I of an old man now, recalled missed chances. These thoughts and recalled memories.. sigh, they recall some almost horrors, averted..
Daydreaming back, I recall a time of my youth,. the 60's.. and life was innocent.. well, kind of. Mom and dad split up, mom took us kid's and dad visited us on weekend during the first few months. Didn't take long to figure it wasn't so his kids could go swimming, and mommy knew...
Dad stayed across the three lane highway that pinched in a multi unit motel, with a pool. Dad always offered up the pool, on his visits, often tossing coins to the bottom at the deep end, sending each of us in to a race to get rich. We noticed often, there were always open whisky and gin bottles and an ashtray with two types of filters, the other.. not my mom's. Saturday cartoon's, we're there bright and early.. We all spotted her quickly exiting dad room, barely in attire. Then, we all knew. Like I said, many normal life events going on.. So, answering the door, I quickly spoke,
"We're just heading to the pool, join us when your ready dad." and turned towards the pool, leading the other two away with me. By instinct, they both followed, not bothering to look back.
"Yeah, ..in a bit.. Uh, yeah.." He almost closed the door to quickly. The debate was, who tells mom. Problem was, mom already knew about the woman, it's why they were divorcing.. her name was Ingrid, so Swedish. And dad, just smiles when she's in sight.
Anyhow, as the oldest sworn to protect the younger one's, towels draped around our shoulders we entered the pool area. Seemed oddly empty for a summer Saturday.
Playing and diving off the board, we practiced all the dives and bombs.. As I pulled out of the pool, standing. My dad had like a family either coming up behind him, or with him.. I wasn't sure as I watched. 'Oh, dad does know them..' The smiles and talk between all of them were happy. Dad I noticed, was trying to act refreshed, yet... it was not working as I spot Ingrid among those surrounding dad, she too, looked as if a long night.
"You seeing this?" My youngest brother pulled out of the pool behind me.
"mom doesn't care anymore.. Let's just enjoy the water.." I spoke, which I then split off from him.
Dad smiled branching and picking and umbrella table to sit, all the others had move towards the tables at the deep end.. All of them beginning to chat as a distracting debate heated up between them..
I, not feeling threatened, I eyed the life guard seat, empty today too. Rung by rung I climb up, standing tall and proud, as my six year old eyed where to dive.. I see a doll, drifting slowly towards the bottom.. NO! That's a baby! I screamed out loud:
"BABY!!" And dove..
Already going for the longest dive I'd ever committed, to land at an angle to intercept, in a split second bubbles of air following my path and I was upon him.
Gripping under it's lifeless arms, my lets kicking up a surge, I swam towards the sky.. It was less then three feet off the bottom when I realized eight feet to the surface. I swam hard. I had just reached the lip, and air! As the babies head came above water, everyone saw me clawing to get this baby over the ledge...
"BABY!! BABY!!" I screamed with the first breath. (had they not heard me?) Things moved so quickly after that, as if I'd shrunk into nothingness, the baby was the only interest. I dragged myself out of the pool, all my energy... gone. Weakened, I sat away from the crowd around the child. My dad, though pretty drunk, had smiled a pride smile towards me.. My brother and sister hadn't even understood what had happened, bum rushing me for the story. The other crowd mulled about, finally taking seats, guarding the little child
That lasted almost a half an hour before they tried the pool, and it was now full mid-day. I'd seen finally that this woman, Ingrid, could no longer avoid my dad as he tossed even more coins in for us to dive for. She sat down beside him as we kid's just watched between dives.. They talked, she got closer as a much larger man walked towards them.
My body moved quicker to arrive first at our dads side. Sliding out of the pool.
"you know who this is?" Dad asked me of her. I shook my head 'yes'.
"You work here, at the bar?"
"Yes, Ingrid.." Then she turned to the man's son I'd saved. "This is my brother. It was his son you saved.."
"Thank-you... I feel so ashamed. If he hadn't awoken.. oh.. my god thank-you.."
"Is he okay..?"
"Seems so.. " The man smiled, wanting to get back to the child another male was holding on too.