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Rye Playland
Rye, New York
Saturday, 11:30

Matt paced back and forth on the boardwalk as he waited for someone to answer the phone. “C’mon, Benny Ray, where are you?” His handsome features wore a frown of concern as he frantically searched the beach as he paced.

“Hello?”

“Thank God.” Matt thought he saw something and ran for the end of the boardwalk.

“Major?” Benny Ray sensed the urgency in Matt’s voice. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Margo.” Matt came abruptly to a halt as he realized he’d been mistaken; it was a stranger. “She’s missing.”

“Missing?”

“I don’t know what happened.” Matt slapped his forehead. “One minute she was standing right next to me, and the next, gone!”

“You checked the ladies room? The snack bar?”

“I’ve searched the whole park.” Matt leaned against the fence and watched a couple walk by arm in arm. “I need your help. Please, Benny Ray.”

“Relax, sir, I’ll be there in 5 minutes.”

“I’ll meet you at the front gate.” Matt paused and wiped his forehead with the back of his hand, “and thanks, Benny Ray.”

“No, problem boss.” Benny Ray stood and grabbed his car keys. “Don’t worry,
we’ll find her.”

********

Rye Playland
Saturday, 11:36

Matt was waiting for Benny Ray as he pulled up to the front gate of the park. As Benny Ray leapt from the car, Matt strode over, the concern obvious on his face. He nodded his thanks as Benny Ray handed him his portable com unit.

“Have you called the police?” Benny Ray was also fastening his gear on.

“The park police said they’d have a look around, but they said they can’t really do anything until 24 hours has passed.” He bit his lip and clenched his fists. “I can’t wait 24 hours. What if someone’s got her?” He turned away from Benny Ray and whispered, “I can’t lose her.”

Benny Ray pretended not to hear. “All right, Major, let’s be logical. We’ll take this park apart looking for her. Got a map?” Matt handed him a map of the park. “You take from the Dragon Coaster to the Ferris Wheel. I’ll take from the front entrance to the Ferris Wheel. Then we’ll both search the beach.”

“Right.” Matt took off at a run.

*******

Ferris Wheel
20 minutes later

“I checked first aid, too, there’s no sign of her.” Matt’s face was gray. There was no doubt, she was not in the park.

“Don’t you think it’s time to call in all the troops?” Benny Ray stressed the “all”.

“Not yet.” Matt turned slowly. “We know she would have answered if she could hear us, and was able to.”

“So we have two options,” Benny Ray nodded as he thought, “either she’s here and she can’t answer us, or she’s not here. There aren’t any places left to look in the park, let’s get to the beach.” Benny Ray slapped Matt’s shoulder in support as the two men ran for the beach.

*******

Rye Beach
Saturday, 12:30

“Boss, we’ve got to call for reinforcements.” Benny Ray bent over his knees to catch his breath. They’d run from Playland to the end of the public beach, and back. “She’s not here.”

Matt had turned to a commotion on the pier. There were two lifeguard rescue boats and a small crowd had gathered on the beach, watching.

Benny Ray noticed Matt’s preoccupation and stood up to look. A knot of fear in his stomach, Benny Ray gestured to Matt, “C’mon, let’s go have a look.”

Matt raced over to the crowd. “What happened?”

A gray haired woman answered. “Someone fell off the pier and drowned.”

Benny Ray watched Matt’s face turn to a mask of horror. “I’m sure it wasn’t
Margo.” He tried to be more convincing than he felt. “She’s a great swimmer.”

Matt turned as someone touched his shoulder.

It was a uniformed policeman. “Mr. Shepherd?” When Matt nodded, the policeman nodded for Matt to precede him. “Would you come with me, please?” He gestured toward the water.

Matt’s face clenched in agony as he walked. “Not Margo, please not Margo.”

Benny Ray put one hand on Matt’s shoulder as they reached the edge of the water. The lifeguard boats pulled up on the beach. The lifeguards were bent over a wet figure dressed in sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt. There was a blanket around her shoulders. Neither Matt nor Benny Ray could see her face, but it was obvious that this woman was alive. Matt was breathing a sigh of relief when Benny Ray grabbed his arm and pointed to the other boat.

A voice piped up from the back of the second boat. “Daddy?” A small girl stood up and held out her arms.

“Margo!” Matt grabbed her from the boat and hugged the child to him. “Don’t ever do that again! Do you hear me?” He continued to hold her tightly.

“What were you doing on the pier, darlin’?” Benny Ray patted the child’s head as she lay her head on her father’s shoulder.

“I saw that lady fall in the water.” She’s got her father’s eyes, Benny Ray thought. But her mother’s spunk. “I jumped in to help.”

“You did what?” Matt held the 5 year old up to look in her eyes.

“It’s true Mr. Shepherd,” the policeman stepped forward. “When the lifeguards arrived, your daughter was treading water, holding the woman’s head above water.” The officer shook his head. “I’ve never seen anything like it. She must have been in there for 25 minutes before someone noticed. She saved that woman's life.” He smiled at the small girl, once again held in her father’s arms. “You’re a heroine, young lady.” Margo smiled back, her smile mirroring the one on her father’s face.

*******

4 Seasons Hotel
NYC
Saturday, 13:25

Matt held a sleeping Margo in his lap as he and Benny Ray played cards. They both looked up as the door opened. Margo senior walked in. She smiled as she saw the scene before her.

“Did you have a good day?” She whispered after kissing Matt. He didn’t answer, only pulled her back for another kiss.

“How was she?” Margo caressed her daughter’s face lovingly.

“You know our daughter,” Matt chuckled, “wanting to do everything.”

“I hope she didn’t tire you out.” Margo’s smile spoke volumes.

“Never.”

“So, did you have fun?” Margo looked back at her husband.

“Oh sure,” Benny Ray answered for him. “It was just a day at the beach.” He got up, winked at Matt, kissed Margo on the cheek, and patted little Margo’s head. “I’ll see y’all in the morning.” Benny Ray left quietly.

“How was your day?” Matt patted the couch next to him, and Margo snuggled in, leaning her head on his shoulder.

“Oh fine.” She replied lightly. “Did you really have a good day?”

“Margo wants to tell you all about it in the morning.” Matt smiled as he predicted his wife’s reactions to her tale.

“I’m glad you had fun.” Margo snuggled closer and whispered in Matt’s ear. “Are you sorry we named her Margo?”

“Never.” Matt turned his head to kiss her gently. “I couldn’t love your name more than I love you.”

“Good,” Margo smiled and kissed him again. “Because it’s your turn.”

“My turn?” Matt whispered wonderingly.

“Your turn,” Margo smiled mischievously. “Little Matt or Mattie is due in May.”

Matt didn’t say a word. His eyes were full of love for this woman. For his wife.

The End

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