with good books, good meals, good remotes, good friends, and/or good lovers, settling in to enjoy the soothing sounds of meteorological tumult.

The utterly enormous Bayside Inn on 38th Street and Fisherman’s Avenue—just beside the aptly named Fisherman’s Bay (which also happened to be the name of the entire surrounding resort)—was busy as ever during this, the middle of summer. The normal rush of business travelers was enhanced by the wave of vacationing visitors, who could ill afford long-distance trips, or simply preferred to stay in town. The gigantic Inn and accompanying Fisherman’s Bay were bordered by a thirty-block boardwalk with the standard array of arcades, casinos, retail outlets, restaurants, dessert/snack stands, tattoo/piercing parlors, and souvenir/gift shops, most of which performed decent business even with the disadvantage of thunderstorms.

The thirty blocks spanned by the boardwalk were dotted on the other side of the hotels by amusement parks, country clubs, bars, more restaurants, shopping centers, and just about everything else the R & R-hungry voyager could hope to find, for a width of roughly twenty miles. Aforementioned boardwalk fun notwithstanding, Fisherman’s Bay’s nightlife was compromised this evening by the unpleasant weather. But which failed to hinder indoor recreation.

One hearty thrillseeker who’d adjourned to the Bayside for her yearly retreat was Zoe Trix Palmer, a 30-year-old beautician having settled into her week-long vacation here in Midwestern paradise. She always took her vacations just in the middle of summer, and kept them to a modest week. She loved her job, and while nothing compared to getting away from it all, Zoe was normally eager by week’s end to get right back to it all. And to unsheathe her arsenal of arms to fight unsightliness: her blow dryer, combs and brushes, shampoo and conditioner, sprays and gels, clippers and files, and lest she forget, her workmates. The loyal gang of bandits and accomplices.

She and her girls came up with these terms, in relation to their shared career. It was not as if Zoe and her cohorts did any sort of underworld business. They simply enjoyed the whimsy of bandying about such language to play up a bit of excitement in the beauty shop biz. As if to lend an air of “danger” to a light, fluffy, literally beautiful profession. All in the name of fun and humor, of course. Speaking of humor, a few years back, someone gave her a sign to display in her shop that said, “I’M A BEAUTICIAN, NOT A MAGICIAN.” Zoe believed in its facetious truth, although she was skilled at doing quite amazing, almost even magical things with a tricky capillary situation.

When summer arrived annually, and she faced the thorough but exciting process of organizing a vacation, she was met with a host of decisions. Depending on her budget, she might go out of state, or out of all the States, maybe even off the continent…or just stay home. She might travel with friends, family, or on her own—solo being the chosen option this year. Then there were the multi-act plays of where to stay, how long, mapping out of activities, and contacting her selected hotel for reservations. And so here she was this year at the Bayside, reserved for one week in room 741, and currently out and about having a ball.

It seemed an ideal short epoch in which things couldn’t go wrong.

Zoe was an optimist. She’d attended school, graduated and moved on to cosmetology college, from which it was a hop, skip and a jump to her future career. And she’d done it all with a sunny attitude and hard, diligent work. When things canlı bahis went wrong, Zoe tried to let herself be plagued as little as possible. She’d resigned herself to the rollercoaster ride that was life, and carried on, always knowing her next good fortune could be right around the corner.

Zoe Palmer was sort of the girl next door, but a couple more houses down. But not all the way down the creepy end of the street, either. She had a free-spirited quirkiness that would give off a hint of eccentricity to some, but at the same time, she couldn’t be accused of being a daffy, kooky young crone. She knew when to be flighty, and when to take things seriously. She’d no significant others or better halves in her life just now, but it was all part of the enjoyment and exhilaration to her, that the very love of her life could pop up at any point, and float right into her arms and heart. Anytime, anywhere: at home, at work, at play.

Which brought her to her yearly vacation, during which, whatever the circumstances, she was determined to have a wonderful time. And so she had been. As nice as having a companion was, the upside to vacationing by herself was the privilege of being able to do whatever she so pleased, without obstructing or interfering with a travel mate’s plans. It was after all what a vacation should be, she reasoned, so why question things? Be a wild girl! she encouraged herself. Tell caution to stuff it!

