Belton Texas 1958
The little girl’s grey eyes drifted off to the group of Brownies and troop leaders gathered around the cookout area half a football field away. No one so much as glanced in her direction. She knew if she wanted to make her move, she had to seize this moment. With heart racing, she quietly slipped into the aqua blue water and made a bee line for the massive ladder that lead to the hugest slide she had ever seen. Up and up, and still further up she climbed. If this went wrong she was in seriously deep doo doo, as her mom had warned her repeatedly earlier in the day not to venture to this part of the pool, but who could resist this? She paused for a brief moment while she gingerly parked her butt at the top of the scalding metal slide, savoring the delicious whoosh and thrill she knew she would feel on the wild ride down. She sighed as she realized she would have to admit this to Father at confession Friday, but some things are simply worth the price. She inhaled deeply as she pushed away from the sides of the slide and swooped down. My God, this was so worth it!
The adrenaline rush she felt as she hit the water was immediately followed by a sense of something very wrong. Where was the bottom of the pool? She began to sputter and choke in a blind panic as she realized she couldn’t gain the purchase necessary to propel herself back up to the surface of the water. Arms now flailing frantically in an attempt to grab hold of anything that would save her from this awful mess, the little girl realized her mistake and knew she was drowning.
As darkness began to swallow her, she suddenly felt herself being half lifted, half drug to the surface of the water by her armpits, where she was deposited against the rough concrete edge, which she clung to as if her life depended on it. Coughing, gagging, rivers of snot and water gushing from her nose as she gulped for precious air, she swooped her sodden hair from her face and glanced cautiously around to see who had rescued her, fearing it would be her mother, and knowing that a whipping with a belt would inevitably follow.
Instead there was a lady in a swimsuit, tall, quite pretty, with reddish brown hair and the kindest eyes she had ever gazed into. She didn’t know this lady, had never seen her before, in fact. The stranger said nothing, just continued to stare into the little girl’s eyes in the oddest way. The child realized that what she was seeing was utter, total, all-encompassing love. She once again reached up to swipe hair out of her eyes and when she looked, the stranger was gone, nowhere to be seen. The child quickly glanced all around to no avail; she hadn’t even had the chance to thank the lady for saving her life. Where could she have gotten to so quickly? She leapt up from the edge of the pool and began to dart in and out of any place the lady could have gone, restrooms, the concession stands and cabanas, but the little girl was utterly and completely alone. As she scurried past the giant slide that had almost been her downfall, she realized where she had made her mistake. The slide’s ladder started in three feet of water, but the bottom of the slide culminated in the pool’s deepest end.
She hurried over to the Brownie troop where her mom was busy grilling hotdogs for the other girls. She had to enlist her mom’s help in finding the nice lady.
“Katy Shaughnessy, whatever would cause you to make up such a tale as that? Our troop has rented out the pool and grounds for the entire afternoon. It’s closed to the public, and none of us have seen this mystery lady you’re describing. I think what happened is you disobeyed me and went where I told you not to and now you’re making up fibs to get out of a spanking. Well, you better think again, sister.”
Katy sighed deeply; this was what always happened with her mom. She was always accused of making up tales or exaggerating, no matter what. As she bit into the hotdog her mom had handed her, she realized she would never forget the expression on the woman’s face and that she would never stop searching until she saw that look in someone’s eyes again.
This is the prologue from the first novel in a series called Freeze Frame. The series follows the hopefully hilarious adventures of a group of models in the 1970’s era of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, who go on to form their own modeling agency called Freeze Frame. It follows their misadventures and romances throughout New York and Europe and exposes why no one in their right mind would want their daughters in the fashion biz.