Swim Where 17
Swim Where – Part 17
“We’ve read a piece recently that hints at an unusual motivation for your Olympic successes.” A famous television sport show host asked. “Tell us more about that?”
“You obviously haven’t perused my interview ground rules.” Scott Wagner said. “You’re only allowed to ask me inane questions.”
“I did glance at that document,” the sports interviewer bristled indignantly, “and I thought it was somewhat insulting. Honestly, I assumed it was a joke.”
“I’ll go on record here by saying that I’m serious about my appearance conditions.” Scott displayed his cool by pausing for a relaxed sip of water. “If you come up with a query that requires an insightful answer, you may submit them to Belinda Lyle. She will pose it to me and then forward you my response.”
“It hardly seems fair that your tame reporter should share the byline with the one who proposed the question.”
“You’re viewing that wrongly.” Scott countered. “Firstly, Belinda is anything but tame: the questions she confronts me with often have me cringing. And second, without her initially cracking my media-proof shell, you and I wouldn’t be here at all. So with whichever questions you ask, you’re already coat-tailing on her byline.”
“How can we be certain Belinda will give us the answers?” The interviewer whined.
“You can interview Ms. Lyle to get her reply. I’ve entrusted her with exclusive rights to my biography. She gets ‘dibs’ on any gems inadvertently popping from my lips.”
“It’s rumored that she is expecting your child.” The reporter sniped in frustration.
“See now that,” Scott Wagner burst out laughing, “is exactly the type of frivolous question that you are permitted to ask.” But then he didn’t actually answer it.
Scott Wagner and Belinda Lyle had no conditions on their continued cohabitation. He was occasionally absent for some extended periods of time and on one particular event, he hadn’t even mentioned where he was going or what his purpose was.
She was then confounded by a large check arriving in the mail with her name as the payee. The company that issued the funds was also baffling, as it wasn’t involved in either swimming or diving gear. The puzzle’s solution presented itself several days later on the television and it reduced Belinda to tears of laughter.
“We’re very pleased that you’ve signed on to assist with our marketing campaign.” The CEO of a company that sold water ski equipment beamed on the infomercial.
The Olympic star just growled and in front of the TV, Belinda hooted. Scott was famous for avoiding microphones and so they had played on that.
“Roll action!” A director called into his megaphone and Scott dived off the pier.
The camera followed him speeding through the water, employing his unique style of the butterfly. The lens then panned to a rope trailing him: it forked into three cords. Then the tether suddenly went taut.
Three bikini-clad models were jerked from the water, onto water skis, seemingly being towed by the ultra powerful swimmer. The camera angle circled to looking at the action from the front. Scott Wagner was in the forefront as the frame froze. In the background, the sexy models were carving simultaneous turns that showed the undersides of their water ski gear, with the brand name clearly visible through a clear wall of water.
‘The only water skis,’ a slogan’s lettering presented as if typed by a journalist, ‘that can stand up to quadruple gold medalist Scott Wagner’s amazing speed.’
Belinda’s chuckles finally subsided. She could see his sense of humor etched all over that commercial. That company certainly couldn’t claim the inspiration for getting the endorsement of the Olympic champion. He must’ve approached them with the idea: which they were more than eager to purchase.
“Don’t you want to be here?” Belinda inquired on an increasingly rare event when he was at home. It seemed that the closer she came to her due date, had brought the more that Scott Wagner was away.
“I wanted you to get pregnant. Because it seemed like I owed it to my mother and my natural father, to pass their genetics down to a next generation. I’ve accepted and confessed that part already.” He paused for a span of several breaths to compose his thoughts. “But I hadn’t known what feelings that the prospect of an actual birth would evoke in me. I’m mortally afraid.”
“I’m told that many expectant fathers suffer that affliction.”
“Most aren’t a ticking time-bomb of marginally contained inner fury.”
“Is it still that bad?” Belinda asked. She had allowed her intimate knowledge of his true nature to soften over the elapsed time since their journey to his fateful lake.
“It’s becoming much worse. I’m really worried that overwhelming love might prove able to break through my ability to remain dispassionate.”
“What is your reasoning behind this belief?” Belinda Lyle had long since learned to cut through to his most basic motivations.
“I already strongly feel this in my emotions towards you.” Scott took a long slow breath and then sighed it out. “Do you remember when I held your face?”
“You’ve done that many times. Your eyes have when we’ve been talking and in bed, your fingers have sought for and found pleasure centers in my scalp, ears and neck.”
“But I only grabbed it like this once.” He repeated the unusual gesture of holding her chin in his cupped left hand. “What do you suppose was going through my mind in the moment while I was doing this?”
“I don’t know.” She shrugged. “I’ve never thought about it.”
“Well, you should’ve because it was the one instance when you were in immanent danger.” He removed his hand. “You had just terminated our discussion of a topic that I was passionate about, but which you didn’t want to think about just then.”