Tonight she’d planned on going for a dip, a quest not squelched by the rocky weather. The hotel had a large in-floor indoor swimming pool, surrounded by a couple dozen plastic chairs, and joined by a steam room, shower, and hot tub. Zoe enjoyed the snug safety of indoor warmth contrasting storms on the exterior. And it was only Tuesday; she knew it’d pass long before she returned home. Monday she had checked in, rested briefly in the room, enjoyed a seafood lunch, traversed the boardwalk, had an Italian Ice and a funnel cake, worked them off with several rousing rounds of skee-ball, played a course of miniature golf, treated herself to a lovely heaping buffet dinner, adjourned back to the hotel room and let supper put her to sleep.

So far today, she’d taken a long, hot shower, tried the hotel’s continental breakfast—actually better than she was expecting—gone shopping, dropped by the ice cream parlor for a cone, trolleyed over to the amusement park to ride some rides (which she found would’ve been a better idea before the ice cream), played some midway games, had some cotton candy…and then it began to rain, so she swung back to the Inn.

Once more, she wasn’t put off in the least by the storm. The conditions may not have been ideal for a single day at the resort, but she still had four more to go. And in the meantime, there were plenty of things she could do inside the hotel. She could work out in the gym, she could play the pinball tables and shoot pool in the game room, she could pig out courtesy of the vending machines, she could hang in the lobby and read a book or meet people, she could check out the gift shop…orrrr, she could do just as she was planning for the remainder of the night: take a few refreshing laps in the indoor pool, return to her room, order up some room service, put the TV on sleep mode, slip under the covers, and drop off in serene tranquility.

Her timing was a bit late, but she had about fifteen minutes to do her laps in the pool before it closed for the night. She was the last remaining guest swimming this evening. It was nice having the pool to herself. The water was three feet deep at the edges, with steps and railings for easy exit. In the middle it reached nine feet at deepest. The lifeguard was still on duty, but needed a quick bathroom break around 9:57. She’d have this last young woman vacate the pool when she got back.

Five minutes later, she returned to see the girl still circling the perimeter counterclockwise. She tweeted her whistle.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” she called to Zoe, who was completing her sixth lap. “The pool’s closed. I’ll have to ask you to come out now.”

“Oh! Okay,” Zoe acquiesced, doggy-paddling to the set of steps she was nearest. The lifeguard, whose name was Lizzy-Beth—Elizabeth at birth, clipped and hyphenated at her own discretion—gave a smile and a nod, and turned to go grab her towel. Zoe took hold of the railing and hefted herself out. About to fetch her own towel, she felt a distinct need, and decided she ought to take care of something else first.

“Miss?” she called to the lifeguard. “May I please use the restroom?”

Lizzy-Beth figured this must be an urgent call of nature if the young lady couldn’t wait to return to her own room, so she obliged.

“Oh, thanks!” Zoe did have to go pretty bad, and didn’t want to use the ‘ool. And so only able to focus on her nagging bladder, she gaited into a run for the ladies’.

Unfortunately…one thing stood in her way.

In her rush to relief herself, bahis siteleri Zoe failed to notice a patch of water splashed across the tiles while she was swimming.

And still in her also very wet, very small, size 6 bare feet…she slipped.

She lost her balance. She’d nary a moment to notice, panic and flail her arms to catch herself before she was falling.

“Whoa!” she shouted reflexively, rediverting Lizzy-Beth’s attention. The lifeguard looked up to see it happen, almost as if in slow motion. The tumble threw Zoe back towards the edge as she tumbled off-kilter.

Then the worst-case scenario came true, in living color, before her widening eyes…

…As Zoe came down…and sharply, cringingly banged the back of her head…against the lip of the pool.

“OH!” she cried as the wind was knocked from her, tilting her off equilibrium and letting gravity take over. Abruptly unconscious, centrifugal force tossed her back over into the pool. Her oxygen came out in effervescent, surface-rushing bubbles, and she sank to the deep end, through nine sloping feet of water like the densest of stones.

