It was a swimmer’s dream. The pool was absolutely empty with the exception of one quiet (very unusual) family floating about in the rec lanes.
No one was swimming laps. The water was smooth and inviting. PP couldn’t believe her good luck. This never happens, well almost never.
David Cassidy Lifeguard gave her his hearty excited wave as he invited her to partake of the empty pool. PP felt almost giddy. Friday night after a long week; the pool was going to be perfect.
She slipped into the silky smoothness and began her gliding stroke.
Her mask started to leak! Damn! So cranky! And she’d just bought it. Brand new and it leaked? Yet, she could manage this. Stopping at the wall every few laps and dumping the excess water out. It was a pain, but still, the pool was all hers and this is what really mattered!
"HOOOONNNKKKK HOOOOONKKKK HOOOOONKKKK HOOONNNNK!!!!"
The noise was deafening.
What the hell was going on?
She stopped mid lap and looked over at David. He was in a flurry of activity. Trying to get the family out of the pool.
"HOOOONKK HOOONKKK HOONKKK HOOONKKK…!!!!"
“YOU HAVE TO GET OUT!” he hollered over the noise.
“What?” PP continued to stand, mid lane. Did he really say she had to get out? Without finishing her swim? Why she’d only been in 10 minutes. Only done maybe three or four hundred yards.
She couldn’t get out.
“YOU NEED TO GET OUT NOW!!!”
“It’s the fire alarm."
He shook his head as PP swam over to the edge and clambered out, wet, cold, mad and puzzled.
The fire alarm? He was making her stop swimming over a stupid fire alarm?
Since when does anyone pay attention to a fire alarm?
PP has been teaching for so many years, and sure every quarter or so, the alarm will go off.
Does anyone pay attention, let alone evacuate the premises?
She remembers recently reading in her office when an alarm went off. It was obnoxiously persistent, so she wandered out into the hallway. No one was around. She moseyed over to the librarian to ask, “What’s that noise?”
“Sounds like a fire alarm,” he told her.
“That’s what I thought…..” She paused. “Shouldn’t we see if there’s a fire?”
He laughed. “I don’t think there’s a fire, but if it would make you feel better I’ll go check it out.”
And he did, PP following behind him down the long hall, down the stairs, till the culprit noise was located behind a locked door.
“Yup, here it is. I’ll get someone to unlock the door and turn it off.”
“So it just went off because….”? she ventured.
He laughed. “They go off sometimes. Don’t know why. But nothing to worry about.”
And so, this night at Hilltopia when the alarm went off, PP was just gonna ignore it. But David Cassidy wouldn’t have it. She had to get out of the pool.
What the hell was she gonna do? Was she supposed to evacuate into the dark cold Richmond night till the fire dept arrived?
“Where do I go?” she asked David.
He ran to ask his boss, who must have communicated the obvious fact that the building needed to be completely evacuated.
“Grab your stuff and get outside,” David hollered at her over the deafening noise.
"Do you think there's really a fire?" she asked.
"I hope not," he said, before running back to take care of some important evacuation procedure.
PP shook her head, was this really happening? In all of her many many many years of lap swimming, she’d never been booted from the pool because of a fire alarm.
Yet…..Was that smoke that she smelled?
Shivering, PP hurried into the locker room, shaking her head, but also just a little worried that it might all be real…..
~To be continued~