“I do recall that.”
“While holding your face I was thinking about just how devastating it would’ve been for you, if I were to follow through with a full-powered right hook. It would’ve come from seemingly nowhere and as an utter shock. You were unprepared and poised to experience nearly the ultimate in physical and mental trauma. My one explosion of violence would’ve absolutely driven home the point that I was trying to make.”
“Yes.” There was profound understanding in Belinda’s one word reply.
“I didn’t do it because although it would’ve instantly made you fully understand, I would’ve simultaneously been teaching you to be exactly like me, if to a somewhat lesser degree. And in that very instant, Luther would’ve beaten me beyond the final limit of my ability to absorb it. Though long dead, Luther Wagner would’ve won.”
“But Luther didn’t win and therein may be your salvation.”
“That incident involved a woman I was only in the incipient stages of caring deeply for. I can envision the effect growing exponentially when my children arrive. Can we envision how I might react if our daughter became the victim of a date rape? Or worse, can you see her suffering in silence because she knows her Dad well enough to suppose that if she sought parental support, she might loose her father to a prison term on a conviction of aggravated assault or even murder.”
“We’ve talked before about your seeing a psychiatrist.” Her voice trailed off: she already anticipated his response to that suggestion.
“They are a large part of the fundamental problem. They just attempt to convince people that their instincts are wrong, or worse, they only seek to sweep the issues under the rugs of an assortment of drugs.”
“That poetic line is going into the book.” Belinda hastily jotted it down.
“Add to it that Scott Wagner sees his existence as walking barefoot down a razor’s edge. Baking his brain into a chemical meatloaf isn’t a cure, it’s just hastening the unpreventable day when the blood on his feet finally causes the inevitable slip.”
“The brain as a chemical meatloaf is a nifty metaphor.” She penciled it in.
“Speaking of which, when will my biography be ready for print?”
“Any time you need it to be.” Belinda had used large segments of her expectancy time in earnest writing.
“You are wonderful.” He kissed her and then grinned wickedly. “But I still refuse to marry you, or to make an honest woman of you.”
“I’m aware of that and my parents are slowly learning to deal with that too.” Belinda knew the reason why he wouldn’t. In Scott’s strenuous opinion, an authority system that routinely failed in its obligation to protect had no business poking unwelcome fingers into love covenants that men and women engaged in. “You did accidentally slip a ring of sorts onto my finger, when you put my name on your water ski deal.”
“That was a cleverly aimed stab in the dark but unfortunately, it’s totally off the mark. That had nothing to do with why I did that.” Scott chuckled. “However, my getting a lawyer to draw up papers making you my sole beneficiary may well have been a hint at our unofficial nuptials.”
“I do.” Belinda said solemnly. “For better or for worse.” Tears welled in her eyes.
“I do.” Scott hugged her tightly and whispered. “Forsaking all others.”
“You’ll not get off that easy. You know what we did last night before sleep and what you woke me up at 4 am to repeat. My payments are fully up to date, so dish it out.”
“Okay, but remember that you asked for it and that you’ve wrested it from me.” He maneuvered her to the couch and they sat down. “I’ve confessed that I had no ready reply to your ‘why me’ question but seen in memory’s rearview mirror I would’ve, if I had only realized it at the time.”
“I’ll get my notepad.”
“Don’t. You’ll remember it just fine.” He held her both hands on her lap to stop the fidgeting she often did, when not holding a pad and pencil. “God knew that Belinda Lyle was the only woman in the world equal to the challenge of Scott Wagner and she tried to tell me that by slightly skewing the physical laws of the universe to point a sun ray at you. That is the succinct answer to your ‘why me’ question.”
“I also saw.”
“Clam up! I’m not finished.” Were he not snuggly holding her hands, one of them would’ve playfully struck him by now. “God knew but it took me longer to fully see Belinda Lyle as the only female wise enough, beautiful enough, caring enough, sexy enough and intelligent enough for Scott Wagner. These aren’t the only ones either. If your notebook were at hand, you’d have me listing all the qualities where you are superlative for me and by midnight, we still wouldn’t be half done.”
“What are you greasing me up for?”
“Nothing. We’re talking about the water ski commercial. I initially asked for a dozen models. The company pressed for only one. They thought that having more would be stretching the range of believability too far. We settled on three because it was that or none. Your name was on the check because you are the skis and even three models or a dozen can’t do what you routinely accomplish in standing up to me.”
“Three was hilarious.” Belinda laughed and cried.
“We agreed with that assessment as the footage was being assembled. A swimmer pulling up even one skier is not credible. So by using three, the company showed it was making a fun commercial and not trying to insult a viewer’s intelligence. I’m told it’s been a highly successful marketing campaign with people actually sending email copies of it to friends: that equates to free advertising of the prized ‘word-of-mouth’ variety. You can expect another royalty payment soon.”
Swim Where will continue….