Escape From the Ranch
Hermon Mentor stood on the beach surveying his kingdom. Six foot three inches put his shoulders over the heads of most of the men on the beach and he thrilled each time one of them looked at his physique with admiration. His muscles rippled as he saw them approach and he flexed his arm muscles so these stood out while onlookers went past smiling approvingly. Most of the regulars were there to show off a little and were there for the same reason.
Yes, the ocean had a lot to do with it and pristine beaches formed a carpet to appropriately display all young women sunbaking and taking in the scene through dark glasses. They were on the hunt too! Women there for ocean sports were different to the beach dwellers. They were out there on boards gracefully riding waves, then paddling out for another run into the beach. They were not on the hunt and made it plain they’d only be interested in attachment if it were on their terms. There was a certain rhythm about it all and Hermon loved the lifestyle.
He was a lifeguard employed by the county. He remembered his decision ten years ago to leave the ranch and head for the coast to forge a career somewhere where he could be away from the bone breaking work and harsh punishments his rancher father administered. His father Jeb was of European migrant stock who’d established a toe hold on the land and developed it slowly working twelve hours a day and sometimes more in summer. Jeb expected his ten children to have the same work ethic which he believed could only be instilled by liberal use of the strap and rod. When Herman outgrew his father, he had to make a choice. It was either hit back or get out. He still had enough respect for parents to choose the latter and they watched silently as he packed a knapsack and strode down the long track to the main road where he’d hitch hike until he found a place to work and survive. Looking back as he left the house he witnessed something he’d never seen before. His father was crying.
It took two years for him to process his upbringing and put everything into perspective. True, it had been a hard life on the ranch. But the ranch had developed him into the tall strong man he was today at age twenty-four and it had been an asset to him as he found ready work in construction almost immediately. Used to hard work he soon was doing very well financially and was a sought-after worker. He decided to write to his parents who’d no idea where he was and inform them he was doing well on his own. The letter that came back quickly was from his Mother. Jeb had died from a life of overwork a year after Hermon left home. The ranch was now being run by her and the remaining children. She was overjoyed he’d decided to re-establish contact with the family. She’d fully understood why he decided to leave and wished him well. It was a big weight off his mind to receive that letter and he established a weekly correspondence routine with his mother after that.
It was soon after that renewed contact he was on this beach with some labourer friends. His keen eye noted someone in difficulties far out on distant waves. Surf was rough today and signs were up on the beach advising people to stay clear unless seasoned surfers. But human nature being what it is there were a number closer to shore in difficulties and all available lifeguards were out there on rescue missions. Only the spotter in the lifeguard tower was out of the water but by the time he made it to the beach from the tower it may be too late.
Hermon was a strong swimmer and had little fear of any situation. Without further thought he rushed to the ocean and began to fight his way through waves keeping a keen eye on his destination. By the time he reached the teenager in trouble the boy had taken in a lot of water and was having trouble breathing. Grabbing him by his long hair Hermon powered one armed head down back through the angry surf and dragged the waterlogged teenager onto the beach. But that was the limit of his expertise and he looked down on the gasping lad wondering how to help him further. The spotter from the tower reached them just in time and began the process of getting water out of those lungs while Hermon looked on helplessly. Paramedics arrived to finish the job and take the teenager to hospital for a final assessment. He recovered.
After that mass rescue the beach was closed and lifeguards were employed to prevent anyone foolish enough to attempt entering the water. The spotter for the day had been the head lifeguard and he came running to catch up as Hermon and his friends were leaving the beach area.
“That was a powerful swim, have you done any lifeguard work before?” Hermon shrugged in response and the head lifeguard remembered Hermon had not been able to deal with the after-rescue recovery.
“We’re short of a man on the team, would you be interested in learning all the techniques? Don’t know what kind of pay you’re drawing now we may not be able to match that but there are other compensations. Would you be interested?”
“Have to think about it!” Hermon looked like he was going to re-join his friends as they were going to party, and he was looking forward to that.
The head lifeguard gripped his arm and Hermon stiffened on the defensive at the grip, it reminded him of why he’d left the ranch. “Please, come back and talk for a while, it’s not going to take much of your time, and you can join your friends later.”
Hermon glanced at his friends and they waved him back toward the surf club house.
When they reached the club house most of the team were coming back from removing straggler swimmers from the beach leaving only those who were on the beach for a stroll. One of them would continue to keep an eye on the beach to see none of the regular swimmers returned.
The head lifeguard Steve asked his name, then introduced him to the rest of the team a mix of young men and women. Those who’d been on rescue missions in boats and boards and who’d watched Hermon on his rescue mission greeted him enthusiastically. They urged him to consider taking the necessary courses and join them on the team. His educational modules would be paid for by the county. For the first time in his life Hermon felt needed and appreciated. Late into the evening an explanation was given of what would be expected of him and adding up the financial benefits he’d not be too much disadvantaged taking on a lifesaving career. When he re-joined his friends later in the evening after they came home from their party he’d made his decision. No more construction, he would have a more challenging career. The next morning, he moved his things into the spartan quarters of the lifeguards.
To be continued.
© Copyright 2019 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved
The above image is copyrighted to shutterstock