Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Day In The Park (part one)

I saw a kid dying today.

I drive to the park in Pflugerville where I normally ride, and as I get out of my car, a police car comes tearing into the parking lot, lights flashing. The policeman gets out and starts walking quickly toward the pool.

Disturbance, I think.

Less than a minute later, not one but two fire trucks pull into the parking lot, and a small army of people unload. I see one fireman carrying a defibrillator.

Heart attack, I think.

They all fast-walk into the pool area, and about a minute behind them, an emergency response vehicle pulls up.

I start putting on my gloves, but then I see a lady standing by herself outside the chain-link fence that surrounds the pool area. I walk over and stand beside her.

"Hi," I say. "What happened?"

"They pulled a kid out of the pool," she says. "At first, I thought it was my boy," she says, and her eyes well up like she's trying not to cry.

"Is he okay?" I ask.

"I don't know," she says. She points toward the pool deck, where I see about a dozen people standing in a cluster. "That lady in the pink shirt worked on him for quite a while--I think she must be a nurse--and someone said she got his heart started again. He was a lifeguard."

"A lifeguard?"

"He was teaching some little kids out in the middle of the pool, and then he just sank to the bottom. Everyone thought he was just joking, but then he didn't come up."

We stand there silently. All I can see are his arms, and I watch as closely as I could, hoping for any kind of movement. Around him, nothing is still, flashes of color as people move around him. Red, blue, white, pink--flags rippling in a stiff breeze.

I don't see him move.

"Thank you," I say. "I hope he's okay." I lightly touch her shoulder--an inadequate gesture of comfort--and walk back to my car. I want to know if he is okay, but I don't belong there. There is nothing I can contribute, no skill that might help him survive.

I decide to go ride and hope that there will be good news when I come back. As I ride out of the parking lot, I see two yellow EMS vehicles tearing down the road toward me, sirens sounding. They pull into the parking lot a few seconds later.

At this point, there are two fire trucks, two EMS vehicles, two emergency response vehicles, and two police cars in the parking lot. There's no place left to park. It's a small parking lot, because only small things happen here. There's no room for this.

I take off, riding fast on a path lined with trees, along a fast-running stream. It's hot, and the air is heavy. Legs have to move or I fall.

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