Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Day In The Park (part two)

As I ride, I'm seeing two movies unspool: the first is right in front of me, the concrete paths that I am so familiar with, but the second is a series of images from the pool, strobing.

I pass behind a church day care, where sometimes the kids will run to the fence and wave as I ride by. It's so hot that they must all be inside.

I've written before about how I get the ghoulies, where I worry about Eli and all the bad things that could happen to him. I remember that now, and I think about the boy's parents, and how the phone rings, and how they have to answer.

There are S-curves all along the path, some that cross over the stream, and I'm still riding hard as I pass a woman walking with her son, who is riding a bike with training wheels.

There's something about being a parent that exposes the insubstantiality of life. Life is robust but so fragile. Eli has given me so much joy. He's made me human. I can't conceive of a world where he's not with me.

I ride a banked curve over a stream, sweating hard now, and wind through trees until I reach an overpass. I stop there in the shade, my legs wobbly from the heat. I take off my helmet, then wipe my forehead on the sleeve of my white shirt.

I know I have to turn around and go back. I wait in the shade for another minute, then buckle up and start riding. I see a few more people on the path. Just a normal day.

I cross an underpass near the park, and there's an  inch or two of standing water from the creek, so I get off and walk across. Past the underpass is a hump of sidewalk, and when I get to the top I can see the parking lot.

The emergency vehicles are gone.

I want to see lots of kids in the pool, with lots of happy shouting, but I see about five people. There are a few kids in the pool and a few lifeguards, but it's quiet, even barren.

Like I said, I don't belong here. I can't walk up to a lifeguard and ask if his friend is alive.

I'm not a ghoul--I'm just scared.

I do the only thing I think is appropriate: I go home. I scan local news websites for several hours, looking for a story, but find nothing.

Two hours later, I get an idea.

I find a phone number for the park. Not the pool area, but at least it's a number. I dial.

When a woman picks up the phone, I try to explain myself in the least awkward way possible, but I can't. There's too much anxiety and the ghoulies running inside me. I finally stammer through my question, asking if the kid is okay, and she says "I'm not authorized to release any information."

She does, however, give me the phone number for the public information officer for the city. I look her up on the city website, find an e-mail address, and decide to write her instead. Less stammering.

Less than half an hour later, she replies:
Yes, there was a water safety instructor rescued today. The instructor was responsive and transported to a local hospital.

It was a city employee, and I am unable to report any information about his condition without consent from the family.

I appreciate your understanding as to why I am unable to answer your questions at this time, and do appreciate your concern.
Responsive. A good sign.

I checked local news this morning, and there was no mention.

Just a normal day.

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