A Bigger Boat

Seagulls bobbed and weaved above the children on the beach, waiting for a stray french fry to hit the sand. A light comfortable breeze blew in from the Atlantic and mussed the hair of the young lifeguard on duty nearby. It was another quiet day for him. That made five quiet days in a row. He didn’t even have to go into the water.

He took a long look down the coast and at the pockets of people dotting the shoreline. There were a few less than normal for such a splendid summer day. Most of them were tourists, parked beneath the big striped umbrellas that the old Italian guy on the boardwalk would rent for $3 a day. There were several children building sandcastles. One was flying a kite. One was burying her father with the sticky golden sand, carrying a little pink pail back and forth to the edge of the water. “Not too close,” he yelled as her feet disappeared under the lapping tide.

But for the fifth quiet day in a row, almost no one was actually in the water. There were scores of people in up to their knees. But that was as far as they would venture. They were just standing there, staring, their eyes fixed on arbitrary little points of the blue expanse. It was very quiet.

The lifeguard checked his watch and hopped down from his station. “Good enough time for a break.” He trudged up the beach, across the boardwalk, and towards Main Street; the soda shop was only a few blocks down. Along the way, he passed the Bijou theatre and glanced up at the scrolling marquis: “July 25, 1975 Now Showing: JAWS …” He laughed to himself as he remembered his favorite line, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

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