Lizzy-Beth gasped. “Oh my God!” she yelled. She dropped her towel, whipped off her whistle, let it fly, scampered to the edge, careful not to slip herself, and dove in.

Kicking like mad, Lizzy-Beth fought her way to the bottom, chasing after the girl’s k.o.’d body. Metering out her own breath, she finally reached her, slipping her arms under and around Zoe’s. She held the breath she had left, summoned her strength, and pulled the both of them back up.

It ate up all the upper body power she had left after a long day, but Lizzy-Beth managed to get Zoe to the steps, bit by bit, and out of the pool. Laying the girl on her back, she knelt beside, opened her airway and initiated CPR.

It took a number of nose-pinched breaths and chest pumps Lizzy-Beth was too panicked to count, but her persistence paid off. To her relief, Zoe gave a lurch, gurgled and coughed up a mouthful of swallowed poolwater.

Whew, thought Lizzy-Beth. “Oh, thank God,” she mouthed. Still only half-conscious, Zoe’s eyes fluttered and her head lolled until she passed back out. She’d been knocked cold, but she was breathing.

But Lizzy-Beth’s job wasn’t done. A case like this wasn’t limited to yanking a drowning swimmer out of the drink. She didn’t want to start this way, but wasn’t sure she had a lot of choice. So she took Zoe’s towel, draped it over her body from the chin down like a blanket, swaddled herself in her own, shut the lights off, scurried to her room and attacked the closet, which was supplied with some white robes. Snatching one for herself and one for the girl, she made her way back as rapidly as she could, flipped the lights back on and knelt down with her again.

It took some maneuvering, but she got the young woman dressed in the spare robe. She looked up to see the girl appeared to have only brought her flip-flops and room key. Lizzy-Beth grabbed them and put the girl’s flip-flops on her feet. Now came the more difficult part.

She put the girl’s arm around her own shoulder and eased her out towards the lobby.

“This guest had an accident,” she told the receptionists. “I’m taking her to the hospital. Can someone please help me get her out to my car?”

One of them took Zoe’s other arm and lent Lizzy-Beth the requested hand. Once Zoe was safely belted into the passenger seat, Lizzy-Beth drove the five miles up the main highway until she hit their destination.

*****

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014, 11:37 p.m.

The drive wasn’t very smooth in the still pouring rain, and Lizzy-Beth could just as easily have called an ambulance, but the whole idea zipped by her cognizant mind. On top of which, she couldn’t help but feel a little responsible, even though she knew it was not hers, but physics’ fault. Although, she thought, if she’d told the girl she couldn’t use the bathroom, she might’ve just scooted off to her room instead and avoided this whole…

Stop it, she ordered. Don’t do that. This is no time to start persecuting yourself. Just get the girl to the hospital.

Fortunately for Zoe, Lizzy-Beth possessed both life-saving skills and the anticipation that she’d have to have a little preparation at the ready when they arrived. Zoe hadn’t completely woken up, so when Lizzy-Beth eased her out of the car, walked her in and up to the front desk, she was nervous, but the girl’s health was at stake. She didn’t like to lie, but sometimes she had to. And she had to do it convincingly. If she was going to fabricate her way through this, she had to answer questions in a timely fashion, but not patently blurt out responses right away. Opacity and confidence were key.

“Can we help you, ma’am?”

“Yes, she bonked her head. We need someone to see her ay-sap.”

“Name, please?”

Lizzy-Beth gave the young lady the bahis şirketleri most common female name she could think of and used her own surname.

“Eh—Jen. Jennifer. Jennifer Williams.”

“The patient’s name, please, ma’am?”

“That-that is her name,” stammered the lifeguard, trying to cloak the fib in coolness of voice. “Mine’s Lizzy-Beth.”

“We’ll get someone right out for her.”

“Can I go back with her?”

“Are you a relative?”

“Uh, yes! Yes,” said Lizzy-Beth, trying to maintain support to keep Zoe crutched up while going into her purse. She dug up her license and insurance card. “I’m her cousin. We’re cousins. See? Er—here you go. Lizzy-Beth Kessie Williams, that’s me.”

