Swim Where 3
The people surrounding him looked at her oddly: then they skittered away.
“I’m not sure if that’s better,” Scott smiled again when commenting on her adjusted look, “or worse for my reputation.”
“Are you planning,” Belinda didn’t know him well enough to accurately read his face, so she equated his expression to smugness, “to repeat your amazing performance at the next Olympics?”
As she tucked her bikini swimwear into her handbag, Belinda Lyle vowed that would do whatever it took to wrest what she wanted from him. She would somehow shove that condescending look right back down his throat
“Why are you so reticent with the media?” She had noted that the dishwashers and cooks had been beaming, indicating that the swimming star had been nothing but genial with them.
“Because I only tell the truth, and that’s not what the sports writers want to hear. It’s also not what they seem to believe their insipid readers are interested in either.”
“And you haven’t memorized your handbook of ‘win one for the Gipper’ platitudes.” The verbal exchange had happened so unexpectedly that Belinda didn’t realize that this was actually something she could use, until it was finished. But then, she was stuck for a way to prolong the full sentence conversation.
“Nor will I.” Scott effectively terminated the verbal thread.
The meal arrived and the talk was confined to bland remarks on the food’s flavor and requests to ‘pass the salt’. Belinda finished several more glasses of wine. She finished the whole beaker by herself because the swimmer hadn’t touched his glass after that one first sip.
“If you’re not going to drink that,” the girl reporter indicated his glass with a glance, “may I have it?” This nearly valueless meal was costing her plenty and Belinda resolved to at least get a glow from it. She was already feeling somewhat tipsy.
‘If I’m going to be in bondage,’ the girl weighed that bizarre concept again for the third time, ‘being drunk might make the slavery more palatable.’
Scott Wagner wiped the corners of his mouth while she drank his wine. Then he set his napkin on his plate and watched her savor the final drops.
“Will we,” he set his both elbows on the table and leaned towards her, “have sex?”
“Why—?” Stunned by the query, Belinda couldn’t quickly compose an appropriately indignant reply, so the lonely word was left hanging as a blunt question.
“Because that will be the price of the insightful interview you’re so anxious for.”
Belinda Lyle’s head spun with the effects of the alcohol and from a conflicting swirl of her thoughts and emotions. The swimmer’s expressionless eyes were those of Satan as he waited for her to sign away her immortal soul. The inner demon of her ambition and the angel of her conscience scratched, bit and eye gouged one another. The internal fight’s non-impartial referee seemed to be her body—that suddenly gave a favorable gush of hormones in response to her admiration of his physique.
‘My internal thoughts of bondage and slavery seem to have been a precursor to my becoming a sex slave and prostituting myself’. Then in the midst of her turmoil, the host presented the check on a silver platter and she fumbled out her credit card.
“Yes.” After a very long pause the girl scrawled her blood ink onto Lucifer’s contract. The sales slip arrived and she signed it without noticing the amount. Scott took her by the elbow and guided her wordlessly outside to catch a cab.
“Have you propositioned any of the other female media?” Belinda whispered when they were nestled together in the taxi’s back seat.
“You already know the answer to that one.” He intoned. “And from here forward, all I expect to hear from you are intelligent and purposeful questions.”
“Agreed.” Belinda thought for a spell. ‘Yes, it would’ve quickly become public news if this were his normal pickup routine.’ “I do have a question that other journalists have continually asked without receiving a satisfactory reply from you. Why didn’t you compete in the four-by-one hundred relay event?”
“I’m not a team player.” Scott spoke softly with his lips next to her ear, to keep the driver from overhearing. The warm breath of his words fluttered her shimmering hair slightly and he felt her quiver from the pleasurable vibrations on the nape her neck. “Water polo is a team sport and that’s why I don’t play it, even though I swim well enough to excel at that game.”
“You were accepted onto a nation’s Olympic t-e-a-m,” she stretched the word out, “and that gave you an obligation that you didn’t meet.”
“I won a berth on an Olympic squad on the basis of my having swum qualifying heats faster than anyone else the nation could field and I then proved my merit by taking first place in every event that I entered. Had I considered swimming a team sport, I wouldn’t have tried out, for the same reason that I don’t go out for water polo.”
“What’s wrong with team sports?” The taxi driver asked over his shoulder.
