by Colleen Sutherland
The women's shower room was in a fog of steam from the water still pouring down from the shower column. Brittany and Savannah peered at the massive bulk that was Gladys, then looked at each other. Their brains synchronized.
Troy was still watching a mother and two children in the small pool. It wasn't his job to go tearing into the women's locker room.
Savannah came to door. “Troy, it's Gladys. She's on the floor passed out. What do we do now?”
“Call 911.” It was the first thing lifeguards learned in the CPR classes. Savannah should have known that.
“Okay. I can do that.” Savannah sped off before he could give her more instructions.
Brittany was at the door next. “What should we do?”
“Did you start CPR?”
“Well … no. “
“Well start now!”
“I took that over a year ago and I didn't pay much attention then. Plus, I don't want to.You're the one with EMT training. You do it.”
Troy sighed. They were right, he was the logical choice. He began to bark out instructions. “You take over here. These people will have to leave. Tell Savannah to put a sign up at the door that the pool is closed for an emergency. Then she should lock up. When you do that, come and help me. Bring towels.”
Troy went to the locker room door, took a breath and went in. He had never been in the women's locker room before, even for a cleaning.To add to that, he had never really that much experience with girls. He was going to get some lessons on female anatomy today but he would have preferred it to be on a date.
The shower was still running. The girls hadn't even thought to do that much. Troy turned the knob. It was so hot he thought he might have a minor burn. The fan was running but it would take a while for the steam to dissipate.
Gladys was where the girls had left her. Troy didn't recoil. He reminded himself he was going to be a doctor. He would see plenty of obese women by the time he was an intern.
He didn't suppose Savannah or Brittany had done preliminary checks. He started the count. Step One: see if she was breathing. She didn't seem to be but it was difficult to tell. He rested his head between her melon-sized breasts and listened. Nothing.
Step Two. He checked for a pulse on her neck, pushing aside her second and third chins to do it. He couldn't find it. He tried her fat wrists and finally found a vein close enough to monitor. The pulse was there and faint.
It looked more and more like he was going to have to do CPR. But first he would try Step 3.
“Gladys.” She didn't answer.
“Gladys!” He said it louder and tapped her shoulder. There might have a been a flicker underneath her eyelids but he wasn't sure.
There was no escape. He would have to administer CPR while they waited for an ambulance. He had to start yet nothing in all those classes had prepared him for the bulk that was this old woman. All the practice dummies had been slim and well built. When they practiced on each other, it was always with younger people. And here was this fat old lady.
He tried pushing her to her side to see if she had taken in water from the shower. He couldn't move her.
He had waited long enough. He had to start.
Brittany came in with the towels. Savannah trailed her. “Call the rescue squad again and tell them to bring the big stretcher,” he told her.
He checked her pulse again. Then he tilted her head back to make sure the airways were clear. God, she had dentures and he had to remove them. He reached inside her mouth. Damned good adhesive, he practically had to rip them out. He set them aside. Brittany snickered. “Glad I never tried to improve myself with extra classes.”
Troy folded a couple of towels and put them under Gladys' thick neck, pushing her head back again.
“You'll have to do the mouth to mouth,” he said to Brittany.
“I have to check to make sure Savannah closed the pool right.” And she was out the door. Troy was on his own. God.
Next step was Compression. He straddled Gladys. His knees didn't even touch the floor. He dug his bare toes into the tiles but slipped so he landed on plump body. He tried to find the rib cage but it was a mystery under the fat. He looked at her bulbous breasts, now flapped down on either side and triangulated down, doing his best guess.
He started the compressions, but with the first one, the boobs flipped up and went down again, practically slapping him in the face. He found a better position and started again counting on the compression, swearing on the rest. One, fuck, two, damn, three, shit. She let rip with a mighty fart that combined with the steam was the worst smell he'd ever experienced. What the hell had she been eating? Four, motherfucker, five, son of a bitch, six, and so on until he reached thirty, all the time hoping to avoid the mouth to mouth. There was no response. The EMTs hadn't arrived yet.
He slipped off Gladys and crawled around her to reach her face. He made sure her head was tilted back. He pinched her nose close, took a breath, and covered her mouth with his. Her tongue flipped up.
Damn, he had never even Frenched with a girl!
He heard one of the girls giggling behind him.
“Grab more towels,” he shouted, “and cover her up.”
“We don't have that many towels.” It was Savannah. Damn them, they were taking turns. Did she have her cell phone with her? He hoped not.
He took another breath and blew into the old woman's mouth. On the exhale, he got a whiff of her bad breath. He almost gagged. If she survived, he would make sure she was given a year's supply of mouthwash. He took another breath and kept going. This was his price for medical school, he reminded himself. He would write this up in his application.
Eight breaths and it was time for compression again. He was on his fourth compression set when the EMTs carrying the stretcher arrived. Savannah had locked the doors on them and only remembered when they pounded on the windows.
He slipped off and Gladys opened her eyes.
“Well, it took you long enough,” she said to the EMTs. “But you can let the young man continue. He's doing very well.” She had been awake for some time, it seemed.
Troy had nightmares all that week, fighting off flailing breasts and a tongue sliding over slippery gums. Even worse, Savannah had put the whole thing on You Tube. Even the steam didn't cover the details.
It was then that the city lawyer came to talk to him. It seemed that Gladys was recovering and suing the city. She said she had slipped on the pool tiles which she said were too slippery. That was what had caused the heart attack which had been minor. She said she had been awake through the entire procedure. She claimed that the reaction of the guards had been too slow. The girls had laughed instead of doing their jobs. And she didn't appreciate being the star of the video on You Tube. She only had good things to say about Troy on the evening news, but he really wished she would be quiet about it.
The pool was closed while the litigation was resolved so the lifeguards were out of work. Troy worked at the Beef Boy which didn't give him much time to study. Instead of working on his courses, he rehearsed his testimony while he worked. He was tired and cranky all the time.
In the end, the matter was settled out of court. Gladys got a hefty settlement using a law firm she saw on television. They turned out to be as good as they promised. The city's insurance paid for her time in the hospital. It also got her a new car, a snazzy red convertible. She waved at Troy every afternoon as she drove by after school was over.
In May, she was back at the re-opened pool, talking about her hospital stay, her new car, and the courses she would now be taking at the Boleyn tech school. She would see Troy there, she said. Did he want to car pool now that she has a car? She showed him photos of her grandchildren and talked dirty at him, telling him he could straddle her and give her mouth to mouth any time he wanted.
The other lifeguards walked around and around the pool, telling her they needed the exercise. That was Okay with Gladys. She just talked louder.
Since the litigation was settled, Savannah and Brittany no longer work at the pool, but whenever Troy sees them in the high school halls, they laugh at him as they show their friends the video on their cell phones.
Now in his nightmares Troy straddles old Gladys again as he holds her head underwater and drowns her sorry ass.
He is thinking about becoming a veterinarian.