Oh, nice going, L.B., she castigated herself. That wasn’t obvious or conspicuous at all. She got a bit queasy in the tummy. Her system went sour when she consciously fibbed. Luckily, her last name really was Williams.

“Okay,” agreed the satisfied receptionist. “We’ll take you both back in just a minute. In the meantime, you can start filling this out.”

She presented Lizzy-Beth with a medical form and a pen. Oh dear. This would require a little more bluffing. Well, she’d mark down their address as the Bayside Inn right now, fake her way through the rest, and deal with it at a moment out of crisis.

It worked. One hour and five stitches later, Zoe blinked herself to dizzy consciousness. The doctor had fixed her up and given them a few minutes alone. Lizzy-Beth of course stuck to her story about being cousins for consistency. Now that the girl was up, she supposed she was going to have to either come clean with the staff, or convince the girl to be Jennifer Williams until they left.

“W—…w-wh—…where am I?” Zoe weakly croaked out.

“You’re in the hospital,” Lizzy-Beth told her. “You hurt yourself at the hotel pool, and I brought you here.”

“H—…hotel pool?”

“Yeah. You fell and clocked yourself out. I CPR’d you.”

Zoe blinked about a dozen times, furrowing her brows. She appeared to be confused, unaware what Lizzy-Beth was talking about.

“Are you okay?” Lizzy-Beth asked her.

“I, uh…I dunno.”

Zoe tried to think back and grab something out of her recent memory. To her surprise, when she mentally went into the memory room and flipped on the light, there was…nothing there.

The bang taken by her noggin had jarred a lot loose. Some files of her personal life lay here and there, but they might as well have been translated into a foreign language with blurry, smeared ink. Aside from these, it was as if the safe had been broken into, robbed and cleaned out in one fell swoop. She was indisputably amnesic.

She did, however, still feel the woman beside her place a hand on her shoulder and speak again.

“Is there anything I can get you?” Lizzy-Beth asked her. “Or do for you?”

“I…I…” Zoe shook her head. “I have no…idea. I…” She turned to Lizzy-Beth in disturbed bewilderment. “Lady, I don’t think I…

“…I don’t remember who I am.”

Lizzy-Beth’s eyes widened and her brows arched.

“And I definitely don’t remember who you are.”

Since the doctor had left them alone in the room, Lizzy-Beth poked her head out the door to make sure they were in private. They were safe, but Lizzy-Beth still lowered her voice as she returned to Zoe to tell her the truth.

“Well, that part makes sense,” she replied. “We haven’t been introduced. My name’s Lizzy-Beth.”

She offered her hand, but the bemused Zoe only stared at it.

“You mean I never met you?”

“Well…not before tonight, no…uh…I don’t know your name,” she admitted.

“Oh, great,” Zoe grumbled. “So that makes two of us.

“But…wait,” she said, turning back to her. “So…you never met me, but you pulled me out of a pool and took me to a hospital?”

Lizzy-Beth shrugged. “Well, I’m…I’m not some strange person who just goes around rescuing people; I’m the lifeguard at the Bayside Inn. It was my job.”

“Bayside Inn?” Zoe parroted. “Wh—…where exactly am I?”

“Fisherman’s Medical,” Lizzy-Beth went on explaining. “We’re in the Fisherman’s Bay resort. We were at the Bayside Inn a couple hours ago, at the pool. You were swimming, I told you it was time to leave, and you asked me if you could go to the bathroom. And that’s when you slipped, fell and bopped your head and rolled back in.”

Not all of these details seemed direly important, but one of them concerned Zoe, who was still trying to put things together.

“I hit my head?” Zoe fingered her scalp, feeling for the injury.

“Well, yes, but see, that’s why I brought y—”

Zoe’s eyes popped open as she felt the stitched wound. Unaware what they were, she panicked. She gasped and shouted out loud before Lizzy-Beth could finish.

“Oh God!”

Lizzy-Beth gently took her arm. “No, no! It’s okay!” she insisted. “It’s okay. They already took care of the stitches. They said you could go home now if you really needed to, but they also said you could stay here overnight if you wanted.”

Zoe’s heart was pounding, but she understood what Lizzy-Beth said.

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