“If one enjoys playing in or watching a team sport, then nothing is wrong with them. But I prefer individual sports where my own performance is all I need to rely on. The relay event bastardizes the solo pursuit of competitive swimming to create a mockery of a team endeavor. The end product is a farce that returns false results.”
“Four swimmers each race one quarter of the total distance and the combined time is measured against the other teams.” She said. “How could that be a false result?”
“Your mind’s speculation suggested to you that the a relay is not entirely valid but instead of listening to your own reasoned evaluation, you allow a politically correct view to take prominence in your altered opinion. So you are defending an untruth that your inner psyche knows is complete and utter bullshit.”
“Competitive mind-reading isn’t an Olympic event yet.” Belinda scoffed. “So forget about trying to win gold in it.”
“For no other reason than my own enjoyment, I individually swam the equivalent of a 4X100 relay in the pool today.” Scott reminded. “When I finished that, I displayed no signs of having employed my maximum exertion. To all casual observers, I was just engaging in a recreational swim. But you weren’t just that passive witness.”
“Your aura-reading nonsense is the only bullshit here and it’s fast getting old.”
“The absurd suggestion of my employing paranormal means to hit so closely to the true mark was your suggestion, not mine. Like our chauffeur, I’m not deaf. Through the open change room door, I heard you musing whether my time was sufficiently fast to have won Olympic gold by competing as a one-swimmer team. And you were correct. I have done the same distance as the four by 100 relay all by myself—and closely challenged the Olympic winning times.”
“You hear me say that but you’ve obviously misinterpreted my reason for saying so. You erased the previous records in each of your four events by a wide margin but to do the relay alone, you’d need to swim four tenths of a kilometer in the four strokes at Olympic pace PLUS make up the time that three of those swimmers save in their power starts. I didn’t actually think you could do it: I was just searching for a pick-up-line to get an interview with you.”
“And in that event, you’ve won your gold.”
Belinda Lyle sucked on her lips to keep from responding. She felt far worse than a whore. Prostitution wasn’t an Olympic event because a bed shouldn’t be a spectator venue. But each publicly read column she now produced would be a result of her having taken his shaft in barter for his words, and people could view it as so too.
“Okay.” Scott noted her tight mouth and smiled. “Whether you believe I could do it is moot. News editors aren’t going to purchase an article outlining a reporter’s view. What I suppose to be true comprises the marketable story, regardless of whether my belief is intrinsically sound or not.”
“I do concur with that assessment.”
“Then let’s finish this line of discussion for a Pulitzer caliber capstone on Belinda Lyle’s first piece on the previously evasive, but recently acquired, Scott Wagner.”
“Let’s do.” Belinda made a deliberate show of taking out her notepad and pencil.
“While Scott Wagner has an unshakable faith in his ability to competitively swim the 4X100 relay all by himself,” he spoke as if reading her prose, “then he can staunchly assert that three lesser teammates would’ve only served to slow down his finish. He can further envision how his excellent individual performance would be harnessed to elevate inferior swimmers to gold medal stature they were incapable of attaining on their own personal merits.
“To support his position, Scott Wagner has delivered a statement. ‘My would-be teammates may carp about how they might’ve taken first if I had joined them but without me, they only placed sixth. In baseball, a pitcher is not able to throw a ball, and then run down and catch it too. He needs a teammate and even if the catcher is not as talented as the pitcher, together they are a battery. A relay in any athletic discipline is not a team event. It is just a number of athletes lumped unnaturally together, who really should be prevailing or failing according to their own personal abilities – and drive.’ Period, and end of story.”
“The decision on where to place the punctuation is mine alone.”
“And do you realize how conceited that article makes you sound?” In the confines of her mind, Belinda became conscious of a demarcation line she had just stepped over. It was too late for her to change her mind. She had just accepted his first payment in currency they had agreed was cash and her body in bondage now owed him some sexual gratification.
“So be it.” Scott shrugged. “In any adventure requiring a choice between looking good in my Speedo swimwear or being loyal to my perception of truth, I will always opt for the latter.”
“Then in our team,” Belinda found herself saying, “my part is pitching the questions and your job is to bat back the answers, with as much spin and relish as you care to put on them. I’ll either field them and play them back to you, or allow them to float from the ballpark—at my discretion.”
Swim Where will continue….
Russell Twyce is the Author of Shiva’s Messenger