Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chapter 10: The Dock

Beads of Sweat is a novel about a cross country team.  This chapter chronicles an afternoon at "Camp Week."  To access previous chapter, click on the Fiction tab at the top of the page.

     It being the last afternoon before camp broke, Hartman decided to get their legs off the road.  They had already logged plenty of miles for the week, so he piled them into the van and took them for a drive.  He was the only adult chaperoning them now as Pereira had to head back to Springfield for some prior obligations. 

            -Coach, where are we going?
            -Coach, where is Coach Pereira?                   
            -Coach, how much longer ‘til we get there?

            He didn’t answer any of their questions; he just kept driving with his left arm reclined against the sill of the van’s open window.  That silent wry smile on his face made the team nervous.  Several of them speculated that he’d be dropping them off and telling them to either run home or back to Starkfield State.  Others sat numbly on the van’s benches.  Fried from a week of hot temperatures and hard work, they dared not to even consider the possibilities.  When they pulled into a sandy parking lot twenty minutes later, they didn’t know what to make of it.
            -What’s this, Spidestrom said as he climbed out through the van’s double doors. 
            -Where the hell are we, Coetaine asked.
            -Oh no.  This can’t be good, from Torres.
            -This is Loveless Lake.  See that dock out there?  You’ll be swimming to it.
            -What dock?  I can’t see it.
            -I can’t swim.
            -No seriously, where is the dock?  I can’t see it.
            -There it is, Hammond pointed to the middle of the pond.
            -Oh shit. 
            -How far away is that?
            -It’s 400 meters from the beach.  Quarter of a mile.  Seeing that many of you can cut a shape in nearly a minute, this shouldn’t be too arduous of a task. 
            -Are you sure it’s only a quarter of a mile?  It looks farther.
            -Farther.  Good.  Have I ever told you an inaccurate distance?
            He hadn’t and they all (minus the freshmen) knew it.
            -Now, the sophomores on up have all done pool work before so I know you guys can swim.  The PFB’s I’m not so sure about.
            -PFB’s Coach?
            -Never heard of  PFB’s before?  Peach fuzz babies.  The freshmen.  I’m going to have to take their word for it if they can swim or not.

            While Hartman took roll of them, the upperclassmen were having a good hoot about PFB’s.  It was a phrase they knew they could incorporate into their daily barbing of the freshmen.

-Pawgoski, can you swim?
            -Yes Coach.
            He nodded.
            -You sure?
            -Umm, yeah.
            -I have floaties and a bubble in the van.  Do you want ‘em?
            -Umm, no, that’s okay.
            -I’ll have my eye on you Lee.
            -Coach, are you swimming?
            -No.  I’m paddling a canoe and going out for a nice row.  Even brought my parasol.
            -Coach, we don’t have bathing suits.
            -Or towels.
            -I’ve never seen such a bouquet of delicate flowers in all my life, he waited.  I have towels from the Starkfield State locker room in the van.  They’re even clean.  As for bathing suits?  That’s what running shorts double as.
            -Oh come on.
            -This is ridiculous.
            -You don’t want to swim?  That’s fine.  Go home.  Just don’t expect to get a ride from me. 
            -Are you serious?
            -Do I look like a man who makes jokes, Hartman loved using this line and by the end of the season half the crew would say it along with him whenever a kid asked a question that indicated he was trying to get out of something he knew full well he should be doing.
            -What do we do when we get to the dock? Smitty asked.
            -Nothing, Hartman said, the workout’s over.
            Hamz, Paws, and Deo had a good chortle at that.
            -Okay, I’ll be in the canoe.  If anyone can’t make it, don’t worry.  I’m CPR certified.  I won’t let you drown.  Now take your shoes and socks off and do some dynamics. I’ll meet you on the shore.  He headed out to the boathouse without looking back.
            -He’s lost his fucking marbles.  I’m not swimming out there.
            -Oh come on Spidey.  You can do it.
            The team slowly walked to the beach; nobody was in too much of a rush to get this started.  Wallan even said that he’d rather be running. 
            Hartman paddled over in the canoe. In it was a couple of extra life jackets and a life preserver.  He held them up.
            -See.  I told you nobody was going to drown here.  Now get in that lovely lukewarm water.
            They all tiptoed into the water.  Jenkins and Hammond raised their knees high.
            -It’s freezing!
            -Oh it’s not so bad, Kimihara said as he rushed into the water and dove headfirst.  His actions set off a chain of plunges.  Paws and Sellberg followed his lead.  Next came Spidestrom, Torres, Wallan, and Galiozzi.  Before long only the three seniors were left holding their arms in the knee-deep water.  Coetaine and Torres started splashing them.  Kimihara really got them good with a self-propelled cannonball.  Paws even shoved some water their way but stopped suddenly when Smitty gave him a look that sounded like a death knell.  He would take it from the other guys but not a PFB.  Already soaked from all the splashing, the trio finally decided to submerge themselves.  Everyone golf clapped and they started out toward the dock.

            Hideo The Fish Kimihara swam effortlessly to the dock.  He arrived there a good minute before everyone else.  Hartman kept one eye on him and knew that someday he’d be a triathlete.  Next came the school of juniors with Sellberg and Paws clinging to them like barnacles do a ship.  The second group consisted of the sophomores and seniors.  Smitty was doing an awkward dog-paddle bent knee kick thing but managed to stay next to Wallan and Spidestrom.  Way far back were the two minnows, each swimming on his side.  The coach stayed closest to them. 

            As soon as Deo reached the dock and climbed upon it, he dove back in.  He did headfirst dives, cannonballs, jackknifes, pencils, and swan dives one after the other—everything but a belly flop.  As the others reached the dock, they heaved themselves onto the deck and laid out in the hot sun.  Soon crowded, Deo did a final dive before swimming out to Buck and Lee.  When he reached them, he spoke softly to them and swam next to them.  It took a good ten minutes before they reached the dock.

            -Sorry.  No room bluebirds.  Swim back to the shore.
            -Yup.  No room for PFB’s. 
            -That means you too, Berger and Paws.  Get off.
            -Get off my dock.

            Sellberg jumped in the water.  Hammond and Jenkins made their way for Paws.  He jumped in before they reached him.   Hartman sidled up to the dock just as Paws splashed down.

            -What the hell are you doing Paws?  You just soaked me.
            -Oh Coach, you won’t melt, Spidestrom parodied.
            -Alright, everybody off the deck.  Back in the water.  It’s time to tread.

            They all jumped in, each trying to get their coach wetter than the next guy.  As they did their cannonballs, Hartman gingerly stepped from his canoe onto the deck.  He tied the canoe’s rope to the boathook and let the line slack.  Once it was fifteen feet from the dock, he told his team to grab an edge of the wood.

            -Okay, men.  It’s time for kick drills.  One minute on.  One minute off.  Every other time you kick, it will be above water.  I want major splash.  Since Paws already splashed me, I want you all to get me good.  Get those legs churning.  Pretend I’m the clown in the dunk tank.  You’re job is to douse me. 
            The guys loved it.  As soon as he gave the signal, they kicked their hearts out.  They didn’t want to stop at the end of the minute.  They ignored Hartman’s edict for under water kicking and splashed and cut water as if their lives depended on it.  They all acted in concert in an effort to soak the man with the wry smile who stood standing in the middle of the dock.  They even started kicking in unison.  One, two, three, kick, Deo would yell out. 

            -We’re getting you good aren’t we Coach?
            -I think I’m still a little dry.
            -Bullshit, Jenkins cried, you’re sopping wet.
            -Isn’t it pretty to think so?

1 comment:

Glenn said...

Ha Ha! Great chapter!

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